Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Archdiocese Says No To Gay Pride Celebration

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says a liberal Catholic church can't hold its annual gay pride prayer service. St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis has held the event for several years in conjunction with the annual Twin Cities Pride Celebration. The archdiocese is instead suggesting that the church hold a "peace" service Wednesday with no mention of rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.Archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said the gay pride prayer service is inimical to the teachings of the Catholic church. The Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities calls the move an attack by Archbishop John Nienstedt.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hundreds Turn Out for Troop Appreciation Walk

Hundreds of people turned out for the fourth annual Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Fund 'Troop Appreciation Walk' on Sunday. The event honored not only the men and women who serve, but also their families. Leading the walk in Minneapolis was the mother of Private First Class Edward (Jim) Herrgott. He was the first Minnesotan killed in the Iraq war. This July marks five years since his death."MMAF is supporting the troops that are over there and helping the injured soldiers that come home. I mean, that's what we're doing it for. Jim will never come back, but we're helping the ones that do come back," said Marcia Herrgott, Jim's mother. The fund provides both emotional and financial support to military families. Since its start, the organization has raised $7 million and has given grants to more than 6,000 people.

Friday, June 20, 2008

McCain Says Pawlenty Has 'Big Place' In GOP Future

Speaking in Minneapolis, Sen. John McCain told reporters Gov. Tim Pawlenty has "a very big place" in the Republican Party's future. McCain didn’t say whether he's considering Pawlenty as a running mate. The Republican candidate said he doesn’t have a short list and won’t name names. McCain made his first Minnesota campaign stop in the Twin Cities Thursday at the Landmark Center. At the pre-ticketed event, McCain was able to interact intimately with and answer the questions of a smaller audience, as opposed to the rally-style of his rival, Barack Obama. McCain touched on several points, calling for energy independence and offshore drilling in the United States.
Sen. John McCain and Gov. Tim Pawlenty
He also said that if troops are still successful overseas, he would support them coming home in one year. Minnesota Governor and McCain's national campaign co-chair Tim Pawlenty spent the day with the Senator, which further fueled VP speculation. McCain did mention Pawlenty has shown a Republican can win in Minnesota, a state taken by Democrats in the general election since the last GOP support coming in 1972. McCain said he understand he’s the underdog in Minnesota, but intends to fight for the state's 10 electoral votes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Poll Shows Clinton's Supporters Hesitate To Stand Behind Obama

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton's supporters have not yet decided to stand behind Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, according to a new poll. The first general election poll of polls since Clinton quit the race showed that Obama led his Republican rival, John McCain, by 46 percent to 41 percent. Obama's supporting rate had only one point up from the last poll of polls that were taken before Clinton suspended her campaign, which showed the Illinois Senator leading McCain by 47 percent to 43 percent.The comparison of the two polls showed "Clinton's decision to suspend her campaign and endorse Obama seems to have produced little or no bouncer for Obama," CNN polling director Keating Holland said. "Clinton's supporters may need more than one speech to rally behind the party's nominee," he added. The poll of polls consists of three surveys conducted between June 12 and 16 by separate bodies.

Friday, June 13, 2008

NYC Company Markets Obama & McCain-Themed Condoms

The presidential race is in full swing -- but not the way you might think. A young New York City entrepreneur has decided to "have fun" with the campaign by marketing condoms featuring images of Barack Obama and John McCain. Benjamin Sherman, who created the company Practice Safe Policy, says the Obama condom carries the slogan "Use With Good Judgment." The McCain version says "OLD BUT Not Expired."According to the Web site, McCain condoms "are battle tested, strong and durable, for those occasions when you just need to switch your position!" While the company can't guarantee the condoms are 100 percent effective, it says it's certain "that without wearing one, there's likely to be an Obama-Mama in your future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ron Paul Plans GOP Counter-Convention

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, technically still in the race despite having lost by all measures to presumptive nominee John McCain, is planning to stage a sort of counter-convention during the Republican National Convention in September. The libertarian-leaning Texas congressman is hoping to rally about 11,000 supporters at an arena at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on Sept. 2. That would coincide with the GOP convention, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4, in next-door St. Paul.Paul has 24 convention delegates, compared with the 1,504 who are in the McCain column, according to tallies. He did not win any primaries or caucuses but amassed a loyal and enthusiastic base of supporters. According to the Tribune-Review article, Paul is set to announce details for the rally Thursday in Houston. An aide told reporters Paul hopes the Minneapolis event will “send a message to the Republican Party.”

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ron Paul Backers Plan Own Convention

Supporters of Ron Paul’s bid for the Republican Presidential nomination are planning to hold an insurgent state convention July 28 in Reno, Nev., even though the party has scheduled a sanctioned gathering July 26 to finish electing the state’s national delegates. Paul’s backers say Nevada Republican leaders abruptly shut down the state's first convention attempt last April before final votes were cast. Earlier in the day, Paul's supporters had won a rules change that appeared to be leading to a national slate of delegates mostly pledged to Paul than to presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain. The state party's executive director, Zachary Moyle, disputes the party tried to cut anybody out of the process, saying everything was done in an open manner. He also says extra security will be on hand this time because some delegates are concerned about safety. While no violence occurred at the April convention, state Sen. Bob Beers, the presiding chairman, was rushed out of the building by security after angry delegates surrounded the stage moments after he called it to a close. It has taken the party more than a month to reschedule the new convention, which leads Paul’s supporters to believe party leaders are obstructing democracy.They argue the party's date to reconvene is so late there would be no time to regroup if problems similar to those that forced the end of the first one recur. National delegates must be elected by Aug. 1. "A date so late in July is simply not reasonable," says one Paul supporter participating in the revolt. "We don't want to run out of time and possibly be forced into a mail-in ballot or an appointed delegation." GOP officials say the event Paul’s forces want to stage is not sanctioned by the party, and delegates elected there would not be recognized by the national committee. Paul’s backers contend he needs a simple majority of delegates for a quorum to reconvene and elect delegates. Paul – described as a conservative, a Constitutionalist and a Libertarian – racked up more than a million votes during the primaries in spite of his candidacy remaining largely under the radar.The 10-term Texas Republican began his presidential bid a year ago and has raised nearly $35 million in donations from hundreds of thousands of supporters, mostly via the Internet. He reportedly has more than $5 million remaining in his political coffers and continues to travel the country signing copies of his new book and speaking to crowds of followers, many of them new to the political process. Paul is trying to earn a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., this September. His platform advocates a foreign policy of nonintervention, citing the dangers of foreign entanglements to national sovereignty. He and his loyal followers are against the war in Iraq and favor withdrawal from both NATO and the U.N. Paul has consistently pledged to never raise taxes and end the federal income tax. While he has refused a third-party bid, he has vowed not to endorse McCain. "Paul's grassroots supporters across the country are doing a tremendous job spreading [his] message, winning votes, and laying a strong foundation for the future," campaign spokesman Jesse Benton says.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Military Shoots Down Missile In Test Off Hawaii

The U.S. military says it has intercepted a ballistic missile near Hawaii in a test. The sea-based test Thursday was the military's first since an errant satellite was shot down earlier this year. A target was fired from a decomissioned amphibious assault ship about 100 miles off the island of Kauai. It was a Scud-like missile with a range of a few hundred miles.
USS Lake Erie (CG 70)
The USS Lake Erie fired two interceptor missiles at the target. It was shot down in its final seconds of flight about 12 miles above the Pacific Ocean. The Lake Erie is a Navy cruiser based at Pearl Harbor. In February, the ship shot down a U.S. spy satellite in the Aegis defense program's first real-world mission.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Regions Hospital Ready For The RNC Tush

Regions Hospital is preparing for the Republican National Convention, insuring they will not be overwhelmed when the Twin Cities fills up this September. The hospital has recently renovated their Medical Resource Command Center or MRCC, a major communication tool used in organizing ambulance routes. It is one of only two in the Twin Cities and it services the east Metro and parts of Wisconsin. Through the MRCC, operators can determine which hospitals are open to taking patients and how many they're able to take at any given time. "We kind of become the flight control center for the ambulances," said MRCC Operator Dave Gammell.A patient tracking system has also been developed. It was first implemented during last year's state fair and it allows hospitals to determine when and where patients are transferred through bar-coded wristbands. Another tool that gives Regions confidence for the convention is the permanent decontamination area. One hundred to 150 people an hour can pass through the showers and the system can operate for four hours before the collection tanks must be drained. The hospital also plans to ramp up on their security staff. "That is one area that we are going to staff up just because it is a national security event and we're going to recognize that fact and be ready for it," said Regions Director of Plant Operations Rick Huston.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gay Marriage Ban Qualifies For California Ballot

California's Secretary of State says an initiative that would again outlaw gay marriage in the state has qualified for the November ballot. Debra Bowen says a random check of signatures submitted by the measure's sponsors showed that they had gathered enough for it to be put to voters. The measure would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union "between a man and a woman."It would overturn the recent California Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state if it is approved by a majority of voters on Nov. 4. California public health officials already have amended marriage license applications and told local officials to start issuing them to same-sex couples on June 17.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Iran Warns It May Limit Cooperation With UN Nuclear Watchdog

Iran warned it may limit cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, expressing disappointment over the agency's recent report that was critical of Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency, in a report to the U.N. Security Council last week, suggested Iran was stonewalling investigators and possibly withholding information crucial to determining whether it conducted research on nuclear weapons. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday the IAEA "could present a better report," adding Iran may have to set "new limits" on its cooperation with the agency. Iran's newly elected parliament speaker Ali Larijani made a similar threat on Wednesday. Parliament on Sunday elected Larijani, formerly the country's top nuclear negotiator, to the powerful post of speaker for a year. The choice of Larijani for the influential job boosts his standing ahead of 2009 elections in which he is expected to challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the presidency. There is growing opposition to Ahmadinejad from other conservatives such as Larijani and clerical leaders, partly over his confrontational approach in the nuclear standoff with the West.Iran is under growing pressure from the IAEA to explain what could be secret nuclear weapons work and it has become increasingly defensive on the issue. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Iran is resisting a strong IAEA push for answers to allegations it tried to make nuclear arms. It refuses to compromise on the key demand that it stop uranium enrichment. For years, Iran has shrugged off offers of economic and political rewards in exchange for an enrichment freeze. It has thumbed its nose both at U.N. Security Council demands that it do so, even after sanctions were imposed, and at veiled U.S. threats of a military action. Instead, it exploited international indecision and expanded and improved its enrichment capability. Diplomats said the tone of the IAEA report was unusually tough and reflected deep frustration at Iran's lack of cooperation. Briefing IAEA board members three days after the report's release, Olli Heinonen — the IAEA's deputy director general in charge of the agency's Iran file — said Iran's possession of nuclear warhead diagrams was "alarming." In a statement from its U.N. Mission last week, Tehran again rejected allegations of an undeclared weapons program as "baseless," "totally false," and aimed at undermining the country's cooperation with the IAEA.Asked Friday whether the IAEA's new assertiveness was due to U.S. lobbying of the agency, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters that Washington tries "to use any possible capacity as potentiality for their political purposes." Fears that Iran might want to make the bomb are as old as the discovery five years ago that it had assembled the nuts and bolts of a uranium enrichment program. Enrichment can turn uranium into the fissile material used in nuclear warheads. But it can also be used to generate power and is allowed under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium. Starting last year, the IAEA began focusing on probing for evidence of activities that point more directly to a possible clandestine weapons program. Based on its own information and intelligence from the U.S. and other board members, it has asked — in vain — for substantive explanations for what seem to be draft plans to refit missiles with nuclear warheads; explosives tests that could be used for a nuclear detonation; military and civilian nuclear links and a drawing showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads.