– Dispatches


Pelosi welcomes Netanyahu, vows support from Congress

WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a warmer public reception from Congress than from the Obama administration, with a top Democrat and Republican joining Tuesday to praise a leader who has refused to back down in a disagreement the White House says threatens new peace talks.

The bipartisan welcome underscored the breadth of congressional support for Israel even when a U.S. president wants to keep his distance. And it pointed to the limited options, beyond verbal rebukes, that the Obama administration faces in pressuring the Jewish state.

“We in Congress stand by Israel,” the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., assured Netanyahu at an all-smiles appearance. “In Congress we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel.”

At issue is Israel’s announcement two weeks ago that it will build 1,600 new apartments in east Jerusalem, the largely Arab section of the disputed holy city.


Toyota to replace gas pedals if customers don’t like repair

Toyota is telling dealers it will provide replacement accelerator pedals to owners who are dissatisfied with their repairs under the massive recall.

The Japanese automaker says in a memo obtained Tuesday that if a customer is unhappy with the feel of the accelerator after it’s fixed, dealers can provide a replacement pedal at no charge.

Pet shops argue against ban on importing snakes

A proposed ban on the sale and importation of pythons and other constrictive snakes threatens the livelihood of thousands of pet shops and breeders, Congress was told on Tuesday.

The ban proposed by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was inspired by the invasion of thousands of Burmese pythons in the Everglades, where they gobble up wading birds, alligators and deer.

Florida officials welcome the ban and urged Congress to find ways to screen imported plants and animals to prevent invaders from damaging the state’s ecosystem.

Critics said a ban would jeopardize a billion-dollar pet trade without ridding the Everglades of non-native snakes.


Doctors influenced by drug companies, psychiatrist says

American psychiatrists need to break away from a “culture of influence” created by their financial dealings with the drug industry, the head of the National Institute of Mental Health said in a leading medical journal.

Dr. Thomas Insel stops short of calling researchers corrupt or asking them to stop taking money from drug companies. But he highlights a “bias in prescribing practices” that favors brand names drugs over cheaper generics and non-drug treatments.

“We can show the rest of medicine how to clean up our act,” Insel told The Associated Press.

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