Washington Extra – Not enough

June 20, 2011

The word is not enough. That was the message from the United States to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who pledged reforms in a speech at Damascus University.

“What’s important now is action, not words,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

White House spokesman Jay Carney concurred: “President Assad needs to either lead that transition or get out of the way … I’m not saying the words are meaningless, but he needs to act on them … But first, he needs to stop the violence.”

The White House also announced Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers will meet three days this week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — to see if they can move any closer to an agreement on the budget deficit and debt limit.

We’re guessing a week is not enough to lock up a deal. But will the talks be more meaningful than just three days of the meander? (OK so we stretched for a rhyme with condor for movie buffs).

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Wal-Mart wins Supreme Court ruling in sex-bias case

The Supreme Court threw out a massive class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, in a major victory for the world’s largest retailer and for big business in general. The justices unanimously ruled that more than 1 million female employees nationwide could not proceed together in the lawsuit seeking billions of dollars and accusing Wal-Mart of paying women less and giving them fewer promotions.

For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.

U.S. top court rejects global warming lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a global warming lawsuit against five big power companies, its most important environmental ruling since 2007 and a victory for the utilities and the Obama administration. The justices unanimously overturned a U.S. appeals court ruling that the lawsuit now involving six states can proceed in an effort to force the coal-burning plants to cut emissions of gases that contribute to climate change.

For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.

Economy, independents key to Obama v. Romney race

If Romney comes out on top in the primaries, the battle lines between him and President Obama are clear: The key to the general election will be to win independent voters. “The other Romney, the old Romney, would make a really interesting campaign against Obama,” said Clyde Wilcox, a government professor at Georgetown University, citing Romney’s record on healthcare, cleaning up the Olympics when he organized the Salt Lake City games and working with a Democratic legislature. “The problem is, to get the Republican nomination he’s running away from that.”

For more of this analysis by Patricia Zengerle, read here.

Obama helps Democrats outpace Republican fundraising

President Obama and Democrats beat Republicans in the race for campaign dollars in May, as the president stepped up fundraising ahead of the contest for the White House. The DNC pulled in $10.5 million, compared with $6.2 million raised by the RNC, according to monthly filings with the FEC.

For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.

US deficit forces AARP compromise on Social Security

AARP has long had such clout that its opposition or support has often helped decide the fate of legislation in Congress. But with a report that AARP is dropping its long-standing opposition to cutting Social Security, it appears the organization is giving ground to an even more powerful force: the enormous federal deficit. Faced with the reality that lawmakers will have to rein in the costs of Social Security to keep it from going bankrupt, AARP’s willingness to consider cuts shows that outright opposition no longer carries the day.

For more of this analysis by Tim Reid and Donna Smith, read here.

Clinton raises women’s driving ban with Saudis

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a strong advocate of women’s rights, has raised Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving with the kingdom’s foreign minister, the State Department said. Clinton spoke to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Friday to discuss a range of regional issues, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

For more of this story by Andrew Quinn, read here.

US regulators to tackle unauthorized phone fees

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said he will circulate a proposal to his fellow commissioners to protect consumers from “cramming,” the illegal placement of extra charges on phone bills. Cramming likely affects up to 20 million Americans, the FCC estimates, adding anywhere from $1.99 to $19.99 a month to a customer’s phone bill. The charges can originate from the phone companies as well as from third parties.

For more of this story by Jasmin Melvin, read here.

From elsewhere…

Facebook to take top spot in U.S. display ad market

Facebook’s U.S. advertising revenue will total roughly $2.2 billion in 2011, displacing Yahoo Inc to collect the biggest slice of online display advertising dollars, according to a new study. Facebook’s U.S. advertising revenue will give it a 17.7 percent share of the market for graphical display ads that appear on websites, according to a report released by research firm eMarketer.

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Sana Sana (Assad giving speech in Damascus)


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