- - Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Rep. Giffords speaking ‘more and more’

PHOENIX | Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona spoke for the first time since she was shot in the forehead, her spokesman said Wednesday, yet another milestone in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

Ms. Giffords first spoke within the past few days and is speaking “more and more,” spokesman C.J. Karamargin said. He didn’t know what her first words were, but said at breakfast one morning she asked for toast.

“She’s working very hard, and it’s paying off,” he told the Associated Press. “We’re elated at this. We always knew Gabby is a fighter and that she’s not going to let this thing win. And you know, every day is proof of that.”

Six people, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, were killed in the attack outside a grocery store where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents. Thirteen people, including Ms. Giffords, were injured.

Other news organizations, including Politico, earlier reported that Ms. Giffords had asked for toast and was able to speak.


Paul calls Fed’s Bernanke ‘cocky’

Republican Ron Paul, an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, called Chairman Ben S. Bernanke “cocky” Wednesday in the first hearing he held as the head of a House panel that oversees the U.S. central bank.

Mr. Paul, a former presidential candidate who has waged war for decades against the Fed, earned a platform to air his views after the Republicans won control of the House in November elections and made him chairman of a banking subcommittee.

At his first hearing of the subcommittee, Mr. Paul reiterated some of his unvarnished criticism of Mr. Bernanke.

“He is really cocky about this,” Mr. Paul said about Mr. Bernanke’s plans to unwind the toxic assets the Fed took on from troubled banks during the height of the 2007-2009 crisis.


Feds take action against tax-credit fraud

The Justice Department says it has sued seven tax preparers in five states to stop them from fraudulently claiming first-time homebuyer and earned-income tax credits.

The department also obtained an indictment of a Philadelphia man in the law enforcement initiative, charging Jonathan Brownlee with filing false federal tax returns. The government says Mr. Brownlee knew that the people whose names he used for the first-time homebuyer credit were not entitled to it because they had not purchased a home and had not signed a contract to do so.


Courthouse to be named for slain federal judge

Congress voted to name a courthouse in Yuma, Ariz., after John M. Roll, Arizona’s chief federal judge who, along with five others, was killed in the Jan. 8 shooting attack that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded.

The House approved the measure, introduced by Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona, on a 429-0 vote. The Senate passed it last week.

Construction is to begin in July on the courthouse for which Roll, 63 when he died, had advocated and recently approved the design.

Roll, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, was attending Giffords‘ meet-and-greet at a Tucson supermarket when the alleged gunman, Jared Loughner, opened fire. Giffords was shot in the head, and 12 others were wounded.


Obama takes Web out into the wild

MARQUETTE | President Obama is taking his nationwide broadband access campaign to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where people love their isolation and open spaces but are hungry for economic opportunities that will keep more of their young people from moving away.

Mr. Obama is making a stop Thursday in Marquette, which is trying to develop a Web-based economy that will serve as a model for other communities.

Among the businesses taking advantage of the high-speed Internet access are a century-old outdoor clothing store that ships coats and woolen socks across the nation and a newer company that sells miniature video cameras that skiers, mountain bikers and troops in Afghanistan attach to their helmets to record themselves in action.

Mr. Obama’s National Wireless Initiative calls for extending coverage to 98 percent of the population.


Lawmakers reject effort to collect pay from U.N.

The House rejected a Republican-led effort to force the United Nations to give back $179 million in overpayments.

The vote was 259-169. Two-thirds of the votes were needed for the bill to pass.

Republicans pushed for the legislation as part of a cost-cutting effort. The State Department said $100 million of the money already had been designated for New York City’s police department to improve security around the U.N. facility.

Democrats and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King, New York Republican, opposed the measure. Mr. King said a terrorist attack in the area would be catastrophic.

The money goes to the Tax Equalization Fund, which was established to pay U.S. employees of the U.N. who have to pay taxes when their foreign counterparts do not.


Republicans urge end to Fannie, Freddie aid

House Republicans say it is time to end a costly federal bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has cost taxpayers $150 billion.

At a hearing Wednesday of the House Financial Services Committee, Democrats generally agreed that changes are needed in the two housing finance giants. But they cautioned that going too far could jeopardize the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and the access to the housing market that Fannie and Freddie have helped provide to many moderate-income families.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats suggested specific plans for overhauling the two companies, a task that is expected to take Congress many months or longer.

In coming days, the Treasury Department is expected to release a report stating the Obama administration’s views about how to reshape Fannie and Freddie.

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