Senators seeks ways to fund health careWASHINGTON — Confronting cost estimates as high as $1.6 trillion, Senate Democrats agreed Tuesday to scale back planned subsidies for the uninsured and sought concessions totaling hundreds of billions of dollars from private industry to defray the cost of sweeping health care legislation. At the same time, key Democrats disagreed openly among themselves over a proposed tax on health insurance benefits to pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured. And attempts to reach a compromise with Republicans over a role for government in the insurance marketplace proved elusive. Despite numerous uncertainties, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., announced that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would begin formal work today on legislation to provide "successful, affordable, quality health care.”
Company, pair admit guilt in tainted ingredient caseKANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Las Vegas-based company and its owners have pleaded guilty to distributing a tainted ingredient used to make pet food that killed potentially thousands of animals. Sally Qing Miller, 43, and her husband, Stephen S. Miller, 56, along with their company, ChemNutra Inc., pleaded guilty Tuesday to some of the charges contained in a Feb. 6, 2008, federal indictment. The indictment alleged the Millers and ChemNutra, along with two Chinese companies, brought wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine into the U.S. It was then sold to pet-food makers, and thousands of cats and dogs reportedly became sickened or died.
MySpace decides to pare work force by nearly 30%LOS ANGELES — MySpace said Tuesday it is cutting nearly 30 percent of its work force in a bid to become more efficient, bringing its staffing level more in line with its more popular rival, Facebook. The move, the latest cost-cutting effort at the site, comes a day after data from a tracking firm show Facebook has caught up with MySpace in monthly U.S. visitors for the first time. The cuts amount to about 420 people, bringing the total number of My-Space’s U.S. staff to 1,000. As of May, Facebook had about 850 employees worldwide, most in the U.S.
Judge’s removal sought by lawyer in Dole caseLOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles lawyer is seeking removal of a judge who denounced him as an engineer of fraudulent legal claims against the Dole food company. Attorney Juan Dominguez, who is under orders to appear for a contempt hearing today, says in a motion filed by his lawyer that he was excluded from some hearings and not permitted to defend himself. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney has reported Dominguez to the State Bar of California and to federal prosecutors for investigation of multiple crimes. Chaney dismissed two lawsuits citing what she said was a scheme to extort Dole with claims by men who said they were banana workers harmed by pesticides on Dole plantations in Nicaragua in the 1970s. Evidence showed the men were not plantation workers and were recruited to lie.
Madoff, regulators agree on job restrictionsWASHINGTON — Federal regulators Tuesday reached a settlement with disgraced money manager Bernard Madoff that prohibits him from working in the securities industry. The deal doesn’t include monetary penalties. Madoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud, faces up to 150 years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Meanwhile, Two former employees of Bernard L. Madoff Securities LLC have filed lawsuits totaling $1.8 million against Madoff’s two sons. Richard Stahl and Reed Abend say in lawsuits filed Tuesday in Manhattan that while Madoff defrauded investors of $60 billion, his two sons cheated employees out of compensation they were owed.
Fed Reserve gets no bids for loans by deadlineWASHINGTON — Investors showed no appetite for a government plan intended to boost the availability of commercial real-estate loans. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says it received no investor requests for loans by Tuesday’s deadline. Investors would use the money to buy newly issued securities backed by commercial real-estate loans. The Fed has been counting on this new option — part of the broader Term-Asset-Backed Securities Loan Program — to increase the availability of commercial real-estate loans, help prevent defaults and facilitate the sale of distressed properties. The program is intended to spark consumer and small-business lending. Investors have requested billions of dollars worth of loans under that part of the program.
New FDA boss pushing fruit, vegetable safetyWASHINGTON — Calling it "a critical time” for food safety, the Food and Drug Administration’s new chief said Tuesday she plans to strengthen steps to prevent contamination of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the FDA must set and enforce tougher standards for the riskiest products — and a string of recent outbreaks linked to spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers put fresh produce atop her list as she takes over the embattled agency. "We are focusing not on keeping a tally of how many inspections we do or how many drugs we approve but how do we make a difference in people’s lives,” Hamburg said. WORLD
China changes order on filtering softwareBEIJING — China’s authoritarian government has backed away from an order to load Internet-filtering software on every new computer after a major outcry by citizens used to the relative freedom of online life. Legal challenges, petitions and satirical cartoons had been part of a broad grassroots effort to scuttle the initiative since it was announced earlier this month. A Ministry of Industry and Information Technology official said Tuesday that Chinese computer users are not required to use or install the Green Dam Youth Escort software — though the software will come preinstalled or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the mainland from July 1. FROM WIRE REPORTS