(CNN)– Secretary of State Hilary Clinton delivered the commencement address to New York University's class of 2009 at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, urging the generation of graduates to remain positive about their futures and to seize the moment.
"I can only reflect on what an extraordinary moment in history. You are receiving your degrees. A moment in time of our country and the world were your talents and your energy, your passion and commitment is more needed then ever," Clinton told the thousands of graduates present.
Touching on various challenges that the United States and the world are facing ranging from climate change to poverty, Clinton offered her confidence in the graduates being up to the task.
(CNN) – New polls of New York state voters suggest that two of the state's top politicians are headed in different directions.
Sixty-one percent of those questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday disapprove of the job David Paterson is doing as New York governor. Twenty-eight percent approve of Paterson's performance in office, unchanged from April's survey. It's the lowest-ever approval rating for a New York governor recorded by Quinnipiac polling.
The survey indicates that Paterson would lose a hypothetical primary matchup next year against state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by an overwhelming 62 to 17 percent margin. Cuomo, who has not yet revealed whether he plans to run for the top spot, is the son of former three-term New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
If Paterson survives a primary challenge, the survey indicates he trails Republican Rudy Giuliani by 22 points in a hypothetical general election matchup. The poll suggests Cuomo would beat Giuliani by 6 points in a possible November 2010 showdown, down 11 points from April's poll.
"Paterson has time to turn things around before the 2010 election, of course, but there's not a hint of good news for him in this poll," says Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
When it comes to nominating the next Supreme Court justice, President Obama is likely under pressure from interest groups, lawmakers, you name it…
But it turns out Most Americans aren’t too concerned about the gender, race or ethnicity of the person who will fill Justice David Souter’s seat on the bench.
A new Gallup poll shows 64 percent of those polled say it doesn’t matter to them if the next Supreme Court justice is a woman. 68 percent don’t care if that person is Hispanic; and 74 percent say it doesn’t matter if the next justice is black.
It’s widely expected that President Obama will nominate a woman. Currently the Court only includes one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been battling cancer. Yet only six percent of Americans say it’s essential that the president appoint a woman.
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(CNN) – Sarah Palin has inked a book deal with HarperCollins to publish her story of an unlikely political career and meteoric rise from small-town mayor to Republican vice presidential candidate.
"There have been so many things written and said through mainstream media that have not been accurate, and it will be nice through an unfiltered forum to get to speak truthfully about who we are and what we stand for and what Alaska is all about," Palin told the Anchorage Daily News Tuesday.
"The idea is to focus on the content of the book and what's coming in terms of me being able to tell my story unrestrained and unfiltered."
Palin would not reveal how much money she is being paid for the likely blockbuster memoir. But earlier this year, the Alaska governor secured the services of Robert Barnett, the Washington lawyer who negotiated highly-profitable book deals for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Several publishes have estimated Palin could easily fetch $7-11 million for the highly-anticipated book. Reached by CNN, Barnett declined to disclose the terms of the deal.
The book is set to hit shelves in the spring of 2010, only a handful of months before Republican White House hopefuls begin to gear up their presidential primary campaigns.
Palin, who obtained a journalism degree from the University of Idaho, also suggested the book will cover more than her improbable and sometimes bumpy vice presidential bid.
"It will be nice to put my journalism degree to work on this and get to tell my story, Alaska's story. There have been so many unauthorized books and publications that have spoken to somebody else's opinion of who I am what my family represents and what Alaska is all about," she said.
In a statement, HarperCollins President Brian Murray called Palin "one of the most charismatic, inspiring and controversial figures to appear on the national political stage for many years."
"She has a fascinating story to tell, and we look forward to publishing what surely will be a captivating book," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate leaders who met with President Obama today say he told them he'll name his Supreme Court nominee soon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy made the comments after meeting with the president at the White House. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, also joined Reid.
Obama has said he wants his nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter to be confirmed by the Senate before the start of the next session of the Supreme Court at the beginning of October.
McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, is optimistic that can happen.
"Unless the president sends up a very controversial nominee, the vote should occur well in advance of the first Monday in October, which is when the court reconvenes," said McConnell.
The White House has ruled out any announcement on a high court nominee this week.
(CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has filled another key post in the organization, announcing Wednesday longtime GOP operative Robert Bickhart will serve as finance director.
The veteran GOP campaign hand was the finance chairman for former Sen. Rich Santorum's failed 2006 re-election bid. He also served in the Labor Department during the Reagan administration.
(CNN) – President Obama poked fun at the travails of the Republican Party last weekend, telling the party's chairman that no, the GOP does not qualify for a bailout, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset.
Though the president was just looking for a laugh at the annual White House Correspondents dinner, Republicans have a tough road ahead as they try to rehabilitate their party.
"When a party goes out of power so spectacularly as the Republicans have over the last couple of elections, it's going to take a while for a leader to emerge," said Candy Crowley, CNN's senior political correspondent. "And we should say that when a party is out of power, usually the leader emerges when they nominate their next presidential nominee."
In recent weeks, the GOP has received more attention for a steady spout of infighting than it has for its message.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama has ordered government lawyers to object to the planned release of additional detainee photos, the White House said Wednesday.
The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The president was concerned about harm to the troops," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday afternoon. "The president, as you all know, met with his legal team last week because he did not feel comfortable with the release of the photos."
Gibbs added, "the president reflected on this case and believes that they have the potential to pose harm to the troops. ... Nothing is added by the release of the photos."
The release was ordered in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It followed Obama's decision to release Bush-era CIA documents showing that the United States used techniques like waterboarding, considered torture by the current administration.
But the announcement Wednesday is a reversal of what Gibbs said April 24, when he argued that the White House had no problem releasing the photos, based on the court decisions handed down.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The contentious debate over so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" took center stage on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a former FBI agent involved in the questioning of terror suspects testified that such techniques - including waterboarding - are ineffective.
Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent from 1997 to 2005, told members of a key Senate Judiciary subcommittee that such "techniques, from an operational perspective, are ineffective, slow and unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda."
His remarks followed heated exchanges between committee members with sharply differing views on both the value of the techniques and the purpose of the hearing itself.
Soufan, who was involved in the interrogation of CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah, took issue with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has argued that enhanced interrogation techniques helped the government acquire intelligence necessary to prevent further attacks after September 11, 2001.
The techniques, which were approved by the Bush administration, are considered torture by many critics.
"From my experience - and I speak as someone who has personally interrogated many terrorists and elicited important actionable intelligence - I strongly believe that it is a mistake to use what has become known as the 'enhanced interrogation techniques,'" Soufan noted in his written statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new study suggested Wednesday that over 25 percent of ballots from voters living overseas, mostly members of the military, were not counted in the 2008 election.
"It is unacceptable that bureaucratic snafus could prevent our troops from exercising the very rights they are fighting to protect," Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement.
The study, unveiled at a Wednesday hearing, surveyed election offices in the seven states with the highest number of troops serving overseas. According to the study, 98,633 of the 441,000 ballots sent to those military personnel and other eligible voters living abroad were never sent back to the election offices and declared "lost" and 13,504 were rejected for a missing signature or a failure to notarize.
"This data provides only a snapshot of the problem, but it is enough to show that the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul," said Schumer. "We have an obligation to make it easier, not harder, for our military to cast their ballots when they are away on active-duty."
He said that troops are not given enough time to complete and send back their ballots, and urged the Pentagon to revamp the office that handles military voting.