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Down-home cooking, park salute on holiday menu

By Times Wires
Published November 30, 2007



Back by popular demand: Chicken-fried steak is on the White House holiday menu again this year.

The crispy steak fingers, served with creamed pan drippings, are just one item on a menu of treats from across America that will be sampled by an estimated 20,000 people at the White House this holiday season. The decorations, including 862 feet of garland, also reflect the nation from coast to coast to go with the theme, "Holiday in the National Parks."

"The national parks are represented all over the White House, from the east entrance, when you're greeted with Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from North Carolina," first lady Laura Bush said Thursday during a preview tour of the decorations. "You walk on in, you see the fabulous gold leaves of the aspens from the Appalachian Trail."  


Leahy disputes Bush privilege

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said Thursday that President Bush was not involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys last winter, and he therefore ruled illegal the president's executive privilege claims protecting his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former adviser Karl Rove.

Leahy directed Bolten, Rove, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy to comply "immediately" with their subpoenas for documents and information about the White House's role in the firings of U.S. attorneys. "I hereby rule that those claims are not legally valid to excuse current and former White House employees from appearing, testifying and producing documents related to this investigation," wrote Leahy, D-Vt.


VA nominee vows speedy fixes

Ret. Army Lt. Gen. James Peake pledged to move quickly to fix gaps in veterans' health care if confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary, saying urgent action is needed to improve medical record-keeping and pare down the VA's monthslong delay in disability payments.

In a 28-page disclosure obtained Thursday, the U.S. Army surgeon general from 2000 to 2004 also denied having "firsthand" knowledge of shoddy outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And he sought to allay concerns of possible conflicts of interest due to his position as chief medical officer of QTC Management, which has held millions of dollars of contracts with the VA.



[Last modified November 30, 2007, 01:39:05]

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