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Swiss reject tougher citizenship rules for foreigners, against measure to approve candidates by secret ballot
Swiss voters rejected a plan that would make it even harder for foreigners to obtain citizenship in a referendum, called by the far-right Swiss People's Party. Some 64 percent of voters rejected the measure, meant to approve candidates for citizenship by secret ballot.
Lead candidate of the Swiss People's Party (SVP), Christoph Blocher, head of Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police and Minister of Justice, has come under heavy international criticism for leading a campaign that emphasizes sharp measures against immigrants.
Switzerland's population of 7.5 million includes about 1.6 million foreigners, including many workers from southern Europe and refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
The People's Party claims foreigners are responsible for much of the crime in the country. Party posters featuring white sheep kicking out a black sheep sparked outrage blamed in part for a riot two weeks before the election -- a rare show of violence against a political party. The party became the largest in Switzerland four years ago under the leadership of charismatic billionaire Christoph Blocher.
Impact of Iraq War: US national deficit zooming to new record of half trillion for fiscal year 2009, could worsen as costs mount
WASHINGTON - The White House predicted yesterday that President Bush would leave a record $482 billion deficit to his successor, a sobering turnabout in the nation's fiscal condition from 2001, when Bush took office after three consecutive years of budget surpluses.
The worst may be yet to come. The deficit announced by Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, does not reflect the full cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the potential $50 billion cost of another economic stimulus package, or the possibility of steeper losses in tax revenues if individual income or corporate profits decline.
The new deficit numbers also do not account for any drains on the national treasury that might result from further declines in the housing market. The White House forecast was prepared before passage of the huge housing assistance package that Bush has promised to sign. That legislation would put taxpayer money at risk in numerous ways, especially if housing prices continue to decline.
Next year's record figure includes only $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could cost three times that much, and it is based on economic assumptions that could prove unrealistic. The White House is assuming economic growth next year of 2.2 percent, down sharply from the 3 percent estimate of February but still brighter than the 1.7 percent growth estimate of many private-sector economists. The White House is also assuming rosier numbers for inflation and unemployment rates. "That's not the real number," former Bush Treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill said of the $482 billion deficit forecast. "It's upward of $500 billion and counting. It's a mind-boggling number."
Nussle predicted yesterday that the deficit would more than double in the current fiscal year - to $389 billion, from $162 billion in 2007 - before shooting up to $482 billion in fiscal 2009, which begins in about two months. "We are not happy about the deficit," Nussle conceded.
The deficit projected for 2009 would be the largest in absolute terms, easily surpassing the record of $413 billion in 2004. The White House and many economists prefer to measure the deficit as a share of the economy. Measured against the size of the economy, next year's mark is still eclipsed by the deficits of Bush's first term, as well as the deficits of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. The projected 2009 deficit would be 3.3 percent of the economy. That is the largest share since 2004, but well below the percentages recorded in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1983, the deficit was 6 percent of the overall economy.
The new estimate of the 2009 deficit was $74 billion higher than Bush and Nussle had predicted in the president's budget six months ago. Bush had expected the impact of the tax rebates and war funding to begin subsiding in 2009, reducing the deficit by $3 billion. Instead, Nussle said, the slowing economy will push the deficit to a level that would easily beat the record $413 billion deficit of fiscal 2004.
The bleak outlook for the budget will crimp the ability of the next president to carry out ambitious spending plans. And it adds to fiscal pressures that were already building because of the growth of Medicare and Social Security.
Photos courtesy of Brendan Smialowksi / Bloomberg News, AFP, Stuff.co.nz
Planned Ron Paul rally blossoms into 3-day mini-convention due to unprecedented response, moves to larger venue at Target Center
(CNN)— Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is moving forward with plans for his own rally during the Republican National Convention —and is moving his location to a larger arena to accommodate the unprecedented response.
The three day event called ‘Rally for the Republic’ will officially launch Paul’s new political action group: the ‘Campaign for Liberty.’ When planning for the event began earlier this year, it was originally scheduled to take place at the University of Minnesota, but due to a “strong initial response,” it was moved to The Target in Minneapolis, which can house up to 18,000 people. The GOP holds its convention across the river in St. Paul.
"The Rally for the Republic will send a powerful, positive message to the Republican Party that there is an army of grassroots activists across the country ready to work with them if steer back to their traditions of limited government and personal liberty," said Campaign for Liberty spokesman Jesse Benton.
Paul, who has often voiced his differing policy views from presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, has made it clear in past interviews with CNN his supporters won’t be in Minneapolis to interfere or cause problems for the Republican Party. “We’re not going to disrupt them,” Paul told CNN last month. “We’re not going to demonstrate as much as present a positive case for values that we believe should be the Republican values.”
From August 31 through September 1, the former presidential dark horse will hold a series of grassroots leadership and training events culminating with a “celebration of traditional Republican values,” where Grover Norquist, Tucker Carlson, Gov. Gary Johnson, Barry Goldwater Jr. and Bruce Fein are expected to speak.
The Texas congressman, who opposes the Iraq war and is a libertarian on economic issues, drew an avid following during the Republican primaries. He won 1.2 million votes and raised nearly $35 million. His campaign said the Campaign for Liberty, formed June 16 when he ended his presidential bid, has attracted over 71,000 members.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Presidential candidate Ron Paul is planning a rally during the Republican National Convention to show what his party stands for.
The Texas congressman has tentatively reserved the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 2, the second day of the Republican convention.
"We plan on having a large rally. We want it to be a celebration of Republican values and what the Republican Party has traditionally stood for," said Paul spokesman Jesse
Benton on Tuesday. Benton also said that Paul wants to send a message to the Republicans 'that we need to return to our roots' of limited government and personal responsibility.
Paul's campaign picked up substantial steam during the GOP primaries, when the libertarian leaning Texan raised about $35 million almost entirely online and garnered more than a million votes.
Paul secured at least 35 convention delegates, but Republican Party big-wigs are denying him a speaking slot and he has decided to stage his own convention.
"Ron Paul is the candidate who upholds the original intent and spirit of the Constitution and has an extensive congressional record to back it up." - Public Forum Letter, The Salt Lake Tribune
Original Source: Press TV
Obama, After Clinching Democratic Nomination, Must Heal Rift, Unite Party, Reconcile With Hillary, to Face off Against McCain
Barack Obama, who clinched the Democratic presidential nomination after a historic insurgent campaign, faces a new challenge: uniting the party and responding to growing pressure to choose rival Hillary Clinton as his running mate.
Obama, 46, last night passed the threshold of 2,118 delegates needed for the nomination. Throughout a five-month campaign spanning 54 contests, he shattered fundraising records, and galvanized millions of new voters. Still, Clinton, 60, refused to concede and has put out the word that she is open to a vice presidential nomination. She also attracted important party constituents, such as older women and working-class voters, and won nine of the last 16 contests, giving her leverage as Obama heads into the general election against Republican John McCain.
Although there are indications that Obama isn't enthusiastic about choosing her as his running mate, the Illinois senator reached out to Clinton and her supporters in his victory speech. "Because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time," he said at a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. "Let us unite in a common effort to chart a new course for America."
Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster and AP Photo/LM Otero
Original Source: Bloomberg
As the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president wears on, Republican Jack Schmidt is thinking the same thing many conservatives are -- this is good for Republicans.
"They are beating themselves up to McCain's advantage," said Schmidt, 79, a retired broker, referring to presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. "He's got some baggage too, but no one is paying attention to that."
"The longer they drag it out, the better for our candidate. The longer they beat each other up the less they're beating up our candidate. It's totally to our advantage and it's great," said Chelsea Chapman, an oil and gas accountant and the president of the Houston young Republicans.
(AP) Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton should stop beating up on each other in the remaining Democratic contests and focus their ire on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, George McGovern said Tuesday.
In a letter published in the New York Times and at a news conference in Sioux Falls, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota and 1972 presidential nominee outlined what he called a formula to unify the party and defeat Sen. John McCain.
"We can reduce the danger of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama criticizing each other for the next month and giving McCain a free ride," said McGovern, 85. "They are constantly pointing out weaknesses in the opposing candidate, which is what politicians do when they run for office. You can't blame them for that. But meanwhile, McCain is free to go around the country talking about motherhood and the flag and all those non-controversial things and looking like a statesman who is above the hurly-burly of politics."
McGovern's proposal is for Obama, the front runner, and Clinton to appear together at least once in each of the five remaining primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. The plan also could be used in Michigan and Florida if the party reconsiders its decision not to count those states' delegates, he said.
"One of them is going to lose and this would send them out in harmony and place the party and country's interests above their own," he said.
Photos courtesy of AP and National Ledger