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Category: government and politics

Garret FitzGerald, former Irish prime minister, dies at 85

Fitz Garret FitzGerald, who as Ireland's prime minister in the 1980s was an early architect for peace in neighboring Northern Ireland, died Thursday in a Dublin hospital, the government and his family announced. He was 85.

Flags were lowered to half-staff as politicians of all parties paid tribute to FitzGerald as a man of integrity and vision.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, on the third day of her visit to Ireland, hailed FitzGerald as "a true statesman" who had "made a lasting contribution to peace."

FitzGerald, former leader of Ireland's perennial No. 2 party Fine Gael, lived just long enough to see Fine Gael finally overtake its old enemy, the Fianna Fail party, and claim first place in a national election this year for the first time.

FitzGerald's closest political colleagues said he was deeply heartened to see this week's first-ever trip to Dublin by the queen, a crowning event of the Northern Ireland peace process that FitzGerald did much to promote during his two terms in office between 1981 and 1987.

FitzGerald's greatest triumph was the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1985 with Britain, an achievement shaped by his Dublin upbringing with a northern Protestant mother and southern Catholic father.

FitzGerald was a unique figure in Irish politics: an intellectual and university economist who turned to parliament in mid-career. His polished manners and soft-spoken wit offered a polar opposite to Ireland's dominant politician of the day, the corrupt and coarse Charles Haughey. Their parliamentary battles were the centerpiece of Irish political life in the 1980s.

FitzGerald, a relative liberal in his conservative Catholic party, sought greater roles for women in public life. He was an enthusiast for the European Union, which Ireland joined soon after Fine Gael came to power in 1973. FitzGerald served as foreign minister in that 1973-77 government.

As prime minister between 1981 and 1987, FitzGerald was unable to reverse a fiscal and economic crisis bequeathed him by the reckless spending of Haughey's government of the late 1970s.

Ireland suffered double-digit unemployment, heavy emigration and a losing battle to control deficits during his six years in power.

Fine Gael's partner in government, union-linked Labour, refused to back FitzGerald's austerity plans, and the coalition installed in June 1981 collapsed after eight months. Haughey returned to power but only for nine months, and FitzGerald returned in 1982 heading another coalition.

After resigning as Fine Gael leader after the party's election defeat in 1987, FitzGerald remained active during election campaigns.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Garret FitzGerald in 1984. Credit: Getty Images

Cuban exile militant Orlando Bosch dies in Miami at 84

Prominent Cuban exile militant Orlando Bosch, who was acquitted in Venezuela in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, has died in Miami. He was 84.

The opponent of Cuba's Fidel Castro died Wednesday after a lengthy hospital stay in suburban Miami. Bosch's wife, Adriana, said he had suffered complications from various illnesses and had been hospitalized since December.

Bosch and fellow militant Luis Posada Carriles were both accused in the 1976 bombing that killed all 73 people aboard the flight from Venezuela to Cuba.

Venezuelan authorities arrested Bosch and held him for 11 years. They failed twice to convict him and finally freed him to return to the United States. The federal government then held Bosch for three years in a Miami jail as an "undesirable alien" and released a report linking him to right-wing terrorist groups responsible for 50 bombings in Miami, New York and Latin America. While Posada was awaiting a retrial after an acquittal by a military court, he escaped from a Venezuelan prison. Posada was recently acquitted on charges of lying to U.S. immigration authorities about his past.

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Conservative political strategist William A. Rusher dies at 87

William A. Rusher, a conservative strategist for more than 50 years who helped engineer Barry Goldwater's nomination as the Republican candidate for president in 1964, has died. He was 87.

Rusher died Saturday in a nursing facility in San Francisco after a long illness. His death was confirmed by Richard Vetterli, a spokesman for the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office.

Rusher's influence was felt on decades of U.S. politics, from the 1961 stirrings of the "draft Goldwater" effort to opposing Richard Nixon's overtures to China in the 1970s to advising Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s.

Rusher also helped shape the public debate through syndicated columns in newspapers across the country. He spent 31 years as publisher of National Review, the magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. that was a postwar cornerstone of anti-communism and American conservative thought.

"There wasn't an active candidate or a politician who wasn't familiar with his work," said Brian Kennedy, president of the Claremont Institute, a conservative public-policy think tank in Claremont. Rusher joined the institute as a distinguished fellow after leaving the National Review in 1988.

Sal Russo, a Sacramento Republican operative who is the chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, said he developed a friendship with Rusher back when Russo was working for then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in the 1960s. Buckley and Rusher laid the groundwork for the conservative agenda, he said, that would be personified by Reagan as president.

"He has really been somewhat of a hidden giant of the conservative movement," Russo said. "He was there at the very beginning, when they came up with the idea of what has become the modern conservative movement."

Russo said that although Buckley was the face of the conservative movement, Rusher worked hard behind the scenes to pull the coalition together. "Bill was a crucial person in that whole process. Buckley of course was full of ideas, but Rusher was very organized, fastidious and he provided all the organizational heft and played a big role in the Young Americans for Freedom."

More later at

-- Associated Press

Remembering Geraldine Ferraro

Ferraro Geraldine A. Ferraro, who died Saturday at age 75, "will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life," President Obama said Saturday in a statement.

Ferraro became the first woman to run for vice president on a major ticket when she was Democrat Walter F. Mondale's running mate in 1984.

"She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it's a better country for what she did," Mondale told the Associated Press.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said her accomplishments "served as a milestone in our country's acceptance of equality and diversity. She is proof that a person can make a difference, and make a difference is what Geraldine did throughout her life."

Said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco): "She inspired women across the country to reach their own greatness as they strengthened our country."

Tell us your memories of Geraldine Ferraro's political career.


Geraldine Ferraro dies at 75

Photos: Geraldine Ferrarro

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Geraldine A. Ferraro with Walter F. Mondale at the Democratic National Convention in 1984. Behind them are Eleanor, Ted and William Mondale. Credit: Associated Press

Remembering Warren Christopher, who died Friday at 85

Christopher Warren Christopher, the former secretary of State who died Friday at age 85, was "a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant and a faithful American," President Obama said Saturday in a statement.

"Deeply dedicated to serving his country, Warren's career ranged from the naval reserve in World War II to a clerkship at the Supreme Court to the practice of law and politics in California and Washington. And as President Clinton's Secretary of State, he was a resolute pursuer of peace, leading negotiations with regard to the Middle East and the Balkans, including the Dayton Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia. "

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said in a statement that Christopher "was the consummate public servant and a proud patriot. Both at home and abroad, he was a skilled tactician on behalf of American interests."

Madeleine Albright, who followed Christopher as secretary of State, called him a "colleague, mentor and friend."

"Throughout a long and remarkable career of public service Secretary Christopher acted out of a profound sense of decency and honor, qualities that he sought diligently to nurture in others," she said in statement.

Former Vice President Al Gore said Christopher "was one of the great statesmen of our era."

"Sometimes, in order to find the real sources of heroic change in history, one should look to the life-work of dedicated, quiet, and supremely skillful public servants, who are prepared to sacrifice personal gain and ease for the sake not only of our country's interests, but also its principles," Gore said in a statement. "Warren Christopher is an exemplar of such service."

Christopher's career included leading an independent investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department that brought important reforms after the Rodney King beating. 


Warren Christopher dies at 85.

Christopher Commission report excerpts

Photos: Christopher's career

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Warren Christopher in 1996. Credit: Associated Press


Richard B. Wirthlin, pollster and strategist to President Reagan, dies at 80

Richard B. Wirthlin, a pollster who served as an advisor and election strategist to President Reagan during his 1980 and 1984 campaigns, died in Salt Lake City on Wednesday of natural causes attributable to age.


The Utah native also taught economics at Brigham Young University and founded Wirthlin Worldwide, a research firm with offices on four continents that provided marketing research, public affairs and communications strategies.

His political work included advising Presidents Nixon and Ford, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders.

Wirthlin is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jeralie Mae Chandler, eight children, 27 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are set for Saturday in Salt Lake City.

A full obituary will follow at

-- Associated Press

Photo: Richard B. Wirthlin


Steve Horn remembrance at Cal State Long Beach

SteveHorn2 A celebration of life will be held for Steve Horn, who spent a decade in Congress and was a former president of Cal State Long Beach.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. April 30 at the university’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach.

Horn, 79, died Feb. 17 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his Long Beach home.

At Cal State Long Beach, Horn served as president from 1970 to 1988, an era of tremendous growth for the school. In 2003, the school named a building that houses an art museum after Horn and his wife, Nini.

 -- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: On Capitol Hill, Republican Steve Horn was regarded as a maverick known for his bipartisanship during five terms in Congress from 1993 to 2003. Credit: Linda Spillers / Associated Press

David Broder, Pulitzer Prize-winning political writer for the Washington Post, dies at 81 [updated]

Broder David Broder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post political columnist whose evenhanded treatment of Democrats and Republicans set him apart from the ideological warriors on the nation's op-ed pages, died Wednesday. He was 81.

Post officials said Broder died of complications from diabetes.

Broder, an Illinois native, was familiar to television viewers as a frequent panelist on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. He appeared on the program more than 400 times, far more than any other journalist in the show's history.

To newspaper readers, he was one of the nation's most prominent syndicated columnists. A September 2007 study by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters found that Broder was second among columnists only to George Will in the combined circulation of newspapers in which his column appeared.

He was the only one of the top five that the group did not label as either conservative or liberal.

"His evenhanded approach has never wavered. He'd make a good umpire," wrote Alan Shear, editorial director of the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicated Broder's column. "Dave is neither left nor right, and can't even be called reliably centrist. He reports exhaustively and his conclusions are grounded in hard facts."

One of his hallmarks was a special effort to meet lots of average citizens who, in the end, really decide elections. In a 1991 lecture, Broder said reporters should spend "a lot of time with voters ... walking precincts, knocking on doors, talking to people in their living rooms. If we really got clearly in our heads what it is voters are concerned about, it might be possible to let their agenda drive our agenda."

The full Times obituary is here.

-- Associated Press

Photo: David Broder on "Meet the Press" in 2008. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images for "Meet the Press"

Former senator James McClure of Idaho dies at 86

Former U.S. Sen. James McClure, who spent six years as chairman of the Energy Committee and fought to keep Idaho's wilderness areas controlled by the state, has died. He was 86.

McClure, a Republican who served 24 years in Congress, died Saturday, according to the McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho. The cause of death was complications from a series of strokes, his family said.

McClure, who was born Dec. 27, 1924, began his political career in the Idaho Senate in 1961. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1966, staying there until his election to the Senate in 1972.

McClure retired from Congress in 1990 at the age of 65, becoming a lobbyist and mining consultant.

-- Associated Press



Former U.S. Rep. Steve Horn of Long Beach dies at 79

Steve Horn, a moderate Republican who represented Long Beach and surrounding communities in Congress from 1993 to 2003 and earlier served as president of Cal State Long Beach for nearly two decades, died Thursday at his home in Long Beach, his family announced. He was 79 and had Alzheimer’s disease.




As a Republican in a district trending Democrat, Horn decided not to run for re-election after redistricting changed the boundaries of the 38th district, which during his time included Bellflower, Downey, Paramount, Signal Hill and most of Long Beach and Lakewood.

Horn did not always follow the party line in Congress. He voted to impeach President Clinton, but he broke with most Republicans in voting against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And he supported abortion rights.

Born John Stephen Horn in San Juan Bautista, Calif., on May 31, 1931, he received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1953, a master’s in public administration from Harvard in 1955 and a doctorate from Stanford in 1958.

He was president of Cal State Long Beach from 1970 to 1988.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Nini Moore Horn; children Marcia and Steve Jr., and a grandson.

A private funeral is planned, along with a memorial service at a later date.

Horn’s family requests donations in his name to the University Library, California State University, Long Beach, c/o CSULB Foundation, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840.

A complete obituary will follow at


-- Claire Noland

Photo: Rep. Steve Horn in 2000. Credit: Los Angeles Times


'Meet the Press' host Bill Monroe dies at 90


Bill Monroe, 90, who hosted the long-running Washington political television show "Meet the Press" for nearly a decade, died Thursday at a Washington-area nursing home.

Monroe was the NBC show's fourth moderator, from 1975 to 1984, and interviewed prominent political figures including President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Tim Russert, the best known host of "Meet the Press," assumed the host's chair in 1991 after a series of short stints by others after Monroe's departure.

Monroe's daughter, Lee Monroe, said her father had taken a fall in December that put him in a nursing home and he had not been well since.

Bill Monroe was born in New Orleans on July 17, 1920. He graduated from Tulane University, served in World War II and later began his career in television journalism at the New Orleans NBC affiliate, WDSU.

In 1961 he moved to Washington, where he became NBC's bureau chief. He worked on the "Today Show," winning the Peabody Award in 1972, and succeeded Lawrence Spivak as host of "Meet the Press" in 1975.

On his first day as the show's permanent moderator he interviewed Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, the staunch segregationist who was at the time running for president.

"Have you personally changed your views about segregation?" Monroe asked.

When Wallace didn't respond directly, Monroe cut him off and repeated the question. Wallace began to stumble through his next response, and Monroe asked a third time: "Have your views changed?"

Wallace finally claimed that race relations were better in Alabama than other parts of the country.

Marvin Kalb, who with Roger Mudd co-hosted "Meet the Press" after Monroe left, called him a "consummate interviewer" and a "gracious host."

"I think fairness was the word that would best describe him as host," Kalb said.

Monroe talked about his career in an interview for the Archive of American Television seen in the YouTube clip above. Listen to the entire interview here.

-- Associated Press



Nora Sun, former U.S. trade consul, dies at 72

Nora Sun, a former U.S. trade consul and granddaughter of the founder of Asia's first republic in China, has died in Taipei, Taiwan, from injuries sustained in a car accident. She was 72.

Sun died Saturday, Taiwan's government-owned Central News Agency reported. She was the granddaughter of Sun Yat-sen, who led a revolution to topple China's Qing dynasty and establish the Republic of China.

Sun Yat-sen's efforts were followed decades later by a bloody civil war between his follower Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong's communist forces. After their defeat in 1949, Chiang's Nationalists resettled in Taiwan.

Nora Sun was born in Shanghai in 1938, spent her youth in Hong Kong and Taiwan and moved to the U.S. in 1962.

She began a career in the U.S. diplomatic service in the late 1980s, serving as a U.S. trade consul in Ghougzhou, Shanghai and Paris. She quit in 1994 to start her own trade company in Hong Kong, helping U.S. and European companies invest in China.

In recent years, she split her time between Shanghai, Hong Kong and the U.S.

The Jan. 1 car accident occurred while she was in Taiwan for the centennial celebration of the 1911 Chinese revolution led by her grandfather.

-- Associated Press


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