- - Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Post columnist Broder dies at 81

David Broder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post political columnist whose even-handed treatment of Democrats and Republicans set him apart from the ideological warriors on the nation’s Op-Ed pages, died Wednesday. He was 81.

Post officials said Mr. Broder died of complications from diabetes.

Mr. Broder, an Illinois native, was familiar to television viewers as a frequent panelist on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Program. He appeared on the program more than 400 times, far more than any other journalist in the show’s history.

To newspaper readers, he was one of the nation’s most prominent syndicated columnists. A September 2007 study by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters found that Mr. Broder was second among columnists only to George Will in the combined circulation of newspapers in which his column appeared.

He was the only one of the top five that the group did not label as either conservative or liberal.

“His even-handed approach has never wavered. He’d make a good umpire,” wrote Alan Shear, editorial director of the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicated Mr. Broder’s column. “Dave is neither left nor right, and can’t even be called reliably centrist. He reports exhaustively and his conclusions are grounded in hard facts.”


State stands firm on early primary

TALLAHASSEE | In a virtual replay of 2008, Florida is bucking the national Democratic and Republican parties in planning an early presidential primary, an act of defiance that creates strategic challenges for GOP candidates and could unravel the primary calendar next year.

The added wrinkle this time: The 2012 Republican National Convention is in Tampa, Fla. If national Republican leaders make good on their threat to penalize states that don’t follow the rules, Florida’s own delegates could be stopped at the door when the GOP gathers to pick its presidential ticket.

With the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature showing no signs of giving in, other states that want to have a large say early in the nominating process - including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina - are jockeying to stay out in front.

Political observers say the outcome of standoffs such as in Florida will help determine whether the political parties can bring order to the primary calendar or whether it becomes a free-for-all.


Feds targeting fake immigration lawyers

A top federal immigration official is asking states’ attorneys general to help him crack down on fake immigration lawyers and educate immigrants on how to spot them.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Alejandro Mayorkas told a group of attorneys general in Washington for a spring meeting that the federal government is eager to work with them to protect vulnerable immigrants and prosecute those who prey on them.

His agency and other federal and state agencies are launching an effort to warn people about the fake immigration lawyers, known as “notarios” who charge exorbitant fees and give fraudulent advice to people seeking citizenship, green cards or other immigration benefits.

Seven cities - Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio, along with Fresno, Calif. - will serve as test sites.


Inventories, sales support growth

U.S. wholesale inventories rose in January, and sales set their fastest pace in 14 months, suggesting restocking and strong demand would give a lift to the economy in the first quarter.

Total wholesale inventories increased 1.1 percent to $436.88 billion, the highest level since November 2008, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It said inventories rose an upwardly revised 1.3 percent in December.

At the same time, sales at the wholesale level jumped 3.4 percent, the largest gain since November 2009, and December’s increase was revised higher as well.

A slowing pace of inventory accumulation had weighed on U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter, but a need to restock shelves should now help spur more production. The rise in inventories also offers a signal that businesses expect further sales growth ahead.

Economists, who had expected inventories to rise 0.8 percent and sales to gain only 0.5 percent, said high petroleum prices might have contributed to the above-forecast reading, which is not adjusted for inflation.

Still, the data suggested the economy’s growth prospects were solid even though harsh winter weather held back the recovery at the start of the year.

“It does suggest the nominal economy into the first quarter was posting some pretty solid growth,” said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics in Boulder, Colo. “Whereas before people might have seen some downside risk to gross domestic product in the first quarter, we think the risk is now back to the high side.”


Lawmakers press Obama on trade

A top Senate Democrat urged the Obama administration Wednesday to bundle a valuable free-trade deal with South Korea with two other pacts with Colombia and Panama to meet Republican demands and ensure approval.

“It’s clear to me that none of these trade agreements are going to pass unless they’re all packaged,” either in a single piece of legislation or separate bills considered closely together, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, told U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk at a hearing on trade.

Republicans have been pressing for action on the three trade agreements, which were negotiated and signed during the administration of President George W. Bush, since last November’s election when they won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate.

“We need to pass all three of these at the same time,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the panel, adding he was “sick” of the continued delay on the deals.

Democrats blocked action on the pacts for years, reflecting concerns of U.S. labor groups that the agreements would cost U.S. jobs. However, most business groups see the deals as a powerful tool to boost exports.

“The administration has no excuse for failing to act on these trade agreements,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, predicting Congress would pass each of them with bipartisan support.

However, a coalition of labor, environmental and consumer groups vowed to fight the deals.


GOP challenges foreclosure deals

Leading House Republicans are challenging a deal that federal and state officials have offered to five big U.S. banks that would change the handling of foreclosures and force lenders to modify more mortgages.

The Republicans sent a letter Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, saying the offer would fundamentally alter the rules long governing the mortgage industry. It asks Mr. Geithner to explain the legal justification the government has to try imposing such sweeping changes.

Federal regulators and attorneys general of the 50 states offered the terms to the large banks last week, following weeks of talks over revelations that the lenders cut corners and used flawed documents to foreclose on many home borrowers.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has said he thinks a final deal is months away.


Special House election set for May 24

BUFFALO | New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has scheduled a May 24 special election to fill the congressional seat vacated when Rep. Christopher Lee, a Republican, abruptly resigned.

Mr. Lee, who is married, resigned last month after a gossip website published a cell-phone photo of himself he had sent to a woman he met on Craigslist. He was shirtless in the photo.

Republicans have endorsed state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin as their candidate for the district in the western part of the state. Democrats have yet to announce a candidate.

The 26th District seat has been traditionally held by Republicans.

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