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North & South Korea ‘on brink of war’

North Korea warned Friday that U.S.-South Korean plans for military maneuvers put the peninsula on the brink of war, and appeared to launch its own artillery drills within sight of an island it showered with a deadly barrage this week. The fresh artillery blasts were especially defiant because they came as the U.S. commander in South Korea, Gen. Walter Sharp, toured the South Korean island to survey damage from Tuesday’s hail of North Korean artillery fire that killed four people. None of the latest rounds hit the South’s territory, and U.S. military officials said Sharp did not even hear the
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Pelosi’s mission: Sabotage Obama deals with GOP

Hers was the face on the grainy negative TV ads that helped defeat scores of Democrats. His agenda, re-election chances and legacy are on the line. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, chosen after a messy family feud among Democrats to remain as their leader in the new Congress, and President Barack Obama share a keen interest in repairing their injured party after this month’s staggering losses. But Pelosi’s mandate is diverging from the president’s at a critical time, with potentially damaging consequences for Obama’s ability to cut deals with Republicans in the new Congress. Their partnership is strained after an
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‘Black Friday’ kicks off the Christmas season

After weeks of “Black Friday” sales pitches, the real thing is finally here. Retailers are ushering in the traditional kickoff of the U.S. holiday shopping season on Friday with expanded hours, deep discounts and online deals. Bargain-hungry shoppers are giving them a strong early turnout. The crescendo follows a weeks-long push to get shoppers to open their wallets with early deals. Many stores had trotted out the “Black Friday” label on sales as far back as October. In a bid to grab shoppers earlier, a number of stores including Old Navy, Toys R Us and Sears opened on Thanksgiving Day.
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Ohio gay rights debate mirrors national mood

Thirty years ago, a vote like the one just decided in the university town of Bowling Green, OH, wouldn’t have happened; gay-rights activism hadn’t taken root across most of America. Thirty years hence, such votes may seem a historical curiosity in a time of equality for gays. Right now, though, the gay rights movement is at a tipping point, as epitomized by Bowling Green’s divisive referendum on extending anti-discrimination protections to gays. The vote was so close that it took three extra weeks to determine whether the two measures passed. Nationally, gay-rights supporters and their conservative opponents are trading victories
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Obama plays Annie: ‘The sun will come out tomorrow’

Saying America has a history of doing what it takes to make a better tomorrow, President Barack Obama is calling on a country climbing out of its worst economic slump in decades to summon that spirit again this holiday season. “This is not the hardest Thanksgiving America has ever faced. But as long as many members of our American family are hurting, we’ve got to look out for one another,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, released for Thanksgiving. “As long as many of our sons and daughters and husbands and wives are at war, we’ve got
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The hammer comes down on Tom DeLay

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — once one of the most powerful and feared Republicans in Congress — was convicted Wednesday on charges he illegally funneled corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts against DeLay on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge. After the verdicts were read, DeLay hugged his daughter, Danielle, and his wife, Christine. His lead attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they planned to appeal the verdict. “This is an abuse of
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Michele’s White House is no ‘Camelot’

She has glamorized kitchen gardening, spotlighted childhood obesity and invited thousands of students, many of them minorities, to official White House events. Expectations were high for a different kind of first lady, and in many ways Michelle Obama has lived up to them, maintaining the kind of high public profile that was widely anticipated when she and her husband came to Washington. At the same time, she has been a victim of those expectations, disappointing some in Washington who hoped she would be a more expansive social presence, and eliciting the familiar criticism of recent first ladies that she keeps
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Palin: Political contender or pretender?

Sarah Palin, the telegenic Republican who exasperates and delights voters about equally, is dropping ever more hints of a presidential bid, including a visit Saturday to the key state of Iowa. The official purpose of her trip to suburban Des Moines is to promote her new book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag.” But Democratic and Republican insiders will search for every possible hint of whether she will seek the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, has fed such speculation in recent days. She told
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