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White House photos of returning troop remains shows hypocrisy

A White House photographer was allowed to take and widely distribute a photo from the ceremony Tuesday for the return of the remains of 30 American troops killed in a weekend helicopter crash in Afghanistan despite the Pentagon’s claim that any public depiction of the scene would violate the wishes of bereaved families. News media coverage of the ceremony had been banned by the Pentagon over the objections of several news organizations. Pentagon officials had said that because 19 of 30 of the American families of the dead had objected to media coverage of the remains coming off a plane
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Partisan panel picks prompt pessimism

Republicans named a mix of partisans and pragmatists on Wednesday to the new congressional committee charged with striking a debt-cutting compromise. While members of both parties expressed urgency over controlling surging budget shortfalls, others were pessimistic that the bipartisan panel would overcome deep political divides. With nine of the committee’s 12 members selected, Washington began calculating whether the faltering economy and chaotic financial markets could spur the panel to produce a bipartisan plan trimming $1.5 trillion from the government’s debt over the coming decade. Failure — a real possibility, considering GOP opposition to tax increases and Democratic hostility to cuts
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Watching tragedy unfold through a camera lens

People look at some news photos shot on Sept. 11, 2001, and wonder how those who took them could bear to keep working in the face of such tragedy. Richard Drew said his lens acts as a filter: “The things are happening over there, on the other side.” Another Associated Press photographer, the late Marty Lederhandler, put it this way: “I let the camera absorb all the disaster or the sadness of an event. It protects ME from the event.” For AP photographers working on Sept. 11, none knew the big picture of what was going on. All knew only
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Bachmann’s claim: ‘I’m a real person’

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann says she’s “lived a real life” and isn’t a politician. “I didn’t go to Washington to be a politician,” the Minnesota congresswoman said Wednesday. “I’m not a politician. I’m a real person who believes in America and job growth and job creation.” Although she was elected to Congress in 2006, Bachmann cast herself as an outsider at a time when voters across the country are angry at Washington and looking to punish anyone connected to it. She made the comment after touring a business when one worker asked her how she could distinguish herself from
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Iowa straw poll: Part politics, part circus, all hype

There’s a hefty dose of circus mixed with deadly serious politics in the Iowa Republican straw poll. The event Saturday will mark the first time Republicans in Iowa indicate publicly whom they want as their 2012 presidential nominee. It’s a test vote of sorts that comes months before the precinct caucuses that kick off the party’s presidential nomination fight. And it could send an early signal about who is showing potential in the race — or it could mean nothing at all. Despite its name, however, the “straw poll” is not a poll at all — and it’s certainly not
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GOP Presidential wannabes blame Obama for credit downgrade

The 2012 Republican presidential contenders have roundly criticized President Barack Obama for economic policies they contend helped drive the downgrade of U.S. credit by a major ratings agency. But they’ve offered few of their own ideas to ease the current crisis, and analysts warn they could risk a backlash from voters frightened by the market turbulence and weary of partisan finger-pointing. “Americans are exhausted with Washington’s blame game and are craving anyone who can provide legitimate answers on a path on getting out of this mess,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. “The Republican who can rise above and provide a
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Wisconsin recall effort comes up one win short

A stand by Wisconsin Republicans against a massive effort to oust them from power could reverberate across the country as the battle over union rights and the conservative revolution heads toward the 2012 presidential race. Democrats succeeded in taking two Wisconsin state Senate seats away from Republican incumbents on Tuesday but fell one short of what they needed to seize majority control of the chamber. Republicans saw it as a big win for Gov. Scott Walker and a confirmation of his conservative agenda, the hallmark of which was a polarizing proposal taking away most collective bargaining rights from public workers.
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Obama’s lament: ‘I inherited this mess’

President Barack Obama said on Monday he inherited many of the country’s problems with high debt and deficits when he entered the White House, sounding a theme likely to dominate his 2012 re-election campaign. Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser, where families paid $15,000 to get a picture with him, Obama defended his economic record and noted that problems in Europe were affecting the United States. “We do have a serious problem in terms of debt and deficit, and much of it I inherited,” Obama said. The financial crisis, he said, made the problem worse. Democrats and Republicans agreed to a
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S&P downgrade: Economics or politics?

The S&P downgrade was more of a statement on the toxic political landscape in Washington than a comment on the nation’s ability to pay its bills. But S&P has its own checkered history. Just a few years ago, the company gave its top triple-A rating to some of the mortgage-backed securities that helped cause the Great Recession. Could it be wrong again? New York-based Standard and Poor‘s was upfront about its focus on the political angle, citing the long standoff between President Barack Obama and Congress as a key factor in its unprecedented downgrade of the government’s credit rating. “We
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House kills 180-year-old page program

Bringing the curtain down on a nearly 200-year-old tradition, leaders of the US House of Representatives announced Monday that they were doing away with the chamber’s “page” program. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited the high cost of the program as well as advances in technology that have reduced the need for the teenaged messengers’ services. “We have great appreciation for the unique role that pages have played in the history and traditions of the House of Representatives. This decision was not easy, but it is necessary,” they said in a joint statement.
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