- - Thursday, November 24, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama concedes tough economy this Thanksgiving

President Obama, in his weekly address, urged Americans facing tough economic times this Thanksgiving to believe in the nation’s ability to overcome its challenges.

In a taped Thanksgiving message, Mr. Obama said the partisanship and gridlock in Washington may make people question whether unity is possible. But he insisted the nation’s problems can be solved if all Americans do their part.

Mr. Obama also encouraged Americans to remember the men and women of the military who are spending the holiday serving overseas. And he thanked those who took time out of their Thanksgiving celebrations to serve in soup kitchens and shelters.

MILITARY

Obama telephones thanks to service members abroad

President Obama on Thursday telephoned 10 U.S. service members stationed abroad to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and praise their military service.

Mr. Obama made the calls Thursday morning from the Oval Office to two members each from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy who are deployed in support of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Obama has made the Thanksgiving calls each year since becoming president.

The first family later Thursday sat down for a holiday feast that included turkey, ham, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner rolls. Dessert selections included banana cream pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, huckleberry pie and cherry pie.

DEMONSTRATIONS

Occupy protests cost cities at least $13M

NEW YORK — During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more from the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by the Associated Press.

The heaviest financial burden has fallen upon law enforcement agencies tasked with monitoring marches and evicting protesters from outdoor camps. And the steepest costs by far piled up in New York City and Oakland, Calif., where police clashed with protesters on several occasions.

The AP gathered figures from government agencies in 18 cities with active protests and focused on costs through Nov. 15, the day protesters were evicted from New York City’s Zuccotti Park, where the protests began Sept. 17 before spreading nationwide. The survey did not attempt to tally the price of all protests, but provides a glimpse of costs to cities large and small.

Broken down city by city, the numbers are more or less in line with the cost of policing major public events and emergencies. In Los Angeles, for example, the Michael Jackson memorial concert cost the city $1.4 million. And Atlanta spent several million dollars after a major snow and ice storm this year.

IMMIGRATION

Two congressmen test new deportation policy

CHICAGO — With the Obama administration’s new approach to deportations creating confusion for immigrants and authorities alike, two Illinois congressmen are actively seeking sympathetic cases to test which illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay in the country.

Democratic Reps. Luis V. Gutierrez and Janice D. Schakowsky think they’ve had success: About six people in the Chicago area recently had deportations halted or delayed after the congressmen intervened, including a Pakistani family who overstayed visas and whose case Mrs. Schakowsky personally presented to Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano.

Since Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced in June that deportations would focus on immigrants who had committed crimes, the congressmen have aggressively sought cases of others with no criminal backgrounds on the verge of deportation — people who are sick, have U.S. citizen family members and who were brought to the U.S. at a young age — and taken them to ICE instead of waiting for a promised review of 300,000 cases pending in federal immigration courts. Ms. Napolitano, who announced the review in August, said it started last week.

“We want to help navigate what remains right now a fairly unclear system,” said Mrs. Schakowsky.

Federal officials announced the change after sustained outcry from immigration-reform advocates that the Obama administration was deporting a record number each year — around 400,000 — including many who weren’t hardened criminals.

TEXAS

Fed court proposes congressional districts

AUSTIN — Minorities will make up the majority of voters in three additional Texas congressional districts under a proposed redistricting map released by a federal court Wednesday, but the Republican attorney general immediately said he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the maps.

If the 2012 elections were held under the interim maps, Democrats would have an advantage as they seek to win back the U.S. House and try to claim more seats in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Minorities currently are the majority in 10 of 32 Texas districts, and the new map would raise that to 13 out of 36, if the court gives the map final approval as expected. Texas is gaining four seats in Congress as a result of the 2010 census.

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia targets municipal retirees owing back taxes

PHILADELPHIA — Officials in Philadelphia say they will begin withholding pension benefits from municipal retirees who owe taxes to the city.

Mayor Michael Nutter said Wednesday that approximately 2,500 pension recipients collectively owe nearly $13 million in delinquent taxes.

Those who do not make voluntary repayment arrangements could have up to 25 percent of their benefits deducted from their pension checks.

In addition to withholding pension benefits, officials say they may publish the names of tax delinquents on the city’s website.

About 33,000 people receive pensions from the city.

IOWA

Recount confirms mayor’s 1-vote win

EVANSDALE — A recount showed no change in the vote totals, which means Evansdale Mayor Chad Deutsch has won re-election by one vote.

The hand count Wednesday by Black Hawk County officials confirmed the Nov. 8 election results. The totals remained 368 votes for Mr. Deutsch, 367 for City Council member Gene Walker.

Mr. Walker watched the recount and said he was satisfied the results were accurate.

Mr. Deutsch will begin his third two-year term in January.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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