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from Tales from the Trail:

Blago judge says Obama doesn’t have to testify

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BLAGOJEVICH-ILLINOIS/The federal judge overseeing the corruption trial of  Rod Blagojevich said he sees no need for President Barack Obama to testify, denying a defense request, though he left open the possibility.

"The testimony of the president is not material to this case," James Zagel of the U.S. District Court in Chicago said at a hearing on Friday.

The issue, as Zagel framed it, was whether Blagojevich thought that a union official coming to see him about who best to fill Obama's old U.S. Senate seat was an emissary for the president.

According to a defense filing, the unnamed union offiicial said he discussed the seat with Obama the day before the Nov. 4, 2008, election.

from Tales from the Trail:

Blagojevich asks for President Obama to testify

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Rod Blagojevich's attorneys have asked for President Barack Obama to testify at the former Illinois governor's corruption trial, saying he would be "a critical witness."

In an apparent mechanical error, blacked-out portions of the defense's request were visible for some time online, and were subsequently published on the websites of Chicago's daily  newspapers.

from Tales from the Trail:

How well was Palin vetted? McCain, um, doesn’t know

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Republican John McCain says he doesn't know whether his former vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, was WASHINGTON-SUMMIT/adequately vetted. At least, he doesn't know who says she wasn't, and he doesn't care. What he does know is that the 2008 presidential race was a tough fight. But now he's very proud and very happy. Any more questions? Get lost. 
    
McCain just wouldn't take the bait in an interview with NBC's Today show when asked to comment on revelations about his failed 2008 White House campaign that appear in the new book, "Game Change," by New York magazine writer John Heilemann and Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin .
    
NBC asked whether the book is correct where it describes the vetting process for Palin as hasty and haphazard, with no one bothering to speak to her husband or her political enemies.
    
"I wouldn't know," McCain replied.
    
Sorry? The Republican Party nominee wouldn't know if his own running mate had been adequately vetted? 
USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN    
"I wouldn't know what the sources are, nor care," the Arizona senator explained.
    
"I am not going to spend time looking back at what happened over a year ago when we've got two wars to fight, 10 percent unemployment in my state and things to do. I'm sorry. You'll have to get others to comment."
    
McCain's decision to transplant Palin from political obscurity to the national limelight undermined his credibility even among Republicans. Some worried that voters would see the former Alaska governor as too inexperienced to become Veep and possibly, some day, take on the mantle of Commander-in-Chief during a national emergency. 
    
Palin has since become the most visible Republican figure in the national political firmament, publishing a best-selling book, landing a job as pundit on FOX News and attracting speculation about a possible White House run in 2012. USA-POLITICS/MCCAIN
    
"She will be a major factor in American politics in the future," McCain predicted, with an apparent air of vindication.
    
"I am proud of everybody in my campaign. I'm proud of the campaign we ran. I'm so proud that I had the opportunity to represent my party in the election. And I'll always look back on that period with pride and with satisfaction. It was tough. But I'm very happy and I'm very happy in my new role in the Senate and going back and fighting the good fight."

Photo Credits: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (McCain); Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain and Palin) and (Palin)

from FaithWorld:

Vatican editor defends himself against U.S. conservatives

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oss-romWhen Gian Maria Vian took over as editor of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in late 2007, most observers yawned. No-one really expected much change at the staid newspaper. But within a few months, the paper started to rock and roll -- at least as much as a paper like that can.

Slowly but surely, change has come to the 148-year-old mouthpiece of the Vatican, considered by many in the past a bland broadsheet at best and once called the "Catholic Pravda", a reference to the communist party organ in the former Soviet Union.

from Tales from the Trail:

It’s official – Obama is the next U.S. president

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It's official. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

USA/The Senate and House of Representatives just concluded a joint session in which the electoral college vote results of the Nov. 4 election were counted and certified with great fanfare.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over the meeting and read the official results - Obama of Illinois received 365 of the 538 electoral votes for president and Sen. John McCain of Arizona received 173.  Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware received 365 electoral votes for the office of vice president while Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska received 173 votes, Cheney said. USA/

from FaithWorld:

When it’s better to lead with the economy than with the innuendo

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President-elect Barack Obama gave a wide-ranging interview to the Chicago Tribune , offering his hometown daily a scoop that forced other journalists to choose which angle to highlight in their reports on it. Reuters chose to lead  with his comment that the most pressing problem right now was to "stabilize the patient" and save the U.S. economy from losing millions of jobs. I agree this is the key message he sent in this interview and deserved to take top billing. So I was surprised to see how many news organisations went with a different angle. (Photo: Obama in Chicago, 9 Dec 2008/Jeff Haynes)

"Obama to take the oath of office using his middle name" ... "At inauguration, it will be Barack Hussein Obama: interview" ... "I, Barack Hussein Obama" -- several news organisations led off with the fact that Obama would be sworn in under his full name. What did they expect? That he would kowtow to his campaign critics who pointedly called him Barack Hussein Obama but didn't have the courage to say what they were hinting at, i.e. that this self-confessed Christian was a "covert Muslim" or "Muslim apostate" and therefore unreliable?

from FaithWorld:

TIME magazine lists its 10 top religion stories of 2008

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TIME magazine has come out with its list of the 10 top religion stories of 2008. The winner is a story about how religion did not tip the balance in the U.S. presidential election. U.S. media often publish this kind of list at the end of the year. Are there similar lists out there from other countries? Please let us know if you see them elsewhere.

Here are TIME's top 10:

1. The Economy Trumps Religion 2. Never Count the Mormons Out

3. The Pope Wows the States 4. The Canterbury non-Tale

5. America's Unfaithful Faith

6. Tibet's Monks Rebel

7. The Birth of the New Evangelicalism

8. The Challenge of Recession

9. When Kosher Wasn't Kosher

10. Extraterrestrials May Already be Saved

from Tales from the Trail:

Palin’s apple picking lesson: It’s about immigration, not China

NEW PARIS, Penn. - What is the biggest competition for an apple orchard owner in rural Pennsylvania?
 
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin thought she knew the answer when talking to Matthew Boyer of Boyer Orchards.
 
"So is your competition imports from China?" Palin asked Boyer, as she stood in a barn in front of bushels of all different kinds of freshly picked apples at the family-owned orchard.
 
Not quite.
 
While it's true that China is a huge apple producer and the United States' share of world exports continues to decline, competition from China wasn't Boyer's biggest concern.
 
Boyer told Palin he was more worried about apples from Washington state, which produces some 60 percent of the apples grown in the United States.
 
In fact, the issue on Boyer's mind was immigration.
 
Boyer employs migrants to pick his apples, and it is becoming harder to find people willing and able to do the work.
 
"We need workers. We can't get any local person for it. It's hard work," he said.
 
"It's increasingly difficult to find legal help. People don't understand this immigration issue."
 
Palin quickly turned the conversation to one of her preferred topics -- the need to cut taxes, especially for small business owners.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

from MediaFile:

McCain, Obama tackle Monday Night Football

On the slim chance that this year's political television juggernaut has not penetrated the homes of devout sports fans, the campaign trail will lead Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama to ESPN's Monday Night Football just hours before next week's presidential election.

In pretaped interviews set to air during halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Washington Redskins game, Obama and McCain will face probing questions from ESPN anchor Chris Berman about -- sports.

from Tales from the Trail:

Rove, Gingrich weigh in with advice for McCain

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How can John McCain win?
    
The Republican presidential candidate trails Democratic rival Barack Obama in opinion polls and time is running out before the Nov. 4 election. The Web site FiveThirtyEight, which uses statistical modeling to predict the outcome, gives the Arizona senator only a 5.3 percent chance of victory.

It's third and long for the Maverick, but  two prominent Republican strategists see a path to victory.
    
Here's what they say:
    
THREAD THE NEEDLE. McCain should focus on a handful of states that voted Republican in 2004 but could go Obama's way this time out -- Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada, said Karl Rove, President Bush's former political advisor. He can lose Iowa and New Mexico, which also voted for Bush in 2004, and still squeak by with 274 Electoral College votes, enough for a win.
 
"It's threading the needle, but it's come to that," Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
    
TAXES, TAXES, TAXES. Forget on-the-ground tactics -- McCain and running mate Sarah Palin should hammer Obama for wanting to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000, tapping into Americans' instinctive mistrust of politicans, said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
    
If the message catches on, all those swing states will swing McCain's way, Gingrich said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
 
The way Gingrich sees it, Obama could have another Bittergate on his hands after telling Joe the Plumber that he wants to "spread the wealth around" to create a healthier economy.
    
"If Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin spend the rest of this campaign focused on whether or not politicians want to take money away from you and decide how much you're allowed to keeep, I suspect they win the election," he said.
 
"What Sen. Obama said the other night was a Freudian slip," he added. 
    
There's another prominent politician who's not ruling out a McCain victory: Obama himself. 
 
"Don't underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory," he said at a fundraiser Thursday night. "Don't underestimate our ability to screw it up."
    
What do you think? Who's got the better roadmap for McCain -- Rove or Gingrich?

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