- - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PRESIDENCY

Palin: I could beat Obama

Sarah Palin says she could defeat President Obama if she seeks the White House in 2012.

In an excerpt of an ABC News interview released Wednesday, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee says she’s considering a presidential run. When asked directly if she thought she could defeat Mr. Obama, the former Alaska governor replied, ?I believe so.?

An Associated Press-GfK poll earlier this month found Mrs. Palin the most polarizing of the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates. The poll says 46 percent of Americans view her favorably, 49 percent unfavorably, and 5 percent don’t know enough about her to form an opinion.

Yet among adults who identify themselves as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, 79 percent view her favorably.

SENATE

Senate Republicans block pay measure

Senate Republicans have succeeded in blocking a measure designed to reduce wage disparities between men and women.

The 58-41 vote to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act fell short of the 60 needed to overcome GOP opposition.

Civil rights groups, labor leaders and the Obama administration all supported the bill, which would make employers prove that any disparities in wages are job-related and not sex-based.

Republicans and business groups said the bill would expose employers to more litigation by removing limits on punitive and compensatory damage awards.

The bill was one of the first measures passed by the House last year after President Obama was elected.

MINNESOTA

GOP sues over ballots in race

ST. PAUL | The Republican Party of Minnesota took the governor’s race to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking to shrink the ballot pool in the undecided contest between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer before a recount begins after Thanksgiving.

A person with direct knowledge of the filing told the Associated Press that the GOP was asking the high court to force election officials to remove ballots in all precincts statewide where more votes were cast than the number of voters recorded. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he didn’t want speak publicly ahead of an afternoon GOP news conference.

There’s no guarantee that the process, known as reconciliation, would cut into Mr. Dayton’s 8,700-plus vote lead over Mr. Emmer.

Mr. Dayton’s current lead is within the margin that automatically triggers a hand recount of all 2.1 million ballots cast statewide. That recount is expected to be officially called when the state canvassing board meets next week. If it runs as scheduled, it would wrap up by mid-December. It wasn’t immediately clear how much time the new GOP legal demand could add to that process.

Mr. Emmer has vowed not to drag the election on longer than necessary, but he has also said processes must be followed to ensure votes are counted fairly. He has not ruled out a court challenge following the recount, which has the potential to push the cliffhanger past the Jan. 3 swearing-in date for the new governor.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama mulls Altman for economic adviser

The White House is considering at least one business executive to serve as President Obama’s top economic adviser.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president is considering naming investment banker Roger Altman to replace National Economic Council director Lawrence H. Summers, who is leaving the White House at the end of the year to return to Harvard University.

Mr. Altman met with Mr. Obama at the White House on Tuesday. However, Mr. Gibbs says the process to replace Mr. Summers is still in its early stages and that other good candidates are being considered. He wouldn’t elaborate on who else was under consideration.

Mr. Altman served as deputy Treasury secretary under President Clinton. He later founded Evercore Partners, an investment banking firm.

The White House has been criticized for having an economic team with experience steeped in academia, not the business world. Officials have said Mr. Obama may try to increase the private sector’s presence in the administration to combat the notion that the president is anti-business a perception the president said he hasn’t done enough to correct.

?I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community, as well as to the country, that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector and make sure that they’re hiring,? Mr. Obama said during a press conference earlier this month.

FDA

Makers warned on caffeine-alcohol drinks

Four marketers of popular caffeinated, high-alcohol drinks have been sent warning letters that these products are not safe and cannot be portrayed as safe, federal officials said Wednesday.

Caffeine is an ?unsafe food additive? in a malt alcoholic beverage, the Food and Drug Administration said, citing studies that associate such beverages with risk-taking behaviors in drinkers, who purchase and consume it in a manner similar to beer.

The alcohol content in a single can is exceptionally high ? up to 12 percent, three times as strong as a typical beer ? while the caffeine serves to mask the drinker’s awareness of how drunk he is.

The Federal Trade Commission sent letters to the four companies advising them that the marketing of such drinks may constitute unfair or deceptive practices.

The four companies are United Brands Co., which sells Joose and Max; Phusion Products LLC, which sells Four Loko and Four Maxed; Charge Beverages Corp., which sells Core High Gravity, Core Spiked and El Jefe; and New Century Brewing Co., which sells Moonshot.

The four companies were asked to respond in 15 days to the FDA and FTC letters.

FDIC

Criminal probes begun in bank failures

The federal government has opened criminal investigations into approximately 50 executives and directors of U.S. banks that have collapsed during the financial crisis.

Deputy Inspector General Fred Gibson says the inspector general’s office at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has been probing the role of the executives in bank failures around the country.

The criminal investigations are separate from civil lawsuits against some 80 bank executives, employees and directors. The lawsuits are seeking to recover about $2 billion and were authorized by the FDIC’s board.

The FDIC has shut down or seized 311 banks since January 2008 at a cost of around $77 billion. The criminal probes were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

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