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VOL. 37 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 11, 2013
EMPHASIS ISSUE: COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Big, bold projects make a comeback

Midtown poised to be the next Gulch, SoBro

Nashville’s next transformation is under way, this time in the long-overlooked Midtown district between downtown and Vanderbilt.

Study: Downtown needs ‘right’ plan

A new study projecting Nashville’s downtown real estate outlook over the next five to 10 years cites increased demand for a variety of uses, including residential, office, retail and entertainment.

Franklin Park ups ante with size, features

The Nashville region’s largest office development is under way in Cool Springs, where Spectrum-Emery has begun the first phase of Franklin Park, a 71-acre, mixed-use corporate campus with more than 1.25 million square feet of space in five, 10-story office buildings.

Builders filling demand for luxury apartments

Construction of new offices, retail space and apartments, knocked off the rails by the recession, is back on track in Davidson County.

Local Weather
Today
Nashville, TN
77°F
Fair
Wind: 3 mph
Humidity: 64%

EVENTS

Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute. The Rev. James Lawson, Diane Nash and Earnest “Rip” Patton, who, as leaders in the renowned Nashville Movement of the 1960s employed nonviolent resistance against discrimination that ultimately ended legal segregation in the U.S., are reuniting for a panel discussion to share their experiences and discuss the state of diversity in America today, during Waller’s “It’s Our Turn” Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute. The discussion will be moderated by John L. Seigenthaler, distinguished journalist, civil rights activist and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, at the DoubleTree hotel, 11:30 a.m. today.

more events »

Granbery’s hot spots? Depends on your needs

The great-grandson of H.G. Hill Sr., Jimmy Granbery started working with H.G. Hill Realty in 1981 and was named CEO in 2002.

Recession over, Sumner projects progress

For years, Rivergate Mall has the shopping destination of choice for Sumner County residents.

Robertson pressures Midstate neighbors

Middle Tennessee’s largest office construction projects are centered in Nashville and Cool Springs, but significant commercial real estate developments are taking root throughout the region.

Top commercial real estate transactions for 2012

Top 2012 residential real estate transactions for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

MUSIC INDUSTRY

Australia calls, Music City Roots hits the road

Music City Roots: Live from the Loveless Cafe embarks on a music and marketing mission in late January, when the broadcast moves for a week from the Pasquo Community, in the shadow of the Natchez Trace, to Tamworth, Australia.

REALTY CHECK

Warning: Children can endanger home values

As the New Year rolls in, the residential real estate inventory will increase in volume from its current surprisingly low levels. Many of these homes have served as rental properties as the homes were worth less than the loan balances, yet the owners, with the assistance of rental income, were able to avoid foreclosure and opted not to fight the short sale dragon.

NEWSMAKERS

Seigenthaler PR names new partners

Seigenthaler Public Relations, Inc., with offices in Nashville, New York and Chicago, has named Nicole L. Cottrill, Virginia K. “Ginger” Johnson and Ryan J. Witherell as new partners. All had previously been vice presidents with the agency.

TERRY McCORMICK

Short NHL season might be more fun

Between the start of the NFL playoffs and Monday night’s national college championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame, a surprise slid in under the sports radar on Sunday morning.

I SWEAR

61st birthday celebration just not meant to be

“Turn right in four-tenths of a mile,” Susan said.

GUERRILLA MARKETING

Customers pay more for better experience

Despite what you may believe about how price-sensitive consumers are given the economic realities of late, Oracle’s “Customer Experience Impact Report” indicates 86 percent of customers would pay 25 percent more for a better customer experience.

SMART STUFF 4 WORK

Who serves as your truth-teller?

My wife and I were recently strolling through a small tourist spot when we happened upon one of those vintage machines that guesses your weight, your age and tells your fortune. According to the instructions, all you had to do was stand very still facing the machine and drop a specified coin in the slot.

MUSIC INDUSTRY

'Voice' winner Cassadee Pope signs record deal

NASHVILLE (AP) - "The Voice" winner Cassadee Pope has a new record deal.

STATEWIDE

Deadline in mortgage settlement is Friday

NASHVILLE (AP) - The deadline to file a claim under the national mortgage settlement is Friday.

NASHVILLE AREA

Nashville airport to construct USO center

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Nashville International Airport is breaking down walls to make room for a new United Service Organizations center for military troops and their families.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Tennessee lawmaker: Criminalize fed gun enforcement

MURFREESBORO (AP) - State Rep. Joe Carr is proposing a state law to make it a crime in Tennessee for federal agents to enforce any effort to ban firearms or ammunition.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Tennessee, Kentucky plants cooperate in building Corvette

NASHVILLE (AP) - Two General Motors plants 90 miles apart will be utilized to build the newest incarnation of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car.

UK sets record for car exports in 2012

LONDON (AP) — An auto industry group says British factories set a record for car exports in 2012 with 1.2 million shipped abroad.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Fifth Third's 4Q profit tops Street

CINCINNATI (AP) — Regional banker Fifth Third Bancorp reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 28 percent, helped by improving credit conditions.

Fewer US homes repossessed by banks in 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lenders took possession of fewer U.S. homes in 2012 than a year earlier, as the pace of new homes entering the path to foreclosure slowed and banks increasingly opted to allow troubled borrowers to sell their homes for less than what they owed on their mortgage.

US rate on 30-year mortgage dips to 3.38 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage inched closer to its record low this week, helping to keep home buying more affordable.

US jobless aid applications fall to 5-year low

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid plummeted to a five-year low last week, a hopeful sign the job market may be improving. But much of the decline reflects seasonal volatility in the data.

US home construction rises 12.1 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008 and finished 2012 as their best year for residential construction since the early stages of the housing crisis.

Stocks rise after better housing, jobless reports

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks advanced, pushing the Standard and Poor's 500 to another five-year high, after strong reports on housing starts and unemployment claims made investors more optimistic about the U.S. economy.

Oil above $95 on positive US economic data

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil rose above $95 a barrel on Thursday on positive reports about the U.S. economy.

Lithium batteries central to Boeing's 787 woes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lithium batteries that can leak corrosive fluid and start fires have emerged as the chief safety concern involving Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a problem that apparently is far more serious than government or company officials acknowledged less than a week ago.

Legal expenses drag down Citigroup 4Q earnings

Citigroup's fourth quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street's expectations as the bank's legal expenses rose and it released less money from its loan-loss reserves.

Bank of America's earnings shrink on mortgage settlements

NEW YORK (AP) — The housing crisis is still weighing down Bank of America.

UnitedHealth's 4Q profit slips 1 pct as costs rise

UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s fourth-quarter net income slipped 1 percent, as growing medical costs countered revenue gains for the nation's largest health insurer.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Obama's gun measures face a tough road in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's sweeping gun-control package faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill, where majority House Republicans are rejecting his proposals while the president's allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate are stopping well short of pledging immediate action.

NRA chief says group accepts background checks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the National Rifle Association says the organization has no problem with tighter background checks of gun purchasers.


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16
NASHVILLE AREA

AG: Student group law constitutionally suspect

NASHVILLE (AP) - The state attorney general's office says a vetoed bill that took aim at Vanderbilt University's treatment of religious student groups is "constitutionally suspect."

STATEWIDE

Haslam uncertain about enhanced school security

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam says it's too soon to say whether Tennessee should require an armed police presence in every school in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting that left six teachers and 20 students dead.

250 Tenn. Guard troops to help with inauguration

NASHVILLE (AP) - Approximately 250 Tennessee National Guard soldiers and airmen will be assisting civil law enforcement with security for the 57th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Revamped Pathfinder is best in fuel economy

For 2013, the Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle is longer, wider and has a roomier interior than its predecessor. At the same time, this new Pathfinder is 500 pounds lighter. And with a 30 percent boost in fuel economy, it tops all other mid-size crossover SUVs in sipping gasoline.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Fed survey: US economy picked up at end of year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Holiday shopping, strong auto sales and a recovering housing market helped boost the U.S. economy from the middle of November through early January, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

Forbes: Big Ten most valuable conference; SEC 4th

NEW YORK (AP) — The Southeastern Conference isn't No. 1 in one category: revenues.

US homebuilder confidence steady near 7-year high

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Confidence among U.S. homebuilders remained unchanged this month from December at the highest level in nearly seven years, but builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months.

Goldman, Morgan Stanley pay $557M in mortgage case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will pay a combined $557 million to settle federal complaints that they wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes.

US factory output rises for 2nd straight month

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factory production rose in December for the second straight month, buoyed by more output of autos, electronics and business equipment.

US consumer prices unchanged in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lower gas costs offset more expensive food and higher rents to keep a measure of U.S. consumer prices flat last month.

Boeing leads Dow lower; other indexes mixed

NEW YORK (AP) — More problems for Boeing's 787 sent the aircraft maker's stock down sharply Wednesday, dragging the Dow Jones industrial average lower.

Oil jumps above $94 on US supply report

The price of oil jumped above $94 a barrel Wednesday after an unexpected drop in U.S. crude supplies.

Wendy's 4Q adjusted profit tops Wall Street's view

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Wendy's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings topped Wall Street's view, even as a key indicator of sales at North American restaurants dipped slightly. The hamburger chain also maintained its fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings forecast above analysts' estimates, and its stock rose more than 4 percent in premarket trading Wednesday.

JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon gets big pay cut

NEW YORK (AP) — America's best-known banker is getting a big pay cut.

Goldman Sachs' net surges on investment banking

NEW YORK (AP) — Goldman Sachs' earnings almost tripled in the fourth quarter as investment banking revenues surged.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Obama unveils $500 million gun violence package

WASHINGTON (AP) — Braced for a fight, President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled the most sweeping proposals for curbing gun violence in two decades, pressing a reluctant Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

AP-GfK poll: 6 in 10 favor stricter gun laws

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of last month's deadly school shooting in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leaving Cabinet

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill and promoted alternative energy sources throughout the nation, will step down in March.


TUESDAY, JANUARY 15
MIDSTATE

Hemlock laying off workers, production pushed back

CLARKSVILLE (AP) — Hemlock Semiconductor is laying off three-fourths of its employees in Clarksville shortly before the planned start of production at its new $1.2 billion plant.

STATEWIDE

TEMA to open emergency center in ice storm

NASHVILLE (AP) - The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency will be declaring a state of emergency and opening its emergency operations center on Tuesday as an ice storm was moving across the state with accumulations expected in West and Middle Tennessee.

Haslam announces higher ed goal, names new adviser

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam announced Tuesday that he wants to put Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates by 23 percentage points by the year 2025.

Jeb Bush inadvertently criticizes Haslam priority

NASHVILLE (AP) — When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush briefly veered off topic at an education forum in Nashville this week, he inadvertently took aim at what's expected to be among Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's legislative priorities this year.

NASHVILLE AREA

Genesco narrows FY guidance to low end of range

NASHVILLE (AP) - Genesco Inc. said Tuesday that it expects its fiscal-year profit to come in at the lower half of its previously projected range, saying that a delay in federal tax refunds may prompt some customers to delay purchases.

Public feedback wanted on science standards

NASHVILLE (AP) — Educators in science, technology, engineering and math are invited to attend a focus group on science standards.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Automakers agree to build Jeeps for China market

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat, Chrysler and a Chinese automaker have signed an agreement to expand manufacturing in China and produce the Jeep for sale in that market.

Hot cars at the Detroit auto show

The North American International Auto Show begins this week in Detroit with media and industry previews. It opens to the public Jan. 19.

Chevy Volt goes upscale in new electric Cadillac

General Motors is trying to take the Chevrolet Volt's electric technology upscale with a new Cadillac.

Nissan lowers price of electric Leaf

DETROIT (AP) — Nissan is lowering the price of its Leaf electric car to try to boost anemic sales.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Year-over year US home prices up sharply in Nov.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices in November extended their steady recovery from the housing bust, rising 7.4 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase in 6½ years.

US businesses increased stockpiles 0.3 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies increased their stockpiles a steady pace in November from October, responding to a solid increase in sales.

US retail sales up 0.5 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture and clothing. Steady job growth and lower gas prices kept consumers shopping for the holidays, despite worries about potentially tax increases.

Falling food, gas costs lower US wholesale prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. wholesale prices fell for the third month in a row last month, pushed down by falling food and gas costs. The drop is the latest evidence inflation is tame.

Stocks edge higher as retailers rally

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher on Wall Street after a rally in retail stocks offset concerns about flaring tensions in Washington over increasing the country's borrowing limit.

Oil slides on concerns about debt-ceiling debate

Oil fell the most in three weeks as traders worried about another heated fiscal debate in Washington and slowing demand for gasoline.

Wal-Mart to hire vets, buy American

NEW YORK (AP) — Why wait on Washington to fix the economy when there's Wal-Mart?

Facebook unveils social search feature

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new search feature on Tuesday in the company's first staged event at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters since its May initial public offering.

Fitch warns it may downgrade US over debt standoff

LONDON (AP) — The United States could lose its top credit rating from a leading agency for the second time if there's a delay in raising the country's debt ceiling, Fitch Ratings warned Tuesday.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Gingrich: GOP unwise to pick fight on debt limit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says House Republicans are making a mistake by using the issue of increasing the borrowing limit to challenge President Barack Obama on spending issues.

Obama weighing executive action on guns

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing powerful opposition to sweeping gun regulations, President Barack Obama is weighing 19 steps that could be taken through executive action alone, congressional officials said.

Sandy aid package moving toward House votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House moved toward action Tuesday on a $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package that Northeast lawmakers hoped could be approved despite attempts by fiscal conservatives to eliminate unrelated projects and to gain offsetting spending cuts to cover the costs of the bill. Amendments offered by opponents of full funding set up a faceoff on the emergency spending package, with Northeast lawmakers in both parties eager to provide recovery aid for one of the worst storms ever to strike the region.


MONDAY, JANUARY 14
STATEWIDE

Haslam to introduce own school voucher proposal

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam confirmed Monday that he will introduce his own proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee, though he declined to give a detailed preview of which parents would be eligible to use public money to send their children to private schools.

NASHVILLE AREA

American Farm Bureau meets in Nashville

NASHVILLE (AP) — Farmers and ranchers from Farm Bureau chapters all over the country are in Nashville this week for the annual American Farm Bureau meeting.

Nashville library forgives fines for canned food

NASHVILLE (AP) — Got an overdue library book, but anxious about the fines? The Nashville Public Library is currently forgiving overdue fines if patrons bring in food for the hungry.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Volkswagen floats idea of new midsize SUV

DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen is getting into the midsize SUV market dominated by Ford and Jeep.

Toyota retakes global auto sales crown from GM

DETROIT (AP) — Toyota has once again dethroned General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker.

Volkswagen reports record sales for 2012

BERLIN (AP) — German automaker Volkswagen AG says its 2012 group sales hit a record high as growing demand around the world more than offset sluggish sales in Europe.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

Stocks little changed on Wall Street; Apple slides

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple held down the Standard & Poor's 500, pushing it further below the five-year high it reached last week, after the technology giant's stock sank following a report that demand for the iPhone 5 may be weaker than expected. The Dow Jones industrial average edged higher.

Oil gains on forecasts for Northeast cold spell

NEW YORK (AP) — The prospect of chilly temperatures in the Northeast gave the price of oil a boost Monday.

UPS abandons $6.9 billion takeover for TNT Express

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Shares in package delivery company TNT Express NV were knocked as much as 50 percent lower Monday on news that United Parcel Service Inc. has ditched its €5.2 billion ($6.9 billion) takeover of the struggling Dutch company, citing objections from European regulators.

Coca-Cola to address obesity for first time in ads

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola became one of the world's most powerful brands by equating its soft drinks with happiness. Now it's taking to the airwaves for the first time to address a growing cloud over the industry: obesity.

Swatch in $1 billion deal for Harry Winston brand

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland's biggest watch maker, Swatch Group AG, will pay about $1 billion to acquire Canada's Harry Winston watch and jewelry brand, officials from both companies said Monday.

Samsung sells 100 million Galaxy S smartphones

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday that global sales of its Galaxy S smartphones surpassed 100 million units since the first model in the series was released less than three years ago.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Obama: Debt ceiling fight threatens SS checks

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is urging Congress to increase the debt ceiling, declaring "we're not a deadbeat nation." He insists he will not negotiate with Republicans over raising the government's borrowing authority and says there are no contingency plans to avoid congressional action.

Hitting the debt limit: What bills would be paid?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reiterating a threat he first issued in the summer of 2011, President Barack Obama on Monday warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks and veterans won't get timely benefits if Congress fails to increase the government's borrowing authority.

NRA says Congress will not pass weapons ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Vice President Joe Biden finalizes a package of recommendations for the president to curb gun violence, the National Rifle Association predicted that Congress is likely to block any new laws that would ban assault weapons.

Critics complain Sandy aid tied to other projects

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservatives and watchdog groups are mounting a "not-so-fast" campaign against a $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package that Northeastern governors and lawmakers hope to push through the House this coming week.


FRIDAY, JANUARY 11
NASHVILLE AREA

Anti-income tax crusader Gill ends radio show

NASHVILLE (AP) - Steve Gill, a vocal opponent of efforts to create a state income tax and a two-time Republican congressional nominee, is giving up his radio show.

Nashville gets $2M grant for financial counseling

NASHVILLE (AP) — Nashville has received a $2 million grant to provide one-on-one financial counseling to low-income residents.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Turner calls for investigation of DCS

NASHVILLE (AP) — House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.

Committee shakeups seen as bad omen for wine-in-groceries proponents

NASHVILLE (AP) — Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey on Thursday replaced the chairwoman of the powerful judiciary committee with a key ally, while some opponents of a proposal to allow wine sales in grocery stores lauded committee assignments in the lower chamber.

STATEWIDE

Tennessee meth production high despite tracking

NASHVILLE (AP) - A new state law requiring the real-time tracking of pseudoephedrine purchases does not seem to have decreased methamphetamine production in Tennessee.

December tax collections beat projections by $25M

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee's general fund revenue collections came in $25 million above expectations in December, bringing the total surplus through the first five months of the budget year to $84 million.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Nissan to build Murano in Mississippi

CANTON, Miss. (AP) — Nissan Motor Co. will assemble its Murano crossover vehicle at its Mississippi plant beginning in 2014.

NATIONAL BUSINESS

US trade gap hit $48.7 billion in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced only modest growth in exports.

Stocks close mixed; S&P 500 slips from 5-year high

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing little changed on Wall Street as the Standard & Poor's 500 index eases just below a five-year high reached the day before.

Oil slips to near $93 as China inflation picks up

Oil prices fell back to near $93 a barrel Friday following a rise in China's inflation that if sustained could limit measures to support growth.

Wells Fargo shoots to higher profit, revenue

NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo, the country's biggest mortgage lender, reported a 25 percent increase in fourth-quarter earnings Friday. The bank made more loans, set aside less money for potential defaults and enjoyed above-average returns from the investments made by its private equity business.

Best Buy shares jump on holiday results

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Best Buy Co. jumped on Friday after the electronics chain showed signs of starting to reverse declining sales during the critical holiday selling season, a better-than-expected result.

Apple CEO: China will be biggest market

BEIJING (AP) — Apple expects China to overtake the United States as its biggest market, CEO Tim Cook told a Chinese government news agency.

FAA to review of Boeing 787, calls plane safe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting a comprehensive review of the design, manufacture and assembly of the Boeing 787, but government officials declared the plane safe despite recent incidents including a fire and a fuel leak earlier this week.

Warner wins legal victory for control of Superman

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Superman belongs to Warner Bros., according to the latest legal victory granting the film and television studio complete commercial control of the lucrative Superman franchise.

Gasoline prices predicted to fall in 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — At least gasoline should cost you less in 2013.

Obama nominates Lew to lead Treasury

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama nominated White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be secretary of the Treasury Thursday, declaring his complete trust in an aide with three decades of Washington experience in economic policy and a penchant for shunning the limelight.

Lawmakers release documents on Wal-Mart bribery

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawmakers are making public emails that show that Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s CEO found out in 2005 that the retailer was handing out bribes in Mexico.

Pentagon considers hiring freeze, contract delays

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he is asking his department to begin taking steps to freeze civilian hiring, delay some contract awards and curtail some maintenance to prepare for drastic budget cuts if Congress can't reach an agreement on a final spending plan.

NATIONAL POLITICS

US Chamber makes immigration overhaul top priority

WASHINGTON (AP) — The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that the "door to the American dream must always remain open" as he announced a broad coalition of business, labor, faith organizations, law enforcement and ethnic groups intent on overhauling the nation's immigration system.

Santorum takes up fight against Hagel nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican opposition to Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary swelled from inside and outside the Senate Thursday as a former Senate colleague launched a campaign to block his nomination.

Biden says consensus emerging on gun safety

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pledging swift action to curb gun violence, Vice President Joe Biden said he would deliver new policy proposals to President Barack Obama by Tuesday.

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