If you have a couple extra coins knocking around in your pocket, you could consider a donation to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's legal defense fund. The former Republican vice presidential candidate has about $500,000 in legal fees - partly due to investigations into efforts to fire an Alaska state trooper who’s her former-brother-in-law.
Also, supporters say about a dozen new ethics complaints have been filed against Palin in the last four months. The 'Alaska Fund Trust' says on its website: "For Alaskans, the time has come to end the siege on our government by political tricksters. Enough is enough. With the help of reform-minded advocates from across our nation, we will stand up for what is right."
They add that the fund will "reduce the incentive for mischief by Palin's opponents" and turn back the tide of partisan and personal political attacks.
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(CNN) – Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon is turning down an award from the University of Notre Dame because she disagrees with the Catholic institution's decision to invite President Obama to deliver this year's commencement address.
The conservative, pro-life academic explained her decision not to attend the commencement ceremony and not to accept the Laetare Medal from the university in a letter to Notre Dame's president.
"I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree," Glendon wrote in the letter. She also said that she considered the decision to give Obama an honorary degree a violation of a request from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that Catholic institutions not honor individuals who act in defiance of the church's fundamental principles or give awards or platforms that suggest support for the actions of such individuals. Glendon, who described herself as a "longtime consultant" for the group of bishops, said the group's directive was "reasonable."
Glendon also said in the letter that she was concerned by the university's use of her planned involvement in the graduation ceremony as a way to balance Obama's appearance.
A commencement "is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision . . . to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice," Glendon told Notre Dame's president.
After pointing out that Notre Dame's decision appeared to be setting an example that other Catholic institutions were following, the Harvard professor said it was "with great sadness" that she had decided she could not participate in the graduation ceremony nor accept the medal from the university.
Obama is also set to deliver the commencement address at Arizona State University and the U.S. Naval Academy.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A firm declaration from the White House: "I want to be very clear here. There is a team in place."
But while those comments Sunday from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs are accurate, it's also true that the Obama administration is dealing with its first medical outbreak with some key players missing from its health team.
The White House declared a public health emergency Sunday, and briefed reporters on efforts the federal government's taking to confront the swine flu. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano led the news conference.
Missing from the Sunday news conference: the adminstration's Health and Human Services Secretary. That's because Obama's nominee for HHS secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Her confirmation could come as early as Tuesday. The President's first choice for the position, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, withdrew his nomination because of tax problems. Tax issues have slowed Sebelius's Senate confirmation.
But it's not just the top spot: There are no apointees in place in any of the department's 18 key positions.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/File
(CNN) - Several buildings in downtown New York were cleared as a precaution Monday morning when a military 747 accompanied by two F-16's were spotted flying low over lower Manhattan. The culprit: part of the presidential fleet.
The maneuvers were part of a photo shoot, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. An Air Force spokesperson says the plane involved was one of the two used to transport the president, also known as VC-25.
Eyewitnesses said the plane was seen circling over the Upper New York Bay in the area of the Statue of Liberty. It then flew up the Hudson River. Building evacuations also took place across the Hudson River in Jersey City.
Officegoers in lower Manhattan may have been surprised by the display, but according to an Air Force spokeswoman, local officials were not: both the FAA and local law enforcement were warned ahead of time.
Watch an iReport of the incident.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The federal government has made available more than $75 billion for stimulus projects in the 10 weeks since President Obama signed the $787 billion recovery package into law.
Not all of that money has hit the streets, however. So far, $14.5 billion has been spent, nearly all of it to help states cope with rising Medicaid costs.
A CNNMoney.com analysis of the program's financial reports shows how difficult it is to quickly inject billions of dollars into the economy. Experts interviewed said they are not surprised by the pace of spending, though they had mixed views on whether the effort would boost the economy.
"There's a natural tension between using taxpayers' money in a prudent way and getting the money out the door quickly," said Isabel Sawhill, a Brookings Institution senior fellow.
The massive recovery package was designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs, as well as assist states and people suffering from the recession by providing funding for education, Medicaid and other public services.
The federal government is now tasked with putting $499 billion to work in coming years. The remaining $288 billion consists of tax relief, the signature program of which, the Making Work Pay credit, began earlier this month.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday said the State Department is working with both domestic and international agencies to combat swine flu.
She said the State Department is "urging caution" for Americans considering travel.
"We have put up on our Web site information urging caution for those who are planning to travel," Clinton said at a photo-taking session at the State Department Monday morning.
So far the State Department has not issued a specific travel warning for Mexico or elsewhere.
She said the State Department was coordinating "very closely" with other federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security.
"We are taking this very seriously and working also with the World Health Organization … to try to develop a strategy to prevent the spread of this form of swine flu. We do believe that our efforts are developed and prepared to confront this wherever it might occur inside our own country. And enhanced cooperation across boundaries will be very important," Clinton said.
And she said the U.S. had offered help and assistance to the government of Mexico to make sure they have the resources and the technical expertise they might need.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee launching a new television ad in anticipation of President Obama's 100th day in office.
The new ad, titled "Foundation for Change," focuses on some of Obama's legislative accomplishments during his young administration and highlights the president's three primary domestic policy agenda items – energy, health care, and education.
The 60-second spot spotlights the passage of Obama's $787 stimulus bill along with legislation that expanded funding for children's health insurance and a bill that made it easier to sue for pay discrimination.
The ad also features footage from Obama's address to a joint session of Congress soon after his swearing-in, where he laid out his ambitious domestic policy agenda, and made the case for pursuing it even as the country struggled to jumpstart a deeply recessionary economy. The ad calls Obama's domestic agenda "a bold plan for the future."
"Foundation for Change" will air on cable Tuesday and Wednesday nationally and in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the DNC.
Wednesday will mark Obama's 100th day in office. The president is scheduled to hold a primetime press conference on that day.
(CNN) - A conservative group is out with a million-dollar ad buy attacking President Obama's plan to overhaul the nation's health care system.
The Conservative Patients' Rights Action Fund, one of the earliest opponents of the president's plan, will begin airing the first of the new 60-second spots Tuesday on national cable. The ad features British and Canadian doctors relating horror stories of government-run health care wait lists and restrictions, and accuses Congress of adopting elements of those systems.
“Patients are languishing and suffering on wait lists, our own Supreme Court of Canada has stated that patients are actually dying as they wait for care in Canada,” Canadian privatization proponent Dr. Brian Day says in the spot.
"Tell Congress you won't trade your doctor for a national board of bureaucrats," says the narrator. "Let's put patients first."
The group - one of the earliest opponents to organize against Obama's health care plans - has launched several ads this year attacking the proposal. Last month, they released an spot that linked the administration's request for a set-aside in the federal budget to help fund health care reform with the controversial loophole that allowed executives of bailed-out companies to keep their bonuses.
Editor's note: How would you rate the new Congress in President Obama's first 100 days? You'll get a chance to make your opinion known on at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday on the CNN National Report Card.
(CNN) - It's early April, and President Obama is on his way to France with the nation's top diplomat at his side. As he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton converse in a private room aboard Air Force One, a photographer peers through the half-open door and snaps a candid picture of the formerly bitter campaign rivals.
Photographing two of the most powerful people in the country up-close and personal may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to most Americans. But for photographer Pete Souza, it's a common occurrence.
"I try to photograph everything. Every meeting that the president does," Souza told CNN's John King on "State of the Union."
Watch: Portrait of a president
On leave of absence from his normal post as an assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication, Souza is the chief official White House photographer for President Obama, meaning he has an all-access pass to the president's most intimate and private moments.
"I look at my job as a visual historian," Souza said on Sunday. "The most important thing is to create a good visual archive for history, so 50 or a hundred years from now, people can go back and look at all these pictures."
While he relishes his unobstructed seat to a historic administration, he knows his limits.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The president pledged Monday to restore America's "commitment to lead the world in scientific and technological innovation," a responsibility he said has been undermined by a combination of neglect and "predetermined ideological agendas."
Among other things, President Barack Obama set a goal of devoting more than 3 percent of the country's gross domestic product to scientific research and development. He also promised new federal funding to help address gaps in math and science education.
Over the past half century, "our investments have steadily declined as a share of our national income," Obama warned in an address to the National Academy of Sciences.
"As a result, other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this generation's great discoveries."
The president promised "the largest commitment to scientific research and innovation in American history" because such work is "more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been."