Tales from the Trail

Hawaiian ‘shaka’ greeting comes natural to Obama

USA-OBAMA/KAILUA, HI – Barack Obama may be the first U.S. president who can successfully pull off the shaka, a Hawaiian greeting Hawaiians say has various meanings, from “hang loose” and “cool” to “thanks.”
    
The hand gesture, also a common greeting in surfer culture, consists of curling the three middle fingers and extending the thumb and little finger.
    
The president-elect, looking uber-cool with his White Sox baseball cap on backwards, flipped the shaka to a crowd of about 30 people as he left a gym on a Marine Corps base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he is vacationing.
    
Obama, born and largely raised on Oahu, then walked over to greet the crowd, which had waited through a brief cloudburst to see him. Righting his baseball cap as he walked, he shook hands before posing with four babies.

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Obama, McCain camps spar over bin Laden comment

binladen.jpgCHICAGO – Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign is attacking rival Barack Obama for saying that if al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is caught, the United States should avoid making him into a martyr.
    
Allies to McCain have suggested the comment shows the Democratic candidate opposes the death penalty for bin Laden — an interpretation the Obama campaign says is false.
    
The Illinois senator was asked on Wednesday how he would proceed if bin Laden were captured. He said he was not sure if bin Laden would be caught alive because of shoot-to-kill orders.
 
Concerning how to try the al Qaeda leader, Obama said it was important “to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr and to be sure that the United States government is abiding by the basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism.”
    
McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann seized on the word martyr.
 
“Now, the last time I checked the definition of martyr, it’s someone who dies for a cause or is killed for a cause and it seems to be that Sen. Obama is ruling out capital punishment for Osama bin Laden were he to be captured alive under U.S. jurisdiction,” he said.
 
The Obama campaign said that interpretation was wrong and noted Obama is on record saying he believed bin Laden “would qualify for the death penalty.”
    
When he spoke about bin Laden on Wednesday, Obama cited the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II as an example of how the United States “advanced a set of universal principles” in bringing to justice people who committed heinous acts.
    
After the Nuremberg proceedings, 10 top Nazi figures were hanged following the main trials and several dozen lower-lever figures were hanged following other trials.

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Photo credit: Reuters Afghanistan stringer (Bin Laden speaks at news conference in Afghanistan in 1998)

Clinton pitches novel plan to decide race with Obama

PHILADELPHIA – Sen. Hillary Clinton jolted reporters to attention on Tuesday, walking into a news conference with a solemn expression and declaring that “this has been fool1.jpga very hard fought race.”

“We clearly need to do something, so that our party and our people can make the right decision. So I have a proposal,” she said to the crowd of reporters and photographers, several of whom admitted later they thought perhaps the New York senator was about to drop out of the close contest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Today, I am challenging Sen. (Barack) Obama to a bowl-off, a bowling night right here in Pennsylvania,” Clinton said, as her audience visibly relaxed and broke into laughter. “Winner takes all.”

Clinton comes out fighting in Philadelphia

rocky1.jpgPHILADELPHIA – Visiting Philadelphia, presidential contender Hillary Clinton couldn’t resist evoking the image of the city’s fictional boxing hero Rocky Balboa , who famously struggled to go the distance in his first big bout.

“When it comes to finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common. I never quit. I never give up,” the Democratic New York senator said while she campaigned on Tuesday in the city where the popular movie, starring Sylvester Stallone as the tenacious fighter, was set.

In the original 1976 “Rocky,” which spawned several sequels, the underdog boxer trained by running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.