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Democrats bring in the big dog for their convention

Former President Bill Clinton will have a marquee role in this summer’s Democratic National Convention, where he will make a forceful case for President Barack Obama’s re-election and his economic vision for the country, several Obama campaign and Democratic party officials said Sunday. The move gives the Obama campaign an opportunity to take advantage of the former president’s immense popularity and remind voters that a Democrat was in the White House the last time the American economy was thriving. Obama personally asked Clinton to speak at the convention and place Obama’s name in nomination, and Clinton enthusiastically accepted, officials said.
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Police officer, fire fighter pensions face public scrutiny, questions

Pharmacist Michael Nastro is full of admiration for how police responded to a deadly robbery in his suburban New York neighborhood in 2011. A gunman walked into a pharmacy near his own on Long Island, killed four people and fled with a stash of painkillers. Police in the area, which is part of wealthy Suffolk County, best known for the exclusive Hamptons beach towns, boosted patrols and gave advice on what to do if the robber hit again. They caught him three days after the shooting. But Nastro, 50, admits he’s torn about police officers’ pay and retirement benefits. “I’d
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Obama, GOP continue petty, partisan, political sniping

New day, old bickering between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans. Obama used his Saturday radio and Internet address to finger GOP lawmakers for a stalemate that could increase taxes on Americans next year. A leading Republican senator cast the president and his Democratic Party as obstructionists who want to place the tax burden on businesses during an economic slowdown. Obama pressed the Republican-controlled House to extend Bush-era tax cuts for households making $250,000 or less while letting lower rates on wealthier taxpayers expire and go up. The Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly passed such a measure this past week; the House
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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. transferred to Mayo Clinic

The announcement that Jesse Jackson Jr. had been transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota pinned down his whereabouts for the first time in weeks and gave clear confirmation that the Illinois congressman is suffering from depression. It also was the first mention that he’s now being treated for a “gastrointestinal issue,” which some experts said Saturday was a sign his condition is becoming more complicated. The Chicago Democrat and son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has been on a secretive leave of absence for nearly seven weeks, during which his office has released only occasional snippets of information,
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Lots of doom and gloom in economic outlook

A U.S. economy that plodded along in the first three months of the year likely grew even less in the April-June quarter. And most economists no longer think growth will strengthen much in the second half of 2012. Weaker hiring, nervous consumers, sluggish manufacturing and the overhang of Europe’s debt crisis might be pointing toward everyone’s big fear: another recession. Against that background, the government on Friday will issue its first of three estimates of how much the U.S. economy expanded last quarter. The consensus forecast is that growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.5 percent, according to a
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White House: New gun laws? We don’t need no stinkin’ new gun laws

President Barack Obama will not push for stricter gun laws this election year, the White House said Thursday, one day after his impassioned remarks about the need to keep assault weapons off the streets suggested he may plunge into that political fight and challenge Congress to act. Instead, Obama’s stand on the government’s role ended up right where it was after the mass shooting in Colorado last week: Enforce existing law better. That is same view held by his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, as both reach for broader and more politically appealing ways to keep guns away from killers. Obama
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Poll: Religion not a major issue in Presidential election

The religious faiths of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will have little weight in November’s presidential election, a poll showed on Thursday. Sixty percent of voters are aware that Romney is a Mormon, and 81 percent say it does not matter to them, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center. The awareness level is almost unchanged from four months ago, during the Republican primary elections. “Unease with Romney’s religion has little impact on voting preferences,” the Pew report said. “Republicans and white evangelicals overwhelmingly back Romney irrespective of their views of his faith, and Democrats
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Rebuilding Iraq: A monument to massive waste, too many deaths

In the first tally of its kind, a federal investigative agency has calculated that at least 719 people, nearly half of them Americans, were killed working on projects to rebuild Iraq following the U.S. invasion in 2003. The toll represents an aspect of the Iraq war that is rarely brought to public attention, overshadowed by the much higher number killed in combat as well as the billions of taxpayer dollars squandered on reconstruction. There is no confirmed total number of Iraq war deaths. The U.S. military lost 4,488 in Iraq, and its allies a little over 300. The number of
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Another day, another meaningless, sham vote on Capitol Hill

Democrats pushed a yearlong extension of tax cuts for all but the highest-earning Americans through the Senate on Wednesday, giving President Barack Obama and his party a significant political victory on a measure that is fated to go no further in Congress. Senators approved the Democratic bill by a near party-line 51-48 vote, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the chamber in case his vote was needed to break a tie. Minutes earlier, lawmakers voted 54-45 to kill a rival Republican package that would have included the best-off in the tax reductions. The $250 billion Democratic measure would extend
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Romney, Obama differ on approaches to curb gun violence

The politics of guns leapt to the top of the presidential race Wednesday, as President Barack Obama embraced some degree of control of weapons sales and Republican Mitt Romney seemed to suggest an alleged mass killer in Colorado had obtained his weapons illegally even though he hadn’t. Speaking to a mostly black audience in New Orleans, Obama said he would seek a consensus on combating violence. He said some responsibility also rests with parents, neighbors and teachers to ensure that young people “do not have that void inside them.” Obama’s remarks came five days after the movie theater shooting in
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