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Issue: "Press coverage uncovered," March 8, 2003
the more the merrier
Des Moines is bone-chilling cold and buried in snow these days. But Republican grassroots activists there couldn't be happier. Another day, another Democrat enters the race for president. The prospect of Democrats attacking each other for the next year on national TV is warming hearts and putting smiles on a lot of faces. Carol Moseley-Braun: Yes, in 1992 she was the first African-American woman to win a U.S. Senate seat. But running for reelection in 1998 she went down in flames and President Clinton sent her to New Zealand as ambassador. Now the 55-year-old self-described "peace dove and budget hawk" says she's ready to become the leader of the free world. Rep. Dennis Kucinich: At 56, this former mayor of Cleveland's greatest claim to fame is that he founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a coalition of the 55 most liberal Democrats in Washington. He bluntly says the model for his presidency would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. (Wasn't that back in the days when FDR and his top advisers didn't believe Adolf Hitler was worth worrying about?) Sen. Bob Graham? The 66-year-old Florida Democrat just had open-heart surgery, and now has a Holstein dairy cow's valve keeping the blood flowing. He quips: "I'll have a black-and-white cow close to my heart forever." Al Sharpton? Watch this guy. He may turn out to be the most interesting candidate in the race. Winning is not really his goal. He's running to unify black Democrats, become their power broker, and force the party back to its left-wing roots. Mr. Sharpton has a three-point plan to become a serious contender. First, be the anti-war candidate (56 percent of African-Americans oppose war with Iraq). Second, propose a $250 billion, five-year plan to "create jobs and rebuild bridges, highways, tunnels, and school buildings, and the ports." Third, take a page from Steve Forbes and get radical on the taxes. "I'm working on now-and will release in March-a progressive flat tax proposal where we really deal with taxes from a level of protecting working-class America, not just lower-class America." Democrat strategists are worried. "The worst-case scenario is that the party will be fragmented," says Jim Jordan, campaign manager for the emerging front-runner, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Exactly. "The more the merrier," says Nancy Streck, a leading Iowa GOP activist. She and her friends can't wait for the food fight to begin.
chaos before the storm
A summit inside Iraq of Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein-with Bush envoy Zalmay Khalilzad-began on Feb. 26 with opposition groups warning the United States that they cannot play the waiting game much longer. Food shortages, currency fluctuations, and general unrest are plaguing Iraq's northern regions, which are friendly to the United States and likely internal staging grounds for military action to oust Saddam Hussein's regime. But the Kurdish factions that control the region are upset with U.S. plans to allow Turkey to enter Iraq as part of the assault on Baghdad. "It is unacceptable to the opposition for a regional power to come in under this pretext," Kurdish reconstruction minister Nasreen Mustafa Sideek told WORLD. The United Nations is cutting off supplies to the region under the Oil for Food program and pulling its workers in anticipation of war. Bush administration sources signal that may be only days away.
blood and oil
Oil is flowing again in Venezuela, but so is blood. With Venezuelan imports making up 13 percent of the U.S. oil supply, oil experts blame the recent spike in U.S. gas prices in part on Venezuela's decline in oil production. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said last week that it would take another two or three months before Venezuelan oil production returns to normal levels after a nationwide strike ended last month. Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has begun intimidating opposition groups who planned the strike. The state-run oil company has fired more than 15,000 of its employees, and Carlos Fernandez, a strike organizer, was put under house arrest. Another strike leader, Carlos Ortega, went into hiding after authorities issued his arrest warrant. Then, last week, gunmen loyal to Mr. Chavez ambushed a group of striker-friendly police officers, killing one and wounding five others. The violence peaked with bomb explosions on Feb. 25 at the Spanish and Colombian consulates, which injured five people, including a 4-year-old girl. Leaflets strewn at the bombing sites linked the explosions to a radical group that supports Mr. Chavez. The explosions came less than two days after he had warned Spain and Colombia to stop interfering in Venezuela's affairs.

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