World and Nation

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Leader of Teachers’ Union urges dismissal overhaul

Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed.

It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days.

Teacher evaluations, long an obscure detail in an educator’s career, have moved front and center as school systems try to identify which teachers are best at improving student achievement and to remove ineffective ones.

SEC may soon file civil charges against Freddie Mac official

Securities regulators may soon file civil charges against a top executive at the mortgage finance company Freddie Mac, according to a public filing released Thursday.

Donald J. Bisenius, an executive vice president at Freddie Mac, recently received a Wells notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the filing said. The agency sends the notices when it is considering an enforcement action against someone.

Bisenius will voluntarily leave the company on April 1, according to the filing.

The notice sent to Bisenius, 52, is the latest sign that the SEC’s long-running investigation into Freddie Mac may be picking up steam.

According to a disclosure this month, Anthony S. Piszel, known as Buddy, who was Freddie Mac’s chief financial officer from 2006 to 2008, received a Wells notice regarding his tenure at the company.

Freddie Mac and its sister company, Fannie Mae, have also acknowledged receiving subpoenas in 2008 and 2009 from the SEC and from a federal grand jury. The government’s investigation has so far focused on Freddie Mac’s accounting and disclosure practices.

Airfares expected to keep rising

As oil prices climb, so does airfare.

Airlines, struggling to keep up with skyrocketing fuel costs, have raised domestic ticket prices five times since the beginning of the year. That’s one more increase than was issued in all of last year and two more than in 2009, according to the travel website The hikes, which range from $4 to $10 apiece round-trip, have bumped up round-trip domestic airfare $25 to $60.

Prices are expected to keep inching up as unrest in the Middle East continues to push fuel costs higher and airlines keep capacity low. The increase comes at a time when airlines are slowly recovering from a travel slowdown: At current prices, fuel accounts for about 35 percent of an airline’s cost, said Robert Herbst of, up from about 30 percent last year.

“If the price of oil stayed where it is, roughly $100 per barrel, the airlines would have to raise revenues 9.8 percent to break even for the year,” Herbst said.

To lead European Central Bank, Italian will face hurdles

ROME — He is a familiar face at the European Central Bank. Many economists think he should be the next person to run it.

But among government leaders in Berlin and Paris, where many of Europe’s most important decisions are made, Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy, generates a palpable lack of enthusiasm.

A longtime central banker with sterling qualifications, Draghi has been put forward as a front-runner to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet after he steps down as president of the central bank in October.

But at a pivotal moment for the euro monetary union, France and Germany want to make sure that the bank’s next leader will have as steady a hand at the helm as any German would.

Germany is also reluctant to surrender its de facto right to name the next president. French officials are among those expressing reservations about Draghi because he was an executive at Goldman Sachs from 2002 to 2005. The investment bank was the lead manager for a 2001 derivatives transaction that allowed Greece to dress up its books in a way that brought it into the euro club.

As he tries to win more support, Draghi is unequivocal about where his priority lies: fighting inflation.

Chilean miners, in Israel, count blessings amid media

JERUSALEM — With revolts toppling governments across the Middle East and peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians suspended, 25 of the Chilean miners rescued after more than two months underground toured the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday.

The miners arrived on Wednesday for a weeklong visit as guests of the Israeli government.

Their itinerary includes Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, as well as the Dead Sea, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee. They are also scheduled to visit the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

Some are planning to take part in a communal baptism in the Jordan River, and on Sunday morning, the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, will host the group in his official residence.