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Gloves are off in the fight to halt Obama

Thursday, February 21, 2008

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
Thursday, 21 February 2008

Accusations of plagiarism, charges that the candidate reneged on a promise over campaign finance, a supposed gaffe by his wife – anything now goes in the battle to halt Barack Obama's march towards the 2008 Democratic nomination.

His resounding victories in Tuesday's votes in Wisconsin and his birth state Hawaii – Mr Obama's ninth and 10th straight wins in the past fortnight – have left Hillary Clinton needing to sweep the primaries in both Ohio and Texas on 4 March to stay in the race....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Clinton faces uphill battle to catch up with her rival

By David Usborne in Hawaii
Thursday, 21 February 2008

Senator Hillary Clinton, grievously wounded by heavy losses in both Wisconsin and Hawaii on Tuesday, tried again yesterday to smudge the front-runner glow now attached to Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic nomination, saying it was time to move on from "good words to good works".

There was no disguising the predicament the former first lady finds herself in, however. Since Mr Obama in effect divided the votes with her on Super Tuesday two weeks ago, he has won 10 states in a row and, according to most estimates, has opened a lead in nominating delegates of 100 or more.

At a fund-raising event in Manhattan, Mrs Clinton congratulated her rival for his latest wins and, in a flourish of understatement, acknowledged that he had had "a good couple of weeks". She gave no quarter, however, to those who suggested the race has now become his to lose. "We've got to be focused on what kind of choice we actually have before us. It's time we moved from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions," she declared, while her campaign aides continued to insist that she and Mr Obama were essentially neck and neck in delegate numbers....(Click here for remainder of article).

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US misled London on rendition flights

By Alex Barker and Jimmy Burns in London, George Parker in Brussels and Daniel Dombey in Washington
Published: February 21 2008 14:06 | Last updated: February 21 2008 20:08


The US admitted Thursday to inadvertently misleading the British government by using UK territory to refuel two “rendition” flights carrying alleged terrorists without informing ministers.

The disclosure forced David Miliband, UK foreign secretary, to apologise to parliament and prompted furious responses from senior MPs accusing the US of “deception” and “lying”.

The incident risks opening a damaging diplomatic rift and could leave Britain facing legal action from the civil rights group Liberty for breaking obligations under European human rights law.

Some US officials were taken aback by the vehement criticisms expressed by MPs on Thursday, particularly those questioning the credibility of their main ally. Gordon Brown, British prime minister, said such renditions from UK territory were “a very serious issue” and promised to put in place procedures to ensure it would “never happen again”....(Click here for remainder of article).

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America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

By Martin Wolf
Published: February 19 2008 18:21 | Last updated: February 19 2008 18:21


“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Miliband admits US rendition flights stopped on UK soil

Mark Tran
guardian.co.uk, Thursday February 21 2008


Britain acknowledged today for the first time that US planes on "extraordinary rendition" flights stopped on British soil twice.

The admission came from the foreign secretary, David Miliband, who apologised to MPs for incorrect information given by his predecessor, Jack Straw, and the former prime minister Tony Blair.

Miliband said the government had recently received information from Washington that two flights - one to Guantánamo Bay and one to Morocco – had stopped over at Diego Garcia, the British overseas territory in the Indian Ocean.

Each plane carried a single terror suspect and neither of the men had been tortured, the CIA said.

"Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred," Miliband told MPs....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Serb protesters set US embassy ablaze in Belgrade

Louise Radnofsky and agencies
guardian.co.uk,
Thursday February 21 2008


Protesters set fire to the American embassy in Belgrade tonight and then attacked the neighbouring Croatian embassy after 150,000 Serbs gathered in the city to demonstrate against the independence of Kosovo.

Riot police fired teargas on the watching crowd of about 1,000 people, and drove armoured jeeps down the street to disperse them. Clashes continued between protesters and the riot police in side-streets.

Earlier, police officers stood by the closed US embassy as 300 demonstrators attacked the building with sticks and metal bars in a protest against US support for the former Serbian province's independence.

Masked attackers who entered the building tried to throw furniture and papers from the first floor, and appeared to have started the fire from inside one of the offices. The blaze spread across the front of the building....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Change to Win Gets Behind Obama

Its member unions represent 175,000 workers in Ohio alone. Nationwide, the group represents more than five million workers. And now Change to Win, a coalition of seven unions, is jumping on board the Barack Obama bandwagon.

Change to Win announced its endorsement of Senator Obama on Thursday, and with that the labor coalition, which is comprised of unions that quit the A.F.L.-C.I.O., is about to embark on its first big foray into politics.

“We want a president who shares our dream and unites Americans in building a movement for change,” said Anna Burger, the chairwoman of Change to Win. “His vision and his inspiration have made a democratic process exciting to young and old and everyone in between....(Click here for remainder).

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Make that 11 for Obama

WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama won his 11th straight nominating contest on Thursday, carrying the Democrats Abroad global primary by a 2-to-1 margin over Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and prevailing among American expatriates in every region of the world.

The results represented thousands of ballots submitted from Americans in 164 countries and territories from Feb. 5 to 12.

The overseas Democrats were allocating a small number of delegates –­ 4.5 — on Thursday, under a proportional system that allotted 2.5 to Obama and 2 to Clinton. A further 2.5 will be determined at a Democrats Abroad convention on April 12 in Vancouver, Canada. The group also holds 4 superdelegate votes, for a total of 11 votes at the national convention in late August in Denver....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Right wing at it again

The extreme right is at it again with their doctoring of videos and taking people out of contexts. In this video clip from Drudge's Britebart site, Michelle Obama's word "really" in "I'm really proud of America" has been deleted from the audio, In this video you will see the doctored clip followed by the unedited version from C-span.


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Iraq The Surge

The Guardian's award-winning photographer and filmmaker Sean Smith spent two months embedded with US troops in Baghdad and Anbar province. His harrowing documentary exposes the exhaustion and disillusionment of the soldiers. (Click here for the article)

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Democratic campaign nears tipping point

Strategists say Clinton needs to win by wide margins to stay in race

By Paul West | Sun reporter
February 21, 2008


SAN ANTONIO - As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama prepare to debate in Texas tonight, the Democratic presidential contest appears to be nearing a tipping point, say party strategists.

Obama has won 10 straight contests, most by landslide margins, and built a delegate lead that Clinton might soon be unable to overcome. Clinton, once the front-runner, must win Ohio and Texas to start narrowing Obama's edge, or her dwindling chances of becoming the nominee could vanish.

The race is nearing "a point of no return" for Clinton, said Tad Devine, a veteran delegate-counter who is neutral this time. "I don't think it's there yet, but we're getting there. When you do the number-crunching, it's almost reached a point where it's arithmetically impossible for her to catch him in pledged delegates."...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Democrats abroad endorse Obama over Clinton 3 to 1

Agence France-Presse
Published: Tuesday February 5, 2008


US Democratic Party voters in Indonesia, where Barack Obama spent part of his childhood, handed him a win over Hillary Clinton in the first voting abroad on "Super Tuesday," party officials said.

Seventy-five percent of nearly 100 votes cast by expatriate Americans just past midnight (1700 GMT Monday) went to Obama and 25 percent went to Clinton, Democrats Abroad officials here said.

Results still need formal verification.

Registered Democrats in Indonesia's capital Jakarta were the first to vote in person on the day of the US mega-primary, which will select more than half the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Obama captures Democrats abroad global primary

By Robin Oakley, Special to Gulf News
Published: February 07, 2008, 00:15


London: Anyone who enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the Democrats Abroad Global Primary in Bayswater's Porchester Hall on Super Tuesday will know why people talk of the British standing for Parliament and Americans running for office.

A sturdy rendition of the Star Spangled Banner set the scene for noisy cheerleading by the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama camps and vigorous sales of candidate cookies. In the end the ballot boxes produced a 971 to 422 victory for Obama.

Best joke of the night? The Barack supporter who suggested that Hillary's biggest problem was that she reminded too many American men of their first wife....(Click here for remainder of article).

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For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON
Published: February 21, 2008

WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Democrat Obama raised $36 million in January

By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama raised just over $36 million for his presidential campaign in January, three times more than Republican front-runner John McCain, according to a campaign finance report filed on Wednesday.

Locked in a tight battle with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama raised $36.1 from donors in January and had $24.9 million in cash on hand at the end of the month to spend on his campaign.

Clinton raised $13.9 million in contributions in January and made a personal loan to her campaign of $5 million, according to her Federal Election Commission report....(Click here for remainder of article).

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McCain accuses Obama of 'double speak'

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Republican front-runner John McCain accused Barack Obama on Wednesday of waffling on a pledge to accept public financing for the fall presidential campaign.

McCain says he will accept public money in November and stick to spending limits if his Democratic opponent does the same. Obama agreed to do so last fall if he became the Democratic nominee, in response to a questionnaire from the Midwest Democracy Network, a non-partisan civic group.

Obama proposed in a column published Wednesday on USA TODAY's opinion page that McCain agree to refuse fundraising help from outside groups, limit the spending by their parties and agree to spending limits "while the Democratic primary contest continues."...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Clinton attacks Obama as all talk, little substance

By Steve Holland
Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:44pm EST


BROWNSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton criticized rival Barack Obama as a big dreamer with little substance on Wednesday as she sought to slow his momentum from 10 straight victories in the race for the party's U.S. presidential nomination.

"We need to dream big, but you know, dreams alone won't make anything," Clinton said while courting Hispanics at a noisy rally in this south Texas town on the Mexican border. "We've got to have solutions to the problems that face us."

The New York senator and former first lady sharpened her message against Obama before the March 4 Democratic nominating contests in Texas and Ohio, which have become critical to her presidential aspirations after losses to Obama in Wisconsin and Hawaii....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Clinton's Hispanic bedrock develops cracks in Texas

By Howard Witt | Tribune correspondent
February 21, 2008

McALLEN, Texas — The scene outside an early-voting station here this week looked encouraging enough for Sen. Hillary Clinton at first: a few dozen of her supporters in this loyal Hispanic stronghold waving Clinton placards, with nary a Barack Obama sign in sight.

But the warning signals for her campaign were clear once those supporters started talking.

"My wife and I support Hillary," said Juan Ruiz, 58, a retired firefighter. "But our kids are for Obama."

Nearly every other parent in the group with voting-age children said the same thing—a split mirrored most dramatically in the case of two widely respected local Democratic leaders, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and his son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio III. ...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Texas' Complicated Rules May Favor Obama

By NEDRA PICKLER and BETH FOUHY – 4 hours ago

DALLAS (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton has been waiting to get to Texas to begin her comeback against a surging Barack Obama. She might be more careful about what she wishes for.

Clinton has been banking on the state's large Hispanic population — typically about a quarter of the turnout in Democratic primaries — to give her a victory on March 4. But the Democratic Party in President Bush's home state has a complicated, hybrid primary-caucus that might just be better suited for Obama.

"I had no idea how bizarre it is," Clinton told reporters this week. "We have grown men crying over it."

Unlike other states that allocate delegates by congressional districts, Texas distributes 126 of its delegates among its 31 state Senate districts using a formula based on Democratic voter turnout in the 2004 and 2006 general elections. The 31 districts contain from two to eight delegates. The March 4 primary vote in each Senate district will allocate that district's delegates....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Teamsters Endorse Obama, Offering a Blue-Collar Lift

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: February 21, 2008


In a surprising boost for Senator Barack Obama, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters endorsed him on Wednesday, giving him new momentum among a group where he is eager to shore up support: blue-collar men.

James P. Hoffa, the president of the Teamsters, which represents more than 1.2 million truck drivers, warehouse employees and other workers, announced the endorsement after meeting with Mr. Obama in Austin, Tex.

“Senator Obama understands the challenges working people face every day,” Mr. Hoffa said. “He is the candidate in the best position to lead our movement to restore the American dream for working people in this country.”...(Click here for remainder of article).

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Stakes Are Raised In Last Two Democratic Debates

If Obama Stumbles, Clinton Has a Chance To Reverse Momentum
By JUNE KRONHOLZ and ELIZABETH HOLMES
February 21, 2008; Page A10

Can Sen. Hillary Clinton come back in a presidential campaign she once dominated? Will Sen. Barack Obama let her? And could two more debates make a difference?

Months of regular debates between the Democratic rivals have registered only tiny blips in the opinion polls. But tonight's debate in Austin, Texas, and the one next week in Cleveland could prove pivotal in settling public opinion.

Mrs. Clinton could still wound the rising Mr. Obama ahead of the March 4 primaries in Texas and Ohio by convincing voters they are "buying into another Dukakis or Kerry. You felt good about it, but it just didn't sustain itself," says American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein, referring to Michael Dukakis and Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic Party's presidential candidates in 1988 and 2004....(Click here for remainder of article).

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McCain's Ties To Lobbyist Worried Aides

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 21, 2008; Page A01

Aides to Sen. John McCain confronted a telecommunications lobbyist in late 1999 and asked her to distance herself from the senator during the presidential campaign he was about to launch, according to one of McCain's longest-serving political strategists.

John Weaver, who was McCain's closest confidant until leaving his current campaign last year, said he met with Vicki Iseman at the Center Cafe at Union Station and urged her to stay away from McCain. Association with a lobbyist would undermine his image as an opponent of special interests, aides had concluded.

Members of the senator's small circle of advisers also confronted McCain directly, according to sources, warning him that his continued ties to a lobbyist who had business before the powerful commerce committee he chaired threatened to derail his presidential ambitions....(Click here for remainder of article).

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