WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama has selected California Rep. Hilda Solis to serve as secretary of labor, a Washington-based labor official for a major union told CNN's John King Thursday.
Solis, a four-term Democrat from Los Angeles, is considered to be one of the most liberal members of the House. She served eight years in the California legislature and also worked in former President Jimmy Carter's administration.
Solis unseated former Rep. Matthew Martinez in a bitter Democratic primary in 2000.
Updated 2:15 p.m.
(CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his pick of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration next month as one of "a wide range of viewpoints that are presented."
"And that's how it should be, because that's what America is about," Obama said responding to a question at a news conference about his and Warren's differences on social issues. "That's part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated."
Liberal groups and gay rights proponents had criticized the president-elect on Wednesday for choosing Warren, who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights.
Those socially conservative stances put him at odds with many in Obama's Democratic Party, especially the party's most liberal wing.
"[It's] shrewd politics, but if anyone is under any illusion that Obama is interested in advancing gay equality, they should probably sober up now," Andrew Sullivan wrote on the Atlantic Web site Wednesday.
Obama in the news conference also defended his record on equality for gays.
"I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans," he said. "It is something that I have been consistent on, and I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency."
(CNN) - Connecticut’s Democratic Party is officially complaining to Sen. Joe Lieberman for backing Republican John McCain in this year’s presidential race – but has decided against taking any tougher measures against him.
State party officials voted Wednesday night to send the senator a letter laying out their unhappiness with his decision, amid new polls that show the Democrat-turned-independent drawing record low approval ratings from constituents unhappy over his presidential pick and his continuing support for the Iraq war.
Lieberman himself, who remains a registered Democrat, retained his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last month following a lengthy and often-heated debate over what — if any — price he should pay for his vocal support of McCain's presidential bid.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The journalist who hurled his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush has described his attack as "ugly" and asked the Iraqi government for leniency.
A government spokesman confirmed Thursday that Muntadhar al-Zaidi penned a contrite handwritten letter to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki requesting compassionate treatment.
Yaseen al-Majeed, the prime minister's media adviser and spokesman, read CNN part of the letter, saying al-Zaidi describes what he did as "the great ugly act I perpetrated" and says an excuse would not be enough for that.
Al-Zaidi said he recalled interviewing al-Maliki in 2005, and al-Maliki had said to him "come in, this is your home, too."
Al-Majeed told CNN al-Zaidi asked al-Maliki for that same "fatherly compassion." The letter was received on Thursday but it was written at another time, al-Majeed said.
Asked if al-Maliki would consider exonerating him, al-Majeed said it is too early to talk about that because the case remains with the judicial authorities.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) – Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said after a long day of reviewing more challenged ballots Wednesday that a certification of recount results in the race between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken in Minnesota's Senate race would not be released until next week, assuming the review of challenged ballots ends on Friday.
But a few unresolved issues still remain. One is the question over what to do with improperly rejected absentee ballots: The state canvassing board-the entity of judges, along with Ritchie, charged with overseeing the recount-has asked for counties to begin the process of reviewing and counting those. However, the Coleman campaign has said there is no "uniform" method for doing so.
Wednesday, the state Supreme Court heard the Coleman team's arguments and said a decision is "forthcoming."
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday announced Mary Schapiro as his nominee to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Schapiro is CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the largest nongovernment regulator for all securities firms doing business with the U.S. public. She is a former SEC commissioner and served as chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1994 during the Clinton administration.
Obama also announced two more nominees for financial regulator positions.
Gary Gensler is Obama's nominee for the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Dan Tarullo has been tapped to fill one of the vacancies on the board of the Federal Reserve.
(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton Thursday published the long-demanded list of donors to his foundation, which included donations in the $10 million to $25 million range from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and real estate mogul Stephen L. Bing, a personal friend of Clinton's.
The Clintons came under intense pressure during Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to release the names of donors to both the Foundation and to the Clinton presidential library in Arkansas.
Bill Clinton agreed to release the list of donors to his foundation in order to help clear the way for his wife to become secretary of state in President-elect Barack Obama's administration.
Click here to go to the Foundation's website for the full list.
(CNN) - Conservative activist Paul Weyrich died this morning, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Weyrich, who was president and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, helped found the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority.
"Paul M. Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation and first president of The Heritage Foundation, died this morning around 1 a.m.,” the group said in an e-mail to members Thursday. “He was 66 years old. Weyrich was a good friend to many of us at Heritage, a true leader and a man of unbending principle. He won Heritage’s prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Award in 2005. Weyrich will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, including son Steve, who currently works at Heritage."
Weyrich’s death comes the same year as those of movement icons William Buckley, founder of the National Review, and evangelical leader Jerry Falwell.
He backed Republican presidential candidate John McCain this year, despite an earlier vow that he would vote for a third-party candidate if the Arizona senator captured the party’s nomination. He also reversed course on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at first strongly supporting his presidential bid, then joining other conservatives in calling him an unacceptable vice presidential pick for McCain.
CNN: Obama's inaugural choice sparks outrage
Prominent liberal groups and gay rights proponents criticized President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday for choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration next month.
CNN: Obama, Bush planning to meet again — with a twist
CNN has learned that President-elect Barack Obama and President Bush have privately agreed to try and come together again in January for a second post-election meeting at the White House, but this time they're inviting the three living former presidents as well.
CNN: Cheney to Emanuel: Control your VP
Vice President Dick Cheney had some blunt — and humorous — advice for incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at a private breakfast earlier this month, CNN has learned.
CNN: Kennedy not the clear favorite for Senate seat, poll says
A new poll out Wednesday suggests there is no clear favorite among New Yorkers on who they think should replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate — and despite the buzz over Caroline Kennedy, the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat is not necessarily hers for the taking.
CNN: Obama adds another Republican to Cabinet
President-elect Barack Obama has picked GOP Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois to be his nominee for transportation secretary, two sources told CNN on Wednesday.
CNN: Fife and drum extravaganza set for Inauguration Day
The Army is making sure it impresses its next commander-in-chief when he is sworn in next month. It is planning to honor President-elect Barack Obama with the biggest fife and drum corps that the Army has ever put together.