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Siegelman to be Free: Clock Begins on Rove Prosecution

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Written by Scott Horton
Saturday, 29 March 2008


Court of Appeals Sets Governor Siegelman Free As Congress Calls Siegelman to Testify in Continued Probe of Political Prosecutions
by Scott Horton

Today was a news double-header for former Alabama Governor Don E. Siegelman. In an order issued by the Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Siegelman’s request to be set free pending his appeal was granted.

The court noting that it had reviewed the decision of District Court Judge Mark Fuller for “clear error” and had considered legal issues de novo stated that:

"Siegelman has satisfied the criteria set out in the statute and has specifically met his burden of showing that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact."

Meanwhile in Washington, the House Judiciary Committee made clear that it was far from finished with its probe into allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the Siegelman case....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama is tops in N.C. cash

He outraises Clinton; McCain trails behind both Democrats

By Bertrand M. Gutierrez
JOURNAL REPORTER


Sen. Barack Obama has raised a total of $1.53 million from individual donors in North Carolina through February, pulling away from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who raised $1.09 million, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The totals highlight the fundraising gap between the two in what is now seen as a key primary. Both Democrats visited the Triad this week as the campaign intensifies for the May 6 primary.

The fundraising result also marks a significant shift in the way that individual donors statewide are investing campaign money since the Democratic primaries and caucuses started in January.

Before Obama, D-Ill., won the Iowa caucuses and other contests, he and Clinton, D-N.Y., had collected similar amounts of money in North Carolina. Each raised about $750,000 through Dec. 31, with Obama collecting slightly more.

But during January and February, when Obama extended his Iowa win to such states as South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, he raised as much money in North Carolina as he had in the year leading up to those two months....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Al Gore stays clear of Democrat spat

BY KENNETH R. BAZINET
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Saturday, March 29th 2008, 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON - The uber-arbiter is withholding judgment.

Democratic icon Al Gore said he won't step in as broker or peacemaker in the venomous nomination battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"I think it's going to resolve itself. But we'll see," Gore told The Associated Press, referring to the possibility of one candidate dropping out before the party convention in August.

Viewed by some as one of the few influential high priests of the party, Gore doesn't even have plans to make an endorsement - let alone play the role of referee.

Gore dismissed party worrywarts who say the Democratic infighting only helps Republican John McCain.

"What have we got, five months left?" he said when asked about his endorsement.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean - who has become McCain's chief tormenter as the Clinton and Obama camps duke it out - insisted the nomination must be resolved within a month of the last primaries....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Democratic squabbles could give McCain a boost

Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Saturday, March 29, 2008


(03-29) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- If ever the stars were aligned against a Republican winning the White House, 2008 is it.

There's war. And not just any war, but a war that a majority of the public firmly and consistently believes is not worth fighting and that has dragged on longer than World War II and cost more than Vietnam.

There's a likely recession. And not just an ordinary recession, but a financial crisis that involves millions of home foreclosures among the middle-class.

Then there's President Bush, a deeply unpopular Republican in his second term. Plus a fractured party that harbors profound suspicions about its nominee, Sen. John McCain. Money shortfalls. Disasters both natural, as in Hurricane Katrina, and man-made, as in corruption and sex scandals. Party enthusiasm as lukewarm as it is ferocious in the opposing camp. A flock of GOP retirements in Congress that reflect deep gloom about the party's prospects.

Add it all up, and the historical odds favor Democrats by a landslide.

But that's before one adds Democrats to the equation....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Barack Bowl

Barack Obama spent Saturday evening in a close encounter with the fierce urgency of a gutter ball.

In search of game, a friendly crowd and really good photo ops, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Robert Casey rolled into Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona to cheers from patrons, report our faithful press pool reporters. Several bowlers ready to bite into French fries lathered with ketchup and American cheese—it’s a Pennsylvania thing; you wouldn’t understand — stopped mid-munch, put down their beers and watched a presidential candidate walk into their midst.

Mr. Obama takes no small pride in his athleticism but he was back-pedaling from the start. “I just want to point out that the last time I bowled was 30 years ago, when I was 16,” he cautioned the crowd gathering to ask for his autograph and a photo.

Whatever.

Roxanne Hart, a 43-year-old gal from Altoona, asked if he wanted to bowl with her. Mr. Obama and Mr. Casey shed dress shoes for bowling shoes—a blue and white Velcro number for Obama, size 13 ½ — and entered their names into the overhead monitor. It was BAR and BOB against ROX.

Rox won in a walk....(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Clinton rejects calls to quit Democratic race

[My opinion. Clinton will do anything for the power and getting elected. If she can't have it, her and her minions are going to destroy the other Democrat so they can't have it either.]

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday rejected calls by supporters of rival candidate Barack Obama to quit the Democratic presidential race, and Obama said Clinton should remain in race "as long as she wants."

"The more people get a chance to vote, the better it is for our democracy," the New York senator and former first lady told supporters at a rally in Indiana, which holds a May 6 primary.

"There are some folks saying we ought to stop these elections," she said.

"I didn't think we believed that in America. I thought we of all people knew how important it was to give everyone a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted."

Clinton has won primaries in the biggest states so far, but Obama has won more total contests and leads her in the race for delegates to the party's August convention in Denver -- where the Democratic nominee will be formally ratified.

Two of Obama's leading supporters, Sens. Christopher Dodd and Patrick Leahy, said Friday that Clinton should rethink her chances of overcoming that deficit and consider folding her campaign.

Leahy, of Vermont, said Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to."

Speaking in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Obama said he did not discuss Leahy's call for Clinton to drop out with the Vermont senator, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Second Texas Democratic caucuses bring more chaos

By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle


AUSTIN — Traffic jams, long lines, crowds, confusion and chaos marked Texas Democratic regional conventions Saturday as an unprecedented number of political activists turned out to help elect presidential nominating delegates for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

There are 67 at-large delegates at stake, depending mostly on the results of the state senatorial district and county conventions.

Obama was the caucus winner on primary night, and an Associated Press delegate count showed he might be holding his ground.

Obama's campaign late Saturday said he would win, claiming he would receive 38 delegates to Clinton's 29. Clinton's campaign says Obama should wait for the official results before declaring victory.

If the Obama campaign prediction is accurate, that would give Obama a total five-delegate advantage over Clinton in the Texas primary/caucus contest.

Obama won all of the Houston-area conventions, except Senate District 6, a heavily Hispanic community that went for Clinton in the popular vote. That district's results were the subject of an ongoing dispute late Saturday.

The area conventions often were marked by exasperation as thousands of people who had never participated in the process before gathered to show support for their candidate and try to win a slot to attend the state party convention in June....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Former Ala. governor freed from prison

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Leaves Federal Prison in Louisiana on Bond

Staff, AP News
Mar 28, 2008 11:51 EST


Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was released on bond from a federal prison Friday, saying he remains upbeat despite serving nine months for corruption.

Leaving the prison in a black sport utility vehicle, he stopped on a road outside the lockup to comment. He wore a ragged shirt that appeared to be prison clothing.

"I may have lost my freedom for awhile, but I never lost faith," Siegelman, 62, told reporters.

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Siegelman should be released while he appeals his conviction.

He declined further comment, saying, "I want to be with my family for a few days." But he said he would make a statement when he reaches his home in Birmingham, Ala.

Siegelman was placed in federal custody after being sentenced last June to more than seven years in prison for bribery-related counts and one obstruction of justice count.

The House Judiciary Committee also has announced that it wants to hear Siegelman's views when it probes claims of selective prosecution by the Justice Department....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Is Wright Right About Racism?

By David Sirota

Since the 1960s, bigotry has undergone an aesthetic makeover. Today, the most pernicious racists do not wear pointy hoods, scream epithets and anonymously burn crosses from behind masks. They don starched suits, recite sententious bromides and stage political lynchings before television cameras. For proof, behold the mob stalking Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Wright has long delivered fiery (and occasionally outrageous) sermons, to little fanfare. Now, though, a gang of thugs is inflicting a guilt-by-association blow to Obama by excoriating his spiritual adviser for three specific declarations.

Sean Hannity, Fox News’ own George Wallace, turned a fire hose on Wright for his church’s focus. “[The church] is all about the black community,” Hannity thundered, claiming that means Wright supports “a black-separatist agenda.”

Pat Buchanan billy-clubbed Wright for saying, “God damn America.” The MSNBC commentator, who avoided the draft, implied that Wright, a former Marine, lacks sufficient loyalty to country. Out of context, Wright’s exclamation was admittedly offensive. But remember: It punctuated a speech about segregation. Buchanan, nonetheless, unleashed, deriding “black hustlers” and insisting descendants of those “brought from Africa in slave ships” owe whites a thank you. “Where is the gratitude?” he asked....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Endorsement of Obama Points Up Clinton’s Obstacles

By ADAM NAGOURNEY
Published: March 29, 2008

This article was reported by Adam Nagourney, Patrick Healy and Jeff Zeleny and written by Mr. Nagourney.

The surprise endorsement of Senator Barack Obama by a popular senator in a battleground state on Friday underlined the ferment in the Democratic nominating race and the serious obstacles facing Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as she tries to rescue her candidacy.

Compounding the challenge, one of Mr. Obama’s most prominent supporters, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, said Mrs. Clinton should quit the race because she hurt Mr. Obama “more than anything John McCain has said.”

The Clinton campaign showed resolve in the face of the developments, rallying supporters and donors and enlisting prominent surrogates to fight back. Mrs. Clinton told aides that she would not be “bullied out” of the race.

In a conversation with two Democratic allies, she compared the situation to the “big boys” trying to bully a woman, according to interviews with them....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Clinton Rules Out Leaving Race Early

By BETH FOUHY

HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — If Hillary Rodham Clinton is feeling heat from pundits and party elders to quit the race and back Barack Obama, you'd never know it from her crowds, energy level and upbeat demeanor on the campaign trail.

"There are millions of reasons to continue this race: people in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina, and all of the contests yet to come," Clinton told reporters Friday. "This is a very close race and clearly I believe strongly that everyone should have their voices heard and their votes counted."

The former first lady weathered a two-pronged blow Friday, with influential Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. endorsing Obama and another Senate colleague, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, urging her to step aside. But to hear Clinton tell it, it was just another day in an epic primary battle whose result is still not known.

"I believe a spirited contest is good for the Democratic Party and will strengthen the eventual nominee," she said. "We will have a united party behind whomever that nominee is. ... I look forward to campaigning over the next several months."

Traveling across Indiana, the former first lady was greeted by large, enthusiastic audiences who roared their approval at her proposals to help fix the state's economic challenges.

At events here and in North Carolina on Thursday, Clinton raised the issue of whether she should quit the race, only to have it firmly batted down by her supporters.

"There are some people who are saying, you know, we really ought to end this primary, we just ought to shut it down," she said in Mishawaka, Ind., drawing cries of "No, no!" inside a packed gymnasium....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama Moves Past Clinton in Calling for Wall Street Oversight

By Lorraine Woellert and Matthew Benjamin

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama, who has been a step behind rival Hillary Clinton in proposing remedies to the housing and financial crises, jumped ahead of her this week by advocating broader regulation of Wall Street.

Obama called for the Federal Reserve to be given greater supervisory power when it acts as lender of last resort. He also urged stronger capital requirements for financial companies and a consolidation of regulatory agencies.

``The regulatory framework hasn't caught up with the global financial system,'' he said yesterday in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt.'' ``It's something I intend to do as president.''

Clinton, 60, has yet to propose a sweeping set of new laws, focusing instead on the slumping economy and on alleviating the effects of the crisis among homeowners. ``We do need to try to make up for the lax regulation and absence of oversight,'' she said in a separate interview yesterday.

Obama, 46, offered his proposals in the wake of convulsions in the subprime-lending market and the Fed-engineered buyout of Bear Stearns Cos. by JPMorgan Chase & Co....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Sen. Leahy Calls for Clinton to Quit Race

March 29, 2008; Page A4

Sen. Patrick Leahy told Vermont Public Radio he believes it is time for Sen. Hillary Clinton to drop out and let Sen. Barack Obama win the Democratic presidential nomination.

"There is no way that Sen. Clinton is going to win enough delegates to get the nomination," said Sen. Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "She ought to withdraw, and she ought to be backing Sen. Obama. Now, obviously that's a decision that only she can make. Frankly, I feel that she would have a tremendous career in the Senate."

The Vermont senator, who endorsed Sen. Obama in January, also voiced concerns that the protracted Democratic nomination fight was benefiting Republicans. Sen. Leahy said Sen. John McCain, expected to be the Republican nominee, "has been making one gaffe after another" but that he is getting a "free ride" because of the attention focused on the Clinton-Obama fight....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Obama Pans Bill Clinton's Economic Legacy

The economy was the main topic on the presidential campaign trail Thursday, with both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama addressing the issue at separate events. ABC World News reported on "what is clearly the number one issue with voters: the economy. All three candidates are talking about it these days, with major speeches about what they would do as president." ABC added, "Today for the first time a major presidential candidate said flat-out what no other candidate has said." Obama said, "As most experts agree, our economy is in a recession." ABC added that Obama "blamed much of the current economic crisis, on a lack of regulations of financial institutions, which he said were simply eliminated under Presidents Bush and Clinton."

The Financial Times reports under the headline "Obama Blames Clinton Era for Crisis," Obama said "much of the blame for America's unfolding credit crisis on the financial deregulation of the 1990s in his hardest hitting attack so far on the economic legacy of Bill Clinton's administration." The FT says Obama's speech was "the fourth so far this week by a presidential candidate focusing on America's probable recession." In calling for "an overhaul of US financial regulation" and another $30 billion in stimulus funding, the "clear target of Mr Obama's speech was the economic record of the 1990s." However, he did not mention "the Clintons by name."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Robotic phone calls lead Democratic delegates astray

Some receive false claims that conventions have been cancelled

By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau


AUSTIN — The Texas Democratic Party on Friday urged delegates to today's senatorial district and county conventions to ignore e-mails and robotic phone calls telling them that the conventions have either been canceled or had their times changed.

The conventions are a crucial turning point in Texas as the presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama fight for 67 nominating convention delegates who will be chosen through the Texas caucus process.

While Obama appeared to come out of the caucuses with a 37-30 lead, the number can change based on how many supporters for each candidate show up for today's local conventions.

That prompted Democratic Chairman Boyd Richie to put out an alert after receiving reports that delegates were being given misinformation about the conventions. Richie said all the conventions are going to occur as scheduled.

"We have received reports from delegates who have received e-mails saying that conventions have been canceled," Richie said. "We have also received unconfirmed reports that someone is placing robo-calls claiming to be from the Texas Democratic Party suggesting that county or district conventions have been cancelled."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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An Obama-Bloomberg Ticket? No Cheers From the Mayor

By DIANE CARDWELL and MICHAEL POWELL
Published: March 28, 2008


It was only hours after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg finally made it clear that he was not running for president that his chief political guru, Kevin Sheekey, suggested that he would be the perfect running mate for Senator Barack Obama.

So Mr. Bloomberg’s highly orchestrated introduction of Mr. Obama at a speech at the Cooper Union on Thursday quickly resuscitated speculation that the billionaire mayor might end up in the White House after all. But despite a few jokes and a stiff embrace, the men seemed nothing like two peas in the same political pod, destined to share a ticket.

In presenting Mr. Obama, Mr. Bloomberg pointedly noted that he had not endorsed a candidate, saying that now was the time for people to listen to the candidates’ ideas. Referring to the “private breakfast” the two men shared at a Midtown coffee shop in November with a throng of news media pressed against the window, Mr. Bloomberg joked that it was his pleasure to introduce him, “and not just because he picked up the check.”

Mr. Obama had kind words for Mr. Bloomberg as well, saying that he had “demonstrated extraordinary leadership.” He joked: “The reason I bought breakfast is because I expected payback. I’m no dummy. The mayor was a cheap date that morning. There are some good steakhouses in this city.”...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Plan to Deal With Radiation Hazard Before Shoura Council

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

[Obviously, Cheney's trip was nothing more than a prep trip for a US attack on Iran.]

Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News

RIYADH, 24 March 2008 — The Shoura Council has discussed a national plan to deal with any potential leakage of radioactive material in the Kingdom following warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s nuclear reactors.

“The plan to check radiation hazards was discussed by Shoura members, but it will be discussed and reviewed again before being tabled for voting,” a Shoura Council member said yesterday.

“The King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) has prepared a proposal that encapsulates the probabilities of a nuclear and radiation leak in case of any unexpected attacks,” said the Shoura member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

This concern has also been echoed several times by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in his meetings with regional and international leaders. “Riyadh has been of the view that the Middle East region should be void of weapons of mass destruction,” said the member, without giving details of the Saudi plan.

A KACST nuclear scientist yesterday confirmed that an emergency plan to check radioactive leaks is there in place, but refused to provide details. He said that a national strategy has been prepared by KACST’s Atomic Energy Research Institute, set up by the Kingdom in 1988.

On the regional front, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has also been discussing the pros and cons of Iran’s nuclear program.

Power plants in the southwestern Iranian port of Bushehr, built with German assistance in 1974 and which resumed with Russian aid in 1992, have been the focus of global attention. The Gulf region as a whole is at a serious risk of a catastrophe due to military nuclear-powered and armed ships and submarines entering Gulf waters....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Conservatives Beware

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By E.J. Dionne

WASHINGTON—What’s the matter with conservatism?

Its problems start with the failure of George W. Bush’s presidency but they don’t end there. Inequality is rising and working-class voters are being hammered. The cost and availability of health coverage are a big problem, and some Republicans don’t want to talk about that simply because they see it as a “Democratic issue.”

Don’t take my word on this. The themes I just outlined come from two important new books written by conservatives. The authors are worried about their movement’s future, and accept—to use the language directed once upon a time against liberals—that the right is tired, short of ideas and mired in the past.

The appearance of these books is a sign of something deeper: Much as liberals and Democrats realized in the 1980s that their side needed to rethink old assumptions, the shrewdest conservatives understand that the old faith, if it goes unreformed, is in danger of dying out.

David Frum, a one-time speech writer for President Bush and the author of “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,” says nice things about the president but concedes he has “led his party to the brink of disaster.”

Frum is not one of those conservatives who think that running against government is always the right thing. “There are things only government can do,” he writes, “and if we conservatives wish to be entrusted with the management of the government, we must prove that we care enough about government to manage it well.”

Many on the right think there is no problem with conservatism today that doing a better job of imitating Ronald Reagan wouldn’t solve. But the 1980s were a long time ago. What made Reagan great, Frum argues, “was his ability to respond to the demands of his times. We must respond to the demands of ours.”...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Bush honours US troop 'sacrifice'

George Bush has paid tribute to what he said was the "sacrifice" of US troops killed in Iraq, as the US death toll in the five-year conflict reached 4,000.

The US president said on Monday he would "make sure that those lives were not lost in vain," on what he called a "day of reflection" honouring US war dead.

Bush pledged to ensure "an outcome that will merit the sacrifice" of US troops.

"People will look back at this moment in history and say: thank God there were courageous people willing to serve, because they laid the foundations for peace for generations to come," he said.

US Democratic politicians also condemned the rising death toll in Iraq, with presidential hopeful Barack Obama saying it was "time to end this war".

The White House said earlier on Monday that Bush is likely to adopt an expected recommendation from General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, that significant troop withdrawals from Iraq are put on hold....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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We Don't Know This Sen. Joe

Sen. Lieberman has been too busy burning bridges to build any.

Published on 3/23/2008

When The Day endorsed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for re-election in November 2006 it was supporting a candidate who demonstrated a history of pragmatic leadership and a willingness to seek bipartisan solutions.

We wonder what happened to that senator.

Sen. Lieberman's open-ended commitment to military involvement in Iraq comes as no surprise. The senator made it clear when running for re-election that was his position. Sen. Lieberman wants the United States military to remain in Iraq until the war is won, whatever that means. It conflicts with this newspaper's position that the time has come for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Despite that difference of opinion, The Day editorially backed the senator because of his experience, his willingness to put principle above politics, as demonstrated by his condemnation of former President Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and his even-handed political approach.

But while Sen. Lieberman remains experienced, he is no longer even-handedly principled.

He seems to be taking delight in poking the leadership of the Democratic Party in the eye. After losing the Democratic primary for Senate in 2006, he had every right to petition his way on the ballot for an independent run. And his decision, after being re-elected, to continue breaking bread with the Democratic Party was a politically expedient decision for both the senator and the party....(Click here for remainder of Op-Ed.)

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Four killed as fierce fighting erupts in Iraq's Basra

BASRA (AFP) - Iraqi security forces fought raging battles with gunmen from radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Shiite militia in Basra on Tuesday amid a crackdown on armed groups in the southern oil city.

At least four people were killed and 18 wounded in the clashes, said police Major Abbas Youssef, as ambulances raced through the streets ferrying the wounded.

British military officials said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Basra to personally oversee the major security force sweep in Iraq's second largest city, but that British troops were not taking part.

An AFP correspondent said fighting involving mortars, machine guns and assault weapons erupted soon after the security forces entered the Al-Tamiyah neighbourhood, a bastion of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, at around 5:00 am (0200 GMT). The fighting quickly spread to five other Mahdi Army neighbourhoods.

Television pictures showed Iraqi troops running through the streets firing weapons and taking cover as ambulances raced past. Thick palls of smoke were seen rising above the city's skyline.

Witnesses said the streets were empty aside from the security forces, emergency vehicles and people in cars fleeing the fighting. Shops and markets were closed....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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The Long Defeat

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: March 25, 2008


Hillary Clinton may not realize it yet, but she’s just endured one of the worst weeks of her campaign.

First, Barack Obama weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects. Obama still holds a tiny lead among Democrats nationally in the Gallup tracking poll, just as he did before this whole affair blew up.

Second, Obama’s lawyers successfully prevented re-votes in Florida and Michigan. That means it would be virtually impossible for Clinton to take a lead in either elected delegates or total primary votes.

Third, as Noam Scheiber of The New Republic has reported, most superdelegates have accepted Nancy Pelosi’s judgment that the winner of the elected delegates should get the nomination. Instead of lining up behind Clinton, they’re drifting away. Her lead among them has shrunk by about 60 in the past month, according to Avi Zenilman of Politico.com....(Click here for remainder of Op-Ed.)

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Clinton Takes Heat For Comments Made Last Week

March 25, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in Pennsylvania again today, as she tries to build momentum for next month's primary there, while also taking heat from her rival over comments made last week.

Clinton was also in the City of Brotherly Love yesterday where she proposed greater protections for lenders in an effort to offset the nation's mortgage crisis.

New York’s junior senator is taking heat over comments she made about a trip to Bosnia as First Lady. During a campaign stop last week, Clinton said she came under sniper fire while she was in the country in 1996. A spokesman now says she "misspoke."

Rival Barack Obama's campaign called it another in a growing list of instances where Clinton exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policymaking.

Obama has no scheduled events until tomorrow.

The latest nationwide Gallup poll shows him leading Clinton by three percentage points, although that is within the survey's margin of error....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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4,000 US casualties in Iraq

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China's Brutal Olympic Echo

By David Zirin

China’s brutal crackdown against Tibetan protesters ahead of the Summer Olympics in Beijing carries with it a terrible echo from the past. Scores of people, including school children are reported dead and more repression has been promised. The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), said “[We must] resolutely crush the ‘Tibet independence’ forces’ conspiracy and sabotaging activities.”

Even after decades of occupation, the ruthlessness of the crackdown has shocked much of the world. It happens the week after the US State Department removed China from its list of the world's worst human rights offenders.

Yet the concern expressed by world leaders has seemed less for the people of Tibet than the fate of the Summer Games, with Olympic cash deemed more precious than Tibetan blood. The Olympics were supposed to be China's multibillion-dollar, super sweet sixteen. Britain's Minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, Mark Malloch-Brown told the BBC, "This is China's coming-out party, and they should take great care to do nothing that will wreck that."

Other countries hankering after a piece of China's thriving economy have rushed to put daylight between the crackdown in Tibet and the Olympics. No surprise, the Bush’s White House, underwriting their war in Iraq on loans from Beijing, headed off any talk that President Bush would cancel his appearance at the Olympic Games when spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush believed that the Olympics "should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics." Earlier, the European Union said a "boycott would not be the appropriate way to address the work for respect of human rights, which means the ethnic and religious rights of the Tibetans."...(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Real ID as a wedge issue

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's just beyond me why more Congressional Democrats have not seized upon Real ID as an issue that could split the Republican party down the middle.

From almost every perspective, the 2005 Real ID Act is reprehensible. Its most obnoxious component creates in effect a national ID card by imposing draconian restrictions upon how states may issue drivers licenses. It requires the states to conduct expensive (and essentially impossible) background checks, and create and share databases with extensive personal information for all drivers. It also requires that airline passengers and anyone seeking to enter a federal building in the future must present a Real ID, or face extensive screening and delays. There's every reason to believe that in the not too distant future, the uses of this nascent national ID card would be extended both in public and private spheres until it became nearly impossible to do without one. Furthermore, the state databases would almost certainly be fed into federal systems, including data-mining programs like Total Information Awareness (or whatever the government is calling its Orwellian program now). It's hard to believe as well that these vast state databases could be kept secure from snoopers and identity-thieves, when so many "low-level" employees will have direct, daily access to them. Real ID is a nightmarishly bad idea.

Drafted by the slightly daft James Sensenbrenner and inserted in the conference report for a must-pass emergency appropriation bill (for tsunami relief), Real ID was enacted without debate, without hearings, without input from Democrats. Like the Patriot Act, also rushed through in an underhanded and undemocratic way, Real ID gives the federal government sweeping powers – some of them apparently unconstitutional – while suppressing the means to resist it. For example, Real ID has a provision stripping courts of jurisdiction in any federal seizure of private land in the "vicinity" of national borders, for vaguely defined security purposes....(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Japanese protest against US base

Residents of Okinawa have gathered to protest against the US military presence on the southern Japanese island, following a series of incidents allegedly involving US personnel, including the rape of a schoolgirl.

Thousands of people attended Sunday's demonstration, despite pouring rain, though the numbers were less than the 10,000 hoped for.

"We must bring our anger to both the governments of Japan and the United States," Tetsuei Tamayose, one of the organisers, told the crowd.

The rally was organised by local residents angered after a 14-year-old girl last month accused a US Marine of rape.

The girl later dropped charges against the Marine and he was released to the custody of US military authorities....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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US Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000

BAGHDAD (AP) — A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. The grim milestone came on a day when at least 61 people were killed across the country.

Rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

The soldiers with Multi-National Division — Baghdad were on a patrol when their vehicle was struck at about 10 p.m. in southern Baghdad, the military said. Another soldier was wounded in the attack.

Identities of those killed were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic."

"There have been some significant gains. However, this enemy is resilient and will not give up, nor will we," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

Attacks in Baghdad probably stemmed from rising tensions between rival Shiite groups — some of whom may have been behind the Green Zone blasts. It was the most sustained assault in months against the nerve center of the U.S. mission.

The deadliest attack of the day was in Mosul when a suicide driver slammed his vehicle through a security checkpoint in a hail of gunfire and detonated his explosives in front of an Iraqi headquarters building, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 42 other people, police said....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Tech Workers Favor McCain, Obama

A survey of IT professionals found a roughly even split supporting Obama and McCain, but more than a third have another favorite candidate

Grant Gross, IDG News Service
PC World
Sunday, March 23, 2008; 3:19 PM


IT workers seem to like John McCain and Barack Obama equally in the U.S. presidential race, but more than a third of respondents in a recent survey preferred some other candidate.

Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents said they supported Obama, an Illinois Democratic senator, and another 29 percent supported McCain, an Arizona Republican senator, according to the survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and polling firm Rasmussen Reports. Only 13 percent said they supported Senator Hillary Clinton, a New York Democrat.

But the survey also found significant support for Mike Huckabee, a Republican and former governor of Arkansas, who garnered 11 percent of the respondents' votes, and Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, who was supported by 9 percent of respondents. McCain became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party on March 4, after the survey was done in February and early March....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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McCain Gains from Clinton-Obama Feud

By JOHN COCHRAN
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2008


A growing number of worried Democrats wonder whether Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will ever stop slamming each other, which they see as only helping John McCain, the likely Republican nominee.

Clinton spoke of McCain as a more acceptable candidate than Obama when she she said only she and the Arizona senator have demonstrated their credentials to be commander in chief.

"I believe that I've done that, certainly Sen. McCain has done that, and you'll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy," Clinton said.

Obama's camp went even further in its attacks on Clinton this week, suggesting the former first lady has serious character flaws.

"She is not seen as trustworthy by the American people," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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It will take more than one great speech for Obama to reassure some Democrats

By Albert R. Hunt | Bloomberg News
Published: March 23, 2008


David Eisenhower teaches a class at the University of Pennsylvania on American political speeches. Senator Barack Obama, with his address last week on race and politics, gave him a new course.

"It was a very powerful speech," said Eisenhower, whose grandfather was president of the United States and supreme allied commander in World War II. "Obama gives a very compelling reason as to why this is his time."

The Obama speech was necessitated by videotapes of his former pastor assailing the United States and its white majority. With his presidential fortunes at risk, the Illinois Democrat could have simply disassociated himself from those remarks and the preacher, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr.

Instead, while addressing that issue, he used it as an opportunity to talk about the larger question of race in America. He did it with a candor rare in politics.

There have been analogies to John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on his Catholicism before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston. Eisenhower said it was more like Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 talk to a black audience in Indianapolis, when he informed the gathering that Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed....(Click here for remainer of article.)

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Drag Queen Hedda Lettuce says Bush Sucks Donkey Dick

Sunday, March 23, 2008

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U.S. Pushed Allies on Iraq, Diplomat Writes

Chilean Envoy to U.N. Recounts Threats of Retaliation in Run-Up to Invasion

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 23, 2008; Page A11


UNITED NATIONS -- In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries who withheld their support, spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that resisted U.S. pressure to endorse the war, according to an upcoming book by a top Chilean diplomat.

The rough-and-tumble diplomatic strategy has generated lasting "bitterness" and "deep mistrust" in Washington's relations with allies in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, Heraldo Muñoz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, writes in his book "A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons," set for publication next month.

"In the aftermath of the invasion, allies loyal to the United States were rejected, mocked and even punished" for their refusal to back a U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Saddam Hussein's government, Muñoz writes.

But the tough talk dissipated as the war situation worsened, and President Bush came to reach out to many of the same allies that he had spurned. Muñoz's account suggests that the U.S. strategy backfired in Latin America, damaging the administration's standing in a region that has long been dubious of U.S. military intervention....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Bill Maher: New Rules 3-21-08

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Sex Scandal Cheat Sheet

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Cuyahoga County Board of Elections begins investigation of primary crossover voters

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Joe Guillen, Plain Dealer Reporter

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against voters who maliciously switched parties for the March 4 presidential primary.

Elections workers will look for evidence that voters lied when they signed affidavits pledging allegiance to their new party. And at least one board member, Sandy McNair, a Democrat, wants the county prosecutor to review the findings.

But it remained unclear Wednesday whether the four-member board will agree to pursue prosecution. A 2-2 vote would mean that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, would have to break the tie.

The investigation comes 10 days after The Plain Dealer reported that more than 16,000 Cuyahoga County Republicans changed parties before voting March 4.

After the election, some local Republicans admitted they changed parties only to influence which Democrat would face presumed Republican nominee John McCain in November. One voter scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: "For one day only."

Such an admission amounts to voter fraud, said McNair, who pushed for the investigation....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Blackwater's PAC and Chris Shays

by: Matt Stoller
Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 14:50
Reposted from OpenLeft.com


Since we've been discussing whether to ban or simply regulate private military contractors, it's worth pointing out that Blackwater actually has a PAC called the Professional Services Council. This is a political incentive for increased use of mercenaries in hot zones and disaster areas by the US government. Of course, there's no reason these skilled workers couldn't be hired by other governments or even wealthy interests, which is why the use of armed military contractors is generally a very bad idea. The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq defunds Blackwater in Iraq for precisely this reason.

One of the key allies of Blackwater is so-called moderate Republican Chris Shays, who is facing a stiff challenge from Democrat Jim Himes in Connecticut. Shays has repeatedly praised Blackwater's CEO Eric Prince, saying in one committee hearing that the company was doing a 'perfect job'. Just one week early, on 9/26/07, Shays had received $1000 from the Professional Services Council PAC.

So far, the PAC is not particularly large, but it has the potential to grow into a real political malignancy. The country is slowly acclimatizing to the open use of private military contractors, an extraordinarily dangerous development for our republic, as even Barack Obama does not necessarily want to defund them. On the other side, there was tremendous organizing going on among rural conservatives in Portrero, California against Blackwater's possible new facility near the Mexican border, supplemented by the Courage Campaign's organizing of progressive activists around the country. Blackwater was prevented from opening their new facility, blocked by a major local zoning fight.

This kind of momentum against the privatization of the military is extremely useful, and I'm quote hopefuly that Himes will use Blackwater and its links to Shays as a political issue in his race, so that the public has the opportunity to weigh in on the use of private military contractors.

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Hillary Clinton's Bosnia Lie

by: Matt Stoller
Sat Mar 22, 2008 at 19:20
Reposted from OpenLeft.com


Via Matt Yglesias, here's what Clinton said about that trip.

I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia, and as Togo said, there was a saying around the White House that if a place was too small, too poor, or too dangerous, the president couldn't go, so send the First Lady. That's where we went. I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.

Clinton's assertion that her vote for war in Iraq was not a vote for war has always rubbed me the wrong way. That said, I would be open to some explanation of how this episode and her recounting of it isn't dishonest. The whole 'she's experienced' because she was first lady has always been kind of ridiculous, but much less ridiculous than the notion than voting for the war and refusing to acknowledge the mistake makes you serious or demonstrates some capacity to exercise good judgment.

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McCain Ignores Webb’s Call to Sponsor GI Bill

This is how John McCain supports the troops:

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is calling on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) to sign on as a co-sponsor to his GI bill, which would improve educational benefits to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"McCain needs to get on the bill," Webb told reporters after a Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting on Wednesday. He said legislation mirroring the post-World War II GI bill should not be considered a "political issue."

This is how the Democrats support the troops:

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Il.), the Democratic presidential candidates, both have signed on to the bill.

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Clinton Camp: Richardson an Insignificant Judas

James Carville on Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama:

"An act of betrayal," said James Carville, an adviser to Mrs. Clinton and a friend of Mr. Clinton.

"Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic," Mr. Carville said, referring to Holy Week.

Mark Penn on Richardson's endorsement:

"The time that he could have been effective has long since passed," he continued, "I don’t think it is a significant endorsement in this environment."

According to Mark Penn, thirty pieces of silver ain't what it used to be...but then, Clinton's paying him millions. Meanwhile, Richardson can take comfort that he's not the only one that doesn't matter.

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Media Narrative and Hard Financial Facts Turning Against Clinton

The polls, the finances and the conventional wisdom are all pointing in the same direction: it's almost impossible for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic Presidential nomination.

First, the polls. The Wright controversy hurt Barack Obama, and it may in the long run be a problem. But he appears to have recovered from the dip in the polls that coincided with the height of negative attention over Obama's former pastor. He's recovered the lead over Clinton in the Gallup daily tracking poll that he lost during the Wright affair; the day of his Philadelphia speech, Clinton had opened up a 49% to 42% lead. Three days later, Obama has regained the lead, 48% to 45%.

The CBS/NYT poll (pdf) asked questions about Obama's Tuesday speech on race. 71% of voters following the story thought Obama did a good job of explaining Wright. 73% of Democrats polled agree with Obama's views on race relations in the US, against only 14% who disagreed. Among independents, it was 65% agreeing, and only 25% disagreeing. When asked if his speech would make voters more likely to vote for Obama, less likely, or wouldn't make a difference, the net movement was zero.

Obama would need to be severely damaged by the Wright controversy for it to benefit Hillary Clinton. The polls suggest that the damage, at least within the Democratic primary electorate, may be minimal....(Click here for remainder of post.)

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McCain's FEC Problem

We noted this yesterday. But The Washington Post does a good job today in sizing up the situation and its possible mammoth consequences for McCain's campaign.

There are really two completely separate issues here.

First, McCain opted in to the public finance system for the primaries last year. It meant that his struggling campaign would get $5.8 million in public matching funds in March. Now that he's effectively the Republican nominee, he wants out, because the system entails a spending limit of $54 million through the end of August. He's almost spent that much already, according to the Post.

So the McCain campaign sent the Federal Election Commission a letter (pdf) earlier this month saying that he was opting out. But there's a problem. And FEC Chairman David Mason, a Republican, made it plain in his letter (pdf) yesterday: McCain can't tell the FEC that he's out of the system. He can only ask.

And the FEC, which normally has six commissioners, can't give him an answer until it has a quorum of four commissioners. It currently only has two. That's because the Senate has been deadlocked over four nominees; Democrats insist on a separate confirmation vote for vote-suppression guru Hans von Spakovsky, and Republicans insist on a single vote for all nominees....(Click here for remainder of post.)

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Obama makes a fox news anchor walk off set!

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Speaking Truth to Fox News

Posted on Mar 21, 2008
Truthdig.com

Fox newsman Chris Wallace just bit the hand that feeds him talking points. While a guest on “Fox and Friends,” Wallace took his colleagues to task for their coverage of Obama and race, accusing them of both belaboring and distorting the story.

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Bill Clinton’s Latest Campaign Controversy

Posted on Mar 22, 2008
Truthdig.com

Even some Hillary Clinton supporters have expressed reservations over the role of the former president in the campaign. Others have argued that the media and the Obama campaign exaggerate when it comes to his comments. Whatever the case, Bill’s mouth has gotten him into trouble again.

In the clip below, the former president says a race between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, “two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country,” would be great. The implication being, some have said, that Barack Obama doesn’t love his country.

Obama’s top military adviser, retired Air Force Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, likened Bill Clinton to Joe McCarthy. The admiral himself has gotten into trouble for having a loose tongue on the trail.

The Clinton campaign called McPeak’s comment “an outrage.” And the vicious campaign cycle of comment-outrage-repeat goes on.

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Bush says Iraq surge is 'working'

Holy crap! This idiot is like a broken record. Again and again this Fascist cabal regurgitates the same detritus. That on top of the big Dick saying that he really doesn't give a whit about what the American public thinks and wants. God I hate these people!

George Bush, the US president, has said that the US is safer after its invasion of Iraq, adding that the troop 'surge' had succeeded in promoting stability there.

Bush made his comments in a speech at the Pentagon to mark the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled the government of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president.

"Because we acted the world is better and the United States of America is safer," he said on Wednesday.

"Because of the troop surge, the level of violence is significantly down. Civilian deaths are down. Sectarian killings are down. Attacks on American forces are down.

Surge 'working'

The US president acknowledged that work still had to be done.

"The gains we've made are fragile and irreversible, but on this anniversary, the American people should know that since the surge began, the level of violence is significantly down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down," Bush said.

"We have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al-Qaeda leaders and operatives....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Canada doubles Iraqi refugee quota

Canada is to double the number of Iraqi refugees it permits to enter the country next year, according to immigration officials.

Diane Finley, Canada's citizenship and immigration minister, said on Wednesday that Canada would accept between 1,800 and 2,000 Iraqi refugees in 2008, up from about 900 people last year.

Canada is also increasing its Middle East resettlement target to 3,300 people this year, marking a 54 per cent increase compared to last year.

"We are responding to the situation in Iraq by significantly increasing the number of Iraqi refugees we accept," Finley said.

"Consistent with Canada's longstanding tradition of providing protection to refugees most in need, we will continue to monitor this situation and explore options to further meet resettlement needs with respect to Iraqis."

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that since the Iraq conflict began in 2003 more than two million Iraqis have fled violence in the country, mostly to Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

An additional 2.5 million have been displaced internally due to the violence, the organisation says....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Arrests made at US war protests

How wonderful. Sigh. Our civil liberties continue to be eroded by the Bush crime family. For those who are a little hazy on what the US Constitution says about this:
First Amendment - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Oh well, according to Bush, it's just a "Goddamn piece of paper."

At least 32 people have been arrested during protests in Washington DC marking the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, police said.

About 100 Protesters in the US capital blocked the entrance to the Internal Revenue Service, the US tax collection agency, as campaigners attempted to focus attentions on funding for the war.

The activists were arrested when they cross barriers outside the building, police said.

The protest was one of a number marking the Iraq war set to take place across the US.

We wanted to put our bodies between the money and what that money goes to fund - the war, the occupation, the bombs," said Frida Berrigan, from the War Resisters League.

"It would have been nice to shut down the building for the whole day but I think this was a good symbolic action," she said.

Protests planned

At the American Petroleum Institute in downtown Washington, dozens of protesters held signs reading "Out of Iraq" and "No blood for Oil!"

In Miami, a small group of protesters ressed in black waved anti-war signs at drivers stuck in early morning rush-hour traffic near the US Southern Command military complex.

In New York, protesters from the Granny Peace Brigade were set to hold a "knit-in" at the Times Square military recruitment center that was targeted in a bomb attack earlier this month....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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US economic misery continues

The US economy is continuing its economic downturn although it would be "premature" to officially declare a recession, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.

"The US economy is now essentially moving sideways, if not contracting outright,'' the OECD said on Thursday.

"It may be premature to declare a recession, but with the pace of activity so far below potential, economic slack is widening rapidly."

The news comes as the US department of labour said jobless claims had risen to 378,000, up from 356,000 the week before.

The department's report said the total number of payroll jobs fell by 63,000 in February, an even bigger decline that the drop of 22,000 jobs in January - the first monthly decline since mid-2003.

US stocks closed higher on Thursday, with the Dow Jones rising 268 points, or 2.2 per cent to 12,368.15, while the Nasdaq rose 47.5 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 2,257.51....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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US immigrant veterans' new battle

By Kristen Saloomey in New York

Waiting years to get US citizenship can be frustrating, especially if you have been risking your life for the country in Iraq.

In 2002, before the US invasion of Iraq, George Bush, the US president, promised to fast-track naturalisation applications for immigrants who serve in the military.

But despite that promise, security measures introduced since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and bureaucratic mix-ups are delaying service members from receiving their citizenship.

Abdool Habibullah filed his application in September 2005, after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. The 27-year-old immigrant from Guyana is still waiting.

"Why?" asks the former marine, who still has his military style haircut and pressed T-shirts.

"Why should someone who served in the military in a time of combat - put their life on the line - why should I have to wait for citizenship?"

The delays often have consequences.

Habibullah planned to go into law enforcement when he came back to the US, where he has lived since he was 10-years old, but you have to be a citizen to apply....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Ecuador warns of new diplomatic war

Ecuador has threatened to launch a new diplomatic offensive against Colombia if DNA tests confirm that Colombia's military killed an Ecuadorean citizen during its raid on a rebel camp in Ecuador's jungle.

The threat was made by Rafael Correa, the Ecuadorian president, on Saturday after relatives of missing Ecuadorean Franklin Aizalia claimed to have seen news photos that indicate a body that Colombia removed from the camp was that of their son.

The relatives will travel to Bogota on Monday in a bid to confirm the body's identity.

If it proves to be Aizalia, rather than a Colombian, Correa vowed "to start an extremely strong diplomatic fight, because we will not leave this killing unpunished."

Ecuador and Venezuela sent troops to their borders with Colombia after the March 1 cross-border raid. Tensions were largely defused at a regional summit days later....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Talking about race: Um, you first

Obama's speech called for a conversation that not everyone wants.

By Stephanie Simon and Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
March 23, 2008


LITHONIA, GA. -- How do we start a national dialogue on race?

Charlotte Griffin was at a restaurant one evening when a white woman complimented her on her children's behavior. The stranger may have meant to be kind. But Griffin wondered if she heard a note of condescension -- an assumption, perhaps, that black kids aren't usually so polite.

How do we navigate that minefield?

As a teenager, Stan North went to work on the assembly line at Ford. He made good money. But he noticed that he -- like all the other white guys -- always got the dirty jobs. Seething, he concluded that the boss wouldn't dare give a black man heavy lifting, for fear of being tagged a racist.

How do we acknowledge that anger?

In his recent address on race relations in America -- prompted by his minister's explosive sermons on that topic -- Sen. Barack Obama declared that whites must understand the black experience in America and blacks must appreciate the white perspective. Otherwise, he said, we face a grinding "racial stalemate."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Democrats increase their numbers as primary deadline nears

By J.D. Prose, Times Staff
Published: Saturday, March 22, 2008 11:00 PM EDT


With Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary now less than a month away, the campaigns of the Democratic presidential hopefuls — U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton — are intensifying their efforts to register Democrats, and county elections offices are seeing a surge.

Beaver County elections director Dorene Mandity said 1,370 county residents had registered as Democrats between Nov. 1, 2007, and Wednesday, compared with 730 newly registered Republicans.

Those figures included 607 voters who changed their registration to Democratic and 260 voters who changed to Republican.

“In that short a period, (the increase in Democrats) is a lot,” she said.

As of Wednesday, there were nearly 113,500 registered voters in Beaver County, including 67,522 Democrats and 35,523 Republicans.

Mandity said neither Democratic campaign had submitted a large number of voter registration forms, and she feared “that they’ll just wait until the last minute” and submit everything they’ve collected on Monday, the last day to register or change registration for the state’s primary.

Since last fall’s election, statewide Democratic enrollment has swelled by more than 111,000 — an increase of about 3 percent in less than six months that state elections Commissioner Harry Van Sickle said is apparently unprecedented.

On Wednesday, Democratic registration was barely 5,000 votes shy of a record 4 million.

The smaller statewide enrollments of Republicans and voters not registered in either party have declined slightly....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Church leaders defend Wright's style, not words

BY MARTIN C. EVANS | martin.evans@newsday.com
11:03 PM EDT, March 22, 2008


The fiery oratory of Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor -- words that have ensnared the Democratic presidential challenger in the stickiest controversy of his candidacy -- drew from rhetorical traditions that are well within the mainstream of black church congregations.

"He is a phenomenal preacher," said the Rev. Reginald Tuggle, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Freeport.

"He is not a crank. He is mainstream in the black theological tradition," said Union Theological Seminary professor James Cone, whose texts on black liberation theology formed the basis of study for most black seminary graduates serving in pulpits today.

Controversy over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.'s comments broke into the national consciousness 10 days ago, when ABC's "Good Morning America" aired a video clip from a 2003 sermon in which Wright said: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America'? No, no, no. Not God bless America. ... God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human."

Wright, who officiated Obama's marriage and baptized his two daughters during Obama's more than 20 years as a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ has also referred to America as the "United States of KKK -- A."...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Green Zone hit by barrage of artillery

By Robert H. Reid
Associated Press | March 23, 2008


BAGHDAD - The heavily fortified Green Zone was hit by a sustained barrage of rocket or mortar fire early this morning, one day after a roadside bomb killed three American soldiers north of the capital, pushing the US death toll in the five-year conflict to nearly 4,000.
more stories like this

Also yesterday, Iraqi authorities reported that a US air strike north of the capital killed six members of a US-backed Sunni group - straining relations with America's new allies in the fight against Al Qaeda.

Two Iraqi civilians also died in the roadside bombing, which occurred as the Americans were patrolling an area northwest of the capital, the US military said in a statement.

Two of the soldiers were killed in the blast and the third died of injuries sustained in the blast, the statement said. The soldiers were assigned to Multinational Division-Baghdad, the statement said, but gave no further details.

The latest deaths brought to 3,996 the number of US service members and Pentagon civilians who have died since the war began on March 20, 2003, according to an Associated Press count....(Click here for remainder of article.)

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Leading Obama Adviser Attacks Ex-President for Remarks

By JEFF ZELENY
Published: March 22, 2008


MEDFORD, Ore. — As Senator Barack Obama folded his arms and looked on, one of his leading military advisers forcefully defended Mr. Obama’s patriotism here Saturday and accused former President Bill Clinton of trying to employ “divisive attacks” to promote his wife’s presidential candidacy.

Mr. Clinton, in a speech to voters in North Carolina on Friday, said “it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country.”

At a town meeting here Saturday, retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, who is a co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s campaign, read the quote from Mr. Clinton. A few members of the audience gasped and hissed at the former president’s words.

“Let me say first, we will have such an election this year because both Barack Obama and John McCain are great patriots who love this country and are devoted to it — so is Hillary Clinton,” General McPeak said, speaking over loud applause. “Any suggestion to the contrary is flat wrong.”...(Click here for remainder of article.)

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