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Gingrich begins fundraising for 2012 White House bid

ATLANTA — Newt Gingrich on Thursday became the first major Republican candidate to begin raising money for the 2012 presidential race, but he stopped short of declaring his candidacy until he finishes delivering paid speeches this month and distances himself from a web of business ventures that would interfere with a campaign.

In an afternoon visit to the State Capitol here, Gingrich smiled broadly as he entered the governor’s formal briefing room, with his wife, Callista, at his side. He said they had decided, after months of deliberation, to move forward and see if he could find enough support among Republican primary voters to compete seriously for the party’s nomination.

“We believe that America’s best years are actually ahead of us,” said Gingrich, 67, who won his first bid for elective office 33 years ago as a Georgia congressman. “We believe that it is possible through the right policies, with the right values, to create dramatically more jobs with dramatically higher incomes.”

NFL, union extend deadline for a day in labor talks

WASHINGTON — The NFL and the players’ union agreed Thursday to extend by one day the deadline for expiration of its collective bargaining agreement. The agreement gave them time to see if they can further extend the deadline to continue negotiating in hopes of averting the first work stoppage in the league since players struck in 1987.

The sides were still far apart Thursday night on the major issues that divided them — most importantly the division of $9 billion in annual revenue. If no other extension is reached, the labor deal will expire at midnight Friday.

The reprieve also gave teams one more day to negotiate with their players or players who have been cut by other teams, but they are not allowed to sign contracts. Free agency cannot begin without a new collective bargaining agreement, and no player trades are allowed.

China places new limits 
on foreign journalists

BEIJING — Apparently unnerved by an anonymous Internet campaign urging Chinese citizens to emulate the protests that have rocked the Middle East, Chinese authorities this week have begun a forceful and carefully focused clampdown on activities by foreigners that the government deems threatening to political stability.

Public security officials have summoned dozens of foreign journalists in Beijing and Shanghai to be dressed down on videotape, warning them that they had broken reporting regulations by visiting locations that had been selected as protest sites in Internet postings. Journalists were bluntly warned that they faced the loss of their visas, revocation of their credentials and expulsion if they did not abide by new limits on their ability to interview and photograph Chinese citizens, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in a statement.

In Shanghai, the authorities objected to the location of an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade set for March 12 that had been expected to draw more than 2,000 people, prompting Irish organizations to abruptly cancel the event on Monday. The parade was to have taken place on a major street close to a cinema where the Internet postings had urged people to gather every Sunday.

Michael Wines contributed reporting. Li Bibo, Zhang Jing, and Jonathan Kaiman contributed research.