- - Monday, March 21, 2011


Pelosi taken to hospital

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was hospitalized briefly in Rome on Monday after arriving from a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.

“After several flights yesterday in Afghanistan and a long flight back to Italy that arrived early this morning, Leader Pelosi was not feeling well,” her office said in a statement. “This morning in Rome, [she] was advised to visit a clinic, and the closest medical facility was a hospital. [Mrs. Pelosi] is now resuming her schedule in Italy.”

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that Mrs. Pelosi, the California Democrat who lost the speaker’s post in November’s midterm elections, spent two hours undergoing tests in the emergency department of a Rome hospital before being released and returning to her hotel.

A press briefing with Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa and a top Italian parliamentarian that had been on Mrs. Pelosi’s schedule was postponed.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome declined to comment. The 70-year-old Mrs. Pelosi was heading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Afghanistan and stopped in Rome to mark the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification as a nation.


Panel to examine telecom merger

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith announced Monday that the panel will schedule a hearing to examine the proposed merger of telecommunications giants AT&T and T-Mobile.

The Texas Republican said the proposed merger raises “important questions” about competition in the telecom industry, its potential effect on U.S. consumers and the future of wireless communications.

“Congress must take a close look at the plan to ensure that the proposed merger promotes a healthy and competitive telecommunications market,” Mr. Smith said.


Democrats question Obama on Libya

Add Virginia Sen. Jim Webb to the list of Democrats questioning President Obama’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya.

In an interview Monday on CNN, Mr. Webb said the administration’s justification for taking action in Libya is thin.

“I really don’t believe that we have an obligation to get involved in every single occurrence in that part of the world,” he said. “And this issue is of much more economic importance, quite frankly, to Britain and France. Libyan oil, even though it’s only 2 percent of the world’s output, is a very light oil. It’s much more easily refined, and the factories in Europe are not geared up for some of the heavier crude that comes out of Saudi Arabia, for instance. They have much more of an interest in terms of conducting military operations than we do. We don’t have to get involved in every one of these.”

The Virginia Democrat, a former Navy secretary and a Vietnam veteran, expressed frustration with the administration’s decision to take military action without a debate in Congress.

“This isn’t the way that our system is supposed to work,” he said.


Private, corporate accidents targeted

Federal aviation officials say they want to reduce the accident rate for private and corporate aircraft by 10 percent over the next eight years.

Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt said Monday he is concerned that the accident rate for general aviation - most aircraft besides airlines - has improved only slightly in recent years.

There were 268 fatal accidents, with 457 deaths, in 2010, or 1.14 accidents per 100,000 hours flown.

That’s down from 325 fatal accidents and 562 deaths in 2001. But the number of hours flown by non-airline pilots has dropped since the economic downturn that began in 2008. Mr. Babbitt said that means the rate of accidents compared to flight hours has improved only slightly.

He said he wants more research and outreach to pilots.


Daniels has book deal

NEW YORK | Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has a book deal, but that doesn’t mean he’s running for president.

Mr. Daniels told the Associated Press on Monday that he has signed with Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group (USA). His book is tentatively titled “Keeping the Republic: Limited Government, Unlimited Citizens” and is scheduled to come out in September.

Mr. Daniels is often mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.

The book’s financial terms were not disclosed.

Mr. Daniels, who served as the first budget director under President George W. Bush, says he expects to donate “much of the net proceeds” to charity.


Barbour to meet with GOP leaders

JACKSON | Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who’s readying for a possible presidential run, will meet with Republican leaders Tuesday in the early caucus state of Nevada.

Mr. Barbour’s political action committee says he will meet with Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada legislators and other GOP leaders in Carson City.

Nevada’s Feb. 18 caucus puts it behind only Iowa and New Hampshire in early contests to determine parties’ 2012 presidential nominees.

Mr. Barbour has said he’ll announce in April whether he’ll enter the GOP presidential primary.

He spoke Saturday at the California Republican convention and last week in Chicago.

Mr. Barbour also has traveled in recent weeks to the early caucus or primary states of Iowa and South Carolina. He went to Israel in February on a trip sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

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