National briefs: Reid confident on immigration
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WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that he is optimistic the Senate will pass immigration legislation.
"Things are looking really good," the Nevada Democrat said on ABC's "This Week." "Republicans can no longer stop this. They've tried it; it hasn't worked."
A bipartisan group of senators -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- last week proposed legislation that would set up a path for illegal immigrants to get citizenship. It would also tighten border security.
Several leading Republican members of Congress have noted that the party, which lost heavily among Latino voters in the 2012 presidential election, must take action on the immigration issue.
But many conservatives, particularly in the House, remain leery of allowing the estimated 11 million immigrants who entered the country illegally to become citizens.
Other issues important to Democrats -- such as giving the foreign partners of gay and lesbian Americans a family preference in the immigration system -- also remain major partisan stumbling blocks.
MF Global recovery?
NEW YORK -- Former brokerage customers of MF Global could fully recover cash that was frozen when the trading firm collapsed, according to the bankruptcy trustee in the Chapter 11 case.
The projection is based on the latest analysis of recoverable assets available in MF Global's bankruptcy, versus pending claims, the trustee, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, said in a court filing Saturday.
The report outlines a potential range of recovery for brokerage customers, depending on various scenarios, from a shortfall of $6 million to a surplus of $120 million. Those figures are based on calculations that recoverable assets range from about $6.857 billion to $6.983 billion, versus claims of $6.863 billion.
If there's a surplus, customers whose money was frozen when MF Global collapsed in October 2011 could get a full recovery of their losses.
USDA tastes its own medicine
WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department -- the agency tasked with, among other things, improving the public health -- made a groundbreaking decision last year when soliciting bids for cafeteria vendors at its headquarters: The USDA would go fryer-less. As in not a single deep-fat fryer in the department's cafeterias, which serve more than 40,000 people a month, including members of the public.
And that's just the most obvious change at the revamped USDA cafeterias, which debut today. The agency -- one of the chief architects of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which counsels citizens to reduce their red meat and salt intakes -- has fully embraced its own recommendations (possibly this time without alienating lawmakers from livestock states who were furious last year over the USDA's suggestion that employees avoid meat one day a week)
The new USDA cafeterias will automatically serve diners 100 percent whole-wheat breads and pastas unless employees specifically ask for white-bread slices or some other option. One station in the main cafeteria in the South Building will prepare food that conforms to the low-sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-calorie requirements of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; the station will also display a daily MyPlate example to model the basics of a proper meal -- not that anyone will be required to follow it.
Obama: End Scouts gay ban
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Sunday that the Boy Scouts of America should end its ban on gay members and Scout leaders.
With the venerable national organization weighing whether to lift its prohibition on gays, Mr. Obama was asked in a Super Bowl pregame interview with CBS's Scott Pelley whether the Boy Scouts should be open to gays.
Mr. Obama gave a one-word answer: "Yes."
Pressed to elaborate, the president said, "I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life."
Sunday's interview was the first time Mr. Obama publicly addressed the issue since the Boy Scouts said last week it would consider lifting the ban.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published February 4, 2013 12:00 am