WASHINGTON – As CIA director in 2004, George Tenet terminated a secret program to develop hit teams to kill al-Qaida leaders, but his successors resurrected the plan, according to former intelligence officials.
Tenet ended the program because the agency could not work out its practical details, the officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.
Porter Goss, who replaced Tenet in 2005, restarted the program, the former officials said. By the time Michael Hayden succeeded Goss as CIA chief in 2006 the effort was again flagging because of practical challenges.
CIA Director Leon Panetta drove the final stake into the effort in June after learning about the program. He called an emergency meeting with the House and Senate Intelligence committees the next day, informing lawmakers about the program and saying that as vice president Dick Cheney had directed the CIA not to inform Congress about the operation.
The CIA declined to comment on the officials’ comments.
One former senior intelligence official said Wednesday that the idea never quite died because it was a capability — the details of which remain classified — that the CIA wanted in its arsenal. But as time wore on, the official said, its need became less urgent.
Another former official said that the CIA’s reliance on foreign intelligence services and on drone-launched missile strikes proved over time to be less risky yet effective in targeting al-Qaida chiefs for death or capture. President George W. Bush authorized the killing of al-Qaida leaders in 2001.
According to one congressional official, the agency spent more than 1 million over the eight years that the CIA considered launching the hit teams. The official would not detail the exact amount or how it was spent.
The House Intelligence Committee is laying the groundwork for a possible investigation of the program and its concealment from Congress. In late June it asked the CIA to provide documents about the now-canceled program to kill al-Qaida leaders.
Agency officials say it is complying with the request. Panetta has at the same time ordered a thorough internal review of the program.
The committee will try to establish how much was spent on the effort, whether any training was conducted and whether any officials traveled in association with the program, a committee official said. Those factors would determine whether the program had progressed enough to require congressional notification.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, is expected to decide as early as this week whether to press ahead with a full investigation.
Associated Press writer Pamela Hess reported from Washington and Adam Goldman reported from New York.
Archive for July 15th, 2009
WASHINGTON – As CIA director in 2004, George Tenet terminated a secret program to develop hit teams to kill al-Qaida leaders, but his successors resurrected the plan, according to former intelligence officials.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
U.S. Capitol Police said one suspect was killed and an officer injured in a shooting near the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an incident police said was not related to Capitol security.
Police briefly closed a road adjacent to the Senate side of the complex, home to the U.S. Congress, and entrances to the Capitol building were temporarily locked on its North side.
The shooting occurred after a traffic stop, a police spokeswoman said.
Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Capitol police had initiated a routine traffic stop when “the driver of the car immediately began to flee the officer.” Following a chase, the driver of the car “produced a weapon. … The officer fired. … It's my understanding the suspect is dead,” Schneider told reporters.
Robert Drumm, visiting Washington from Edmond, Oklahoma said he was walking near the Capitol when he saw police cars engaged in a high speech chase with a white Mercedes.
There was a crash and then “boom, boom, boom, boom. A pause and then a bunch more,” Drumm added, estimating he heard more than a dozen gunshots.
The incident was the second shooting in just over a month near a popular tourist attraction in Washington.
On June 10, an elderly gunman linked to an anti-Jewish website shot and killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a short distance from the Capitol.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Joanne Allen; Editing by David Storey)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FloridaThe space shuttle Endeavour lifted off en route to the international space station Wednesday evening after several days of weather delays.
The space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from Kennedy Space Center after five previous delays.
The shuttle took off at 6:03 p.m. Wednesday night after being scrubbed five times before. “The weather is cooperating, and it’s now time to fly,” Launch Director Pete Nickolenko announced. Weather delayed the shuttle’s launch Monday. The postponement was the third in three days because of weather and the fifth since mid-June. Storm cells with lightning were within 20 nautical miles of the launch area, NASA said. Hydrogen leaks led to the delays in June. On Sunday, lightning and cumulus clouds violated launch guidelines and sent astronauts back to their quarters for the night. Cumulus clouds are tied to volatile weather such as lightning and tornadoes. On Friday, 11 lightning strikes hit within a half-mile of the launch pad, scratching Saturday’s launch. Endeavour, carrying seven astronauts and a key component for Japan’s Kibo science laboratory, is to head to the international space station for a 16-day mission. Watch Endeavour lift off »
Shuttle launch postponed for third straight day
The Kibo science lab, also called the Japanese Experiment Module, is Japan’s first human space facility, and has been more than 20 years in the making. Five spacewalks are planned for the crew after the shuttle docks. But because of the launch delays, Endeavour would have to undock early because of the planned arrival of the Russian resupply ship Progress, launch integration manager Mike Moses said Monday evening.
No mission tasks would be removed to account for Endeavour’s early undocking. But some taskssuch as stowing and repacking things aboard the shuttlewould be done after undocking instead of before, Moses said. “That will let us basically undock in time for Progress to come [and] keep our full 16-day mission,” he said.
Meeting Burma’s opposition
As the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi continues in Burma, a BBC correspondent assesses the mood of the country’s opposition movement.For the safety of those we spoke to, we cannot reveal their names or that of our correspondent.To arrange an interview with the leader of the youth wing of Burma’s National League of Democracy (NLD) was difficult. It had taken a week to meet him, complicated by the fact that phone calls are routinely tapped and e-mails closely monitored by the military authorities. But at last we were told to go a secret location. There we waited, concerned – as an hour ticked by – that he was not coming, or perhaps had been arrested. Finally there was a knock at the door. We shook hands and sat down together. This was the man who could tell us if there were going to be any organised protests against the widely expected conviction of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Election concernsMs Suu Kyi is on trial on charges of breaking the terms of her house arrest.
Burma’s generals have detained her for 13 of the past 19 years, and she has been held in the notorious Insein jail near Rangoon for almost two months. I asked the NLD activist why the government was delaying the conclusion of Ms Suu Kyi’s trial. “They cannot let her be free before the elections,” was the response. Everyone I asked said the same. The Burmese military has pledged to hold elections early next year – the first since 1990, when the NLD won a landslide victory but the army refused to let them take power. And now the ruling generals still do not wish Ms Suu Kyi – whom locals refer to with reverence as The Lady – to take part. The opposition activist I was talking to was one of the leaders of pro-democracy protests in 1988, which followed then ruler General Ne Win’s decision to suddenly devalue the currency, wiping out the savings of thousands of Burmese people. These protests were met with a violent crackdown, in which human rights groups say at least 3,000 people were killed. Soldiers sprayed automatic rifle fire into crowds of protesters, and other demonstrators were carried away in trucks and never seen again. The NLD man I met also played a leading role in the protests in 2007, when a fuel price hike triggered anti-government demonstrations. The protests spread from monks to students, and became an uprising – the most significant challenge to Burma’s generals in almost two decades. But again there was a crackdown. At least 10 people were confirmed dead in the military’s response to the protests, and many thousands more – including many monks – were reportedly arrested. Amnesty International estimates that over 2,100 people are still in jail as a result. Fear of reprisals
The man I spoke was arrested after both protests, and has spent many years in prison – but he’s still not given up. “We are trying to make a 1988 and 2007 revolution. We are preparing for revolution,” he said. “But the people are scared of being shot by the army, and will not go out on to the streets.” “When the people start their demonstrations, there will be shouting – so people are scared and will not come out.” I asked him what his plans were, if Aung San Suu Kyi was found guilty. “There will be a small protest outside the prison,” he told me. “But we will stay underground. We will keep working, but we cannot do anything.” “One day we will call for a hunger strike outside Insein prison and the government will stop us, but we will keep on going… “And we will also call for a hunger strike inside the prison. Even she [Aung San Suu Kyi] may go on hunger strike.” Army support?But Burma is a country with a population of 49 million people, where many find it hard to feed their families, where those who rule do not seem to care – so a hunger strike will not bring change. I had expected to be told that there were plans for mass protests.
If the one group brave enough to go on the streets before was now afraid of what could happen, was there any hope for a free and democratic Burma? “If the Burmese were united, that would change everything,” he told me. “If the army’s low ranks combined with the people, there would be change.” “But all the low ranks must join the people.” The government commands a combined armed force estimated to be nearly 400,000-strong. And those in the military live a separate life from the people, so what made this man think that they would be prepared to join a protest? “I have heard from the low ranks, who see those with the rank of major and above with nice cars and houses – they are unhappy. They want change. “But whenever anyone speaks out or is thought to show dissent in the army, they are arrested.” It seemed that there was little hope of change, but the man remained optimistic: “I believe that I will see Aung San Suu Kyi free before I die,” he said. He stopped and looked at his hands. Then he slowly nodded and for a moment his eyes seemed to swell. “I will sacrifice myself for the memory of my friends.” With that, he stood and left. If Burmese people do take to the streets if Aung San Suu Kyi is found guilty, the man I met might well be leading them. Watch the full report from Burma on Newsnight on Thursday 16 July at 10.30BST on BBC Two.
Pride and hardship of Waziristan displaced
As people displaced by the army’s anti-Taliban offensive in Pakistan’s Swat valley return home, the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan meets residents fleeing the tribal district of Waziristan where the military is currently targeting Taliban strongholds.In South Waziristan, Pakistan’s security forces have a directive to “eliminate” the Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and his organisation. And as the operation has got under way, the area has seen fierce aerial bombardment and artillery barrages on militant strongholds. Many of these are located close to civilians areas and thousands of people have fled. “I had to walk for seven hours with my family until I got transport out of the war zone,” says Mohammad Usman. Casualties ‘civilans’Mr Usman is a resident of the South Waziristan town of Makeen. He and his family ran a prosperous fruit shop in the town’s main market. They also owned some land which they cultivated.
But once the fighting started they had no option but to flee. There were eight of them altogether and they fled even as the bombs began to pound the area. “We had to leave most of our belongings behind. “After seven hours we reached Razmak from where we got transport to Miranshah and then onto Bannu. “We then walked for three days from Miranshah to get to Dera Ismail Khan where we arrived on 16 May.” Mr Usman said that everybody in his area fled once the bombing began. “The Taliban have gone up into the hills and most of the casualties have been civilians,” he said. Help neededLeaving the area was the only choice for people like him. “At least 70,000 people have left the war zone for [the town of] Dera Ismail Khan,” says Zafar Mehsud, head of a local relief organisation. Mr Mehsud works for the Al-Khidmat Islamic charity and he says that refugees are continuing to flood into the district as fighting continues.
“We have set up camps in various areas of the city, where we are registering the displaced and distributing relief goods.” But he adds more help is needed from official quarters. “So far the government has not started to deal with this problem seriously.” These sentiments were echoed by Abdur Rauf Khan, mayor of Dera Ismail Khan, who says that the responsibility for matters relating to the displaced has shifted to central government. But, Mr Khan adds, while he has no authority in the matter, he would like to appeal to the district residents “to welcome and help the displaced”. Mehsud prideBut there is one outstanding issue of concern and that is identifying who the real refugees are. “As far as I know, there is no real settlement of refugees in Dera Ismail Khan,” the mayor says. “This is because most of the people who have migrated are living with their relatives,” he explains. This is the crux of the problem – and it makes it difficult to reach out to the refugees. “These people are not like those from Swat,” explains a relief worker. “They will only go to camps if they are faced with total death and destitution – the Mehsud tribal pride allows them no other choice.” Mohammad Rafiq is a 16-year-old from the sub-division of Tiarza in South Waziristan. He left with his 15-member family after the Taliban and the military started fighting around mid-May.
“We are now living in a house here we have rented at exorbitant rates,” he says. Zafar Mehsud confirms that local rents have skyrocketed as landlords take advantage of the displaced people “My father is very unwell and my elder brother and me work as fruit vendors here,” Mr Rafiq continues. “I also attend school, but it’s difficult. The police harass us here all the time. “They say you [Mehsuds] are terrorists and you should leave this place,” he says. Mr Usman has had similar experiences. Working as a labourer, he is barely able make ends meet but he resolutely refuses to live in a camp. No resolutionBut it is not just local charities that are dealing with the situation, the government has also started responding, albeit slowly. In the late afternoon, after the blistering heat has receded, dozens of Mehsud tribesmen gather outside a goverment registration point on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan. Most of the tribesmen are angry at the government who, they believe, is targeting the entire Mehsud tribe. They say the younger tribesmen are harassed for being “terrorists”. “We have received no aid so far from anyone,” says Haji Murad Khan, a school teacher from Kotkai. “We fend for ourselves through labour and whatever else we can….only Allah cares for us. “I don’t think this situation [in the tribal areas] is ever going to be resolved in our lifetime,” he said. “This is the third time I have had to move, and now I have no intention of going back.”
‘Collective failure’ hit pensions
A “collective failure” by various public bodies led to a 90m overpayment of public sector pensions, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).Retired soldiers, doctors, nurses and teachers were all affected by the administration blunder, with 31,000 set to see their income drop next year. The report criticised tax authorities, pension schemes and support services for failing to take responsibility. The number of people affected is expected to rise. The NAO report revealed that five public sector pension schemes were still working through 26,000 cases. Thousands overpaidThe overpayments began in 1978 and were caused by an incorrect indexation of pensions.
The pension schemes did not have Guaranteed Minimum Pension information recorded for some members, which meant they did not apply the correct annual cost of living increases. The Guaranteed Minimum Pension was earned between 1978 and 1997 by workers whose pension scheme was contracted out of the earnings-related State Second Pension. As a result, 85,000 retired public sector workers were overpaid 90.2m through their pension, and another 4,917 people were underpaid by 191,000. The NAO report accepted that the system was complicated but found that it was “prone to error” and criticised HM Revenue and Customs, the five pension schemes, and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service for failing to ensure that it was administered properly. Long-term problemThe errors, which affected 6% of pensions being paid to members over state pension age in the five schemes, occurred over many years.
Some of the missing Guaranteed Minimum Pension information went undetected for more than 20 years, the report found. Concerns were raised as early as mid-1990s, but the system had “broken down” in a number of ways, the report found. “This is a sad case of public administration failure,” said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. “Warnings were first sounded years ago that there were problems but no one took responsibility for resolving them. “It is essential to prevent errors on this scale from happening again, but this will happen only if one party takes responsibility for the process as a whole.” The NAO has called for all the parties to work closer together as it feared that there was a continued risk of payment errors. It also wanted a review to consider whether the process could be simplified. “Although these pension schemes were complicated to administer, the mistakes were entirely avoidable and happened because no one body had clear overall responsibility for the process,” said Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee. “All the parties involved shirked the responsibility of checking that the process was running smoothly. Each simply assumed that it was someone else’s problem and so small hiccups led to almost 90,000 people being overpaid.”
Eco town plan ‘to be scaled down’
The government is expected to announce a scaled-down version of its grand plan to create up to 10 “eco towns”.Gordon Brown set out in 2007 to create hundreds of thousands of homes in “carbon neutral” communities as he campaigned to succeed Tony Blair. But the zero-carbon developments – some earmarked on open countryside – have caused protests and a legal challenge. The government is now likely to confirm a first wave of just three or four towns in areas with council support. They are believed to include 4,000 homes on a disused airfield near Norwich and 5,000 at St Austell in Cornwall, as well as other sites in Oxfordshire and east Hampshire. Affordable housingConstruction would be under way by 2016, later than originally envisaged. BBC local government correspondent John Andrew says a second wave of towns could follow, though some more contentious ones may be dropped. Mr Brown’s idea originally met with a positive response and he expanded the scheme from five towns to 10 in September 2007. He aimed to tackle the twin problems of housing shortages and climate change with at least 30% affordable housing. But he has since faced criticism from environmental groups and residents who have questioned the impact on the planning system, transport links, jobs provision and environmental impact of the sites. Protesters claim some sites were picked where conventional developments had failed to get off the ground. Opponents have included actress Judi Dench, author Jilly Cooper and former tennis star Tim Henman’s father Tony Henman. The Conservatives have also been critical of the way eco towns have been handled, but say they would not cancel schemes that enjoyed local support if they win the next election.
Bank boards ‘come under scrutiny’
The boards of UK banks and the role they played in the credit crisis are expected to come under scrutiny in a report due out later on Thursday.Analysts say the review of corporate governance, by ex-City regulator Sir David Walker, may pave the way for boardroom practices to be overhauled. The report, commissioned by the Treasury, is tipped to focus on the way risk is managed at banks. The issue of pay and how it is linked to risk is also likely to be addressed. Sir David has spoken to banks, institutional investors, and experts in remuneration and corporate governance in preparing the report – due out at 1000BST on Thursday. FocusAfter many, including MPs, questioned the level of banking experience of some directors at firms – Sir David is tipped to set out plans for directors to have higher levels of skill and to receive formal training. And after Royal Bank of Scotland was led to near collapse by Sir Fred Goodwin, it is expected that Sir David will recommend that bank boards will be forced to show they are able to challenge a chief executive who they feel is endangering a bank. There may also be a call for non-executive directors at banks not to hold too many posts, for fear that they are unable to give sufficient time and focus to the financial institutions. The Walker Review, which will go out for consultation, comes as the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority continues its inquiry into the crisis which ripped through the UK banking system last year. The measures in the report were foreshadowed by the Treasury’s white paper on financial regulation, published last week, which announced a radical shake-up of the regulatory system for banks.
Suspended teachers assumed guilty
Teachers in England accused of misconduct should always be presumed innocent until proven guilty, MPs say.A report by the Children, Schools and Families Committee said too many teachers were suspended needlessly and some have had their careers ruined. The MPs said they were “shocked” that the government allowed teachers to be barred from contact with colleagues. Officials said the the government would consider the report carefully, but added most cases were resolved quickly. It is “unsatisfactory”, the committee said, that no data was collected on how many teachers went on to be charged with any offence after being suspended. Teaching unions say just 5% of allegations result in a charge of misconduct or a conviction. The committee said head teachers were referring too many incidents to the local authority to investigate, leading to prolonged inquiries which could have been dealt with more quickly in school. It recommended the number of allegations referred to local authorities and leading to a police investigation should be collected, as well as the number of allegations leading to suspension. Outcomes should be recorded, including whether there were any charges or a dismissal. In addition, schools should themselves investigate whether suspensions were justified, MPs said. AnonymityThe MPs say schools must ensure key members of staff are trained in how to investigate allegations against staff, and ensure there is access to support, including a helpline. On occasions investigations are “outsourced” to a third party which may have a particular viewpoint, or may be used simply to assemble a case against an individual, and this is unacceptable, their report said. It criticised the government for allowing schools to prevent suspended teachers from contacting colleagues to build a defence, calling this “inhumane and unjust”. MPs have asked the government to examine again whether anonymity for a teacher accused of an allegation would be justified. The committee chairman, Barry Sheerman MP, said: “There is a fine balance to be struck between safeguarding the rights of children and the rights of those who work with children. “Allegations proven to be true must be punished.
“But the vast majority of complaints made against school staff have little or no foundation. “My committee heard shocking evidence about the treatment of accused staff and the devastating impact unfounded allegations of misconduct can have on those involved, which can ruin careers and can come at a significant physical, mental and financial cost. “I urge the government to take immediate action to ensure people’s lives are not ruined by a failure to deal appropriately, sensitively, and quickly with complaints when they are made.” ViolenceThe NSPCC told the committee that in 2007-08, Childline received 68,758 calls about abuse and bullying. It said for 1,491 of the children counselled, a teacher was identified as the perpetrator of abuse. Teaching unions indicated to MPs that allegations of physical violence had been rising in recent years. Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan said: “False or misleading accusations against teachers or other staff are completely unacceptable. “They run the risk of discrediting hard-working and committed teachers and support staff who work tirelessly to improve the lives of young people. “False allegations also risk undermining genuine allegations. “Children making false allegations often have complex needs, and in some cases may be trying to draw attention to abuse or other issues elsewhere in their life rather than being deliberately malicious.” She added that 64% of allegations were resolved within one month, but that this figure should increase.
Industry drive to curb drinking
Britain’s drinks industry is launching a 100m government-endorsed campaign to discourage excessive drinking among young adults.The Campaign for Smarter Drinking, supported by 45 companies, is one of the largest of its kind and aims to advertise throughout England. Under the slogan “why let good times go bad?”, the campaign will emphasise “practical tips” for safe drinking. But one doctors’ body says raising alcohol prices would be more effective. The industry campaign is due to be launched on the day MPs hear more evidence on the use of alcohol. The health committee will hear from the government’s chief medical adviser, Sir Liam Donaldson, who wants to see a minimum price for alcohol to curb consumption. How to get homeWhile younger drinkers still have the lowest alcohol-related death rates, the figures have gone up slightly in recent years, according to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics.
The campaign is intended to run for five years. It aims to emphasise the benefits of “responsible enjoyment” and offer practical tips about eating and drinking water while out and thinking about getting home. The adverts will appear outside, in bars and at cashier desks. The slogans will also appear on millions of bottles and cans of drink. A launch advert is appearing in Thursday’s edition of the Times. Jonathan Neame, head of brewer Shepherd-Neame, said the initiative was “part of the answer” to the problem of alcohol misuse. “In the end, we can only achieve change if people take responsibility for their own behaviour and this campaign will help them make informed choices.” At 100m, the campaign is a significantly more expensive campaign than the government-backed Change For Life. Government ministers have said they will support the campaign for one year, with further support conditional on an independent analysis of its effectiveness. Taking noteSecretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said: “While the vast majority of people who drink enjoy alcohol in moderation, we’re facing a growing public health problem where people are regularly drinking too much or are dependent on alcohol. “Clearly the industry has a responsibility to play their part in tackling this problem and I hope this campaign will make a real difference to people’s attitudes to drunkenness and their drinking behaviour.” Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: “This campaign will complement the wide range of actions we are already undertaking to address binge drinking, including giving police more tools and powers to tackle disruptive drinkers and consulting on new rules to ensure that businesses that sell alcohol are doing it responsibly.” Meanwhile ministers in Scotland are planning to press ahead with plans for a minimum price per unit of alcohol. When these ideas were put forward for England, they received a lukewarm response from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance, said he was sceptical the campaign would work. “There is very little evidence that health messages work to prevent binge or harmful drinking. “Instead, all the international evidence shows that increasing the price and reducing the availability of alcohol, together with bans on advertising, are the main methods of reducing alcohol-related harm. “We need strong Government action in these areas right now.”
WASHINGTON – Federal authorities are considering making the potent anesthetic propofol — one of the drugs found in Michael Jackson’s home — a controlled substance, which would put new limits on its distribution.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was petitioned two years ago to make propofol a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That designation is used to impose restrictions on distributing and prescribing certain drugs prone to abuse and addiction.
DEA spokesman Rusty Payne confirmed Wednesday that the agency is considering adding propofol to the list of controlled substances. The brand-name version of propofol is called Diprivan. A nurse who provided nutritional therapy for Jackson, Cherilynn Lee, has said he asked her for Diprivan to treat insomnia. Propofol is not recommended for such use and Lee said she refused the star’s request.
Until Jackson’s death, the main concern about propofol was its potential for abuse by medical staff, because it is usually administered intravenously in hospitals to patients who need to be unconscious for surgery or other procedures.
The Food and Drug Administration has received an increasing number of reports about fatalities linked to propofol in recent years: 43 in 2008 and 35 in 2007, up from an average of 22 per year over the decade before that, according to FDA data. The increase may be due to increasing use of propofol over older barbiturates.
A central question in the Jackson investigation is who provided that drug and other prescription medications found at his rented Beverly Hills mansion. Investigators are talking to doctors who treated Jackson.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and removed several bottles of propofol from Jackon’s home, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. The person is not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
Adding a drug to the federal list of controlled substances is a lengthy process. As part of its review, the DEA asks for a recommendation from officials at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS experts can stop a drug from being added to the list if they recommend against doing so. Congress can also add specific drugs to the list through legislation.
The federal list of controlled substances is divided into five categories, ranging from some of the most potent, like heroin, to much milder products, like cough medicine with codeine.
Propofol is the country’s most widely used drug to induce general anesthesia, and also is used for other types of health provider-based sedation, said Dr. Stephen Parker, anesthesia chairman at Washington Hospital Center in the nation’s capital.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices must follow specific monitoring requirements for different levels of controlled substances, to track how much is bought and used, and who uses it.
Changing propofol to a controlled substance would require “accounting for every cc of the drug that was used,” Parker said, referring to the way the doses are measured. A teaspoon is about 5 cc’s.
“It would put up barriers for us to easily use the drug,” he said. “It’s a lot of bureaucracy and expense, frankly.”
For at least two years, the American Society of Anesthesiologists has had a committee looking into whether propofol should be made a controlled substance, but this has not been a high priority because abuse of propofol is “much, much less common” than of painkillers such as OxyContin, said Dr. David Zvara, anesthesia chairman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“It’s the drug you get when they say count back from 100 and you only make it to 97,” Zvara said. “It quickly and reliably puts people under — usually, very safely.”
At his university, it is used for about four out of every five procedures and is favored over older drugs like Pentothal and other barbiturates.
However, propofol depresses breathing and the heart rate and lowers blood pressure — risks that must be constantly monitored.
When it is abused, it’s usually by people seeking sleep, but even that is misguided, Zvara said.
Associated Press Medical Writers Lauran Neergaard in Washington and Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee and AP writers Justin Pritchard and Thomas Watkins in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Sonia Sotomayor is probably headed to the Supreme Court, but not unscathed. Her Republican rival, Sen. Jeff Sessions, took advantage of the national spotlight, but got singed by it, too.
There are political winners and losers in every nomination fight. And sometimes they’re the same people. Here’s our first scorecard from the AP’s reporters:WINNERS:Sotomayor. So far, at least, she’s looking like a very wise Latina. Confident, smart, unflappable, and deftly laying the groundwork for good relations with those likely to soon be her fellow justices on the Supreme Court. -Nancy Benac
Sessions. A critic of Sotomayor with his own history of racism allegations, Sessions walked a fine line but came across as aggressive without being mean or insensitive. The Alabama Republican made the case against Sotomayor without the votes to derail her confirmation. -Julie Hirschfeld Davis.Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. He wins the prize as the most quoted senator at Sotomayor’s confirmation. “Unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re going to get confirmed,” Graham told Sotomayor. He also said elections have consequences, a deft way of acknowledging her all-but-certain confirmation. -Jesse J. HollandLOSERS:Sotomayor. She heads toward confirmation as a caricature, remembered as much for her “wise Latina” quip and her ruling against white firefighters than anything she’s accomplished in the past. Maybe even the future. The Supreme Court is a low-profile job so this is likely her longest stretch on the public stage. -Ron FournierSessions. Wondering outloud about Sotomayor’s racial biases made Session’s past relevant, and front-page news. Sessions was blocked from the federal bench himself two decades ago for making insensitive remarks about the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP. -Ron Fournier
Graham. The South Carolina Republican seemed to try too hard to outsmart and outwit the nominee. -Merrill Hartson
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Brandy is putting the past behind her one payout at a time.
The Moesha star has settled a civil suit filed by another victim of her 2006 smashup that resulted in the death of a Los Angeles woman.
Mallory Ham, who was driving one of the other vehicles involved in the fatal accident and ended up sustaining lacerations to her face and a severely broken nose, won an undisclosed sum from Brandy's insurance company, according to RadarOnline.
The R&B star, real name Brandy Norwood, was driving along the 405 freeway on Dec. 30, 2006, when she lost control of her Land Rover and struck a Toyota Corolla driven by Awatef Aboudihaj, a 38-year-old wife and mother of two, who later died. Aboudihaj's two boys, Mrwan and Kareem Mohamed, then 15 and 11 respectively, suffered minor injuries but made a full recovery.
After an investigation, the California Highway Patrol recommended that a misdemeanor manslaughter charge be brought against Brandy, but prosecutors opted not to bring a criminal case, citing insufficient evidence.
Aboudihaj's widowed husband, Maroune Hdidou, subsequently sued the “Brokenhearted” singer for wrongful death on the children's behalf, for which she settled out of court by agreeing to pay each minor 300,000 (view court docs here).
Additional legal action followed including a 50 million complaint filed by Aboudihaj's parents, a claim brought by Donald Lite (another motorist caught in the collision who allegedly suffered “serious and permanent injuries”) and the suit brought by the 52-year-old Ham.
Brandy has since countersued Ham, accusing her of negligence and blaming her for causing the chain-reaction pileup because she broadsided Aboudihaj's car while trying to evade the other vehicle that entered her lane.
Lawyers for the 30-year-old Grammy winner and the plaintiff were not available for comment.
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WASHINGTON – A chaotic scene unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after police shot and killed an armed man in what authorities described as a routine rush hour traffic stop that turned deadly.
The unidentified man fled authorities, hitting one officer who was injured, said Sgt. Kim Schneider, U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman. The 35-year-old man was shot after being told to put down his weapon and refusing, Schneider said.
The late afternoon melee happened a few blocks from where the third day of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was wrapping up. Police briefly sealed off part of the Capitol as a precaution, but the complex was reopened shortly afterward.
Authorities said the incident was unrelated to the Capitol complex.
“There were so many gunshots being fired my family got down,” said Robert Drumm, a tourist from Oklahoma who was visiting the nation’s capital with his family.
He said he saw someone being taken away in an ambulance. He said he first noticed trouble when he saw one car speeding and being chased by a police vehicle.
Numerous emergency vehicles converged quickly in the area.
Another witness, Dale Lanigan of Toledo, Ohio, described a similar scene, although he said two police cars gave chase.
As the car went past him, Lanigan said, “the driver had one hand on the wheel and it looked like he was reaching for something.”
Lanigan said he then heard shots and police ordered him to get away. He said the driver of the car was taken away in an ambulance.
WASHINGTON – House Democrats scrambling for ways to pay for overhauling health care would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to levels not seen since the 1980s, breaking one of President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges.
The tax increase would be limited to the top 1.2 percent of earners — families that make more than 350,000 a year. But it would raise a total of 544 billion over the next decade, covering a little more than half the cost of the health care plan.
The bill unveiled by House Democratic leaders Tuesday would create three new tax brackets for high earners, with a top rate of 45 percent for families making more than 1 million. That would be the highest income tax rate since 1986, when the top rate was 50 percent.
The plan would honor Obama’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on families making less than 250,000. But it would break an Obama pledge that no one — including the wealthy — would pay higher taxes than they did in the 1990s. The pledge, as listed on Obama’s campaign Web site, was: “No family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.”
Democrats argue that high-income families fared well under President George W. Bush’s two terms as their taxes dropped and their incomes soared, giving them the ability to absorb higher taxes. Republicans argue that the tax increases would hurt small business owners who typically pay their business taxes on their individual returns.
Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, called the plan “the moral thing to do.”
“This innovative bill provides a uniquely American solution to control costs and put patients first without burdening future generations with debt,” the New York Democrat said.
Obama’s strategy throughout the health care debate has been to publicly encourage the efforts of congressional Democrats even as they debate proposals that would break his campaign promises. The goal is to keep lawmakers working toward a package that expands coverage and slows the growth in costs.
On Wednesday, Obama said that both the House bill and a separate measure passed by a Senate committee would “take what’s best about our system today and make it the basis of our system tomorrow — reducing costs, raising quality, and ensuring fair treatment of consumers by the insurance industry.”
House Democratic leaders hope to pass the health care bill before Congress goes on vacation in August. Under the House plan, the federal government would be responsible for ensuring that all people, regardless of income or the state of their health, have access to an affordable insurance plan. Individuals and employers would have new obligations to get coverage, or face hefty penalties.
The bill would add a 5.4 percent income tax “surcharge” on families making more than 1 million a year, starting in 2011. Families making more than 350,000 would get a 1 percent tax and those making more than 500,000 would get a 1.5 percent tax.
If certain savings in the health care system are not achieved by 2013, the new tax on families making more than 350,000 would increase to 2 percent, and the tax on those making more than 500,000 would go to 3 percent.
Currently, the top marginal income tax rate is 35 percent. Obama wants to let some tax cuts enacted under Bush expire, boosting the top rate to 39.6 percent in 2011. The new health care taxes would increase the top rate to 45 percent.
House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the bill a job killer that would result in rationed care, fewer choices for patients and diminished quality.
“If this isn’t bad enough, this new maze of government bureaucracy will be funded by a new small business tax that will cost more American jobs,” Boehner said. “During a time of economic recession, the last thing Congress should be doing is punishing small businesses that create a majority of the jobs in this country.”
Democrats argue that the tax increases would affect only 4.1 percent of tax filers who report small business income. Those small businesses, however tend to be the ones that employ the most workers, according to data from the National Federation of Independent Business.
The National Association of Manufacturers said the new taxes would make it harder for small businesses to grow, invest and create jobs.
“These new taxes will have longstanding negative consequences to the U.S. economy and cost jobs,” Jay Timmons, the association’s executive vice president, wrote in a letter to members of Congress.
WASHINGTON Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a major foreign policy speech and some Washington political observers ask: “Is she trying to get back in the spotlight?”
Supporters of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insist she is not being sidelined.
Since she slipped and broke her elbow last month, the secretary has had to cancel an international trip, and some inside-the-Beltway types are reading the tea leaves. Is it another step in the process of keeping Secretary Clinton from the real foreign policy decision-making in the Obama administration? “The Daily Beast’s” Tina Brown writes: “Left behind on major presidential trips, overruled in choosing her own staffHillary Clinton is the invisible woman at State.” “It’s time for Barack Obama to let Hillary Clinton take off her burqa,” she said. The Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland said it’s President Obama’s inner circle, advisers such as chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser David Axelrod, who are controlling the president’s foreign policy message. He predicts “tensions will emerge instead between the close-in advisers and the Cabinet secretaries who have been chosen to sell and implement policies more than to decide them.” Clinton aides say charges that the secretary is being “back-benched” are “wholly false.” Watch why some say Clinton is being sidelined » It is true that Clinton did not appear on a Sunday television talk show until June 7, but one senior official said the White House asked her three times previously to make media appearances.
Clinton: Obama vetting process ‘a nightmare’
Colin Powell gives Hillary Clinton advice
International travel and scheduling conflicts interfered, the official said. The premise that the administration wants to sideline her, he said, is “nonsense.” Other officials point to Clinton’s key role in directing policy on China, Russia and North Korea and on a strategic dialogue with India. They said she is successfully winning back some of the influence and responsibilities traditionally held by the State Department but ceded to the Pentagon under the Bush administration. Clinton also will deliver what’s being billed as a major foreign policy address Wednesday before heading to India and Thailand this weekend.
Other Clinton supporters said that although the domestic media spotlight has shifted from the nation’s “rock star” first diplomat to high-profile international appearances by Obama, Clinton maintains a high profile abroad thanks to her intensive travel schedule to Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Mideast. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, a core Obama supporter during the election campaign and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN, “I believe Hillary Clinton, in the arena of foreign policy, is the leader working with the president, and I think she’s done it very well.”
LOS ANGELES, California A previously unreleased video of Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984 was posted online by Us magazine Wednesday.
Michael Jackson, shown here in the mid-’80s, was involved in a accident while filming a commercial.
The onstage mishap 25 years ago, in which Jackson’s scalp was burned, has been blamed for leading the entertainer to prescription pain medications. A publicist for Us magazine said the publication would not comment on how the video was obtained. The dramatic footage shows pyrotechnics exploding near Jackson and yellow flames immediately erupting on his black hair. The pop star continues to dance down stairs for about 10 seconds before stage hands rush to him to douse the fire that has covered his scalp. A bald spot is clearly seen at the top of Jackson’s head as he stands up. Still wearing his trademark sequined glove, Jackson grabs his head with his hands as he is led offstage. Watch the accident unfold » The videoposted at usmagazine.comalso shows early takes of the commercial in which the fireworks were triggered several seconds after Jackson began dancing down the stairs, putting him well away from the blasts.
The commercial was filmed in Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium before a live audience on January 27, 1984. It was part of Jackson’s groundbreaking Pepsi sponsorship, near the height of his popularity.
WASHINGTON – In a light moment at confirmation hearings immersed at the time in arcane legal talk, Sonia Sotomayor acknowledged she watched TV Tuesday night — and that it was more likely the All-Star game than a re-run of her testimony.
Sotomayor, a native of New York, was asked by Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar (KLOH’-buh-shahr) if she’d tuned in to the game. The judge said only that she’d turned it on “for a little while.”
Sotomayor is a Yankee fan, and Klobuchar wanted to make sure she knew that shortstop Derek Jeter was in the game and she noted that Joe Mauer, a catcher for the Minnesota Twins, got a key hit. Baltimore’s Adam Jones drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly.
Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy, a Vermonter, quipped that “I’m resisting any Red Sox comments.”
(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. SUBS 3rd graf to correct Mauer got key hit, Adam Jones of Baltimore drove in winning run.)
WASHINGTON – Nearly a dozen shark-attack victims — many of them badly scarred or missing limbs — pressed Congress on Wednesday to protect a sea creature they’d rather not run into again.
The group wants to strengthen laws protecting sharks from “finning,” in which fins are sliced from sharks for their meat, leaving the fish for dead. The growing market for fin meat, a popular soup delicacy in Asia, threatens many shark species around the world, they say.
“We bring pretty instant credibility,” said Chuck Anderson, a school athletic director from Summerdale, Ala., who spent 13 days in intensive care and lost most of his right arm after being attacked by a bull shark in 2000 while swimming off Gulf Shores, Ala. “I’ve yet to run into anyone who disagrees with us.”
Anderson and other attack victims wore white T-shirts reading “Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation” as they met with senators and staffers. The lobbying blitz was organized by the Pew Environment Group to pass a bill strengthening language in an existing ban on finning in U.S. waters.
The measure, which supporters say would close loopholes and allow for stronger enforcement, easily passed the House by voice vote in March and has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Among other things, it would prohibit sea vessels from carrying illegal fins whether they fished them or not, and it would allow the U.S. to call attention to other nations that are not following through with finning bans.
Anderson and Al Brenneka, who lost his right arm to a seven-foot lemon shark while surfing off Delray Beach, Fla., in 1976, said their attacks prompted them to learn more about sharks and, ultimately, to believe that humans are a far greater threat to them than they are to people.
“I don’t think it’s right for me to be angry. I went into their environment,” said Anderson, who said the bull shark that attacked him pulled him 15 feet to the bottom of the ocean, flipping him around “like a ragdoll,” before snapping off his arm.
Brenneka, who lost so much blood after his attack that his heart stopped temporarily, said he felt some resentment initially. But “after a while you learn that it’s really not the sharks that are doing anything wrong,” he said.
“They’re actually a shy animal, and when they do attack it’s a freak occurrence,” said Brenneka, a computer repairman from Spring Hope, N.C. “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Shark attacks are extremely rare. There were 59 worldwide last year, four of them fatal, according to George Burgess, a leading shark expert who directs the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History.
Meanwhile, a study released last month by the International Union for Conservation of Nature found that roughly a third of all sharks worldwide are in danger of extinction. The threatened species include hammerheads, the great white and mako sharks.
The organization said sharks killed at sea are often used only for their fin meat or are incidental bycatch as fishermen seek tuna and swordfish. Finning has been banned in most international waters, but advocacy groups say the rules are poorly enforced.
The Senate bill is S. 850.
On the Net:
Space shuttle finally takes off
The US space agency Nasa has successfully launched the space shuttle Endeavour – at the sixth attempt.Earlier launches at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida were called off because of bad weather and fuel leaks. The crew will spend 16 days on the International Space Station, finishing work on a Japanese research laboratory. If the shuttle had not taken off by Thursday, it would have had to have waited until the end of the month to make way for a Russian cargo ship. The orbiter is taking a seven-strong crew into space, made up of six Americans and one Canadian – Julie Payette – who will operate the shuttle’s robotic arm during the mission. Their arrival will bring the total crew on the outpost to 13 – a record for the International Space Station (ISS).
During five spacewalks, a platform will be added to the Japanese lab complex, which can be used for experiments that require materials to be exposed to the harsh environment of space. In addition, Endeavour will deliver a new long-stay US crew member, Tim Kopra, to the ISS and bring back Japan’s Koichi Wakata, who has lived aboard the platform for more than three months. The space station, now about the size of a four-bedroom house, has been under construction for more than a decade. This is the 127th space shuttle flight, the 29th to the station, the 23rd for Endeavour and the third in 2009. Seven further flights to the platform remain before the shuttles retire in 2010.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Donald Trump says a former winner of his TV reality show would do “fantastically” as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor.
Randal Pinkett is among the names being considered by Gov. Jon Corzine as a running mate in the November general election.
Pinkett is a businessman who won Season 4 of NBC’s “The Apprentice.”
Trump says Pinkett emerged as the leader of a group of intimidating, highly educated competitors by using charm instead of pressure.
Trump tells The Associated Press Pinkett “didn’t do it with the stick.”
Trump won’t say whether he has spoken with Pinkett about the No. 2 job, but adds the Rhodes scholar is a tremendous leader.
TORONTO (Reuters) –
It took a child to stump the creators of the BlackBerry, one of the world's top selling smartphones and a part of most executives' attire.
“Are you going to make a phone more for kids so that my Mom will let me get one?” the child said from the packed audience at the annual general shareholders' meeting at Canada's Research in Motion on Tuesday.
The world's No. 2 smartphone maker has so far aimed its near-ubiquitous BlackBerry mobile phone mostly at executives, with U.S. President Obama being its highest-profile user.
The child's question met with hums and haws by RIM Co-Chief Executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis before they summoned up a vague response.
“There's lots of opportunity and, you know, if the current BlackBerries aren't acceptable to your mother, hopefully the next ones will,” Lazaridis said.
The interaction was striking in light of a recent research note written by 15-year-old Matthew Robson, an intern at Morgan Stanley, on “How Teenagers Consume Media,” which caused a stir after it was published by the bank.
At the otherwise uneventful shareholder meeting, RIM said it was advancing its campaign to win over more people to its devices, which includes sponsorship of the U2 360 Tour by one of the world's most popular rock bands ever.
The RIM CEOs said they spent the last 25 years, since RIM was founded, catering to highly demanding industries, and for three years to the general consumer market.
(Reporting by Pav Jordan; Editing by Richard Chang)
LOS ANGELES – Harry Potter has conjured up a record-breaking witching hour.
The latest adventure of the teen wizard, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” took in 22.2 million domestically from midnight screenings, distributor Warner Bros. said Thursday. That breaks the record set by another Warner blockbuster, “The Dark Knight,” which grossed 18.5 million from midnight shows last summer.
The sixth installment in the “Harry Potter” franchise also topped this year’s biggest hit, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which pulled in 16 million from midnight screenings on its first day in June.
“Half-Blood Prince” raked in 10 million more from midnight screenings than part five, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” in summer 2007.
There was pent-up demand for “Harry Potter” after that last movie. The two-year lag since “Order of the Phoenix” was the longest fans have had to wait for a new “Harry Potter” flick since the first movie arrived in 2001.
Warner originally planned to release “Half-Blood Prince” last November but bumped it to 2009 to take advantage of an open weekend in Hollywood’s busy summer schedule.
“We’re sorry that it caused some angst with our fans, but they’re troopers, and they came out and supported the movie,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner.
The new movie has Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) trying to pry loose a hidden memory from one of his teachers, who holds key information about the wizard world’s darkest enemy, Lord Voldemort.
Earning some of the best reviews in the franchise’s history, the new “Harry Potter” tale played to packed crowds in 3,003 theaters for its midnight debut. Domestically, that theater count climbed to 4,275 later Wednesday, and 50 more cinemas will be added Friday.
With that kind of market saturation, “Half-Blood Prince” could set other new box-office highs — both for the “Harry Potter” franchise and Hollywood in general.
“It’s definitely within reach of some of the biggest records in box-office history,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com
“Order of the Phoenix” also opened on a Wednesday and had the franchise’s best five-day debut at 139.7 million. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” had the top three-day weekend opening of 102.7 million.
“The Dark Knight” is the record-holder for best opening day (67.2 million), best weekend (158.4 million) and best five-day debut (203.8 million).
The seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” is being split into two parts for the big screen, with the first movie due out in November 2010 and the second in July 2011.
David Yates, who directed both “Half-Blood Prince” and “Order of the Phoenix,” also is making the final two films.
“We just wish there were another four books,” Fellman said.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Brett Favre acknowledged he’s “running out of time” to decide whether he’ll play for the Minnesota Vikings this season.
The quarterback told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he’ll give the Vikings an answer on whether he’ll play by the July 30 start of training camp. Favre has been working out with the Oak Grove High School football team three days a week all summer, but added a Sunday workout this week.
“There’s two weeks left and I’m doing everything I can,” Favre said. “I was down here Sunday morning working out. I’m trying to get everything to where I feel 100 percent when I go in. I can’t go in any less. When you’re 39 years old, it’s hard enough. But it’s getting there.”
The former Packers and Jets quarterback said surgery to repair a biceps tendon in his throwing arm was successful and that he has enough velocity to return to the NFL. He’s just not sure whether that means he’ll be able to compete for an entire season.
“I felt like going to New York last year that I still had it,” Favre said. “I didn’t know my arm was hurt at the time. So that’s what I try to get across to people. I had that fixed, the surgery to fix that, so I’m trying to make sure that if I go back that part is completely resolved.”
It sure looked like it Wednesday morning, when a jovial Favre hit a variety of passes to high school and college wide receivers. He was crisp on short timing passes and was hitting receivers in the end zone from about 50 yards away. He attempted a few deep passes off bootlegs and usually hit his targets in stride.
Favre’s spirals held true and he proved he still has plenty of zip when he tossed a deep pass to a college receiver who dropped by to work out. The pass split the receiver’s hands and hit him in the face.
“He’s a senior from Southeastern Louisiana, so I put a little more on it,” Favre said with a smile.
Favre said if the arm strength wasn’t there, he wouldn’t be making a bid to return for his 19th season in the league.
“I don’t think Minnesota would even consider it if I didn’t have it,” Favre said. “Second of all, I wouldn’t even think about it if I didn’t have it. Now, having it here and having in on the field on Sundays is two different things, I know that for a fact. I know what it takes to play on Sunday and I still believe I have that.”
Favre said his hesitation is more about what those watching him practice might not see. He used a golfing analogy to explain his situation. What if, he asked, Tiger Woods came back and found he didn’t have the same game?
“He goes out and hits a 2 iron and he thinks it will go the normal distance it has all his life, then all of a sudden it’s 13 yards short, and he says, ‘I don’t know why that is because everything felt perfect,’ so that’s what I have to get through,” Favre said.
“If you’re throwing and it’s a little off and you have a little pain, it’s a little bit understandable. If there’s no pain and there’s no excuse, that’s where you’ve got a problem. So I want to go out and have one of those days throwing and then have another where all of those throws you make, every warmup throw you make or just in general, feels perfect.”
Favre was released by the Jets earlier this year, clearing the way for him to sign with any team willing to take him. Dr. James Andrews performed surgery May 22 to address the injured biceps tendon, which hampered Favre down the stretch last season.
The Vikings have remained mostly quiet on the topic in recent weeks, preferring to let Favre work through his rehabilitation from the surgery and make up his own mind.
At a fan forum in June, owner Zygi Wilf made it clear officials were receptive to Favre joining the team and the decision was Favre’s to make.
“Right now, it’s all up to Brett Favre in terms of where his future is at,” Wilf told about 1,200 fans gathered at the State Theatre. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Coach Brad Childress has had sporadic conversations with Favre throughout the summer.
“He’s trying to make a push to get back,” Childress said in June. “I just know this, he won’t play unless he feels like he’s able to play at the level that he’s played over the course of the years. I know he’s working hard.”
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.