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January 29, 2011

Wikinews interviews Jim Hedges, U.S. Prohibition Party presidential candidate

Wikinews interviews Jim Hedges, U.S. Prohibition Party presidential candidate

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Public domain image of Jim Hedges from the Partisan Prohibition Historical Society website

U.S. Prohibition Party presidential candidate Jim Hedges of Thompson Township, Pennsylvania took some time to answer a few questions about the Prohibition Party and his 2012 presidential campaign.

The Prohibition Party is the third oldest existing political party in the United States, having been established in 1869. It reached its height of popularity during the late 19th century. The party heavily supported the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which banned the sale of alcohol, and resulted in the US period known as Prohibition (1919–33). It was repealed in 1933. The party has declined since this period, but has continued to nominate candidates for the presidential election.

In 2003, the party split into two factions. Preacher Gene Amondson and perennial candidate Earl Dodge were nominated for the presidency by their respective factions. After Dodge’s death in 2007, the party reunified and named Amondson as its sole presidential nominee for 2008. During the election, Amondson was interviewed by Wikinews. He died in 2009, leaving an opening in the party for 2012.

Jim Hedges is a longtime Prohibition activist, who holds the distinction of the first individual of the 21st century (and the first since 1959) to be elected to a political office under the Prohibition Party banner. In 2001, he was elected as the Thompson Township tax assessor, and was re-elected to the post in 2005. He served until his term expired in 2010. Hedges declared his intent to run for the Prohibition Party presidential nomination on February 18, 2010. This marks his first run for the presidency.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWilliam SaturnWikinews waves Right.png When and why did you decide to join the Prohibition Party?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJim HedgesWikinews waves Right.pngI have identified with the Prohibition Party since being in high school, in the 1950s. Being “a member” is trickier to specify, as I’ve sometimes registered to vote in other parties for temporary pragmatic reasons (or have not been registered, at all). I could not be active in the Party until after I retired from the military, in 1980.

Why? Well, I liked, and still like, the Prohibition platform better than I do the platform of any other political group. Partly, this is because of the anti-alcohol plank, but more generally because it seems more principled and more reasonable.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png You are the first (and only) member of the Prohibition Party to be elected to any office in the 21st century. How were you able to accomplish such a feat?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngI ran for an insignificant local office which no one else wanted. Minor party people are always complaining that they can’t get elected – they can, if they start at the beginning instead of aiming at impossible goals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png According to the New York Times, you were heavily involved in the 2004 split of the party that centered around five-time presidential nominee Earl Dodge. What exactly caused the split, and has the party since healed?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngTo answer the last part first: It has largely healed. A few months after Dodge died, his hand-picked vice-chairman also died. The man who was third in line refused to carry on. That man, and the Dodge relatives, then dropped out completely; the other folks mostly are now working with the regular organization.

The split was caused by dissatisfaction with Dodge’s management. Dodge was a somewhat paranoid person who trusted no one to help him. For example, he made one of his daughters “treasurer” of the Prohibition National Committee, but he did not allow her access to the bank account. He was the only “signer” listed on the check card. Another example: He used money from a bequest to purchase a small office condominium, then without telling even his vice-chairman, he mortgaged the condo, cashed it out, and after a time lost it (because the mortgage was not being paid); the vice-chairman discovered all this only after Dodge died. Dodge could sell the office condo undetected, because he held it in the name of a shell corporation controlled by himself and the said daughter.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png The late Gene Amondson, the 2004 & 2008 presidential nominee of the Prohibition Party was the national face of the party for a number of years. How well did you know Mr. Amondson, and what is the current state of the party with his absence?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngI met Amondson at a couple of conventions; otherwise, I knew him only from correspondence and from telephone calls.

Amondson was a congenial person, warm and approachable. He was recommended to us by one of our supporters. He had an act, a re-creation of Rev. Billy Sunday’s sermon on booze, which he performed at conservative churches and other sympathetic venues. We hoped that his name recognition and the audience appeal of his act would enhance the Party’s appeal.

As it turned out, he had a handicap, analogous to dyslexia, which prevented him from stringing words together into fluent sentences. His act was great. His public speaking and his writing were, um, unremarkable.

We miss his ability to attract attention to us.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Mr. Amondson stated that “Prohibition was America’s greatest 13 years” and that he would “rather have 100 Al Capones in every city than alcohol sold in every grocery store“. Do you agree with these comments, and additionally, do you second his projection that “Prohibition will come again for the fourth time“?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngI expect that national prohibition will come again “someday,” because nothing we’ve tried since then has worked as well in reducing per-capita consumption of alcoholic beverages and the related social problems.

The rest of that is campaign hyperbole.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Why did you choose to run for president and what are your qualifications?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngIt’s partly a “finger-in-the-dike” tactic, because I see no one else in the organization who has the free time and the personal background needed to mount a plausible campaign. Partly, also, it’s the realization that, at age 72, if I’m ever going to do it, I’d better get on with doing it now.

Many times in the past, the Prohibition Party has recruited presidential candidates from outside its own ranks. The same may happen again this year. If not, I see myself as being the most broadly educated and widely experienced person within the core group of the Party.

I have a BA in musical performance (Iowa, 1960) and served 20 years in one of our nation’s most elite military units, The United States Marine Band.

I have a family-farm background, plus 20 years of life in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. I understand both rural and urban communities.

I have an MA in Geography (Maryland, 1972), have published research in refereed journals both here and abroad, and for 11 years edited a journal.

I have done volunteer work with and served as an officer of community organizations ranging from The Salvation Army to friends of the library to recycling programs to historical and literary clubs.

I have done newspaper reporting, primarily on local government.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Who are some of your opponents for the nomination and why do you believe you are a better choice for the party?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngTo my knowledge, no one else has yet expressed an interest in the Prohibition Party nomination.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png When and where will the party hold their convention, and how will a nominee be decided upon?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngCullman, Alabama, in June. See the National Committee’s website for details.

A vote of the credentialed delegates will determine who is the candidate.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Do you agree with the decision to allow prominent Libertarian Stephen P. Gordon to speak at the convention, despite his support for the sale of alcohol?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngYes. First of all, the Prohibition Party and the Libertarian Party share some common interests, such as small government, balanced budgets, and personal freedoms. Secondly, we should all take time to listen to those who disagree with us, in order to sharpen our debating skills. Thirdly, we shouldn’t be complacent, because… we might actually be wrong!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png According to the Ballot Access News, the Prohibition Party has qualified for the ballot in only Florida. What will you do to gain ballot access in other states?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngMost likely, we will be able to meet the ballot requirements in only 2 or 3 states in addition to Florida (which has among the most lenient ballot access regulations today). Colorado is a likely one, as are Mississippi and Louisiana.

For small parties, the states where they run has very little to do with where they have the most support and very much to do with which states have the easiest regulations.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What issues or policy stances form the basis of your campaign?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngInasmuch as beverage alcohol is our signature issue, I anticipate spending most of my time talking about the alcohol connection with various social problems: public safety, public health, taxes, homelessness, spouse abuse, child welfare, military preparedness, industrial efficiency, product quality, and so forth.

The platform most likely will address a lot of other things, but, let’s face it: The Prohibition Party today is an exercise in living history. We’re like the weekend warriors who put on costumes and re-enact the Civil War. The South is not going to rise again. Neither is national prohibition going to come back (not, at least, in our lifetimes). But in both cases, we think there are important historical lessons which ought not be forgotten. And so, we soldier on against all odds.

Unless we stay on the message (of alcohol), our living history lesson will be lost.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Have you received any notable endorsements thus far?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngNo. Neither have I sought any.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png According to Weekend America, Vice-Presidential nominee Leroy Pletten was incapacitated following a stroke during the 2008 campaign. Have you chosen a running mate, and if not, will health be a factor in the decision?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngThe Public Radio announcement appears to be a case of mistaken identity. I have checked with Pletten, and no such thing happened.

I’ve been asking around. I know who I’d like to have, but it’s still under discussion.

Health should enter into it. We don’t need another Reagan!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png How often do you campaign, and how might that change should you win the nomination?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngVery little campaigning, at this point. I sent out a series of monthly postcards last year, presenting myself to the people on the Party mailing list. There is also a (very rudimentary) campaign website – www.hedges4-12.com I’m in touch with the people who will make the decision, at the Convention this coming June.

If I should receive the nomination, the website will have to be improved, and there will have to be press releases and some personal visits to states where we get on the ballot. I’ll have to obtain advice on making more effective use of the internet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png Describe a typical day for Jim Hedges. How do you spend your time?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngBefore going to sleep each evening, I map out the following day in my mind. Then, in the morning, I roll out (not too early), tend to personal care and a hearty breakfast, go to the other house (when my wife and I were married, 20 years ago, we each had a paid-for house, and it was convenient to keep both of them) and tend to the pets. The rest of the morning is spent dealing with paper mail and other clerical work. In warm weather, afternoons are devoted to yard work and to gardening; in cold weather, I do household maintenance chores, work in the shop, work on the wood pile. After supper, if there is not a rehearsal or a concert to go to, I practice half an hour on my tuba, then look at the internet or read.

Every day is different, but that’s the basic schedule.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What is your main source for political news?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngThree weekly newsmagazines: The Economist, The Nation, and Science.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What is your biggest political concern at the moment?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngIn the next 10 years, eliminating governmental deficits, primarily in the United States and in Europe. In the next 100 years, dealing with the social and economic consequences of the rise in sea level due to climatic warming.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png How would you assess the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngBush the Younger was unquestionably the most damaging president since FDR, perhaps the most damaging of all time: His “Patriot Act” and other security measures trashed the Constitution, our Constitution. His deficits have never been equaled. His foreign military adventures are the longest wars ever fought by our country.

Obama was dealt a miserable hand, but even so, I’m becoming disappointed. We still have Bush‘s deficit spending. We still have Bush’s wars. We still have Bush’s failure to secure the border with Mexico. We still have Bush’s exporting American jobs overseas. What is there to like?

Obama did end Bush’s “global gag rule,” which attempted to prevent family planning agencies all over the world from even discussing abortion. And he did make a stab at improving medical care.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngPalin was given a job for four years by the voters of Alaska. When she got bored with it, she handed the office key to her lieutenant governor and walked away. That’s not responsible behavior.

The Tea Party folks are on the right track in trying to get the federal budget deficit under control. I fear, though, that they lack the patience and flexibility to do the job gracefully. And, they’re too easily distracted by unrelated issues.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What is your take on the the health care bill?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngObamacare is a step in the right direction, but it leaves intact the private insurance industry, which is a major source of waste. We need a public health service, like the one in England.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What are some of your foreign policy views?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngAmerica first! Our unqualified support for Israel is doing us a great deal of damage elsewhere in the world. We need to stop all aid, both civilian and military, to Israel until Israel abides by the Oslo Accords.

We need to stop being the world’s bully and, instead, lead by example: ratify Kyoto, ratify CEDAW, rein in the international corporations.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSWikinews waves Right.png What historical or contemporary figures do you identify with?

Wikinews waves Left.pngJHWikinews waves Right.pngYou know, I think it would be appropriate to name Jimmy Carter. I didn’t always agree with what he did, but I could sympathize with why he did it. To the extent that any president can be, he was an honest, well-meaning person.

Look at the things he has done since leaving the White House, then look at the things other presidents have done after their terms ended. Carter has continued to serve the American people, and the world, while the others have hie’d themselves to their clubs and estates, to their lecture circuits and their corporate boards.

Yes, I would like to be a person such as Jimmy Carter.


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September 10, 2010

Pastor of Florida church cancels plans to burn Qur\’an, later reconsiders

Pastor of Florida church cancels plans to burn Qur’an, later reconsiders

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Friday, September 10, 2010

A protest in India against the planned September 11 Qur’an burning.
Image: Shabiha.

The leader of a Gainesville, Florida church announced yesterday that the church had canceled its plan to burn copies of the Qur’an tomorrow but later stated that he had reconsidered his decision. Earlier yesterday, Pastor Terry Jones said that the Dove World Outreach Center would cancel the burning of the Islamic holy book, stating that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, had agreed to relocate Park51, a mosque and community center to be located a few hundred meters away from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In a press conference on Thursday, Jones announced that “we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday and on Saturday I have agreed to meet with the Imam.” However, Rauf has denied that he struck a deal with the pastor, saying that he was surprised by the announcement of a deal.

On Thursday night, Jones insisted that he had struck a deal with Rauf, saying that he had been “clearly, clearly lied to”. Jones also said that he is having second thoughts of his earlier statement on Thursday afternoon.

“I am glad that Pastor Jones has decided not to burn any Qur’ans. However, I have not spoken to Pastor Jones,” Rauf said on Thursday. He followed up, stating that “We are not going to toy with our religion or any other. Nor are we here to barter. We are here to extend our hand to build peace and harmony.”

The developer of the New York City mosque in question also denied that a deal had been reached with Jones, stating that “The Muslim community center called Park51 in lower Manhattan is not being moved. The project will proceed as planned.”

On Wednesday, Jones had announced his intention to go ahead with the September 11 Qur’an burning. He also said that he has support from churches around the United States, and that people from around the country have been mailing him Qur’ans to burn. The pastor also said that he has received over 100 death threats and has taken to carrying a gun on his hip for self-defense. In the past, the Dove World Outreach Center has declared that “Islam is of the devil” and that the religion is “evil” as it does not teach that Jesus was the son of God. Even though the church announced that it would continue with the plan, Jones could run into trouble as the Gainesville fire department has denied the church a permit to burn the Qur’ans.

A 17th century Qur’an in the Victoria and Albert Museum
Image: Adam Morgan.

Many prominent figures have condemned the Qur’an burning. Yesterday morning, US president Barack Obama responded, “… what he’s proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans,” and warned, “This is a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda.” In his interview recorded on Wednesday for Good Morning America, Obama stated that “this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan”, adding, “This could increase the recruitment of individuals who’d be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities.”

General David Petraeus, NATO commander in Afghanistan, said on Wednesday that the plan would endanger US troops worldwide. In response to the general’s comments, Jones had told the press that “we understand the general’s concerns, we are taking those into consideration. We feel it’s maybe the right time for America to stand up. How long are we going to bow down? How long are we going to be controlled by the terrorists, by radical Islam? … As of right now, we are not convinced that backing down is the right thing.”

Other prominent people from around the globe condemned the plan earlier this week, including the head of the US State Department, Hillary Clinton. She called it a “disrespectful, disgraceful act,” while US Attorney General Eric Holder pitched in, calling the book burning “idiotic and dangerous.”

Republican Tea Party activist and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin also chimed in, saying that burning the Qur’an would be an “insensitive and an unnecessary provocation — much like building a mosque at ground zero.” She also said that people have the constitutional right to burn the book, and that “I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the plan, saying that his God was a tolerant God, and suggesting that freedom of religion comes from a tolerant spirit.

A coalition of religious leaders from different religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism met in Washington to condemn “International Burn a Koran Day”. People took to the streets in the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan in protest. In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, thousands of protesters gathered around the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.

Due to the increase in tension caused by this activity, INTERPOL released an alert warning of attacks and asking member nations to contact the international police agency if they receive information on public safety hazards.

Despite the criticism, legal commentators say that Jones and his church have the constitutional right to burn the book, which is considered by Muslims to be the word of God. “The First Amendment, as it’s been interpreted, would probably not win if it were put up to a vote. It is very hard to explain to people why this sort of conduct should be permitted,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University.


Related news

  • “Pressure mounts against Florida church plans to burn Qur’an” — Wikinews, August 7, 2010

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2010 Qur’an-burning controversy
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January 12, 2010

Former U.S. governor Palin signs TV deal with Fox News

Former U.S. governor Palin signs TV deal with Fox News

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sarah Palin in 2008.
Image: Bruce Tuten.

According to a report by the New York Times that has now been confirmed by Fox News, former United States governor of Alaska and Sarah Palin has signed a multi-year deal to work as a news contributor for American television station Fox News. The deal is effective immediately, and Palin will reportedly contribute regularly to all Fox stations. The monetary terms to the deal have not yet been disclosed, but the agreement is rumored to be for three years.

“Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum…,” said Bill Shine, Fox News’s vice president of programing,”We are excited to add her dynamic voice to the Fox News lineup,” he added in his comments.

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As well as contributing, Palin will also be hosting a new program slated to air on Fox News. Called Real American Stories, the series will portray stories of overcoming obstacles during current times and through current social or economic problems that may be going on at the time. The series has no planned release date, but will air sometime within 2010.

Palin released a statement herself Monday afternoon. “I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News. It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news,” she said.

After serving as mayor of the town of Wasilla, Palin was elected governor of Alaska in 2006. U.S. Republican candidate John McCain picked Palin to serve as his running mate in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, where she and McCain lost to Democrat Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden. In July 2009, she resigned from the governor position of Alaska governor, possibly opening up a run for U.S. president in 2012.



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January 11, 2010

US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid criticized over \”Negro\” comments

US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid criticized over “Negro” comments

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Monday, January 11, 2010

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Senator Harry Reid
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Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is US Senate Majority leader, is under a lot of criticism over comments he made during the 2008 United States presidential election, toward US President Barack Obama. The highlighted comment made by Reid was calling Obama a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.” The remarks were released in a book co-written by Time magazine reporter Mark Halperin, and New York magazine reporter John Heileman.

Reid has since apologized for “using such a poor choice of words.” President Obama quickly accepted the apology. Reid has been a partner with the Obama Administration on issues such as health care reform. Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine told Meet the Press “the comments were unfortunate and they were insensitive”, but “I think the case is closed because President Obama has spoken directly with the leader [Reid] and accepted his apology. […] We’re moving on.”

Members of the Republican Party have called on Reid to resign over his comments. Party chairperson Michael Steele told Fox News Sunday “There is this standard where the Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it … comes from the mouths of their own. But if it comes from anyone else, it’s racism,”. Having appeared alongside Kaine, where the Democrat Party chairman stated the case was closed, Steele argued that there was a double standard, on the basis of then-Senator Obama calling in 2002 calling for Trent Lott, at that time the majority leader, to be ousted for supporting the views of Strom Thurmond, who stood as a segregationist Presidential candidate in 1948.

The book Game Change published today, also says that New York Senator Chuck Schumer encouraged Barack Obama to run in early 2006, even though he later endorsed his former colleague Hillary Clinton. Other revelations included that John McCain’s aides were concerned about Sarah Palin’s failure to understand basic facts prior to her ABC News interviews with Charles Gibson, including why North Korea and South Korea are separate countries.

Co-authors Halpern and Heileman have a history of vocal criticism of media coverage of the 2008 Presidential election. In late 2008, Daily Kos reporter Jed Lewison drew attention to comments by Halpern, on-stage with Heilmen, asserting the reportage was, “extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage”; he characterised election coverage as, “the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war”. Halpern’s centrepiece example was an analysis of New York Times profiles on the prospective First Ladies; overlooking earlier NYT coverage that reported on Obama’s Caucasian ancestors being slave owners.



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April 4, 2009

Alaska GOP calls for resignation for Senate revote

Saturday, April 4, 2009

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The Republican Party of Alaska is requesting United States Senator Mark Begich, Democrat, to resign to pave way for a new election. This request is based on the U.S. Justice Department withdrawing charges against former Senator Ted Stevens.

Current Senator Mark Begich

Stevens was originally convicted in October just before the November election. He lost the election to Begich by a narrow margin. Given that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped charges that had affected the outcome of the election, they may have re-elected Steven if it was done before the election.

According to Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, Begich won over Stevens only because “a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.” Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, through her SarahPAC spokeswoman, agreed.

Begich indicated that he would not step down as he felt that Alaskans wanted a change and a senator that is “independent as Alaska.”

“Today, with our country in a severe recession, it’s more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families,” Begich also stated.

The other U.S. Senator from Alaska, Republican Lisa Murkowski, stated “In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option.”

The US Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that it will not retry Stevens.

Former Senator Ted Stevens

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option.

Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator, R-Alaska

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.

Stevens, 85, spent the six weeks leading up to the election on trial in Washington and lost just days after being convicted.

Begich’s victory was a coup for Democrats in Alaska. It also was a victory for Democrats in the Senate, who, with Begich’s win, landed 58 of the 60 votes they need to have a filibuster-proof majority.

Begich received 151,767 votes (47.77%) to Stevens’ 147,814 (46.52%). The winning margin was 3,953 votes (1.24%). Three other candidates were in the race: Bob Bird of the Alaskan Independence Party (13,197; 4.15%), Ted Gianoutsos (independent) (1,385; 0.44%) and Fredrick D. Haas of the Libertarian Party (2483 0.78%)


Related news

Sources

  • Erika Bolstad “Alaska GOP asks revote for Senate”. McClatchy Newspapers, April 03, 2009
  • Dan Joling “Alaska Republicans call for new Senate election”. Associated Press, April 2, 2009
  • State of Alaska Division of Elections “State of Alaska – 2008 General Election Official Results”. elections.alaska.gov, December 3, 2008
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Alaska GOP calls for resignation for Senate revote

Saturday, April 4, 2009

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The Republican Party of Alaska is requesting United States Senator Mark Begich, Democrat, to resign to pave way for a new election. This request is based on the U.S. Justice Department withdrawing charges against former Senator Ted Stevens.

Current Senator Mark Begich

Stevens was originally convicted in October just before the November election. He lost the election to Begich by a narrow margin. Given that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped charges that had affected the outcome of the election, they may have re-elected Steven if it was done before the election.

According to Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, Begich won over Stevens only because “a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.” Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, through her SarahPAC spokeswoman, agreed.

Begich indicated that he would not step down as he felt that Alaskans wanted a change and a senator that is “independent as Alaska.”

“Today, with our country in a severe recession, it’s more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families,” Begich also stated.

The other U.S. Senator from Alaska, Republican Lisa Murkowski, stated “In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option.”

The US Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that it will not retry Stevens.

Former Senator Ted Stevens

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

In light of the good news yesterday, I am sure many of us wish we could turn the clock back to last November. Unfortunately, that is not an option.

Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator, R-Alaska

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.

Stevens, 85, spent the six weeks leading up to the election on trial in Washington and lost just days after being convicted.

Begich’s victory was a coup for Democrats in Alaska. It also was a victory for Democrats in the Senate, who, with Begich’s win, landed 58 of the 60 votes they need to have a filibuster-proof majority.

Begich received 151,767 votes (47.77%) to Stevens’ 147,814 (46.52%). The winning margin was 3,953 votes (1.24%). Three other candidates were in the race: Bob Bird of the Alaskan Independence Party (13,197; 4.15%), Ted Gianoutsos (independent) (1,385; 0.44%) and Fredrick D. Haas of the Libertarian Party (2483 0.78%)


Related news

Sources

  • Erika Bolstad “Alaska GOP asks revote for Senate”. McClatchy Newspapers, April 03, 2009
  • Dan Joling “Alaska Republicans call for new Senate election”. Associated Press, April 2, 2009
  • State of Alaska Division of Elections “State of Alaska – 2008 General Election Official Results”. elections.alaska.gov, December 3, 2008
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December 14, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: December 14, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: December 14, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: December 14, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Sunday, December 14, 2008.

23 pirates captured by Indian navy in Gulf of Aden

The Indian navy has announced that it has captured 23 Somali and Yemeni pirates in the Gulf of Aden who were attacking an Ethiopian ship named the MV Gibe. The Indian INS Mysore, which was escorting merchant ships near the coast of Somalia, hurried to the MV Gibe after it sent out a distress call, saying that they were being fired upon by two boats.

The pirates, when apprehended, attempted to flee, but were caught by the Indian ship. Arms and equipment were seized from the pirates.

Sources


Gunman in Mumbai attacks confesses

Ajmal Kasab, the gunman who was captured in last month’s Mumbai attacks that killed hundreds of people, has told the police that he originally planned to take hostages and make demands from the media, according to his confession statement.

The seven-page confession states that Kasab and another person, who attacked Mumbai’s main train station, were planning to have a standoff atop a roof, but the plan backfired when no access to a roof was found.

They did manage to kill tens of people inside the train station itself, however, it is still not known whether or not they had hostages.

Sources


Fire burns Alaska Governor Palin’s church

A recent fire has hit former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s church in Wasilla, Alaska. Investigators have deemed the fire “suspicious,” and consider arson as a possible cause.

A group of women and children were in the church when the fire broke out, but no one was injured.

“We have no idea what caused it,” said the Rev. Larry Kroon of the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church.

Sources


Rallies held across Australia to protest against Internet filtering

Protesters in Adelaide.
Image: Tarale on flickr.

Protest rallies were held in Australian capital cities on Saturday to protest against the Rudd government’s proposed internet filtering scheme. Under the scheme, a so-called “clean feed” would be provided to all Australians with content on a list kept by the Australian Communications and Media Authority blocked. A secondary filter, which may be opted out of will block material deemed inappropriate to children.

Hundreds attended the protests in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Hobart which were organised by the Digital Liberty Coalition.

Sources



Cabinet member breaks ranks over Heathrow expansion

UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn prompted speculation regarding a possible cabinet split over plans to expand London’s Heathrow airport with comments made in an interview given to the Sunday Times.

Mr Benn warned concerns regarding noise and air-pollution could stall plans to build a third runway and expressed doubts regarding suggestions that a technological solution could be found to the problems.

Heathrow is currently in breach of EU rules governing air pollution, although the UK currently has an opt-out from the rules, this runs out in 2015.

Other senior cabinet members, including Commons Leader Harriet Harman and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Milliband, are also believed to have serious reservations about the expansion of Heathrow.

Sources



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November 4, 2008

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, October 2008

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, October 2008

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
Wikinews Election 2008.svg
2008 U.S. Presidential Election stories
  • 9 March 2012: Super Tuesday 2012: ‘Joe the Plumber’ wins GOP congressional primary
  • 23 March 2010: Non-profit ACORN plans to shut down
  • 11 January 2010: US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid criticized over “Negro” comments
  • 22 July 2009: Former U.S. Presidential candidate Gene Amondson dies following a stroke
  • 22 January 2009: Photo source for Barack Obama presidential campaign “HOPE” poster discovered

October on the campaign trail presented the last chances for the campaigns to present their messages to the American people. A vice-presidential and two presidential debates were held, one of which added a new political lexicon, perhaps the closest thing to an October surprise. One candidate seemed to pull way ahead as early voting began in many states near the conclusion of the month.

Democrats

Obama-backer Colin Powell

  • At the beginning of the month, due to the continued economic crisis, Obama took a clear lead over McCain in opinion polling, leading by double-digits in many surveys. Obama maintained his lead throughout the month and mounted leads or stayed within the margin of error in some states won by Bush in 2004 including Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Florida, Iowa and North Dakota.
  • Joe Biden debated Sarah Palin in St. Louis on October 3, in a forum moderated by Gwen Ifill. Biden issued very little criticism of Palin and remained subdued for much of the night, focusing mostly on foreign policy. Ifill became a subject of controversy before the debate, with commentators questioning her impartiality with the upcoming release of her book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.
  • On the campaign trail, prior to the third presidential debate, Obama was approached by plumber Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio. Joe asked Obama whether his taxes would be raised if he bought a plumbing company as he was planning to do. Obama stated that he didn’t “want to punish [his] success” but that “everyone who is behind him” should be given a “chance at success.” He later stated that he thought “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
  • Obama defended his tax plan during the third presidential debate with McCain while facing many McCain comments about “Joe the plumber.” He repeatedly stated that his tax plan would lower taxes for households making under US$200,000 a year, which he said made up 95% of Americans.
  • Former secretary of state Colin Powell made an across-party-lines endorsement, when he stated on Meet the Press that he was voting for Senator Barack Obama. Powell became the first former member of the Bush administration to formally endorse Obama and was closely followed by former press secretary Scott McClellan, who also endorsed the candidate.
Republicans

Holland, Ohio, the hometown of Joe the Plumber

  • At the vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin became the first woman since the 1984 United States presidential election to participate in such an event. It was the most widely watched vice-presidential debate in history with an estimated 70 million viewers. During the debate Palin characterized herself as a “Washington outsider” who “may not answer the questions the way the moderator and you (Senator Biden) want to hear.” She focused mostly on energy policy during the debate.
  • The second presidential debate was held on October 7 and moderated by Tom Brokaw. During the debate McCain announced his support for a spending freeze of programs other than those for defense or veterans. When discussing energy policy, McCain famously referred to Obama as “that one.”
  • The McCain campaign launched a series of ads connecting Obama to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, who served on a board with Obama and held a venue at his home for the Senator when he began his political career. Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” Some pundits saw the new strategy as a last ditch effort by the McCain campaign.
  • McCain’s campaign was compared to that of segregationist George Wallace’s by Congressman John Lewis, who commented that the campaign was “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” Lewis pointed to McCain supporters who shouted obscenities about Barack Obama during a McCain rally, including one who reportedly yelled “kill him” when referring to Obama (a claim later refuted by the Secret Service). McCain discussed this during the third presidential debate, and asked Obama to repudiate the comments.
  • During the third presidential debate, McCain used the earlier discussion between Obama and Joe the Plumber as a tool to attack Obama on his tax policy. He strongly objected to Obama’s support for “spreading the wealth” which he likened to socialism. The debate led to a small comeback for McCain in opinion polling, cutting into Obama’s lead as the month came to a close.
Third parties
  • A third party debate scheduled for October 19 was cancelled after the candidates were unable to participate due to scheduling conflicts. Candidates Ralph Nader, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney and Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin were supposed to debate but it eventually fell through.
  • Ralph Nader and Chuck Baldwin were able to participate in a third party presidential debate on October 23 in Washington. Each discussed their strong opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their disapproval of the government’s bailout plan. Baldwin and Nader had some disagreement on abortion, with Nader standing pro-choice and Baldwin standing as pro-life. Nader emphasized the need to control the power of corporations over consumer’s lives and Baldwin stated that his number one priority as president would be to secure the borders.
  • On October 30, Nader and Baldwin participated in another third party debate. Libertarian party nominee Bob Barr joined the candidates for this debate. During the debate, the candidates railed against the two major parties with Ralph Nader complaining that they don’t like “competition.” Barr conveyed his frustration with the Justice Department for their failure to prosecute Wall Street corporate leaders. Baldwin expressed his fear for America’s future.



Related news

Sources

Editor’s note

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail… is a monthly article about the campaign events during the past month. The title is based on the series of articles written by journalist Hunter S. Thompson and compiled into a publication entitled Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

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October 17, 2008

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, September 2008

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, September 2008

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 United States Presidential Election
Wikinews Election 2008.svg
2008 U.S. Presidential Election stories
  • 9 March 2012: Super Tuesday 2012: ‘Joe the Plumber’ wins GOP congressional primary
  • 23 March 2010: Non-profit ACORN plans to shut down
  • 11 January 2010: US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid criticized over “Negro” comments
  • 22 July 2009: Former U.S. Presidential candidate Gene Amondson dies following a stroke
  • 22 January 2009: Photo source for Barack Obama presidential campaign “HOPE” poster discovered

September 2008 on the campaign trail was a month full of surprise and calls for unity despite a growing negativity. The Republican national convention was held and the start of the economic crisis threatened to plague the first presidential debate.

Republicans

Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention

  • At the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, some notable moments included Michael Steele’s coining of the phrase “drill baby drill” during a convention speech not carried on the major networks. Rudy Giuliani and Joe Lieberman each gave keynote addresses that attacked Senator Obama, especially in Giuliani’s case. The most memorable moment was Governor Sarah Palin’s speech, seen by as many Americans as Obama’s during the Democratic Convention, in which she gave a critically acclaimed performance that overshadowed McCain’s speech on the final day.
  • Congressman and former Presidential candidate Ron Paul held a counter convention of his own at the Target Center in Minneapolis that drew a crowd of 12,000 people. The convention featured former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, widely speculated to make a presidential run in 2012. During the convention Ventura questioned the mainstream account of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
  • Following the Republican Convention McCain experienced a surge in polling, which greatly reduced Obama’s slight lead and showed McCain with a lead in most polling for the first time since May 2008. The selection of Palin also increased Republican voter enthusiasm in the polls.
  • Following the stock market crash later in September and the subsequent negotiations for a bailout plan, Senator McCain suspended his campaign and returned to Washington D.C. to try to reach an agreement. He asked Senator Obama to join him and postpone the debate scheduled for later in the week but Obama responded that he could do both and that he would show up for the debate at the University of Mississippi.
  • On the day of the debate, questions swirled over whether or not McCain would show, he did and the debate was held. The debate moderated by Jim Lehrer was supposed to surround foreign policy but the economic crisis took center stage, which Obama and McCain mostly agreed upon. The differences surrounded McCain’s differences with Obama on the surge policy in Iraq and Obama’s earlier suggestion that he would meet with leaders of rogue nations without preconditions.

Democrats
  • As most media attention surrounded Sarah Palin in the beginning of September, Obama-Biden fell in the polls and were not at the focus of most news stories, however on September 11, Obama and McCain called a truce and met in New York City for the seventh anniversary of 9/11.
  • Barack Obama launched an ad campaign that criticized John McCain as “out of touch” and “out of date” highlighting his computer illiteracy. Biden criticized his running mate’s ad as “terrible” and also criticized an ad by the McCain campaign from earlier in the month that suggested that Obama supports sex education for kindergarten level children.
  • Later in September Obama abandoned his earlier 50-state strategy withdrawing resources from traditional red states such as North Dakota, Montana and Georgia that Obama stated he would contest. The campaign removed staffers from some states and sent them to nearby states considered to be winnable, such as from Georgia to North Carolina.
  • Following the economic crisis, Obama’s numbers raised significantly in the polls leading McCain by as many as seven points by the end of the month. Obama asked McCain to appear with him at a press conference to restore consumer confidence. Obama also joined McCain in Washington to help with the negotiations on a bailout plan. But he rejected McCain’s call to postpone the presidential debate.
  • At the presidential debate many critics believed Obama presented himself as presidential, the task many claimed he needed to accomplish. During the debate Obama linked the financial crisis to Bush administration policies and spoke out against the lead up to the war in Iraq and the need for more troops in Afghanistan.
Third parties
  • Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr asked Congressman and 1988 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Ron Paul to run with him as his running mate. Barr’s running mate Wayne Allyn Root volunteered to step down if Paul accepted, but he declined.
  • Congressman Ron Paul appeared at a press conference with the Constitution and Green Party’s presidential nominees Chuck Baldwin and Cynthia McKinney as well as Independent candidate Ralph Nader. He announced that he was endorsing all four major third party candidates including Libertarian nominee Bob Barr.
  • After Barr admonished Paul for his endorsement of four candidates, believing the congressman should endorse his campaign, Paul removed his endorsement for Barr and decided in a statement to endorse Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin’s campaign, a candidate whom he called a “friend” and an “active supporter” of his campaign.
  • Following the presidential debate in which he was not allowed to participate in, Barr criticized both presidential candidates for their support of the bailout plan; he called it a “debate between big government and bigger government.” Barr then referred to himself as the “change” candidate.



Related news

Sources

Editor’s Note

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail… is a monthly article about the campaign events during the past month. The title is based on the series of articles written by journalist Hunter S. Thompson and compiled into a publication entitled Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

October 11, 2008

\’Troopergate\’ investigation finds Palin abused her power

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin, Republican nominee for Vice President.

2008 United States Presidential Election
2008 US Presidential Election stories

An Alaskan legislative investigation, nicknamed ‘Troopergate‘, concluded Friday that Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin had abused her power during her time as Alaskan governor.

The report, released by a bipartisan investigative committee, found that Palin had violated the state Ethics Act when she allowed her husband to pressure former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan into firing state trooper Mike Wooten; however, she was well within her rights to fire Monegan because of disagreement on budget cuts.

Sarah Palin had “knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda,” the report went on to say.

Todd Palin, her husband, admitted to trying to forcefully remove Wooten because of alleged actions such as driving under the influence, threatening Palin’s father, and using a Taser gun on his son. The pressure came after a hostile divorce between the governor’s sister and ex-husband, who was accused of threatening the family.

The governor’s explanations of her reasons for firing Monegan had been inconsistent, from denying a “personality conflict” to insubordination and incompetence. She consistently denied, however, the firing being related to Wooten.

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“The Palins make no apologies,” a statement released by her campaign said, “for wanting to protect their family and wanting to bring attention to the injustice of a violent trooper keeping his badge and abusing the workers’ compensation system”.

While the investigative committee had agreed unanimously to release the report, a few Republicans on the panel had attempted to halt the investigation, citing political bias. Republican Senator Gary Stevens warned voters to be “cautious” and to “realize there’s much more in it than just the one-page findings”.

Sources

  • Matt Apuzzo “Alaska panel finds Palin abused power in firing”. Associated Press, October 11, 2008
  • Charles Piller and Kim Murphy “Palin abused her power, legislative inquiry finds”. Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2008


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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