Washington Extra – summer reading

August 20, 2010

While President Barack Obama went book shopping on Martha’s Vineyard and bought a novel about a family from the Midwest –“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen — Vice President Joe Biden was out in the Midwest talking the talk in St. Louis. OBAMA/

VPOTUS assured Democratic Party leaders that they would retain control of Congress in November because Republicans were out of touch.  ”They are going to look at what the Republican Party is really offering — more of the past, but on steroids,” Biden said.

That brings us to the State Department press corps ALMOST asking George Mitchell about baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, but refraining and sticking to the news at hand – a fresh attempt to jumpstart Middle East peace talks with a meeting in Washington next month.

Oh, and finally, it’s Friday!

Here are our top stories from today…

U .S. seeks to relaunch direct Mideast peace talks

The United States and other big powers asked Israel and the Palestinians to restart direct talks on Sept. 2, aiming for a deal in one year to create a Palestinian state and bring peace to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were invited to meet with President Barack Obama before formally resuming direct negotiations.

For the full story by Andrew Quinn and Douglas Hamilton, click here.

Biden says voters won’t like Republican alternative

Vice President Joseph Biden assured Democratic Party leaders they would retain control of Congress in November elections with the unwitting help of Republicans, who he said had lost touch with Americans. At a meeting of the Democratic National Committee, Biden said voters would begin to focus on the election in the next few weeks and would not like the rehash of failed Bush administration policies pushed by Republicans.

For the full story by John Whitesides, click here.

Employment varies widely state to state

Government data showed employment conditions varied widely from state to state in July, indicating that the economic recovery may not be consistent across the country. The jobless rate fell in 18 states and the District of Columbia in July from June, while it rose in 14 states and was unchanged in 18 states, the Labor Department said.

For more by Lisa Lambert, click here.

Treasury mortgage modification dropouts rise

Nearly half of homeowners getting help through the Obama administration’s premier housing rescue program have dropped out through July as many failed to document their eligibility, the Treasury said.

For the full story by David Lawder, click here.

What we are blogging…

Obama unwinds into summer vacation, reading list revealed

Finally, the presidential summer reading list is revealed — well, one book anyway. President Barack Obama took his daughters book browsing on Day 2 of the First Family’s summer vacation on the upscale Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.

To read Alister Bull’s full blog, click here.

Of diplomacy and baseball…

Timing is everything in diplomacy and baseball. After months of prickly talks aimed at coaxing Israelis and Palestinians into direct peace talks, U.S. envoy George Mitchell finally had news to share. But when the U.S. mediator par excellence took the stage for questions Friday at the State Department, reporters tossed him one out of left field.

To read David Alexander’s full blog, click here.

To read more from Front Row Washington, click here.

And from elsewhere…

Fidelity: retirement fund withdrawals rise in downturn

A record number of workers are tapping into their retirement accounts to make it through the economic downturn, Fidelity Investments found in a survey. Among the 11 million workers whose 401(k) plans are run by Fidelity, 11 percent took out a loan from their plan during the 12 months ended June 30, the company said, up from 9 percent at the same point a year earlier.

To read more of this story, click here.

U.S. ends probe of hedge fund “idea dinner”

Hedge fund managers can go back to eating, drinking and sharing trading ideas now that sources say federal investigators have dropped an inquiry into whether a group of money-managers conspired at a so-called “idea dinner” to drive down the value of the euro. Officials with the Justice Department’s antitrust division recently told representatives of several hedge funds that the six-month inquiry had been closed, said three people close to some of the funds.

To read more of this story, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama leaves bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard)

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