No pardon for boxer, Justice says

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is refusing to grant a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the black heavyweight boxing champion imprisoned nearly a century ago because of his romantic ties with a white woman.

In a letter obtained yesterday by the Associated Press, Justice's pardon attorney, Ronald L. Rodgers, told Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) that the department's general policy was not to process posthumous pardon requests. In cases like Johnson's, given the time that has passed and the historical record that would need to be scoured, its resources for pardon requests are best used on behalf of people "who can truly benefit" from them, Rodgers wrote.

King and Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) had sent President Obama a letter in October urging a pardon. They noted that both houses of Congress had passed a resolution calling for a presidential pardon.

Rodgers wrote that Obama still has the authority to pardon whomever he wishes. The White House had no immediate comment. - AP

In Times Square, a chase, shooting

NEW YORK - A plainclothes officer chased a scam artist through sidewalks crowded with shoppers and tourists in the heart of Times Square yesterday, killing the suspect near a landmark Broadway hotel after a gunfight that shattered box-office and gift-shop windows, police said. No one else was injured.

Raymond Martinez, 25, of the Bronx, and his brother were trying to dupe tourists into buying CDs when he was recognized by Sgt. Christopher Newsom, who runs a task force that monitors aggressive panhandling, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Newsom asked for their tax ID, which allows peddlers to sell on the streets. But Martinez ran off, through the Marriott Marquis hotel's passenger drop-off area. Newsom pursued, and Martinez fired with a pistol that held 30 rounds, shooting twice before it jammed, police said. The officer fired four times, killing Martinez, Kelly said. - AP

Panel advances media shield bill

WASHINGTON - A bill to protect reporters' confidential sources in federal court cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, 14-5, ending months of stalemate.

The panel sent the so-called media shield bill to the full Senate, but it's not certain it will become law this year. Even if the Senate acts, the bill would have to be reconciled with a House-passed version.

The bill does not give journalists absolute authority to protect sources; those rights can be overridden in national security cases. The bill has broad support from journalism groups and is a compromise worked out by senators, the intelligence community, and the Obama administration. - AP

Elsewhere:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said he still wants to reconcile with his wife, Jenny, even though she has made clear she won't be standing by his side in the wake of his extramarital affair.

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon faces a Jan. 21 sentencing date on her misdemeanor embezzlement conviction. Once sentenced, she could be suspended from office under Maryland law. Her lawyers intend to file a motion for a new trial.