Postal workers reach contract deal
The U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union said Monday that they have reached tentative agreement on a new contract.
If ratified by union membership, the deal would run through May 20, 2015, and cover about 205,000 postal employees. The union said the agreement calls for raises totaling 3.5 percent in three steps and protects jobs.
In separate negotiations, the post office and 67,000-member National Rural Letter Carriers Association are still talking. Contracts with two other unions expire in November.
White House: Don't bypass appellate court
The Obama administration says the Supreme Court should not permit Virginia to sidestep a federal appeals court in the state's challenge to the health care law.
In court papers filed with the justices Monday, the federal government says there is no reason to take the extremely rare step of "short-circuiting" review by appellate judges, which already has been accelerated.
A federal judge in Virginia struck down the centerpiece of the health care law, the requirement that Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014.
The Obama administration urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., to reverse the ruling, saying the requirement is within Congress' powers.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking to leapfrog the appeals court.
Barbour aide quits; 'dark humor' e-mail cited
JACKSON | Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's press secretary has resigned after "dark humor" remarks he made about Japan and Janet Reno in a daily e-mailed news digest became public.
Mr. Barbour is a likely candidate to run for the Republican nomination for president.
Dan Turner said he made poor decisions and does not want to reflect poorly on the governor.
The comments were parenthetical remarks about events from a website listing daily historic events.
About Otis Redding's posthumous gold record for "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," Mr. Turner wrote "(Not a big hit in Japan right now.")
About Janet Reno's confirmation as the first female U.S. attorney general, he made a joke that talked about her gender.
Mr. Turner says the governor never saw the jokes.
Lawmaker quits after Siberia quip
CONCORD | A 91-year-old freshman Republican lawmaker who suggested the mentally disabled should be shipped to Siberia has resigned from the New Hampshire House.
State Rep. Martin Harty of Barrington said in his resignation letter Monday that he was sorry his "big mouth caused this furor." He said with all the "slightly unfavorable publicity," he couldn't be effective.
Mr. Harty's comments came to light last week during testimony at a hearing on proposed cuts to the state budget. When confronted about the comment, Mr. Harty was unapologetic. He said he was kidding around with a female caller who supported funding for the homeless when he raised the issue of eugenics and the world's population growth.
He said he didn't know what to do with mentally disturbed people and suggested renting a spot in Russia.
Obama seeks stricter gun laws
Two months after the shooting of a congresswoman, President Obama called Sunday for more stringent enforcement of existing gun laws, citing the "awful consequences" of gun violence in American society.
In an Op-Ed essay in the Arizona Daily Star, Mr. Obama says legislation to bolster criminal background checks for gun buyers hasn't been properly implemented, with too many states providing "incomplete and inadequate" information.
He suggested rewarding states that provide the most comprehensive information to the criminal background database.
"We should make the system faster and nimbler," the president added. "We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it."
The Arizona Daily Star is based in Tucson, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot during a January rampage in which six were killed and 12 others wounded. The accused assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, was considered mentally unstable, yet because he was never deemed mentally ill by a judge or committed to an institution, he was able to legally buy the gun police said he used.
Mr. Obama acknowledged that it isn't easy to find common ground between gun owners and gun-control advocates.
From wire dispatches and staff reports
Shock jocks impact politics
LOS ANGELES | California's new governor faces daunting obstacles as he tries to erase a $26.6 billion budget gap, but one of the hardest to ignore is a pair of outspoken AM-radio hosts.
John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou use their daily "John and Ken Show" to browbeat and menace any Republican who might consider sidling up with the Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who wants to raise about $50 billion by extending higher sales, vehicle and income taxes.
Dismiss them as political shock jocks or admire them as conservative crusaders, but there is no dispute that Mr. Kobylt and Mr. Chiampou are entertainment hotshots in Southern California and part of the fabric of conservative politics in the state.
They have been on the air for nearly two decades in the Los Angeles market and have a grip on the loudest megaphone around: their KFI-AM program is the top-rated talk-radio show in the region.
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