- - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

LONDON — Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Quincy Adams and now Anna Wintour?

A report suggesting that the influential editor-in-chief of Vogue is one of the candidates being considered for the top U.S. diplomatic post in France or Britain has sparked spirited debate about her qualifications, exciting Britain’s glamour-hungry tabloids but raising hackles at the conservative Telegraph.

“Anna Wintour may be an enticing pick for a celebrity-fixated White House,” wrote Nile Gardiner in The Telegraph. “But she is eminently unsuitable for America’s most prestigious diplomatic posting.”

The possibility that the British-born Ms. Wintour would move into London’s grand ambassadorial residence was raised several years ago by The Guardian newspaper — where her brother Patrick is a prominent journalist — and again this week by Bloomberg News, which based its report on “two people familiar with the matter.”

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in London said they would not speculate on President Obama’s eventual choice for a successor to Ambassador Louis Susman, who has announced plans to step down. White House officials have also refused to comment.

Officials caution that a decision is months away and would only follow the appointment of a new secretary of state to replace outgoing Hillary Rodham Clinton and would also include a thorough vetting process.


GOP immigration bill thwarted by Democrats

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked Republicans from bringing up an immigration bill offering permanent residence visas for foreigners with advanced degrees that passed the House last week despite the opposition of most Democrats.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, sought unanimous consent to consider the bill that provides some 55,000 green cards a year to those with master’s and doctorate degrees from U.S. colleges in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We all know that America’s immigration system is broken, but in particular by driving away highly skilled foreign workers who want to start businesses and create jobs right here in America,” he said.

New York’s Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a Democratic leader on immigration policies, objected to Mr. Cornyn’s request. Mr. Schumer said Democrats support creating so-called STEM visas and he has a proposal to do that. “But what we don’t do is take away other visas or add in other extraneous positions.”


Election spurs definitions of socialism, capitalism

NEW YORK — Thanks to the election, socialism and capitalism are forever wed as Merriam-Webster’s most looked-up words of 2012.

Traffic for the unlikely pair on Merriam-Webster’s website about doubled this year from the year before as the health care debate heated up and discussion intensified over “American capitalism” versus “European socialism.”

The choice was revealed by the dictionary’s editors Wednesday along with other top 10 picks for the year.

Also included were the election-related words democracy, globalization, marriage, bigot and malarkey, a term Vice President Joseph R. Biden used in his debate with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan. Rounding out the top 10 were meme for the Internet phenomena that go viral, touche, schadenfreude and professional.


Governor hits opposition over labor union talks

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island House speaker is opposing Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s call for talks with labor unions seeking to overturn sweeping changes to the state retirement system.

Democrat Gordon D. Fox said Wednesday the dispute over the pension law should be settled in court and the time for negotiations was before the independent governor signed the changes into law.

Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo and an influential business-backed organization that supported the overhaul also oppose negotiations.

Mr. Chafee met Tuesday with two top labor officials. Any compromise would have to be approved by lawmakers.

The law was designed to save billions of dollars in future years by suspending pension increases and changing benefits for thousands of active and retired teachers and government workers.

A hearing on the state’s motion to dismiss the unions’ lawsuit is scheduled for Friday.


Johnson not definite on another Senate run

PIERRE — Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota is leaving open the possibility he will not seek re-election in 2014.

After former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds said last week he would challenge the Democratic incumbent, Mr. Johnson responded with a statement saying he intended to put together a winning campaign for a fourth term.

But in a conference call with South Dakota reporters Wednesday, Mr. Johnson said he meant he would run a strong campaign if he runs again.

The 65-year-old senator said he will announce sometime next year whether he will run.

Mr. Johnson said his health is not a factor. He had surgery six years ago for bleeding in his brain that slowed his speech.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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