The week at a glance ... United States
SpokaneBomb discovered: Three municipal workers this week found a powerful bomb in a backpack along the planned route of Spokane’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, prompting city officials to reroute the parade. Had it detonated during the parade, the remote-controlled device would likely have produced “multiple casualties,” the FBI said. An estimated 15 different white-supremacist groups operate in Washington, with more across the border in Idaho, and the FBI says it’s a “virtually inescapable” conclusion that the bomb was meant to harm marchers or bystanders. A day after the Spokane bomb was discovered, police safely detonated a suspicious package found in a public park in Seattle. It’s not clear if the two incidents are connected.
Los AngelesReagan family feud: The two sons of former President Ronald Reagan clashed last week over younger son Ron Reagan’s claim that his father, who died in 2004 after suffering for years from Alzheimer’s disease, showed signs of the affliction as early as 1984. “He looked tired and bewildered” during a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, wrote Ron Reagan, 52, in his new book, My Father at 100. Reagan’s older son, Michael, 65, who has also authored a new book, The New Reagan Revolution, fired back, calling his half brother “an embarrassment” to the family. The Reagan family publicly disclosed the former president’s Alzheimer’s in 1994, five years after Reagan left office. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 40th president’s birth.
Springfield, Ill.State hikes income tax: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last week signed into law a 67 percent increase in the state’s personal-income-tax rate to help close a $15 billion deficit. The new tax rate of 5 percent is scheduled to drop to 3.75 percent after four years. The corporate rate jumped as well, to 7 percent from 4.8 percent, giving Illinois the third-highest business-tax rate in the U.S. The tax hikes, which Republican lawmakers opposed, are expected to generate about $6.8 billion a year. Governors of neighboring states were quick to tout their lower taxes. “We already had an edge on Illinois in terms of the cost of doing business,” said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, “and this is going to make it significantly wider.”
Washington, D.C.Mr. Hu comes to Washington: Expressing hope for “a sound China-U.S. relationship” but offering few concrete plans to ease tensions between Washington and Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the nation’s capital this week for two days of high-level meetings with government and business leaders. Hu had two dinners with President Barack Obama, including a formal state dinner Wednesday night, and met with CEOs of U.S. corporations, including Microsoft chief Steven Ballmer and General Electric head Jeffrey Immelt. U.S. business leaders have grown increasingly impatient with China in recent years, complaining of currency manipulation, bureaucratic obstacles to trade, and rampant piracy of intellectual property. Discussion of human rights in China and global terrorism were also on the summit agenda.
Camden, N.J.Police force slashed: Police officers turned in their badges this week and firefighters handed over their helmets, as this poor, crime-ridden city of 80,000 laid off 168 cops, nearly half its force, along with 67 firefighters. Altogether, Camden laid off 335 city employees in an effort to grapple with a $26.5 million budget deficit. Mayor Dana Redd is seeking to cut police pay by 20 percent; the police union has offered to accept a pay freeze. With about 200 officers remaining on the force, police say they might not be able to respond to reports of minor crimes. Camden was ranked the second-most-dangerous U.S. city in 2009.
HartfordLieberman hangs it up: Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman—who ran for vice president as Democrat Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, won his Senate re-election as an independent in 2006, and endorsed Republican John McCain for president in 2008—said this week he would not seek a fifth term. Lieberman, 68, “wants to have a new chapter in his life,” said a Lieberman spokesman. Lieberman, who won his first Senate race as a Democrat in 1988, grew increasingly at odds with the party and Connecticut voters over the past decade, in part because of his vocal support of the Iraq war. In 2006, challenger Ned Lamont defeated him in the Democratic primary, prompting him to run as an independent.