Tuesday, April 1, 2008

News on the lurch

WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ended her earnest, spirited but increasingly quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton, stinging from recent news accounts that contradict her claim to having been one of the architects of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords ending the Vietnam War, thus concedes the nomination to Sen. Barack Obama, who met Clinton and her top advisers on the Capitol steps this morning, the former rivals and associates joining hands and singing “Kum Ba Yah.”

Clinton’s campaign, beleaguered by strategic missteps and an insurmountable deficit in delegates, had again suffered financial troubles after Clinton, in defiance of Obama’s grassroots small-giver fundraising, announced a new campaign donation strategy intended to secure $25 million from 10 American citizens.

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HAVANA — Cuban president Raúl Castro continued his island nation’s fitful drive toward liberalism and personal freedom on Tuesday, announcing that Cuba would immediately allow importation of iPods and other computer products by Apple Inc., ending a prohibition on the portable music players.

Castro's latest overture to the trappings of democracy follow on his government's decision last week to lift a ban on mobile phones, modern appliances, DVD players and discs, and a Monday repeal of laws barring Cubans from staying in their own hotels.

In a move of unprecedented bipartisan swiftness hours after Castro’s announcement, the United States Congress voted to end the 46-year-old trade embargo against Cuba. The blockade of goods and tourism was a holdover of the Kennedy administration, enacted in the wake of the disastrous 1962 Bay of Pigs invasion.

“It’s all over,” said one Congressional insider. “We’ve got ‘em by the short and curlies. Steve Jobs did what threats and diplomacy couldn’t accomplish. It’s just a matter of time. With iTunes in play? Hell, they’re as good as the 51st state right now.”

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NEW YORK — Google, the online search and advertising giant, stunned Wall Street on Tuesday with a hostile $4.1 billion bid for The New York Times Company, a surprising move that effectively charts a new future for the nation’s preeminent newspaper and its myriad divisions.

Google’s immediate plans for the 157-year-old newspaper and its ancillary companies are not clear, but an e-mail from a top Google executive, published at The Smoking Gun Web site, hinted at such changes as a multicolored New York Times nameplate (mirroring the Google logo) and advertising anchored permanently on two columns of the paper’s front page.

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, who reportedly suffered a mild stroke upon hearing the news, is resting comfortably at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Elsewhere in New York, the city’s residents seem to have so far taken these events with the sang-froid common to New Yorkers. “What’s the big deal?” said a hot-dog vendor doing a brisk trade in Times Square. "I mean come on, something unbelievable happens every day. Last month was like the month before. And this month? It’s just another April, fool.”
Image credits: Clinton: Public domain. Castro: Valter Campanato, Agencia Brazil, republished under Creative Commons License Attribution 2.5 Brazil. New York Times building: Haxorjoe, republished under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

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