NEW YORK TIMES: GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who bowed out of the presidential race in January, is expected to endorse Senator Barack Obama at a rally being held here tonight. Officials announced the news shortly after Mr. Obama landed here late this afternoon. The campaign has timed the announcement to coincide with the start of the major evening newscasts, which would have otherwise focused on Senator Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory in West Virginia, which raised new questions about Mr. Obama’s strength with white working class voters. Mr. Obama’s campaign is hoping it will be a big step toward the party’s coalescing around Mr. Obama as the Democratic nominee.

obamaedwards.jpgNBC: Here’s the math…
– The total number for DNC is 4,051 (as number needed is 2,026).
– There are 797 superdelegates.
– So 3,254 total possible pledged delegates
– Therefore, 1,627 is the number needed for majority.
– Obama has 1,599 pledged delegates.
– So that would mean he needs 28 pledged delegates for a majority.
– Edwards’ 18 — even if they all voted for Obama — would leave the Illinois senator 10 short.
– That’s a number Obama would certainly pick up May 20th. Between the contests in Kentucky and Oregon there are a total of 103 delegates are at stake.

CINDY MCCAIN SELLS OFF $2 MILLION WORTH OF DARFUR BLOOD STOCKS: Cindy McCain, whoserefugees_darfur.jpg husband has been a critic of the violence in Sudan, sold off more than $2 million in mutual funds whose holdings include companies that do business in the African nation. The sale on Wednesday came after The Associated Press questioned the investments in light of calls by John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, for international financial sanctions against the Sudanese leadership. According to McCain’s personal financial disclosure, Cindy McCain’s investments include two mutual funds _ American Funds Europacific Growth fund and American Funds Capital World Growth and Income fund _ that are listed by the Sudan Divestment Task Force as targets for divestment. “Those have been sold as of today,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. Both funds have holdings in Oil & Natural Gas Corp., an India-based company that does business in Sudan. The American Funds Capital World Growth & Income Fund also has holdings in Petrochina, a Chinese government-owned oil company with vast investments in Sudan.

cruela-crop.jpgLast year, in a speech on energy policy to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, McCain cited China’s investments in Sudan as an example of regimes that survive off free-flowing petro dollars. “The politics of oil impede the global progress of our values, and restrains governments from acting on the most basic impulses of human decency,” he said. “There is only one reason China has opposed sanctions to pressure Sudan to stop the killing in Darfur: China needs Sudan’s oil.” After touring a waste-reprocessing plant near Columbus, Ohio, McCain described the American Funds as “one of the country’s largest mutual funds.” “Obviously, we didn’t know about it and I didn’t know anything about it until I saw the story, because I don’t have anything to do with her finances,” he said. “But they divested as soon as it was brought to us.” MORE

WIKIPEDIA: The War in Darfur (called the Darfur Genocide by the United States Government[1]) is a militarydarfur_120904b.jpg conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Unlike the Second Sudanese Civil War, the current lines of conflict are seen to be ethnic and tribal, rather than religious.[2] One side of the armed conflict is composed mainly of the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited mostly from the Arab Baggara tribes of the northern Rizeigat, camel-herding nomads. The other side comprises a variety of rebel groups, notably the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, recruited primarily from the land-tilling non-Arab Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided money and assistance to the militia and has participated in joint attacks targeting the tribes from which the rebels draw support.[3] The conflict began in February of 2003.

The combination of decades of drought, desertification, and overpopulation are among the causes of the Darfur conflict, because the Baggara nomads searching for water have to take their livestock further south, to land mainly occupied by non-Arab farming communities.[4] There are many casualty estimates, most concurring on a range within the hundreds of thousands of people. Most non-governmental organizations use 200,000 to more than 400,000; the darfurchild_1.jpglatter is a figure from the Coalition for International Justice.[5] Sudan’s government claims that over 9,000 people have been killed, although this figure is seen as a gross underestimate.[6][7] As many as 2.5 million are thought to have been displaced as of October 2006. [8] (see Counting deaths section, below).

The Sudanese government has suppressed information by jailing and killing witnesses since 2004 and tampered with evidence such as mass graves to eliminate their forensic values[9][10][11] In addition, by obstructing and arresting journalists, the Sudanese government has been able to obscure much of what has gone on.[12][13][14][15] The United States government has described it as genocide,[16] although the UN has stated it is not genocide [17](see List of declarations of genocide in Darfur). In March 2007 the UN mission accused Sudan’s government of orchestrating and taking part in “gross violations” in Darfur and called for urgent international action to protect civilians there. MORE

WALLS STREET JOURNAL: Sen. John McCain said today that his campaign will do a better job scrutinizing theMcCain_torture.jpg people who work for it, given the resignation of two officials who had ties to a firm representing Myanmar’s military junta. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also responded to a Wall Street Journal story published today that a firm co-owned by his campaign manager, Rick Davis, hired a public-relations firm to burnish the U.S. image of a Ukrainian political party backed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Asked what he was going to do to make sure these sorts of things do not happen in the future, McCain said, “People will be thoroughly, more thoroughly, vetted and we’ll make sure that that is the case.” He specifically referred to the two people who were tied to Myanmar—Doug Davenport, a regional campaign director for Mid-Atlantic states, and Doug Goodyear, who was slated to run the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., this summer. “We found out that these two individuals had represented that country and so they left. We will vet everyone very seriously to make sure there’s not a repetition,” McCain told reporters. Both Davenport and Goodyear worked at DCI Group, a consulting firm in Washington and Arizona. The PR campaign that DCI Group undertook was designed to improve the military junta’s image—the same regime that is now restricting aid to hundreds of thousands of the country’s cyclone victims. MORE

burmasoldiers.jpgNEW YORK TIMES: YANGON, Myanmar — The directors of several relief organizations in Myanmar said Wednesday that some of the international aid arriving into the country for the victims of Cyclone Nargis was being stolen, diverted or warehoused by the country’s army. The aid directors in Myanmar declined to be quoted directly on their concerns about the stolen supplies for fear of angering the ruling junta and jeopardizing their operations, although Marcel Wagner, country director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, confirmed that aid was being diverted by the army. He said the issue would become an increasing problem, although he declined to give further details because of the sensitivity of the situation. International aid shipments continued to arrive Wednesday, including five new air deliveries of relief supplies from the United States. Western diplomats said their representatives at the airport were making sure the cargo was unloaded efficiently and then trucked to staging areas. The fate of the supplies after that, however, remained unknown, because the junta has barred all foreigners, including credentialed diplomats and aid workers, from accompanying any donated aid, tracking its distribution or following up on its delivery. MOREchinamaopropaganda.jpg

NEWS.COM: Dujiangyan City, CHINA — Fingers are being pointed in two directions in pinning down responsibility for the extent of the disaster, in which more than 20,000 people are known to have died, with thousands more still trapped under debris. The first is “tofu buildings”, which may have looked fine but were essentially as soft as tofu – partly, many local people believe, because corners were cut in their construction as a result of corruption involving builders and the local officials who contracted and approved their work. The second accusation is that warnings, both scientific and in local folklore, of an imminent catastrophe were allegedly ignored by the authorities. MORE

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