Washington -- Congress should pass free-trade agreements, especially one with Colombia, to help the economy, White House press secretary Dana Perino said Monday.
"If they (members of Congress) really want to help the economy and jump-start jobs in our country, to pass the free-trade agreements that are in front of them: Colombia Free Trade, in particular, is one that is ripe for the taking," she said.
Congress could also pass trade agreements with South Korea and Panama, she said.
She said the White House was pleased the G-20 economic summit meeting Saturday ended with "47 specific concrete actions that the countries agreed to take together," she said.
In the near term, President George Bush will focus on the economy and finding a way "to see if we can get legislation passed to help the automakers in the way that we have defined," she said.
London -- A Cabinet minister in Britain told his staff when they should serve him coffee and soup, among other personal expectations, his memo to them reveals.
Liam Byrne's 11-page memo explained exactly how they should behave toward him, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
"Coffee/Lunch. I'm addicted to coffee. I like a cappuccino when I come in, an espresso at 3pm and soup at 12.30-1 p.m.," the memo said. "The room should be cleared before I arrive in the morning. I like the papers set out in the office before I get in. The white boards should be cleared.
Byrne warned his staff if he sees things "that are not of acceptable quality, I will blame you."
Last month, Byrne, was promoted to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Cabinet, where he is responsible for coordinating government departments.
New York -- President-elect Barack Obama, in his first extended post-election interview, says one of his top priorities is preventing home foreclosures.
"We have not focused on foreclosures and what's happening to homeowners as much as I would like," Obama said in the interview to air Sunday night on "60 Minutes," the long-running CBS news show.
Asked about aid to the auto industry, Obama said he does not want to give car makers "a blank check." He added that a total collapse would be a disaster and the industry needs "a bridge loan to somewhere."
Obama said he also plans to name at least one Republican to his Cabinet. He said he has been spending time since the election reading Abraham Lincoln, who famously included many of his political enemies in his administration.
Washington -- A U.S. House committee Thursday reviewed hedge funds, which the panel's chair called "virtually unregulated."
Because they aren't required to report on their holdings, leverage or strategies, "hedge funds are virtually unregulated," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "Regulators aren't even certain how many hedge funds exist or how much money they control."
That segment of the financial industry is "growing rapidly," Waxman said, adding he was concerned that hedge funds, as other financial sectors, could collapse.
"We also know that some hedge funds are highly leveraged," he said. "They invest in assets that are illiquid and difficult to price and sell rapidly."
Saginaw, Mich. -- Officials in Saginaw County, Mich., have resolved two races that remained deadlocked one week after Election Day with luck-of-the-draw tiebreakers.
Saginaw County Clerk Susan Kaltenbach and the County Board of Canvassers held the tiebreakers Monday to choose between candidates for James Township supervisor and Chesaning Village trustee, WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Mich., reported Tuesday.
The candidates were told to draw from a deck of playing cards numbered 2-10.
The candidate in each race with the highest card got to choose a piece of paper out of a can holding two possible outcomes: messages marked "elected" or "not elected."
As a result of the tiebreakers, Republican Kristine Whitteberry defeated Democratic candidate Leonard Ballosh in the James Township supervisor's race and Michael Cicalo declared victory over Christopher Wood for the Chesaning Village trustee position.
Detroit -- Four Michigan mayors have asked for a share of federal funds meant for automakers, comparing closed factories to the effects of a natural disaster.
The mayors of Warren, Sterling Heights, Livonia and Dearborn met with representatives of development programs and Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office, and have called for access to a portion of the $25 billion loan program designed to help automakers revamp factories to produce vehicles with greater fuel-efficiency.
The mayors asked for funds amounting to 20 percent of the value of the shuttered factories within their borders, which they estimate would total one-half of one percent of the $25 billion set aside for U.S. automakers, the Detroit News reported Tuesday.
"This isn't a natural disaster, but it's potentially a financial disaster and an economic tsunami," said Warren Mayor James Fouts said.
Washington -- The "threshold" for hiring black leaders may have dropped with the election of the first U.S. black president, a leading advocate for hiring diversity said.
"Our dominant sense is vision, so we gravitate to what we see," Luke Visconti, co-founder of DiversityInc., told the Chicago Tribune.
"As we become very used to an authority figure who's black, we're going to be much more comfortable with authority figures who are black. The threshold will have dropped," he said.
On the other hand, the country should not "confuse the accomplishments of one individual with an entire societal shift," Gloria Castillo, president of Chicago United said.
"The (presidential) victory … of Barack Obama didn't change the high school graduation rates. It didn't change the fact that there's an under-representation of minorities in senior management, the pipeline to senior management and boards of directors," Castillo said.
London -- A U.S. playwright has promised to bequeath a collection of rare texts by William Shakespeare to the current incarnation of the Bard's Globe theater in London.
The BBC said John Wolfson has pledged to leave more than 450 works, including a first folio of 18 Shakespearean plays, to the theater when he dies.
Wolfson told the British broadcaster he felt "fortunate to have found a place as appropriate for my books as Shakespeare's Globe."
The playwright added he was happy the items, which includes texts by scribes who are thought to have influenced Shakespeare, "will be used to great advantage by students, scholars and educators for generations to come."
Peter Kyle, the theater's chief executive, told the BBC the Globe is "delighted" to know it will some day receive the "wonderful" collection.
Miami -- U.S. scientists, using a new method to evaluate hurricane formation, say they've discovered global warming might produce fewer, but stronger, hurricanes.
Associate Professor David Nolan and postdoctoral researcher Eric Rappin of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science developed the new computer model for evaluating hurricane frequency and formation in present and future tropical climates.
The scientists said current computer simulations of global climate change represent the coarsest features of hurricanes, and thus might be in error.
Nolan and Rappin said they created a more precise computer model.
"We designed the computer simulations to show that as the ocean temperature increased, hurricanes would form more rapidly and easily, even in the presence of wind shear," said Nolan. "Instead, we got exactly the opposite result. As the water temperature increased, the effectiveness of the wind shear in suppressing hurricane formation actually became greater."
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