Washington Extra – Sound of silence

January 10, 2011

The sound of silence is quite rare in Washington where talk is currency.

So it was perhaps the highest honor that the city can pay to the victims of the Arizona shooting by standing still for a moment of silence. USA/

President Barack Obama and the first lady stood heads bowed, joined by about 300 White House staffers on the South Lawn. A bell tolled three times.

Lawmakers and congressional staff gathered on the steps of the Capitol to remember the victims that included two of their own — congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman who was killed, and congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is fighting to recover.

“In the coming days we’re going to have a lot of time to reflect,” Obama said in the Oval Office before talking about his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy’s first words were about the shooting: “I, first of all, want to say to the American people how deeply moved and upset the French people have been at your loss and tragedy.”

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Obama urges US pull together after Arizona rampage

President Obama mourned victims of an Arizona gunman and steered clear of a debate on whether harsh political rhetoric inspired the attack on a congresswoman. As many members of his party decried the often-rabid political discourse in the country, Obama said he is grieving for the victims and their families and honoring those who apparently prevented more deaths. “Right now the main thing we’re doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who’ve been impacted, making sure that we’re joining together and pulling together as a country,” Obama said.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

Shooting opens divide on inflamed rhetoric

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords quickly opened a sharp divide on the role of inflamed rhetoric in the assault and on the proper response to its growth. The Arizona attack ignited a flood of finger-pointing and pontificating on the sometimes overheated state of political discourse, even as politicians largely vowed at least a temporary halt to the battle of words in Washington. The motives of suspect Jared Lee Loughner remain unclear. Liberal commentators questioned whether last year’s election rhetoric from Republicans like Sarah Palin and Tea Party candidates created a climate that bred violence.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

Lawmakers seek protections after Arizona shooting

In the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, a pair of lawmakers called for resurrecting a ban on some assault weapons and for making it a crime to threaten members of Congress and other federal officials.

For more of this story by Richard Cowan, read here.

Fed turns record profits over to Treasury

The Federal Reserve reported its earnings jumped by more than 50 percent in 2010 to a record $80.9 billion, and it is turning the bulk of it over to the Treasury Department. The Fed’s portfolio has ballooned to $2.16 trillion, roughly triple its size before the financial crisis. “The increase was due primarily to increased interest income earned on securities holdings during 2010,” the central bank said. Audited results will be issued in the spring and may show some changes, Fed officials indicated.

For more of this story by Glenn Somerville, read here.

Sarkozy assures Obama he sees dollar as “No. 1″

French President Nicolas Sarkozy assured President Obama he recognized the dollar’s role as the world’s “No. 1 currency,” as the two leaders pledged to coordinate ideas for reforming the international economic system. Sarkozy, pushing France’s goals as the new head of the Group of 20, came to Washington with an agenda that included broaching the sensitive subject of blunting the dollar’s decades-old status as the top global reserve currency.

For more of this story by Emmanuel Jarry and Matt Spetalnick, read here.

Obama urged to step up yuan pressure in Hu meeting

When President Obama meets China’s Hu Jintao this month, he might remind his guest of an old proverb: owe $10,000 and you have a problem; owe $10 million and the lender has a problem. The United States owes China at least $907 billion and needs to have a careful conversation with its largest creditor when the Chinese president visits the White House on January 19. Obama wants Beijing to let its yuan currency rise, helping him to cut unemployment. China, whose economy is pulling strongly, has pushed back by criticizing Obama for aggressive fiscal and monetary policy action.

For more of this analysis by Alister Bull and Simon Rabinovitch, read here.

Top court hears case on drugmaker disclosures

Supreme Court justices questioned arguments that Matrixx Initiatives need not reveal early complaints about cold remedy Zicam in a case that could affect how much information drugmakers share with investors.

For more of this story by Lisa Richwine, read here.

Progress Energy lobbyist dies in car fire in DC

A lobbyist for Progress Energy who is married to a White House official was found dead in a car fire near the Capitol, fire authorities and the company said.

For more of this story, read here.

What we are blogging…

Arizona sheriff sees others like Loughner

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik sounds worried about the possibility of other attacks on elected officials like Gabrielle Giffords. Not that he’s got evidence of another shooter. But Dupnik says there are thousands of people like Jared Lee Loughner, the shooting suspect described as a mentally disturbed loner. “These people are very susceptible to emotions like anger and paranoia and so forth, and I think that the tone of rhetoric that has occurred in this country over the past couple of years affects troubled personalities,” he tells NBC’s Today show.

For David Morgan’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Ex-House leader DeLay gets 3-year prison term

Former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison after a jury found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy. Senior Judge Pat Priest sentenced DeLay, 63, to a five-year sentence for money laundering and three years for conspiracy for a scheme to illegally funnel money to Republican Texas candidates in 2002.

For more of this story, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (President Obama and first lady take part in moment of silence to honor victims of Arizona shooting)

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