WASHINGTON

Deadline for Kagan hearing is difficult, library official says

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday set June 28 as the starting date for hearings on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, and asked the Clinton presidential library to turn over voluminous documents related to Kagan’s time as a top presidential assistant in the 1990s.

But Terri Garner, director of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, said in an interview Wednesday that it would be “very difficult” for her facility to meet the June 28 deadline. She said the records request is overly broad and “too general in scope” and that, under the Presidential Records Act, attorneys for both Clinton and President Obama have the right to read and review each document before it is released to the committee.

“There are just too many things here,” she said. “These are legal documents and they are presidential records, and they have to be read by an archivist and vetted for any legal restrictions. And they have to be read line by line.”

WASHINGTON

Scientists make urgent call for hike in prices of coal, oil

Ditching its past cautious tone, the nation’s top scientists urged the government Wednesday to take drastic action to raise the cost of using coal and oil to slow global warming.

The National Academy of Sciences specifically called for a carbon tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, calling global warming an urgent threat.

The academy, which advises the government on scientific matters, said the nation needs to cut the pollution that causes global warming by about 57 percent to 83 percent by 2050. That’s close to President Obama’s goal.

“We really need to get started right away. It’s not opinion, it’s what the science tells you,” said Robert Fri, who chaired one of the three panels producing separate climate reports.

WASHINGTON

Brandeis study finds racial pattern in wealth disparity

Years of deregulation that led to an increase in high-cost loans is indirectly responsible for the quadrupling of the wealth gap between white and black Americans between 1984 and 2007, according to a study by Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy.

Measured in 2007 dollars, the disparity in assets increased $75,000 on average, from $20,000 to $95,000 over the 23-year period. At least one in four black households had no assets.

According to the study, such an increase in negative wealth among African-Americans means they depend more frequently on credit and other forms of high cost debt, but many low-income and minority households are subjected to costly lending products as a result of their burgeoning debt.

“Even when African-Americans do everything right – get an education and work hard at well-paying jobs – they cannot achieve the wealth of their white peers in the workforce, and that translates into very different life chances,” said Thomas Shapiro, director of the institute and co-author of the study.

The study found that even as white families saw their financial assets grow from a median value of $22,000 in 1984 to $100,000 in 2007, black families experienced only the slightest growth in wealth during this period.

This was true even at higher income levels, with middle-income whites seeing their wealth levels increase from $55,000 to $74,000, while high-income African-Americans saw their wealth decrease $7,000 in the period, to $18,000 in 2007.

NEW YORK

Sources say bomb suspect had considered other targets

While sequestered in a New York hotel room, the Times Square bomb suspect revealed he had thought about targeting other landmarks and asked investigators why the bomb he built failed to go off, people familiar with the probe said Wednesday.

Faisal Shahzad said he considered attacking Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, the World Financial Center near ground zero and Sikorsky Inc. before deciding on Times Square, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

A person familiar with the case said Wednesday that during more than two weeks of questioning, the Pakistani-American also expressed surprise that the device – fireworks, gasoline canisters, propane tanks and fertilizer – did not detonate.

Shahzad left the vehicle on West 45th Street on a spring Saturday evening. The attempted bombing prompted a massive police response, but no one was hurt.