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Obama faces risks on war plan

President Barack Obama’s plan for pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan will intensify risks in the thick of next year’s fighting season, but Obama was right to factor in waning support at home for the war, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Reuters. Gates, who steps down on Thursday after four and a half years as the U.S. defense chief, said Obama’s advisers had put forward different options for gradually shrinking the 100,000-strong U.S. force in Afghanistan, where after almost a decade of war the Taliban remains a deadly, resilient enemy. While the Pentagon’s top brass argued for keeping the extra
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Obama wins one on Libya

In a victory for President Barack Obama, a Senate panel voted Tuesday to approve U.S. participation in the military campaign against Libya and Moammar Gadhafi‘s forces. The 14-5 vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stood in sharp contrast to the House’s overwhelmingly rejection of a similar step last week, muddling the message about congressional support for the commander in chief’s actions and the NATO-led operation. “When Moammar Gadhafi is bunkered down in Tripoli, when yesterday the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of crimes against humanity, at a moment where our armed forces are
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Palin still coy on 2012

Sarah Palin (Reuters) Republican Sarah Palin said on Tuesday she is still considering a potential 2012 presidential run, though her daughter said she has already made up her mind and is keeping the decision secret for now. Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, attended the premiere of a flattering documentary about her, “The Undefeated,” at the opera house in this small Iowa town. Palin has carefully left the door open to a campaign. Her appearance in Iowa was likely to encourage those who think the former Alaska governor still might jump into a wide-open race. After watching the
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Can Obama cut debt deal?

President Barack Obama is confident Democrats and Republicans can cut a “significant deal” to trim the U.S. deficit and increase its borrowing limit to avoid a damaging default, the White House said on Monday. Despite the White House’s optimism, both Republicans and Democrats showed little willingness to compromise after deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden collapsed suddenly on Thursday. With polls showing Americans deeply worried about the sputtering economy, both sides are talking tough in an ideological battle over how best to cut a U.S. deficit that is projected to be $1.4 trillion this year. Republicans say
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More flubs from Bachmann

Michele Bachmann’s claim that she has “never gotten a penny” from a family farm that’s been subsidized by the government is at odds with her financial disclosure statements. They show tens of thousands in personal income from the operation. And, on a less substantive note, she flubbed her hometown history when declaring “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” and “that’s the kind of spirit that I have, too,” in running for president. The actor was born nearly 150 miles away. It was the serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. who lived, for a time, in Waterloo. Those were among the
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Blogo convicted of corruption

Rod Blagojevich, who won two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punch line, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including trying to sell President Barack Obama’s Senate seat. The verdict, coming after his first trial ended last year with the jury deadlocked on most charges, was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who spent 2½ years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud. Blagojevich
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Supremes look at TV nudes

The Supreme Court has added a couple of high-profile constitutional challenges to its lineup of cases for next term: One looking at governmental regulation of television content and the other dealing with the authority of police to use a GPS device to track a suspect’s movements without a warrant. The court’s action Monday agreeing to review the two cases foreshadows what could be an extraordinary year for the justices. Gay marriage, immigration and the health care overhaul all are working their way to the court and could arrive in the term that begins on the first Monday in October. The
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Blackwater merc jailed

A US federal judge sentenced a former Blackwater security guard on Monday to 30 months in prison for shooting and killing an Afghan citizen in 2009. The judge also ordered 29-year-old Justin Cannon to serve two years of supervised release after his prison term ends. Cannon and a second Blackwater guard, Christopher Drotleff, 31, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the May 5, 2009 shooting of Romal Mohammad Naiem, an unarmed Afghan civilian. Drotleff was sentenced to three years and one month in prison on June 14. “Justin Cannon opened fire with an AK-47 at the rear of a retreating
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Bachmann plunges into race

Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman with deep tea party appeal, was ready Monday to officially plow into the Republican presidential primary with a conservative and often freewheeling message honed to the party’s base. Greeted in her native Iowa with a new poll predicting she’ll be a force in the state that opens the GOP nomination contest, Bachmann hopes to reshape both the 2012 GOP field and how she’s viewed in the eyes of voters. After the formal Iowa kickoff, she planned to shift her focus to New Hampshire and South Carolina, other states with cherished traditions of separating the viable
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Huntsman: It’s issues, not religion

Huntsman spoke to reporters in Nevada during an hour-long campaign stop at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where the Reno Rodeo was about to begin. Three days after formally announcing his candidacy, the former ambassador to China said his list of priority states includes the early caucus swing state of Nevada, where Republicans sided with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008. Romney also is Mormon. So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said earlier this week he’d pick Huntsman over Romney if he had to. Polls show many voters have reservations about electing a Mormon president. But
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