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Gates: U.S. must stay in Afghanistan

“Obviously it would be a small fraction of the presence that we have today, but I think we’re willing to do that,” Gates told a group of U.S. troops at Bagram air field, which is headquarters for U.S. and NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan. “My sense is, they (Afghan officials) are interested in having us do that.” A soldier asked Gates about a long-term military presence, and Gates noted that Washington and Kabul have recently begun negotiating a security partnership. He mentioned no details. He was to meet later in the day with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Sunday, the
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Sears makes move on Amazon affiliates

Another competitor of Amazon.com Inc. is looking to take advantage of the retailer’s disputes over sales taxes. Sears Holdings Corp. sent a letter to affiliate sellers of Amazon on Thursday, inviting them to join up with Sears instead. The move came after Amazon said it would stop working with its affiliate sellers in some states if those states force it to collect sales taxes. The letter from Sears says Amazon is turning its back on its customers and trying to get an unfair competitive advantage by refusing to collect sales taxes. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
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Obama, in search of a deal, offers deeper spending cuts

President Barack Obama says he’s willing to make deeper spending cuts if Congress can compromise on a budget deal that would end the threat of a government shutdown. Obama’s appeal for common ground came Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, but lacked specifics on how to bridge the $50 billion gulf that divides the White House and Democratic budget proposal from the deeper reductions offered by Republicans. The competing plans are headed for test votes in the Senate in the coming week; neither is expected to survive, setting the stage for further negotiations. The government is running on
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Anti-abortion plans create headache for Republicans

The Republicans’ “Pledge for America” says the new majority will do both. But negotiations over the federal budget threaten to force the GOP, including its 87 House freshmen, to choose between them. It’s a lesson in congressional reality that has Republicans struggling with how to vote — and what to do — when a divided government pits pledge against pledge. “That’s a problem – and I mean, a real problem,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget and spending task force. How would he vote on a budget that cuts spending but lacks the
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A more experienced Romney targets Obama

This time, Mitt Romney has a clear pitch: I’m the strongest Republican to challenge President Barack Obama on the country’s single biggest issue — the economy. “He created a deeper recession, and delayed the recovery,” Romney said Saturday, previewing his campaign message before Republicans in this influential early nominating state. “The consequence is soaring numbers of Americans enduring unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. This is the Obama Misery Index, and it is at a record high.” “It’s going to take more than new rhetoric to put Americans back to work — it’s going to take a new president,” said the former
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Gay legislators impact civil unions debate

Of America‘s 7,382 state legislators, only 85 are openly gay or lesbian. They are, however, playing an outsized and often impassioned role when the agenda turns to recognizing same-sex couples with civil unions or full marriage rights. In Hawaii and Illinois, gay state representatives were lead sponsors of civil union bills signed into law earlier this year. In Maryland and Rhode Island, gay lawmakers are co-sponsoring pending bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. In New York, a gay senator, Tom Duane, is preparing to be lead sponsor of a marriage bill in his chamber later this session. “For my colleagues,
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