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BLOG ARCHIVE: NOVEMBER 16-30, 2007.

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

LANDRIEU DRAWS TOUGH CHALLENGE; SC POLLS; NRCC LOSES TOP NJ PROSPECT.
LOUISIANA: State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) -- who switched parties a few months ago at the urging of Karl Rove and the NRSC -- announced Thursday he would file paperwork to challenge US Senator Mary Landrieu (D) next year. Kennedy was a Democratic candidate for US Senate in 2004, but finished third with 15% in the open primary. He won re-election last month without opposition, although his campaign account is now $37,500 in debt. By contrast, Landrieu starts with over $3.3 million in the bank.
While Congressman Bobby Jindal (R) was handily elected Governor last month, Landrieu's brother Mitch was re-election Lieutenant Governor by an even wider margin than Jindal. Our initial race rating: Toss-Up.
SOUTH CAROLINA: A new Clemson University poll shows both Presidential primary contests remain close, with large undecideds on each side. The DEM numbers: Hillary Clinton - 19%, Barack Obama - 17%, John Edwards - 12%, Joe Biden - 2%, and Bill Richardson - 1%. The GOP numbers: Mitt Romney - 17%, Fred Thompson - 15%, Mike Huckabee - 13%, John McCain - 11%, Rudy Giuliani - 9%, Ron Paul - 6%, Duncan Hunter - 1%.
NEW JERSEY: The NRCC got some bad news Thursday as their only major prospect for the open CD-3 seat announced she would not run. State Senator Diane Allen (R) said she will not run for the battleground seat, despite be heavily courted to replace retiring Congressman Jim Saxton (R). Allen blamed her decision on local GOP infighting: "Now is not the time in my life that I feel prepared to again fight a Democrat opponent, as well as a rogue faction of the Burlington County Republican Party simultaneously." With Allen out, the likeliest GOP candidates now are some second-tier hopefuls. State Senator John Adler is the Dem candidate. New race rating: Leans Dem.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.30.07 | Permalink
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THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

GOP CNN-YOUTUBE DEBATE.
Why the short entry today? Because I spent most of Thursday evening (after nearly 11 hours at work during the day, mostly spent writing) watching the GOP CNN/YouTube debate. It was actually a good, feisty debate. The winner tonight was probably Mike Huckabee, who registered a very strong performance. His answers exuded confidence, warmth and smart politics. Further, the shots aimed at Huckabee by rivals didn't seem to inflict any real injuries. John McCain owned the moral high ground on the torture issue, and generally seemed strong throughout. Rudy Giuliani also performed fairly well, but was on the receiving end of quite a few shots. Mitt Romney seemed to start strong in the opening moments, but was rattled early and sounded progressively worse as the event wore on. So much so that Romney's voice even seemed to falter, with halting and waffling responses on some uncomfortable questions. Fred Thompson was, well, again just present -- but was a total non-factor. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter were largely ignored sideshows. Ron Paul stuck to his guns on Iraq and other issues -- however unpopular at times in the room -- including his gadfly belief in some sort of Council on Foreign Relations/Trilateral Commission conspiracy to create create a so-called North American Union merging the US, Canada and Mexico. If anything, Wednesday evening's debate seemed to confirm the perception that the contest is now largely between Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee (and with McCain still making a resurgent bid for the first tier).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.29.07 | Permalink
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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

KYL TO BE NEXT WHIP; IOWA TIGHTENS; CONTRADICTORY FL POLLS; "NOT MY MAN MITCH"; DENNIS + RON.
US SENATE: Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is now a lock to replace resigning Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) as Senate Minority Whip. Kyl currently holds the third-highest ranking leadership post: Senate GOP Conference Chair. It appears Kyl will win the Whip post without opposition. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) -- who last year lost to Lott for the Whip post by just one vote -- surprisingly announced he would not oppose Kyl for Whip and will instead run for Conference Chair. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are also reportedly interested in running for Conference Chair. KBH seems an odd candidate for the leadership post, as she previously indicated she's thinking of resigning her seat around 2009-2010 -- before the end of her current term -- to run for Texas Governor in 2010.
IOWA: The latest Strategic Vision poll of likely Iowa caucus participants confirms both contests have significantly tightened. The GOP numbers: Mitt Romney - 26%, Mike Huckabee - 24%, Rudy Giuliani - 14%, Fred Thompson - 10%, John McCain - 7%, Ron Paul - 5%, Tom Tancredo - 3%, Duncan Hunter - 1%. The DEM numbers: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tied with 29% each, John Edwards - 23%, Bill Richardson - 6%, Joe Biden - 4%, and Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich tied with 1% apiece.
FLORIDA: We also have two new Florida polls, but they give very different snapshots of the GOP Presidential primary contest. The CNN/Opinion Research poll gives Rudy Giuliani a big lead. The numbers: Giuliani - 38%, Romney - 17%, McCain and Thompson tied with 11% each, Huckabee - 9%, Paul - 5%, Hunter - 1%. However, the new Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion poll shows Huckabee moving up on Giuliani in the Sunshine State. The numbers: Giuliani - 26%, Huckabee - 17%, McCain - 13%, Romney - 12%, Thompson - 9%.
INDIANA: A new Indianapolis Star/WTHR poll shows Governor Mitch Daniels (R) is in serious trouble next year against either of his Democratic opponents. Daniels trails former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson (D) by a vote of 44% to 43%. Daniels trails wealthy architectural firm owner Jim Schellinger (D) by a vote of 44% to 40%. Also, by a 57-35 margin, voters say the state is headed in the "wrong direction."
KUCINICH-PAUL: Here's an unusual item from Dennis Kucinich (D) -- a story especially odd as Kucinich is currently tied for last place in recent Democratic Presidential primary polls. The liberal Kucinich told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer he is thinking of libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R) as his VP runningmate "to balance the energies in this country ... Think of how you could unite the country, having a Democrat and a Republican on the ticket." Kucinich noted they both staunchly oppose the Iraq War. Paul's spokesman politely shot down the idea, noting the men disagree on key issues like abortion, taxes, health care and the overall role of government. "Dr. Paul and Rep. Kucinich are friends and there is a lot of mutual respect. They have worked, and will continue to work, together on ending the war and protecting civil liberties," explained Paul Communications Director Jesse Benton.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.28.07 | Permalink
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TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

LOTT ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION; HASTERT OUT; EDWARDS SUPPORTS GAYS SERVING OPENLY IN MILITARY; AILING CARSON RETIRES.
MISSISSIPPI: US Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) announced Monday he will resign his seat before the end of this year. After 35 years in Washington, Lott said: "I've missed a lot of those opportunities to spend extra time with family. We'd like to have a little more time to do that, too. So I am announcing today that I will be retiring from the Senate by the end of the year. It's not effective today. I want to collaborate and consult with our Governor, state officials, and with federal officials, and I want to continue to serve in my position as Whip in the Senate right to the end of the session and try to be helpful there as much as I can." Coincidentally, Lott's timing will allow him to almost immediately become a DC lobbyist upon resigning -- as it avoids the new lobbying rules taking effect January 1 that will bar future former Senators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office. Others, however, suggest another wild possibility that porn publisher Larry Flynt and others may have played a role in the stunning announcement.
(Note: the escort in question flatly denies the rumors as false.) Governor Haley Barbour, meanwhile, announced he will quickly appoint an interim Senator and schedule a special election in November 2008. Barbour also said he would not appoint himself to the seat nor be a candidate for it. Dems say Barbour is not following state law, which requires the special election to be called within 90 days of the resignation date if Lott resigns in a non-election year. However, if Lott can be persuaded to stay past January 1, state law would allow the vote to be delayed until November. Congressman Roger Wicker is viewed as the leading likely GOP candidate. Retiring Congressman Chip Pickering (R) previously expressed interest in seeking a Senate seat, but is now viewed as unlikely to run. Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and former Attorney General Mike Moore are seen as the two leading Democratic hopefuls. Musgrove quickly confirmed to the media he was "seriously considering running." The Washington Post reported Moore "is indeed interested" at the race. In related news, Lott is apparently supporting Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as his replacement as Whip.
ILLINOIS: Former US House Speaker Denny Hastert (R) finally submitted his previously announced written resignation letter, effective at 11:59 pm on Monday. The move will now allow Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) to schedule the special election primary to coincide with the state's February 5th Presidential primary. Hastert delayed his resignation so as to avoid the special general election taking place on February 5 -- when they fear Dems showing up to vote for favorite son Barack Obama would give the Dems a pickup opportunity. With Hastert's timing, the special general election will likely be in March.
EDWARDS: John Edwards (D) on Monday called for allowing gays and lesbian to serve openly in the military. In a statement submitted to the Human Rights Campaign, Edwards said "It is long past time to end the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and to allow openly gay men and women to serve in the military ... This is an issue of fundamental fairness -- and our military ought to treat everyone fairly. ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ did not become wrong. It was always wrong."

INDIANA: Congresswoman Julia Carson (D) released a written statement on Sunday saying she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer . On Monday, her office confirmed she will not seek re-election. She is already receiving hospice home care and many with knowledge of her condition are unsure she will survive to the end of her current term. Expect a crowded field of candidates from both parties for this competitive -- but Dem-leaning -- seat.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.27.07 | Permalink
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MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

SAVE TUCKER, PART 2.
I'm back in Florida, but am pretty tired after ten hours of flying (plus the six hour time difference). Thus I have only this one story today, which is a follow-up to a story one we originally reported on November 14.
Two Florida men have launched an online, grassroots campaign to persuade MSNBC executives to not cancel conservative pundit Tucker Carlson's show. Carlson's political news and commentary show airs weeknights at 6 pm EST. Amusingly, the name they selected for their website is SaveTucker.org (presumably a "Save Ferris" derivative). The two men behind the project are insurance salesman John Bertran of Melbourne, Florida, and Broward County Sheriff's Office civilian employee Alain Jean of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bertran says the two men met online through their political interests and decided to form the Friends of Tucker group and the SaveTucker.org site. Bertran is a Cuban-American Republican and a conservative. Jean is a Democratic activist in the Haitian-American community, a 2006 state legislative candidate, and a former intern to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D). According to the New York Times, MSNBC is considering shifting their programming leftward in a effort to capture younger viewers. Reportedly, that move would include canceling Carlson's show. "It would be tragic if one of the most important conservative voices that MSNBC provides to balance the liberal views of Keith Olberman, former Tip O'Neill aide Chris Mathews, and Dan Abrams," said Bertran. "Tucker Carlson brings humor, civility and lively debate to talk television. Even if you don't agree with him, he is respectful and entertaining," said Jean. The two men are urging viewers to visit their site, join the Friends of Tucket cause, and send emails to MSNBC executives to "ask that they reconsider and Save Tucker."
[Editor's Note: In the interests of full disclosure, I've been friends with Alain for several years. Not quite sure why he's doing this ... but it is a good story.]
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.26.07 | Permalink
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THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.
P2008 - The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state legislature's selection of January 15, 2008, as the presidential primary was lawful. Lower state courts had canceled the January primary date. State Dem and GOP leaders were unified in support for the date change, even though it violated the DNC's and RNC's authorized primary schedule. Thus, the January 15 primary is back on the calendar. In response, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced on Wednesday afternoon that the Granite State's primary will now be set for January 8 (i.e., five days after the Iowa caucuses on January 3). Also keep in mind that US Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) threatened that the Michigan Dems may decide to not hold a primary and instead hold a caucus on the same date as the NH primary. Stay tuned.
IOWA - A new Washington Post/ABC News poll of likely GOP Presidential caucus participants shows the Mitt Romney versus Mike Huckabee fight rapidly narrowing. The numbers: Romney - 28%, Huckabee - 24%, Fred Thompson - 15%, Rudy Giuliani - 13%, and John McCain and Ron Paul were tied with 6% apiece. Huckabee's rise comes as he apparently is solidifying his support among Iowa evangelicals.
BUSH ADMINISTRATION - The US Senate convened on Wednesday for a 22-second session. Simply by convening the split-second official session, the Senate Dems used procedural rules which prohibit President Bush from making any of the so-called recess appointments which became so controversial in past years. US Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) ran the quick session in the empty Senate chamber, as he lives nearby. "I'd much rather be doing this than allow the President to skirt the confirmation process in the Senate. This is an exercise in protecting the Constitution and our constitutional process," explained Webb.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.22.07 | Permalink
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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HILLARY LEAD SAGS IN NH; UDALL STRONG IN NM; NEB SENATE NEWS; FRANCE STRIKE UPDATE.
Editor's Note: Why the early postings this week? Because I'm in France and there's a six hour time difference ... so midnight here in Paris is only 6 PM on the US East Coast.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - A new CNN/WMUR-TV poll of likely Democratic Presidential primary voters shows Hillary Clinton losing ground in the state, but still retaining her lead. The numbers: Clinton - 36%, Barack Obama - 22%, John Edwards - 13%, Bill Richardson - 12%, Dennis Kucinich - 3%, Joe Biden - 2%, Chris Dodd - 1%, and Mike Gravel - 0%. The numbers reflect a seven point drop for Clinton, coupled with a six-point gain for Richardson since the September poll.
NEW MEXICO - A new KOB-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Congressman Tom Udall (D) well positioned to win the state's open US Senate seat next year. In the Dem primary, Udall leads Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez by a vote of 62% to 32%. In the GOP primary, Congresswoman Heather Wilson leads Congressman Steve Pearce by a vote of 56% to 37%. In general election match-ups, Udall is also very strong. Udall leads Wilson by a 56-41 vote. Udall is ahead of Pearce by a similarly comfortable margin: 54% to 40%.
NEBRASKA - The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is "poised" to quit the open US Senate race next week. The move, if true, would allow former Governor Mike Johanns to win the GOP nomination with only nominal opposition. Bruning's campaign manager discounted the story as "gossip and speculation," but he did not make a direct denial of the report. Bruning has already raised over $1 million. Until recent days, Bruning had repeatedly blasted Johanns for supporting the Bush-McCain immigration reform plan earlier this year. Starting a few days ago, Bruning now calls Johnanns "a friend" and offers only praise of him.
FRANCE - The International Herald Tribune reported the following on Tuesday evening: "Another strike loomed on the horizon. Pilots in Air France's SPAF union have called a strike to protest working conditions. That strike was scheduled for Saturday through Tuesday, and two other pilots' unions were planning to join it." Well, I'm scheduled to fly home on Sunday on Air France (a Delta co-branded flight) so we'll see if I make it home as scheduled. The other national strikes expanded Tuesday, with an estimated 300,000 - 700,000 transport, electrical, government and educational workers now out on strike against the Sarkozy government.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.21.07 | Permalink
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TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FERGUSON RETIRES; ROMNEY GAINS IN NH; GOV BLUNT TRAILS; RACIAL ELECTORAL SHIFT IN NEW ORLEANS.
Editor's Note: Why the early postings this week? Because I'm in France and there's a six hour time difference ... so midnight here in Paris is only 6 PM on the US East Coast.
NEW JERSEY - In a very surprising move, conservative Congressman Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) announced Monday he would not seek re-election to a fifth term next year. At age 37, Ferguson is one of the youngest US House members. Ferguson won a tough re-election battle last year over State Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D) by a 1% plurality margin. Stender was already an announced candidate for the CD-7 seat in 2008 and raised over $240,000 in 3Q-07. Ferguson, the father of four young children, said the long hours in DC helped him make his decision. "Since first being elected in 2000, I have strived to balance my responsibilities to my family and to my constituents ... Being a representative in Congress is more meaningful than I had imagined, and I know that now is the right time to step away from public life to focus more on family life while our children are still young," explained Ferguson. While Stender has a lock on the Dem nomination, the GOP primary race is wide open. Former Congressman Bob Franks and State Senator Tom Kean Jr. are both being mentioned as possible Republican candidates, as are others. Kean -- the GOP nominee for US Senate in 2006 -- lost the 2000 primary to Ferguson for the CD-7 seat. Franks formerly held Ferguson's seat, but gave it up to make a failed primary run for Governor in 2001. Ferguson is the 17th Congressional Republican to announce his retirement for 2008.
NEW HAMPSHIRE - A new CNN/WMUR-TV poll of likely GOP Presidential primary voters shows Mitt Romney widening his lead in the state by eight more points since the last CNN/WMUR-TV poll here two months ago. The numbers: Romney - 33%, John McCain - 18%, Rudy Giuliani - 16%, Ron Paul - 8%, Mike Huckabee - 5%, Fred Thompson - 4%, Tom Tancredo - 1%, Duncan Hunter - 0%. The numbers also show an 8-point slide for Giuliani, a 9-point drop by Thompson, a 4-point gain by Paul, and a 2-point gain by Huckabee. McCain's number are unchanged since the September poll.
MISSOURI - A new Research 2000/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV-TV poll shows Attorney General Jay Nixon (D)moving into a solid lead over Governor Matt Blunt (R) in next year's gubernatorial contest. The numbers: Nixon - 51%, Blunt - 42%. According to the newspaper, Blunt's slump was largely due to the fact that "a majority of likely Missouri voters" disagreed with Blunt's state health care plan for the poor.
NEW ORLEANS - In a sign of the electoral effect Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans, the newly elected City Council will be majority white for the first time since the early 1980s. The results of a Saturday run-off shifted the Council to a 4-3 white majority.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.20.07 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE; USE OUR FACEBOOK GROUP TO PROMOTE YOUR CANDIDATES.
Here's an idea how you can use our Politics1 group on Facebook to promote candidates you're backing. If you belong to our P1 group, post photos of yourself with the candidates you back on our P1 group page. And, if you haven't yet joined the group, click here to join our group. C'mon ... give in to the peer pressure ... cuz all the cool kids are doing it.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.20.07 | Permalink
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MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

NH A.G. INVESTIGATES ANTI-ROMNEY CALLS; RUDY LIKES THOMAS, SCALIA; DOBBS NOT RUNNING; GOP STRONG FOR NE SEN; COCHRAN RUNS.
ROMNEY - The New Hampshire Attorney General's office has opened a formal investigation into the anti-Mormon calls targeted at Mitt Romney's (R) religious faith. The call scripts invoked numerous references to Mormon religious beliefs. Romney said the message was "un-American." The calls were aimed at voters in both New Hampshire and Iowa. In an interesting twist, the Utah company that was apparently hired to make the calls -- Western Wats -- includes Romney contributors on its payroll. The company's CEO is also reportedly a friend of Romney. A Romney spokesman said it was "preposterous" that Romney's campaign was involved in the calls in an effort to gain backlash sympathy for the candidate. Rival campaigns suggest it would have been insane for any campaign to hire a Utah-based company to make anti-Mormon calls. Meanwhile, the company refuses to name their client, but specifically stated the rumor that the Giuliani campaign paid for the calls was false. John McCain denied any involvement and said he welcomed the AG's investigation. US Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), speaking for the Romney campaign, also praised the AG's office for opening an investigation. The other GOP campaigns also are denying any involvement. New Hampshire law requires the all political advertising -- including phone calls -- to identify who paid for it. The NH calls did not contain any disclaimer as to the funding source. Political professionals believe the calls will ultimately trace back to a "527 group" or individual without direct links to a candidate -- but that doesn't mean a campaign was not involved in planning the calls. Additionally, it would seem unlikely this matter is cleared up before the Iowa and New Hampshire contests in a few weeks.
GIULIANI - Speaking before the conservative Federalist Society on Friday, Rudy Giuliani (R) promised that he would only appoint "strict constructionist" judges like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Miguel Estrada to the federal bench.
DOBBS - TV show host Lou Dobbs of CNN quickly shot down rumors he was looking at making an independent run for President next year. "I have no interest in running, and I've said that throughout," he told the New York Times.
NEBRASKA - The GOP looks well positioned to hold retiring US Senator Chuck Hagel's (R) seat next year, according to new polling data. The Research 2000/Daily Kos poll shows former Governor Mike Johanns (R) leading rancher and '06 Congressional nominee Scott Kleeb (D) by a 59% to 28% vote. Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) leads Kleeb by a vote of 55% to 29%.
MISSISSIPPI - US Senator Thad Cochran (R) announced last week he would seek re-election next year. Cochran appeared in recent weeks to be waffling on a decision, as he postponed his announcement more than once. "There is no reason to delay any longer. I have enjoyed serving in the Senate, and I am highly honored to have had the support and encouragement to continue this service from friends throughout the state," said Cochran. With Cochran running again, the seat is safely Republican.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.19.07 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

DOBBS '08?; HASTERT TO RESIGN; HUCKABEE RISING; NO TELECOM IMMUNITY IN SENATE'S FISA RENEWAL.
Here's a very quick take on the political news ... TV show host Lou Dobbs of CNN acknowledged he is "conteplating" making an independent run for President next year ... former House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL), who previously announced he will not seek re-election, will resign his seat before the end of the year. This will trigger a special election, but the timing ensures it will take place after the state's February 5 Presidential primary date ... Two new polls out of Iowa show Mike Huckabee rapidly gaining on Mitt Romney. The ARG poll shows Romney leading 26% to 24%. The Research 2000 poll shows Romney ahead 27% to 18%. Regardless of which is a better indicator of true voter sentiments, both confirm Huckabee is quickly gaining traction ... The Dems debated in Nevada on Thursday evening. Unlike the last debate, Hillary Clinton registered a much more solid performance than her waffling performance must skewered by rival campaigns ... By a 10-9 vote, the US Senate Judiciary Committee approved a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act overhaul that does not grant immunity to the telecommunications corporations for assisting federal officials with unwarranted wiretaps of domestic phone calls ... Finally, reporting live from sunny and chilly Paris, the national transit, electrical and gas workers continue to strike to protest the Sarkozy government labor reform plans. What was normally a 40 minute taxi ride into central Paris from the airport (CDG) took over two hours due to traffic snarls. The only subway line functioning normally is the fully-automated Line 14 (i.e., no workers drive the train, so it isn't impacted). Areas also are experiencing very brief rolling blackouts -- call it a passive-aggressive side of the strike -- but the duration we saw last night was just one brief outage lasting just two minutes.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 11.16.07 | Permalink |

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