To burn or not to burn: That is the question

Will he or won’t he? Negotiations between a local Muslim cleric and the leader of a tiny Florida church who had threatened to publicly burn copies of Islam’s holy text left the heated debate in a state of confusion with the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a day away. The Rev. Terry Jones said Thursday he would call off the planned burning of Qurans based on a deal negotiated with the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida that the location of a mosque planned near ground zero in New York would be changed. But Imam Muhammad
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Obama supports ground zero mosque

After skirting the controversy for weeks, President Barack Obama is weighing in forcefully on the mosque near ground zero, saying a nation built on religious freedom must allow it. “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama told an intently listening crowd gathered at the White House Friday evening to observe the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and
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Pelosi ‘out of the loop’ in Rangel probe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s “out of the loop” in the House ethics committee‘s investigation of fellow Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel. Rangel — a longtime New York congressman and a former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee — is facing 13 counts of wrongdoing. Allegations include providing official favors in return for donations, hiding income and assets, and failing to pay taxes. Pelosi is sidestepping questions about Rangel’s future and whether he might once again lead that powerful committee in the future. She tells ABC’s “This Week” that it’s “an elementary discussion because what we have
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Rangel becomes major headache for Democrats

Friends and political allies of embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel are noticeably quiet after the disclosure that the 40-year House veteran and dean of the New York congressional delegation may face serious charges from a House ethics panel. Rangel, 80, told reporters Friday that he looked forward to a public airing of the charges next week and fully intended to fight to clear his name. But national Democrats, already nervous about the party’s prospects in the November election, had little to say publicly about Rangel’s plight. It’s a particularly vexing situation for New York Democrats, who know Rangel well and have
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Rangel faces more ethics problems

Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his 80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting ethics charges. Other Democrats won’t be so pleased. The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign season. Democrats will have to defend their party’s conduct. If enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House. Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp” of ethical misdeeds in Congress. Rangel had a choice. His lawyer had
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Stuffed Trigger sold for $266,500

A Nebraska cable TV network ponied up $266,500 for Roy Rogers’ stuffed and mounted horse, Trigger, at an auction in New York City on Wednesday. The movie cowboy’s faithful companion was bought by the cable company RFD-TV in Omaha, Neb., at a Christie’s auction of items from the now-closed Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo. Trigger’s sale price outpaced the estimated $100,000 to $200,000 it was expected to fetch, with many other items also selling far above estimate. RFD-TV’s chief financial officer Steve Campione says Rogers reflects the company’s values. The network airs mainly agricultural, equine and
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Tough times for Charlie Rangel

Just about everyone likes Charlie Rangel. Republicans pump his hand, Democrats put their arms around his shoulders and women of all political persuasions give him pecks on the cheek. Spend some time with the 80-year-old congressman from New York City who’s been striding the Capitol’s halls for four decades on behalf of residents of Harlem, and there’s little evidence he’s become someone to avoid because of an ethics cloud that’s more likely than not going to darken in days to come. Colleagues in both parties still gravitate to the gravelly voiced, outgoing, backslapping Rangel four months after fellow Democrats persuaded
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Even government workers face job losses

For years, most people who worked for state or local governments accepted a fact of life: Their pay wasn’t great. The job security was. Now that’s gone, too. States and municipalities are facing gaping budget gaps. Many have responded by slashing services, raising taxes and, for the first time in decades, making deep job cuts. And public employees should brace themselves: Some economists say the job cuts could worsen in the second half of the year. Those government layoffs make it harder to reduce the national unemployment rate, now 9.5 percent. The rate did fall slightly in June because more
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Obama’s never-ending list of ‘top’ priorities

President Barack Obama keeps reassuring the nation that stopping the Gulf oil spill and limiting the fallout on the region are his top priority. Yet so is protecting the country against attack. And getting people back to work. Presidencies usually don’t allow for a dominant priority — just a list of priorities. During another hectic week, Obama made this promise: “This entire White House and this entire federal government has been singularly focused on how do we stop the leak and how do we prevent and mitigate the damage to our coastlines.” From the Gulf Coast on Friday, he said
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