The longest and most expensive presidential race in US history has entered its final full day. Senator John McCain is campaigning in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona in an attempt to pull off an upset victory. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Senator Barack Obama has an 11 percent lead among likely voters. If elected, Obama will become the nation’s first African American president. The Illinois senator is heading today to Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, three states won by President Bush in 2004. Over the weekend Obama told supporters that now is not the time to let up.
Sen. Barack Obama: “My faith in the American people has been vindicated. That’s how we’ve come so far. That’s how we’ve come so close. Because of you, because of your hard work, because of your efforts, because of your commitment, because of your support. That’s how we’ll change this country. With your help. And that’s why we can’t afford to slow down, sit back or let up one minute, one second, in these last few days, not now, not when there’s so much at stake.”
Senator John McCain predicted he would come back to win the election.
Sen. John McCain: “My opponent is working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid of their plans to raise your taxes, increase spending and to concede defeat in Iraq. He’s measuring the drapes! And as you might have seen the info — some of the infomercial, he gave his first address to the nation before the election. We’re a few points down, but tonight and today and tomorrow and the next day, we’ll show we’re coming back and we’re going to win this race.”
On Sunday, Senator Obama focused on the battleground state of Ohio, where he spoke in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. In Cleveland, over 80,000 people turned out for the largest political event in Northeast Ohio since John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign. At the Cleveland rally, the musician Bruce Springsteen appeared with Senator Obama.
Bruce Springsteen: “I want my dream back. I want my America back. Now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden and roll up our sleeves and come on up for the rising.”
Over 30 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting. In Columbus, Ohio, voters reported waiting in line for over six hours to vote.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey was among those who took part in early voting in Chicago. On her show on Friday, Winfrey revealed she had problems inside the polling booth.
Oprah Winfrey: “When I voted yesterday electronically, the first vote that you vote for on the ballot is the presidential candidate. And so, I hadn’t — you know, it was my first time doing electronic, so I didn’t obviously mark the X strong enough, or I held down too long, because then when I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote. And I was like, ohhOhhOh. And so the woman is walking around. And she says, why are you going back, why are you going back? I go, because it…didn’t…record…my presidential vote! So I went back and double-checked. So that’s why they have the, you know — check. Make sure you double check.”
While President Bush is staying far from the campaign trail, Vice President Dick Cheney officially endorsed John McCain on Saturday during a speech in Laramie, Wyoming.
Dick Cheney: “John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He’s a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched. He’s a man who is comfortable with responsibility, and has been since he joined the Armed Forces at the age of seventeen. He’s earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him commander-in-chief. I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain.”
Barack Obama later congratulated John McCain on the endorsement.
Sen. Barack Obama: “Earlier today, Dick Cheney came out of his undisclosed location, and he hit the campaign trail. And he said that he is — and I quote — delighted to support John McCain. So I’d like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement, because he really earned it. That endorsement didn’t come easy. Senator McCain had to vote with George Bush 90 percent of the time and agree with Dick Cheney to get it.”
The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on a measure that could expand wireless broadband internet access to more of the country. The FCC will decide whether to allow the unlicensed use of so-called “white spaces” television spectrum for wireless internet services. The media advocacy group Free Press says white spaces could be used to provide fast internet connection to tens of millions of Americans now on the wrong side of the digital divide. One of the most vocal opponents to the move is the National Association of Broadcasters.
Israel has decided to cut off funding for unsanctioned settlement outposts in the West Bank after a series of clashes between Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces. The decision applies to more than 100 so-called “wildcat” colonies that have been built on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Tension between the settlers and the Israeli government has deteriorated in recent weeks. One rabbi at at a settlement in the West Bank compared the Israeli security forces to “the Nazis in Poland” during World War II. Meanwhile, the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet told the cabinet he is “extremely worried” that right-wing extremists may attempt to carry out assassinations ahead of general elections in February. One Israeli cabinet minister said, “The settlers don’t think like us. Their thought is messianic, mystic, satanic and irrational.” November 10th marks the thirteenth anniversary of the death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated at a Tel Aviv peace rally by a Jewish extremist.
In news from Africa, a UN convoy carrying aid workers and medical supplies has crossed into a rebel-held zone of eastern Congo on Monday on a mission to help tens of thousands of civilians displaced by fighting. The UN refugee agency has said it feared that at least 50,000 displaced civilians may have abandoned unprotected camps around Rutshuru. A ceasefire in the area was recently declared, but aid agencies have called the humanitarian situation “catastrophic” and say that tens of thousands of civilians are in urgent need of shelter, food, water and medical care.
Bolivian President Evo Morales accused US anti-drug agents of spying on Saturday and barred them from the Andean country until further notice. Morales charged that US Drug Enforcement Administration agents had conducted espionage and financed criminal groups. Morales also accused the DEA of maintaining ties with anti-government groups that staged violent protests in eastern and central regions governed by the opposition in September.
Evo Morales: “From this day forward, the activity of the North American DEA is suspended indefinitely. We are proud, as Bolivians, of defending the sovereignty and dignity of the Bolivian people. And it’s not because of this (suspending of DEA activity) that we are voluntarily reducing (the coca crops). Nor are we going to leave the fight against drug trafficking. We are going to continue. Imagine, two months from the conclusion of this year, we already have reduced 5,000 hectares.”
The New York Times has revealed the Department of Homeland Security used racial profiling as part of an anti-terrorism program four year ago. More than 2,000 Muslim immigrants were investigated or interrogated in the lead-up to the 2004 election. Newly disclosed government data shows that most were found to have done nothing wrong.
In labor news, 27,000 workers at Boeing voted Saturday to end a fifty-three-day strike after securing a new four-year contract and a 15 percent pay raise over the life of the contract. The strike forced Boeing to close plants in Washington state, Oregon and Kansas. It is estimated that Boeing lost $100 million a day during the strike. Under the new contract, workers will receive pension improvements and lump sum payments. Their share of medical costs will remain unchanged.
And the legendary radio broadcaster, writer, oral historian, raconteur and chronicler of our times, Studs Terkel, died Friday at the age of ninety-six in his home town of Chicago. Over the years, he has worked as an activist, a civil servant, a labor organizer, a radio DJ, an ad writer and a television actor. In 2005, he appeared on Democracy Now! just weeks after undergoing open-heart surgery. Doctors said Studs Terkel, at ninety-three, was the oldest patient known to have undergone such a procedure. He talked about how he survived it.
Studs Terkel: “My curiosity is what saw me through. What would the world be like, or will there be a world? And so, that’s my epitaph. I have it all set. Curiosity did not kill this cat. And it’s curiosity, I think, that has saved me thus far.”