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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Vicksburg Post

Health care tax break gets mixed reviews WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration Monday unveiled a tax cut for small companies that provides health insurance, but business groups gave it a mixed review. Even if it amounts to free money, many small businesses won’t qualify for the tax credit. The full benefit goes to companies that have 10 or fewer workers with average salaries of $25,000 or less. They can get Uncle Sam to pick up 35 percent of their premiums. But sole proprietors aren’t eligible. And neither are firms with 25 or more employees, or average wages of $50,000 and above. “We’re thinking mom-andpop shops with one or two employees,” said James Gelfand, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s health policy director. “For some businesses this will be helpful, but for many it will not be helpful. You have to be so small that it will be difficult.” Administration officials said they’re trying to target assistance to those who need it most. “The No. 1 concern of small businesses is access to affordable health care,” said Small Business Administration head Karen Mills, noting that only about half of businesses with three to 10 employees offer coverage. The major expansion of coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law isn’t slated to happen until 2014. Congress included the small business tax credit as an immediate benefit partly in recognition of the political clout of small business.

At the polls

Obama’s personal records include $1,600 dog, Bo

The associated press

Voters line up early today at the Briarwood precinct in Bowling Green, Ky.

Voters in three states head out to elect new senators WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is not on the ballot in this week’s primaries, nor is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican Senate leader. But both have a stake in intensely competitive Senate races in three states, contests testing the strength of the Tea Party among Kentucky Republicans and the durability of incumbent Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. In a fourth race of national significance, Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz battled to fill out the term of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha in a congressional district in southwestern Pennsylvania. Both political parties reported spending roughly $1 million to sway the race, turning it into a laboratory for the fall campaign,

when all 435 House seats will be on the ballot. Oregon voters also faced a deadline for returning ballots in a statewide mail-in vote that began more than two weeks ago. On the eve of the busiest primary night of the year so far, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama was following the races, but “not that closely.” Gibbs said Obama’s involvement had not become an issue in the primaries. Nor was it clear what impact his involvement would mean for the incumbents, under extraordinary political pressure in a year of well-documented voter dissatisfaction with Washington. McConnell made no attempt to minimize his own interest in the Senate primary in Kentucky after making a late television commercial on behalf of

Secretary of State Trey Grayson, battling Tea Party-backed Rand Paul. While Grayson had support from the state’s Republican establishment, Paul countered with backing from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, retiring Sen. Jim Bunning and conservative Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint has interceded in several primaries in hopes of pushing his party to the right, a decision that some Republicans say may portend a move for greater influence inside the Republican leadership led by McConnell. Among Democrats, Kentucky Attorney Gen. Jack Conway collided with Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo for the right to take on the Republican winner. Mongiardo lost a close race to Bunning six years ago.

Stronger gels are latest attempt to block HIV infection WASHINGTON (AP) — Try after try to make vaginal creams that could repel the AIDS virus have failed. Now researchers are testing if a drug used to treat HIV infection finally might give women a tool to prevent it — by infusing the medicine into vaginal gels and contraceptive-style rings. Even quick-dissolving antiHIV films are being created, the same style now used for breath-fresheners or allergy

medicines but made for fingertip application in the vagina. Called microbicides, this kind of woman-controlled protection is considered key to battling the HIV epidemic — especially in developing countries where the virus is at its worst and women too often can’t get their partners to use a condom. For two decades, scientists tried less powerful medications in disappointing microbicide attempts. Results from

FBI official nominated by Obama to head TSA WASHINGTON (AP) — Hoping to make the third nomination the charm, the White House announced Monday that President Barack Obama would nominate FBI Deputy Director John Pistole to head the Transportation Security Administration. In a statement, Obama said Pistole’s work with the FBI makes him a valuable asset to the administration’s efforts to strengthen security and screening measures at the nation’s airports. Obama has struggled to fill the top job at TSA, the agency

whose primary mission is to shore up the nation’s defenses against terrorist threats in the air, on roads and John r a i l s . Th e Pistole Obama administration has called the job the most important unfilled position on the president’s team. Obama’s first choice for the post, Erroll Southers, withdrew his nomination.

the first study to see if this new strategy works — South African women tested a gel made of the AIDS drug tenofovir — aren’t due until July. But researchers gathering for the biennial International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh next weekend express cautious optimism. “Frankly, blocking transmission of the virus appears to be a lot harder than anyone understood it would be at the beginning,” says meeting co-

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chair Dr. Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh and a principal investigator of the Microbicide Trials Network. “The reason we’re not depressed in the microbicide world? We actually have learned a lot and moved on to think about potent drugs and really cool delivery methods.” Antiretroviral drugs have revolutionized AIDS care, helping people live far longer with the virus.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama raked in millions of dollars in book royalties in 2009 and got one very special $1,600 gift — his pet dog, Bo. The Portuguese water dog, which was a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, was listed on annual financial disclosure forms the White House released Monday. Royalties from his books, “Dreams From My Father” and “Audacity of Hope,” rang in at between $1 million and $5 million each. Obama also listed a number of safe investments in Treasury bonds and retirement and college savings accounts. Including funds held jointly with his wife, Michelle, those assets were worth between about $2.2 million and $7.5 million in 2009. Assets are listed in wide ranges on the disclosure forms, making it difficult

to determine their value with precision. There was also $1.4 million from winning the Nobel Peace President Barack Prize, which Obama the president donated to charity. Obama also sold two inheritances from his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died in the final days of his campaign. He made less than $1,000 from the sale of a tax-free trust. A second inheritance — shares in the Bank of Hawaii where his grandmother rose from a secretary to a vice president — sold for between $250,000 and $500,000. Obama’s tax returns, made public earlier in the year, show he took a loss on that investment.

Biden receives book signed by James Joyce, worth $3,500 WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden didn’t accept many gifts last year, but one involved highbrow literature. Biden received a first-edition copy of “Anna Livia Plurabelle” signed by the author, James Joyce, and valued at $3,500. The story is a chapter from the Irish writer’s famously complex novel, “Finnegan’s Wake.” The giver was Margaret Spanel of Hightstown, N.J., a

donor to Democratic candidates. The information was included i n B i d e n ’s annual financial disclosure report, Vice President released Joe Biden Monday. Spanel, 97, sent the book to Biden after hearing him say Joyce was his favorite poet, the vice president’s office said.

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May 18, 2010

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