- - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hundreds of black veterans who helped to integrate the Marine Corps during World War II are now proud recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday to about 400 black Marines during a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

The Corps was the last branch of the U.S. military to allow blacks to serve. The 400 Marines honored Wednesday were among roughly 20,000 blacks who trained at the Montford Point base in North Carolina, which was racially segregated. The base operated from 1942 to 1949.


Romney, Post at odds over article on Bain

The campaign of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney has angrily demanded a retraction of a recent Washington Post story that said Mr. Romney’s former private equity firm invested in firms that sent U.S. jobs abroad while he was there.

Mr. Romney’s aides have angrily denied major portions of the article, which has already been cited specifically by President Obama and his aides to raise questions about Mr. Romney’s private-sector record. The Romney campaign contends that the companies in question actually added U.S. jobs while the former Massachusetts governor ran Bain Capital.

Romney representatives met privately with representatives from the newspaper Wednesday, but were not successful in getting the paper to retract the article.


Obama hosts lawmakers at congressional picnic

President Obama told lawmakers of both parties gathered on the White House’s South Lawn for an annual picnic Wednesday they should keep in mind they are first Americans working toward a better future for the country.

“We’re thrilled that you have at least one day where you got a chance to be together in Washington and nobody is arguing,” Mr. Obama said.

Under sunny skies, lawmakers, their spouses and children mingled with White House aides among tents and scores of picnic tables. A Marine Corp band played country and western tunes.

Mr. Obama, dressed in casual slacks and shirt, joined the crowd with first lady Michelle Obama at his side to a few cheers of “four more years.”


Jobless rates rose in two-thirds of cities

Unemployment rates rose in more than two-thirds of U.S. cities last month, evidence that the slowdown in hiring last month was felt nationwide.

The Labor Department said unemployment rates increased in 255 of the nation’s 372 largest metro areas. They fell in 87 and were unchanged in 30. That compares with April, when rates fell in 356 areas.

Many of the cities with the biggest changes are home to colleges and universities, where students likely began searching for summer jobs. Unlike the national figures, the local unemployment data aren’t seasonally adjusted to account for such trends.

Nationwide, the rate rose last month to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April. Job growth nationwide has slowed sharply in recent months, raising concerns about the strength of the economic recovery.


Judge refuses to block Florida voter-roll purge

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge has refused to stop Florida from removing potentially non-U.S. citizens from its rolls.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the state to halt the purge, arguing it was occurring too close to a federal election.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said Wednesday there is nothing in federal voting laws that prevents the state from identifying non-U.S. citizens, even if it comes less than 90 days before the Aug. 14 election.

Judge Hinkle ruled that federal laws are designed to block states from removing eligible voters close to an election. He said they are not designed to stop states from blocking voters who should have never been allowed to vote in the first place.

Gov. Rick Scott praised the decision, saying “irreparable harm will result if noncitizens are allowed to vote.”


Stockton bankruptcy tough blow for retirees

STOCKTON, Calif. — When Stockton becomes the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, it will strike a hard blow to residents, especially city employees and retirees whose health benefits and pensions helped drive the city toward insolvency.

City Manager Bob Deis said late Tuesday that officials were left with little choice but to recommend bankruptcy after failing to hammer out deals with creditors to ease the city’s $26 million budget shortfall.

Mr. Deis expects the city to file for Chapter 9 protection by Friday.

It will join a number of other cities and counties across the nation that have plunged into financial crisis as the recession made it tough to cover rising costs involving current and former employees, bondholders and vendors.


Christie says Romney didn’t offer VP spot

MAHWAH, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Mitt Romney didn’t ask him to be his running mate when they appeared at a fundraiser Tuesday.

Mr. Christie also told a town-hall audience in northern New Jersey on Wednesday that he has no inside information on who the likely GOP presidential nominee will pick as his running mate. The governor said he doesn’t expect to be the one.

In Mr. Christie’s words, Mr. Romney “did not ask me last night to run for vice president while I was with him.”

Mr. Christie and Mr. Romney raked in $1.7 million at the fundraiser. That’s $400,000 more than Mr. Romney collected during his last visit to New Jersey, when he was still being challenged for the nomination.

Polls show that Mr. Romney trails President Obama among New Jersey voters.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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