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In brief: Ethics reform bill signed by Bush

President Bush signed a bill Friday that will require lawmakers to disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a measure that backers call the biggest ethics reform in decades.

The new law will require lawmakers seeking targeted spending projects, or earmarks, to divulge their plans in advance. Lawmakers and political committees must identify lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more for them within a six-month period by bundling campaign donations from many people.

The law, drafted by congressional Democrats in response to lobbying scandals that landed two former lawmakers in prison, will bar House and Senate members from taking gifts from lobbyists or their clients. Former senators and high-ranking executive branch officials will have to wait two years before lobbying Congress; ex-House members will have to wait one year.

Senators and candidates for the White House or Senate will have to pay the full share of their use of private planes. House members and candidates will be barred from accepting trips on private airplanes.


Vets say dog treats may be hurting pets

Federal regulators said Friday they are investigating potential contaminants in dog treats made in China, as the nation’s leading veterinarian association posted a warning to pet owners that the products might be making animals sick.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, which represents 75,000 vets, issued the statement prompted by members’ reports of numerous unusual cases of dogs suffering from a rare kidney ailment, after consuming the treats. Most of the products were chicken flavored.

“We want people to know what we are hearing, to pay attention and to monitor their pet’s health,” said association spokesman Michael San Filippo. “We can’t stay quiet, putting our fingers in our ears and ignoring the situation.”

While the group stopped short of advising pet owners not to buy Chinese-made dog treats, San Filippo said: “I would be leery, especially if it was something I had not given my pet before.”

Food and Drug Administration spokesman Mike Herndon said the agency is trying to determine whether the jerky treats pose a threat, but has not singled out individual brands or requested any recalls. Several veterinarians said they first reported their cases to the FDA about three weeks ago.


Ratio of seniors in work force rises

From 2000 to 2006, the proportion of the nation’s 65- to 74-year-olds in the labor force increased from nearly one in five to one in four, according to census data released this week.

Most employers welcome older workers, said Arthur Rothkopf, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Across the country, our members have been telling us that there is a really significant shortage of skilled workers out there, and I’m talking about everything from sophisticated computer engineers to auto technicians to the people who install air conditioning,” he said. “Seniors are some of the most skilled members of the work force. So there is a real incentive for these companies to find ways to hire and keep them.”

From wire reports


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In reversal, Trump signs order stopping family separation

UPDATED: 7:36 p.m.

Bowing to pressure from anxious allies, President Donald Trump abruptly reversed himself Wednesday and signed an executive order halting his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.