Tag Archive: President Barack Obama


Gadhafi’s regime teeters on collapse in Libya

Libyan rebel fighters embrace at the former female military base in Tripoli, Libya, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. Libyan rebels claimed to be in control of most of the Libyan capital on Monday after their lightning advance on Tripoli heralded the fall of Moammar Gadhafi's nearly 42-year regime, but scattered battles erupted and the mercurial leader's whereabouts remained unknown. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)People celebrate the capture in Tripoli of Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, at the rebel-held town of Benghazi, Libya, early Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. Libyan rebels raced into Tripoli Sunday and met little resistance as Gadhafi's defenders melted away and his 42-year rule rapidly crumbled. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

Libyan rebel fighters fire towards forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi during fierce gunfire in downtown Tripoli, Libya, Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. World leaders said Monday the end is near for Moammar Gadhafi's regime and began planning for Libya's future without the man who has held power there for 42 years. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

http://news.yahoo.com/gadhafis-regime-teeters-collapse-libya-205608125.html

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was nowhere to be found Monday as his 42-year rule teetered on the brink of collapse. Months of NATO airstrikes have left his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli largely demolished. Most of his security forces fled or surrendered when rebel forces rolled into the capital Sunday night and took control of most of the city. And three of his sons are under arrest.

 

A mood of joy mixed with trepidation settled over the capital, with the rebels still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, who was in Tripoli, said the “danger is still there” as long as Gadhafi remains on the run.

“The real moment of victory is when Gadhafi is captured,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebel National Transitional Council, told a news conference in the opposition’s de facto capital of Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli. He said the rebels have no idea where Gadhafi is and whether he is even in Tripoli. An Obama administration official said the U.S. had no indication that Gadhafi had left Libya.

President Barack Obama said the situation in Libya reached a tipping point in recent days after a five month NATO-led bombing campaign. However, he acknowledged that the situation remained fluid and that elements of the regime remained a threat.

The Obama administration official said U.S. officials and NATO partners had not been in contact with Gadhafi during the siege on Tripoli. However, the official said American and NATO representatives, as well as Libyan rebels, had all been in contact with people around Gadhafi, mostly those looking for a way out.

NATO vowed to keep up its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to their barracks. The alliance’s warplanes have hit at least 40 targets in and around Tripoli in the past two days — the highest number on a single geographic location since the bombing started in March, NATO said.

A day after the rebels rode into the city of 2 million, the situation remained volatile. Even though rebels claimed they were in control of most of Tripoli, they still appeared to be on the defensive, ducking for cover during frequent clashes with regime fighters. Throughout the day, the rebels sent reinforcements to the city from the north, south and southeast, and a rebel field commander said more than 4,000 fighters were part of the final push to bring down the regime.

The Obama administration official said the U.S. believes 90 percent of the capital is under rebel control, while regime loyalists still control Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte and the southern city of Sabha.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publically.

Intense gunbattles erupted throughout the day and city was too unstable for any mass celebrations in the streets.

Clashes broke out early in the day at Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound when government tanks emerged from the complex and opened fire at rebels trying to get in, according to the rebel spokesman Abdel-Rahman and a neighbor.

Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is next to the Gadhafi compound, said there appeared to be only a few tanks belonging to the remaining Gadhafi forces who have not fled or surrendered.

“When I climb the stairs and look from the roof, I see nothing at Bab al-Aziziyah. It is totally deserted except for the house which was raided by U.S. in 1986. Nothing else is there. Gadhafi can’t be there,” he said. “NATO has demolished it all and nothing remained.”

But Abdel-Rahman said Gadhafi still has forces to be reckoned with.

“We know that until now, Tripoli is encircled by Gadhafi brigades positioned at the outskirts of the capital, in camps, such as al-Yarmouk in the south of Tripoli. They can be in the middle of the city in half an hour.”

 

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110518/ap_on_en_mo/us_schwarzenegger_legacy

By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Juliet Williams, Associated Press 2 hrs 35 mins ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political legacy in California already was tenuous.

He left the governor’s office after seven years without making good on his central campaign promise to fix the state’s budgeting system, then commuted the manslaughter sentence for the son of a political ally in one of his final official acts, drawing the condemnation of prosecutors and the family of a slain college student.

Now he’s revealed to be the father of an out-of-wedlock child, a secret he kept during two gubernatorial terms.

No matter his accomplishments in office, Schwarzenegger may be best remembered as yet another philandering politician who got caught.

The former governor said in a statement early Tuesday that he had fathered the child of a longtime household staff member more than a decade ago, and that the woman continued to work in the family’s Brentwood home until January.

Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, announced earlier this month that they were separating and that Shriver had moved out, although they did not give a reason at the time beyond a reference to difficult transitions.

After leaving office in January, the former Republican governor had for a time been angling for a role as some kind of international political spokesman, perhaps on environmental issues. In April, he appeared at a Washington, D.C., forum on immigration hosted by President Barack Obama, but his grander plans for politics did not appear to be panning out, so Schwarzenegger lately has been trying to relaunch his career as a Hollywood action star.

“It’s over. There’s no political future,” said Patrick Dorinson, a Republican who worked on Schwarzenegger’s 2003 campaign and in his administration early on. “I’m just disgusted. It’s the only dang bipartisan thing these guys do — cheat on their wives. John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger — tell me the difference.”

The comparison to Edwards is natural. The former North Carolina senator frequently invoked his wife and children as he sought the 2008 Democratic nomination for president. He later acknowledged fathering a child with a campaign videographer at the same time his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was battling breast cancer. She died last year.

Yet Schwarzenegger’s legacy and reputation already were under fire after he cut Esteban Nunez’s prison sentence for manslaughter to seven years from 16. Nunez, the son of former Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, had pleaded guilty in 2008 in the stabbing death of a San Diego college student, 22-year-old Luis Santos. Prosecutors say Esteban Nunez also stabbed two other people after he and a group of friends went looking for revenge after getting kicked out of a fraternity party.

San Diego County prosecutors last week asked a state court to overturn Schwarzenegger’s last-minute decision because he failed to seek input from the victim’s family before he made the commutation. State law requires such notification.

Schwarzenegger’s story now resembles that of so many other politicians beset by hubris and poor judgment. The indiscretion, which Schwarzenegger referred to as an “event” that occurred more than a decade ago, will be what sticks in the minds of many people, adding to the former “Terminator” star’s image as a Hollywood playboy.

“Long after Californians have forgotten the details of his fiscal policies, they’ll remember that he had a child out of wedlock. And more importantly, they’ll remember the cover-up,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “It doesn’t necessarily contradict his policies, but it certainly taints his reputation.”

Others said the news has a greater impact on Schwarzenegger’s family and his friends than it does on California voters.

“I think at the end of the day, it didn’t happen during his governorship, it happened before his governorship,” said former Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte, who is now a Republican adviser. “Citizens in California already have a fixed impression of Gov. Schwarzenegger, good or bad, and I would be surprised if this changes that.”

It was a surprise that Schwarzenegger had kept an out-of-wedlock child a secret for more than 10 years while the mother continued to work in the Schwarzenegger-Shriver home, but the revelation itself was not a shocker.

Schwarzenegger, a former Mr. Universe who had often bragged about his sexual conquests before he met Shriver, had come under fire just days before the 2003 recall election after the Los Angeles Times reported allegations from 16 women that Schwarzenegger had groped and verbally harassed them during encounters dating to the early 1970s and as recently as 2000. Schwarzenegger apologized for his bad behavior but never fully addressed the claims.

“Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful, but now I recognize that I have offended people,” he said then. “And those people that I have offended, I want to say to them, `I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize, because this is not what I’m trying to do.’ When I’m governor, I want to prove to the women that I will be a champion for the women.”

Ironically, Shriver was key to helping her husband beat back the allegations and win the 2003 recall election, lending him credibility when she appeared onstage to say that the accusers didn’t know her husband.

“I’m personally very torn about this issue,” said Eric Bauman, a vice chairman of the California Democratic Party. “I have great sympathy for his wife and children to learn about this, but as a concerned Californian, as one who strongly opposed his election during the recall campaign, I remember how his team treated the women who came forward that made complaints about untoward behavior and they were not very nice about it. They were very aggressive in batting down those women and their stories, and lo and behold, now we have this.”

Schwarzenegger did appoint women to high-profile posts during his seven years in office, and aides said he would drop everything when Shriver or their four children called. He ended his overnight stays in a hotel suite across from the Capitol to fly home every night, saying he wanted to be closer to his children.

But he also cultivated a masculine atmosphere in his Capitol office, setting up a smoking tent in the outdoor courtyard where he negotiated deals over cigars. His closest staffers donned his signature cowboy boots and oversized watches.

During his 2006 re-election campaign, a six-minute audio recording surfaced of remarks Schwarzenegger made about a female lawmaker in a closed-door speechwriting session.

“I mean Cuban, Puerto Rican, they are all very hot,” the governor said. “They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.”

The lawmaker, Republican Bonnie Garcia, had a good relationship with the governor and defended him.

Another former female lawmaker was less forgiving of Schwarzenegger’s style.

Former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat, said in a 2009 interview in LA Magazine that she didn’t always feel like she fit in. As a legislative leader, Bass was among the small circle of lawmakers who would negotiate budgets with the governor.

“The governor is much more comfortable negotiating with men and likes to do the guy thing — the challenging and baiting, how guys will kind of come after each other. That doesn’t work well with me, nor does it apply to me,” said Bass, now a member of Congress.

Schwarzenegger has announced plans to star as a horse trainer in a planned drama called “Cry Macho” and has talked about resurrecting his signature “Terminator” character. He and comic-book legend Stan Lee recently announced he would voice the lead character in an animated TV series called “The Governator,” in which he would play himself.

Unease in the Miss. Delta as floodwaters spread

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110512/ap_on_re_us/us_mississippi_river_flooding

By SHELIA BYRD, Associated Press Shelia Byrd, Associated Press 1 hr 28 mins ago

RENA LARA, Miss. – Officials in a small town are trying to assure its 500 residents they are doing what they can to shore up the levee to protect them from the swollen Mississippi River.

“It’s getting scary,” said Rita Harris, 43, who lives in a tiny wooden house in the shadow of the levee in Rena Lara. “They won’t let you go up there to look at the water.”

The uneasiness is being felt all along the poverty-stricken Delta as oozing floodwaters from the Mississippi River and its tributaries spilled across farm fields, cut off churches, washed over roads and forced people from their homes Wednesday.

Some used boats to navigate flooded streets as the crest rolled slowly downstream, bringing misery to low-lying communities. About 600 homes have been flooded in the Delta in the past several days as the water rose toward some of the highest levels on record.

The flood crest is expected to push past the Delta by late next week.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour urged people to get out if they think there is even a chance their homes will flood. He said there is no reason to believe a levee on the Yazoo River would fail, but if it did, 107 feet of water would flow over small towns.

“More than anything else, save your life and don’t put at risk other people who might have to come in and save your lives,” he said.

Much farther downstream, Louisiana officials were awaiting an Army Corps of Engineers decision on whether to open the Morganza spillway to take the pressure off the levees protecting Baton Rouge and, downstream, New Orleans and the many oil refineries in between. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday that residents who would be affected by the spillway opening should assume it will open and should plan to get out of the way.

Crews were using water-filled tubes to bolster levees protecting downtown Baton Rouge, where minor flooding could occur. Sandbags were being placed along a portion of New Orleans’ French Quarter riverfront, though the city isn’t expecting a major impact from the flood. The river could be closed to ship traffic at New Orleans if it rises too high.

The Mississippi Delta, with a population of about 465,000, is a leaf-shaped expanse of rich soil between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, extending about 200 miles from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss. Along the way are towns whose names are familiar to Civil War buffs, aficionados of the blues, and scholars of the civil rights era: Clarksdale, Greenwood, Greenville and Yazoo City.

While some farms in the cotton-, rice- and corn-growing Delta are prosperous, there is also grinding poverty. Nine of the 11 counties that touch the Mississippi River in Mississippi have poverty rates at least double the national average of 13.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The governor said the state is asking local officials to get in touch with people who might have no electricity and phones and thus no way to get word of the flooding.

“It’s a tiny number, but we have to find them,” Barbour said.

Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for 14 counties in Mississippi because of the flooding. Housing and home repairs will be covered and low-interest loans to cover uninsured damage will be available.

In Greenville, Liz Jones, who is unemployed, lives on the second floor of a housing project and worries what might happen in the event of a levee break. She has no means of transportation.

“I got a baby and my mama. I don’t know what we’d do about food and clothes and stuff,” she said.

In Hollandale, one of the small rural towns in the Delta the governor warned might flood if the levee breaks, 62-year-old nursing home worker Geraldine Jackson fretted about what to do if she and her husband have to leave their red-brick house, where pieces of the roof have broken off and the white trim is peeling.

“I have relatives, but all my relatives live in the Delta, and the water’s going to get them too,” she said. “I’m just real messed up.”

Swollen by weeks of heavy rain and snowmelt, the Mississippi River has been breaking high-water records that have stood since the 1920s and `30s. It is projected to crest at Vicksburg on May 19 and shatter the mark set there during the cataclysmic Great Flood of 1927. The crest is expected to reach New Orleans on May 23.

Even after the peak passes, water levels will remain high for weeks, and it could take months for flooded homes to dry out.

About 600,000 acres of cultivated row crops could flood, mainly winter wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton and rice, said Andy Prosser, spokesman with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture. Even if the levees hold, the state expects to lose $150 million to $200 million worth of crops, the governor said. Mississippi’s catfish farmers could also be wiped out if the Yazoo floods their ponds and washes away their fish.

Many of the victims of the slowly unfolding disaster are poor people living perilously close to the water.

In the Memphis, Tenn., area, where the Mississippi crested Tuesday just inches short of the 1927 record, many of the flooded dwellings were mobile homes and one-story brick or wood buildings in low-lying, working-class neighborhoods unprotected by floodwalls or levees.

Maria Flores, her husband, Pedro Roman, and their four children ended up in a church shelter in south Memphis — some 20 miles from their trailer in the Millington area of Shelby County. They lost a trailer in last year’s flood, and it happened to them again this year.

Flores, who works as a baby sitter, and Roman, an unemployed day laborer, did not have disaster insurance and suspect their trailer is a total loss. At the shelter, they were receiving clothing and three meals a day and were sleeping on air mattresses in a room with 20 other people.

Flores said she stopped going to work because it was too far and she could not afford the gas. Roman seemed almost paralyzed by the uncertainty.

“People who have money have a better chance of getting back on their feet than poorer people,” Flores said. “That’s our problem.”

___

Associated Press writers Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tenn., and Emily Wagster Pettus and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson contributed to this report.

New footage of captured US soldier: SITEhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110507/ap_on_re_us/us_afghan_captured_soldier_father_s_appeal

By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press John Miller, Associated Press Sat May 7, 7:14 am ET

BOISE, Idaho – In a rare public appeal, the father of a U.S. soldier held captive in the Afghan war has sought the help of Pakistan’s military in securing the release of Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.

Idaho resident Bob Bergdahl, in a video post on YouTube, directly addresses Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of the country’s intelligence service.

“Our family is counting on your professional integrity and your honor to secure the safe return of our son,” he said. “And we thank you. Our family knows the high price that has been paid by your men in the army and the frontier corps. We give our condolences and thanks to the families of those who have fallen for Pakistan.”

Bowe Bergdahl’s parents have declined to say much publicly since he went missing from his base in southern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He is the only American soldier being held in the war.

While it’s unclear where the 25-year-old soldier is being held, a video released on the Internet earlier this week shows him standing next to a senior official in the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in Paktika province in Afghanistan.

Wearing a long beard he began growing just after his son’s capture, Bob Bergdahl speaks in English, Pashto and Arabic in the video, and he talks directly to members of the Haqqanis and their military commander, Mullah Sangeen.

“Strangely to some, we must also thank those who have cared for our son, for almost two years, Mullah Sangeen, the Haqqanis, and others who have played a role in sheltering the American prisoner,” he said. “We know our son is a prisoner and at the same time a guest in your home.”

Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano, a liaison for the U.S. Army in Idaho, confirmed that Bob Bergdahl is the man in the video.

The U.S. considers the Haqqani group to be its greatest enemy in Afghanistan. U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complained last month that Pakistan’s military-run intelligence service maintains links to the Haqqani network. The Haqqanis are Afghan Taliban who control parts of eastern Afghanistan and have bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan frontier tribal region.

The video comes after Osama Bin Laden’s death on Sunday in Pakistan. Bergdahl doesn’t allude to any relationship between that and the timing of this video.

Speaking to his son, Bob Bergdahl offered reassurances that the family has done all it can — and that they want him home safe.

“We have been quiet in public, but we have not been quiet behind the scenes,” Bob Bergdahl said. “Continue to be patient and kind to those around you. You are not forgotten.”

In the video, Bergdahl appears to reference the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or Taliban.

“We understand the rationale the Islamic Emirate has made through their videos,” Bergdahl said. “No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours. Our son’s safe return will only heighten public awareness of this. That said, our son is being exploited. It is past time for Bowe and the others to come home.”

Bergdahl does not indicate to whom he’s referring to with the phrase “the others.” There are no other U.S. soldiers in captivity in Afghanistan.

Marsano said he was uncertain about the passage.

“I’m not privy to all the information Mr. Bergdahl has, nor did he ask me to expand upon his remarks,” Marsano said.

A phone call to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., wasn’t immediately returned.

The Bergdahls, who live in a home outside of Hailey near the tourist resort of Sun Valley, have largely shunned media attention following their son’s capture. Last year, Bowe Bergdahl’s mother, Jani Bergdahl, attended an elementary school ceremony after students wrote President Barack Obama urging him to help bring about the captive’s release.

___

Online:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?vyJmmZQ3byKQ

UN to send teams to Syria as 6 die in clashes

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110506/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_syria

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Bassem Mroue, Associated Press 12 mins ago

SOFIA, Bulgaria – United Nation’s chief says Syria has agreed to allow U.N. teams to go into the country and check the humanitarian situation there.

Ban Ki-moon spoke in Bulgaria Friday, as Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters Friday, killing at least six people as thousands joined demonstrations across the country calling for an end to President Bashar Assad’s regime, witnesses and activists said.

Ban said Assad agreed to allow U.N. humanitarian teams during a phone call.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters Friday, killing at least six people as thousands joined demonstrations across the country calling for an end to President Bashar Assad’s regime, witnesses and activists said.

Syrian authorities also detained Riad Seif, a leading opposition figure and former lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of the regime during the seven-week uprising, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Five people were killed in the central city of Homs and one was killed in Hama, said a senior member of a human rights group that compiles death toll figures in Syria.

Like most activists and witnesses who spoke to The Associated Press, he asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals by the government.

“We were chanting, peaceful, peaceful, and we didn’t even throw a stone at the security forces,” said a witness in Homs. “But they waited for us to reach the main square and then they opened fire on us.”

From Hama, footage posted on YouTube showed protesters frantically trying to resuscitate a man lying on the ground with a bloodied face and shirt, while people shouted “God is great!”

The protesters turned out Friday despite a bloody crackdown on the uprising. More than 565 civilians and 100 soldiers have been killed since the revolt began in March, according to rights groups.

Rallies were held in major areas including the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs, the central city of Homs, Banias on the coast and Qamishli in the northeast.

“The people want to topple the regime!” protesters shouted, echoing the cries heard during the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

Witnesses also reported some of the tightest security seen since the protests began in mid-March. In the Damascus suburb of Douma, scene of intense protests over recent weeks, security forces cordoned off the area to prevent anyone from entering or leaving.

A witness near Douma said he saw a train carrying about 15 army tanks heading north Thursday evening toward the central province of Homs, another site of recent violence.

Another activist in Damascus said hundreds of people marched in the central neighborhood of Midan. In Banias, witnesses said more than 5,000 people carrying olive branches and Syrian flags also were calling for regime change.

They were among several demonstrations and marches planned for Friday, the main day of protests in the Arab world, for what activists were calling a “Day of Defiance.”

More than 565 civilians and 100 soldiers have been killed since an anti-regime uprising, inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, began in March, according to rights groups.

The activists said security forces set up checkpoints and closed some areas that experienced protests in recent weeks.

In the southern city of Daraa, where the army announced the end to an 11-day military operation Thursday, residents said troops were still in the streets, causing some would-be demonstrators to be wary of taking part in a planned protest Friday.

“There’s a tank stationed at each corner in Daraa. There is no way people can hold a protest today,” a resident said by telephone. “It means more killing. Daraa is taking a break. We don’t want to see more killing or face tank guns.”

The activists spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a medical team reached Daraa on Thursday with trucks carrying humanitarian goods and medical supplies. The ICRC’s head of delegation in Damascus, Marianne Gasser, said helping people in Daraa is a priority “because it is the city that has been hardest hit by the ongoing violence.”

The ICRC had appealed to Syrian authorities earlier in the week to allow it to access to Daraa after being unable to reach the city previously while it was under siege by security forces.

Assad is determined to crush the revolt that has now become the gravest challenge to his family’s 40-year dynasty. He has tried a combination of brute force, intimidation and promises of reform to quell the unrest, but his attempts have failed so far.

Security forces have repeatedly opened fire on protesters during rallies around the country in the past week and last Friday at least 65 people were killed, according to rights groups.

The mounting death toll — and the siege in Daraa — has only served to embolden protesters who are now demanding nothing less than the end of Assad’s regime. There also has been growing international condemnation of the government’s tactics.

Syria blames the unrest on a foreign conspiracy and “terrorist groups” that it says have taken advantage of protests.

The uprising in Syria was sparked by the arrest of teenagers who scrawled anti-regime graffiti on a wall in Daraa. Protests spread quickly across the nation of some 23 million people.

Assad inherited power from his father in 2000.

___

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam and Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut and Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

___

Bassem Mroue can be reached at http://twitter.com/bmroue

New York City police officers stand guard outside the Armed Forces recruitment center in New York's Times Square,  Monday, May 2, 2011. The Obama admihttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110502/ap_on_re_us/us_bin_laden_dna

By ROBERT BURNS and CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Robert Burns And Calvin Woodward, Associated Press 45 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Knowing there would be disbelievers, the U.S. says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden’s identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death.

Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures?

Already, those questions are spreading in Pakistan and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with his body given up to the sea, many people don’t want to believe that bin Laden — the Great Emir to some, the fabled escape artist of the Tora Bora mountains to foe and friend alike — is really dead.

U.S. officials are balancing that skepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing images they say they have of the dead al-Qaida leader and video of his burial at sea. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced.

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden,” John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said Monday. He said the U.S. will “share what we can because we want to make sure that not only the American people but the world understand exactly what happened.”

In July 2009, the U.S. took heat but also quieted most conspiracy theorists by releasing graphic photos of the corpses of Saddam Hussein’s two powerful sons to prove American forces had killed them.

So far, the U.S. has cited evidence that satisfied the Navy SEAL force, and at least most of the world, that they had the right man in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The helicopter-borne raiding squad that swarmed the luxury compound identified bin Laden by appearance. A woman in the compound who was identified as his wife was said to have called out bin Laden’s name in the melee.

Officials produced a quick DNA match from his remains that they said established bin Laden’s identity, even absent the other techniques, with 99.9 percent certainty. U.S. officials also said bin Laden was identified through photo comparisons and other methods.

Tellingly, an al-Qaida spokesman, in vowing vengeance against America, called him a martyr, offering no challenge to the U.S. account of his death.

Even so, it’s almost inevitable that the bin Laden mythology will not end with the bullet in his head. If it suits extremist ends to spin a fantastical tale of survival or trickery to gullible ears, expect to hear it.

In the immediate aftermath, people in Abbottabad expressed widespread disbelief that bin Laden had died — or ever lived — among them.

“I’m not ready to buy bin Laden was here,” said Haris Rasheed, 22, who works in a fast food restaurant. “How come no one knew he was here and why did they bury him so quickly? This is all fake — a drama, and a crude one.”

Kamal Khan, 25, who is unemployed, said the official story “looks fishy to me.”

The burial from an aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea was videotaped aboard the ship, according to a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision on whether to release the video was not final. The official said it was highly likely that the video, along with photographs of bin Laden’s body, would be made public in coming days.

The swiftness of the burial may have raised suspicions but was in accord with Islamic traditions. Islamic scholars, however, challenged U.S. assertions that a burial at sea was an appropriate fate for a Muslim who had died on land.

The act denied al-Qaida any sort of burial shrine for their slain leader. Once again, bin Laden had vanished, but this time at the hands of the United States and in a way that ensures he is gone forever.

If that satisfies U.S. goals and its sense of justice, Brad Sagarin, a psychologist at Northern Illinois University who studies persuasion, said the rapid disposition of the body “would certainly be a rich sort of kernel for somebody to grasp onto if they were motivated to disbelieve this.”

Also expected to come out is a tape made by bin Laden, before U.S. forces bore down on him, that may provide fodder to those who insist he is alive.

Pakistan, for one, is a land of conspiracy theorists, and far-fetched rumors abound on the streets and in blogs throughout the Arab world. But that’s not just a characteristic of the Islamic pipeline. Many ordinary Americans — and one billionaire — persistently questioned whether Obama was born in the U.S. despite lacking any evidence that he wasn’t.

Sagarin said most people will probably be convinced bin Laden is dead because they cannot imagine the government maintaining such an extraordinary lie to the contrary in this day and age.

Yet, he said, “as with the birther conspiracy, there’s going to be a set of people who are never going to be convinced. People filter the information they receive through their current attitudes, their current perspectives.”

To be sure, even photos and video, subject to digital manipulation, may not provide the final word to everyone. But Seth Jones, a RAND Corp. political scientist who advised the commander of U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the administration should do all it can to minimize doubts.

“There are always conspiracy theories,” he said. “There are individuals who believe that bin Laden wasn’t involved in the 9/11 attacks.”

__

Associated Press writers Nahal Toosi in Abbottabad, Pakistan; Malcolm Ritter in New York; and Lolita C. Baldor, Ben Feller, Matt Apuzzo and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110502/ts_nm/us_binladen_compound

By Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bull Patricia Zengerle And Alister Bull Mon May 2, 5:57 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. forces finally found al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden not in a mountain cave on Afghanistan’s border, but with his youngest wife in a million-dollar compound in a summer resort just over an hour’s drive from Pakistan’s capital, U.S. officials said.

A small U.S. team conducted a night-time helicopter raid on the compound early on Monday. After 40 minutes of fighting, bin Laden and an adult son, one unidentified woman and two men were dead, the officials said.

U.S. forces were led to the fortress-like three-story building after more than four years tracking one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers, whom U.S. officials said was identified by men captured after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“Detainees also identified this man as one of the few al Qaeda couriers trusted by bin Laden. They indicated he might be living with or protected by bin Laden,” a senior administration official said in a briefing for reporters.

Bin Laden was finally found — more than 9-1/2 years after the 2001 attacks on the United States — after authorities discovered in August 2010 that the courier lived with his brother and their families in an unusual and extremely high-security building, officials said.

They said the courier and his brother were among those killed in the raid.

“When we saw the compound where the brothers lived, we were shocked by what we saw: an extraordinarily unique compound,” a senior administration official said.

“The bottom line of our collection and our analysis was that we had high confidence that the compound harbored a high-value terrorist target. The experts who worked this issue for years assessed that there was a strong probability that the terrorist who was hiding there was Osama bin Laden,” another administration official said.

The home is in Abbottabad, a town about 35 miles north of Islamabad, that is relatively affluent and home to many retired members of Pakistan’s military.

It was a far cry from the popular notion of bin Laden hiding in some mountain cave on the rugged and inaccessible Afghan-Pakistan border — an image often evoked by officials up to and including former President George W. Bush.

The building, about eight times the size of other nearby houses, sat on a large plot of land that was relatively secluded when it was built in 2005. When it was constructed, it was on the outskirts of Abbottabad’s center, at the end of a dirt road, but some other homes have been built nearby in the six years since it went up, officials said.

WALLS TOPPED WITH BARBED WIRE

Intense security measures included 12- to 18-foot outer walls topped with barbed wire and internal walls that sectioned off different parts of the compound, officials said. Two security gates restricted access, and residents burned their trash, rather than leaving it for collection as did their neighbors, officials said.

Few windows of the three-story home faced the outside of the compound, and a terrace had a seven-foot (2.1 meter) privacy wall, officials said.

“It is also noteworthy that the property is valued at approximately $1 million but has no telephone or Internet service connected to it,” an administration official said. “The brothers had no explainable source of wealth.”

U.S. analysts realized that a third family lived there in addition to the two brothers, and the age and makeup of the third family matched those of the relatives — including his youngest wife — they believed would be living with bin Laden.

“Everything we saw, the extremely elaborate operational security, the brothers’ background and their behavior and the location of the compound itself was perfectly consistent with what our experts expected bin Laden’s hide-out to look like,” another Obama administration official said.

Abbottabad is a popular summer resort, located in a valley surrounded by green hills near Pakistani Kashmir. Islamist militants, particularly those fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir, used to have training camps near the town.

(Editing by Mary Milliken, Will Dunham and Mark Trevelyan)

Obama OKs use of armed drone aircraft in Libya

Robert Gateshttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110421/ap_on_re_us/us_us_libya

By LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press Lolita C. Baldor And Robert Burns, Associated Press 20 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has approved the use of armed drones in Libya, authorizing U.S. airstrikes on ground forces for the first time since America turned over control of the operation to NATO on April 4.

It also is the first time that drones will be used for airstrikes since the conflict began on March 19, although they have routinely been flying surveillance missions, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Thursday.

He said the U.S. will provide up to two 24-hour combat air patrols each day by the unmanned Predators.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract the pro-Gadhafi forces’ tactic of traveling in civilian vehicles that make it difficult to distinguish them from rebel forces.

“What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions,” Cartwright said. “They are uniquely suited for urban areas.”

He added, “It’s very difficult to pick friend from foe. So a vehicle like the Predator that can get down lower and can get IDs better helps us.”

Gates rejected the notion that the approval of drone strikes means that the U.S. will slowly get pulled back into a more active combat role, despite Obama’s promise to merely provide support for NATO.

U.S. forces played a lead role in the early days of the conflict, launching an onslaught of cruise missiles and bombs on Gadhafi’s surface-to-air missiles sites and advancing regime troops.

But with American forces stretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the humanitarian operations in Japan, the Pentagon turned the mission over to NATO, saying it would only do limited airstrikes to take out air defenses. The U.S., said Obama, would no longer do airstrikes to protect the civilian population.

Gates said that bringing in the Predators will give NATO a critical capability that the U.S. can uniquely contribute.

“I think this is a very limited additional role on our part, but it does provide some additional capabilities to NATO,” said Gates. “And if we can make a modest contribution with these armed Predators, we’ll do it. … I don’t think any of us sees that as mission creep.”

He said Obama has been clear that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground and that the main strike role would belong to the allies.

The first Predator mission since Obama’s go-ahead was flown Thursday but the aircraft — armed with Hellfire missiles — turned back due to poor weather conditions without firing any of its munitions, Cartwright said.

Gates, who publicly expressed skepticism about getting involved militarily in Libya before Obama endorsed the limited intervention, said “the real work” of overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi will have to be done by the Libyans themselves.

While he acknowledged the conflict “is likely to take a while,” Gates also said the ongoing sanctions, arms embargo and NATO-led offensive have weakened Gadhafi’s military and eaten away at his supplies and cash. Over the long term, Gates said, that will hurt the regime’s ability to strike back at oppositions forces, if they rise up again in other cities.

At the same time, however, Gates said the administration’s decision to provide $25 million in nonlethal military assistance to the rebels did not signal a deeper U.S. commitment to anti-Gadhafi forces whose makeup, objectives and motives are still not fully understood in Washington.

The aid, he said, is not high-end military equipment but rather a hodge-podge of things like uniforms and canteens.

“I’m not worried about our canteen technology falling into the wrong hands,” he joked.

Asked how long he believes it will take the NATO-led air campaign to succeed, Gates replied, “The honest answer to that is, nobody knows.”

In other comments, Gates did not rule out major military program cuts to meet Obama’s goal to slash another $400 billion from the country’s national security spending over the next 12 years. But he laid out some programs he believes are vital, including the new Air Force refueling tanker and the replacement of some Navy ships.

“The worst of all possible worlds, in my view, is to give the entire Department of Defense a haircut — basically (saying) everybody is going to cut X percent,” Gates said, adding that he’s had one meeting with staff on the issue.

Instead, he said the Pentagon must lay out options and the risks involved if particular cuts are made and how they would affect military missions.

He added that he does not know how much of the cut the Pentagon will be expected to take.

Gadhafi defiant despite NATO airstrikes in Tripoli

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110414/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya

In this image made from TV , Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is seen in Tripoli on Thursday April 14 2011. Libyan TV broadcast footage on Thursday showi

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Karin Laub, Associated Press 24 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi rolled defiantly through the streets of Tripoli, pumping his fists as he poked through the sun roof of an SUV on Thursday — the same day that NATO airstrikes shook the city. The alliance’s foreign ministers, while united in their aim to pressure the Libyan leader to go, argued at a meeting over whether to step up military operations that have so far failed to rout him.

Gadhafi gave no sign that he’s willing to relent, despite two months of civil war and mounting international pressure for him to move aside. Instead, his loyalists pounded rebel positions in the besieged western city of Misrata with dozens of rockets for several hours, killing at least 13 people.

The main target of the assault was Misrata’s port, the only lifeline for rebels who have been trying to defend positions in the city, Libya’s third-largest, against Gadhafi’s forces.

In the capital of Tripoli, several large explosions were heard and a column of black smoke rose from the southeastern part of the city, followed by the sound of anti-aircraft guns, a resident said.

Libyan state television showed Gadhafi — dressed in a black Western blazer, black crew neck T-shirt, sunglasses and a hat — standing through the open sun roof of a sport utility vehicle on a fist-pumping, rapid ride through Tripoli with dozens of supporters chasing behind him. Libyan TV said the trip came on the same day that NATO airstrikes hit military and civilian areas in the capital.

The TV report said there were civilian casualties from the attacks. The report could not be confirmed.

The fighting in Libya began in mid-February when large anti-government protests escalated into a civil war. Rebels hold much of eastern Libya, while Gadhafi controls the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. Three weeks of international airstrikes haven’t routed Gadhafi’s forces.

Gadhafi’s troops unleashed three hours of heavy shelling on the port city of Misrata, which is partly held by rebels. The port is Misrata’s only lifeline, and government forces fired tank shells and dozens of Grad missiles , according to witnesses who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.

“They want to flatten the area to deploy the troops on foot and invade the city,” said one of the witnesses, a doctor whose first name was Ayman. He added that a ship sent by Doctors Without Borders to evacuate 165 critically injured people to Tunisia had been scheduled to arrive Thursday morning at Misrata’s port, and he believed the government had shelled the port to interfere with the humanitarian aid.

Another doctor in Misrata, who gave his name only as Khaled for fear of retribution, said some of those killed were inside their houses asleep at the time of the shelling. Among the dead were two men aged 75 and 80.

Gadhafi forces have control of a highway on the outskirts of Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired a Cairo meeting of regional and international organizations on Libya and set three targets: reaching and implementing a cease-fire, delivering humanitarian aid and starting a dialogue on Libya’s future.

“Shelling your own people is not acceptable,” he said at a meeting at Arab League headquarters, referring to actions by Gadhafi’s forces. “This is a violation of human rights.”

At a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, the United States and its allies put up a united front on the goals of the alliance’s stalemated military mission in Libya but failed to resolve behind-the-scenes squabbling over how to achieve them.

NATO members agreed on paper with President Barack Obama that Gadhafi had to go to end the crisis, they also made clear that they would not be the ones to oust him. Although several NATO members want the alliance to commit more planes to expand the air campaign, the first day of meetings closed without any specific commitments for more aircraft.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed for unity, saying Gadhafi was taunting the alliance by continuing to strike cities held by rebels seeking his overthrow.

“As our mission continues, maintaining our resolve and unity only grows more important,” Clinton said. “Gadhafi is testing our determination.”

The United States is resisting suggestions that it resume a large combat role to break a deadlock between rebels and better-armed forces loyal to Gadhafi.

Clinton and other top diplomats pointedly said their U.N. mandate for an air campaign does not extend to Gadhafi’s exit by force.

The allies again resolved to enforce a U.N. arms embargo, protect civilians acting to push Gadhafi forces out of cities they have entered, and get in humanitarian aid.

But differences over the scope of the military operation persisted, with Britain and France insisting on more action, particularly from sophisticated U.S. surveillance and weapons systems, and U.S officials maintaining that the alliance already has the tools to get the job done.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Paris “had wanted (NATO) to intensify its strikes, and we received the assurance that that would be the case.”

Clinton did not say if the U.S. would send more ground attack craft, but she said Washington would continue to support the NATO mission until its goals were met.

Rebel spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said the opposition in Benghazi is encouraged by the diplomatic talks but worried that it won’t translate in to concrete action fast enough to prevent more civilian deaths.

“It will be interesting to see if there is any movement on the ground or just a lot of talk and no action,” he said. “Is there something else on the diplomatic ground that they know that we don’t to put more pressure on Gadhafi? The guy is still shelling and killing, and it makes no difference to him.”

He mentioned specifically the shelling of Misrata and said the international community’s actions will largely determine how long the conflict lasts.

“They wrote off Gadhafi’s regime. The question is how fast their plan is going to take care of him. We know arming ourselves will lead to the eventual toppling of the regime. But are we willing to wait two years or three years or a year and a half? How many victims do we have to accept?”

Rebel leaders have said they would only consider a truce if it Gadhafi is removed from power first.

At the Cairo meeting of top diplomats, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Gadhafi “must leave immediately” and that Libyans should be given a chance to choose a new leader.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa told reporters after the meeting that the situation in Libya is “very grave.”

Brief clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Gadhafi demonstrators outside the meeting. The two camps hurled rocks at each other, with at least one protester seen with blooded face after being hit in the head with a stone. The anti-Gadhafi protesters outnumbered the pro-Gadhafi demonstrators, chased them and forced them to flee.

NATO said it had conducted 153 sorties in the last 24 hours, striking 13 bunkers, one tank and one armored personnel carrier in the Tripoli area and three multiple rocket launchers in the Brega area.

Journalists were taken to Tripoli’s Fateh University where they were shown damage they were told was the result of an airstrike earlier in the day. The blast shattered windows of several buildings, including two student cafeterias, and glass shards were scattered across the floor. Tiles of false ceilings had been knocked out in several lecture halls.

Government minders traveling with the journalists said the strike had hit a military target nearby and white smoke was seen rising from a group of trees several hundred yards from the campus. The minders would not elaborate or allow anyone to approach the targeted area. However, one journalist who had snatched a glimpse from a rooftop said she had seen an anti-aircraft battery at the site. Photographs taken later showed a large military truck in the area.

A Tripoli resident said many people were fasting in preparation for mass anti-Gadhafi protests Friday, the 25th anniversary of the 1986 U.S. raid on Tripoli.

Life in Libya “is becoming harsh,” with prices skyrocketing, gasoline scarce and long lines in front of bakeries, said the resident, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

Al-Sadek al-Ghariani, a top Muslim cleric in Libya, said in a video posted on Facebook that it was a religious duty to join Friday’s protests. In February, he issued two fatwas calling for anti-Gadhafi protests and then went into hiding. Gadhafi forces apparently are trying to find him.

At the western edge of Ajdabiya, the main gateway town into the opposition-held east, two wounded rebel fighters were brought through, and the rebel forces retaliated by firing rockets in the direction of Brega.

In western Libya, rebels attacked a small military base about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Nalut and chased away 40 soldiers who had been trying to stop aid from Tunisia and harassing people trying to flee into that country. In apparent retaliation, Libyan government forces shelled the town of Tikut.

Rebel chief of Staff Abdel-Fatah Younes said the opposition fighters have received new anti-tank weapons from Qatar and that experts from that country are training the forces to use them.

Also Thursday, Libyan TV reported Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, mediated the release of Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera correspondent Amar al-Hamdan, who was en route to the Libya-Tunisian border.

___

Associated Press writers Maggie Michael in Cairo, Sebastian Abbot in Ajdabiya, Libya; Hadeel al-Shalchi in Tunis, Tunisia; and Geir Moulson and Matthew Lee in Berlin contributed reporting.

Obama re-election launches with email, website

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110404/ap_on_el_ge/us_obama2012

By LIZ SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer Liz Sidoti, Ap National Political Writer 14 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama formally launched his re-election campaign Monday, urging grass-roots supporters central to his first White House run to mobilize again to protect the change he’s brought over the past two years.

The official start of his second White House bid, in the midst of three wars, a budget fight with Congress, and sluggish economic recovery, comes 20 months before the November 2012 election.

“We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily. It never does,” the Democrat said in an e-mail announcing his candidacy to more than 13 million supporters. “But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we’ve made — and make more — we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.”

He told them he was filing the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, and directed them to his new campaign website where a launch video featured clips from supporters talking about their continued backing of the Democrat.

“I don’t agree with Obama on everything but I respect him and I trust him,” Ed from North Carolina says, delivering what’s certain to become a key part of the president’s pitch as he tries to re-energize liberal backers who have criticized some of his policies and independent voters who have fled from him in his first term.

 

Between now and the election, the incumbent Democrat will work to convince a fickle America that he has delivered change, made the right moves and earned the chance to continue the job. He will have to defend policies that have proven divisive, chief among them his sweeping health care overhaul and his efforts to boost the slow-to-rebound economy.

Obama announced his bid just as the White House is in a budget standoff with Congress that could lead to a government shutdown, weeks after the commander in chief directed U.S. military operations to a third major warfront, Libya, and days after the post-recession economy showed more signs of a rebound with a report that the still high unemployment rate had fallen to 8.8 percent.

Republicans were quick to criticize the news.

The Republican National Committee circulated a research document that accused Obama of failing to lead on the budget and entitlement spending. And former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican competing for the chance to take on the Democrat next fall, released his own web video in which he says: “How can America win the future, when we’re losing the present? In order for America to take a new direction, it’s going to take a new president.”

Widely expected, Obama’s campaign launch was planned to coincide with the second fundraising quarter of the year. Filing paperwork will allow the president to begin raising money in earnest for what allies say could be a record-breaking haul of more than $1 billion for his campaign. That begins this month; he’s slated to visit major money venues of Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

The campaign is based in Chicago, and many of the same people from his first bid remain involved, including former campaign manager David Plouffe, who now is in the White House, and chief political strategist David Axelrod.

Managing the campaign this time is Jim Messina, who played a senior role in the first bid and in the White House. Messina has spent the past few months touring the country to lay the groundwork with donors in hopes of building a massive fundraising network featuring both large and small contributions. He’s asked some 400 donors — called bundlers — to bring in at least $350,000 this year; the re-election website is geared toward raising money from grass-roots backers. Obama raised $750 million for his 2008 campaign.

Obama faces no primary challenger.

On the other side, the race for the GOP presidential nomination is just getting under way; more than a dozen Republicans are considering seeking the chance to challenge Obama in the next election. Only a few have taken the initial steps toward a candidacy; Pawlenty is among them. Several more are expected go forward to this month, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran in 2008 and lost the GOP nomination.

It’s a wide open race with no clear front-runner.

Nevertheless, Obama said he’s not taking anything for granted.

“We’re doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you — with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build,” he said in the note to supporters.

“So even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today,” Obama added. He directed them to the new red, white and blue website for what he said was “a campaign that’s farther-reaching, more focused, and more innovative than anything we’ve built before.”

The website features Obama’s new campaign logo — 2012 with the rising sun in the background, a version of his 2008 campaign logo — and announces that the campaign is kicking off.

“We’re opening up offices, unpacking boxes, and starting a conversation with supporters like you to help shape our path to victory, and this is where you say you’re in,” it says, urging people to organize and donate.

The video is a montage of testimonials from a demographically diverse group of backers who intend to stay involved in this campaign.

“It needs to reflect the changes that we’ve seen in the last two-and-a-half years,” says Katherine from Colorado. “Then we had an underdog senator. Nobody thought that he had a chance. And now he’s the president.”

Gladys from Nevada adds: “We’re not leaving it up to chance” and “It’s an election that we have to win.”

___

Online: www.barackobama.com

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