(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq on Friday for a series of meetings with Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials, his office said in a news release.
Biden plans to meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, along with other Iraqi leaders, the release said. A session with Ad Melkert, the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for Iraq, also is expected.
The talks will focus on the Iraqi national elections set for March 7, according to the release.
Biden also will meet with U.S. troops in his fourth visit to Iraq since his election in 2008.
(CNN) - New York Gov. David Paterson has lost a top advisor to his struggling election bid for a full term in office.
Tracy Sefl, a campaign strategist who is based in Washington, DC, announced Friday she is resigning her post because of "business" reasons.
"It has been a privilege to work for the governor over the past year," Sefl said in a statement. "My decision is a business one and I remain supportive and admiring of him and his agenda for the state. I wish him and his team - both at the campaign and inside the Executive Chamber - much success."
Asked by CNN if the decision may be a reflection of her belief Paterson's chances of reelection are low, Sefl said "that is a good question to ask others."
According to recent polls of New York State voters, Paterson lags nearly 40 points behind his likely primary opponent, Andrew Cuomo.
Washington (CNN) - A recommendation by the Obama administration's Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force to continue holding nearly 50 detainees indefinitely without charges sparked fury among civil liberties groups Friday.
The recommendation, confirmed to CNN by two government sources not authorized to release the information, was completed by a task force under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder and sent to President Barack Obama for final approval.
The confidential review recommending a disposition for each of the 196 remaining Guantanamo detainees was first reported by the Washington Post.
The review proposes that 47 detainees be held without charges or trial because they are considered too dangerous to release, and because trials could jeopardize intelligence and harm national security, government sources said.
"If you close Guantanamo but leave individuals detained without charge or trial you're just making a cosmetic change," Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project, told CNN.
(CNN) - Senate Democrats are preparing to unveil legislation in the next couple of weeks to address what they believe is the No. 1 issue this election year: jobs.
"Jobs, jobs, jobs," said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus coming out of a Friday morning meeting to discuss the package.
Baucus would only say Democratic senators talked about a "series of initiatives" with the goal of helping to create jobs.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, also in the meeting, said he believes there should be a focus on infrastructure – especially school construction.
"This is ready to do," said Harkin, "if the money went out we could begin this summer on school construction, and it has a big multiplier effect."
As President Obama marks his first anniversary in the White House and the State of the Union approaches, there's criticism coming at him from all corners.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman writes that doubts he had about the president – since the primaries – have been realized... including that Mr. Obama may not be ready to fight for what his supporters want.
In a piece called "he wasn't the one we've been waiting for," Krugman describes the president talking about health care... saying lawmakers should "try to move quickly to coalesce" around elements of the bill that people agree on. Krugman mocks the message – saying it's like the president is telling lawmakers to "run away."
And When Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Krugman's critique – he ducked the question.
Meanwhile from the right, Pat Buchanan suggests that white voters are one group that might be of particular concern to the president.
In a column called "Has Obama lost white America?"... Buchanan explains how the racial breakdown of the vote in recent elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia could spell trouble for the president.
(CNN) - Bristol Palin is demanding Levi Johnston start paying up.
According to court documents filed Thursday in Alaska and posted on the Web site TMZ, the 19 year-old daughter of Sarah Palin is demanding the father of her one year-old son pay $1,750 a month in child support payments.
Palin is also seeking back payments beginning from late December 2008, when the child was born.
According to the court filing, Palin says Johnston made "in excess of 105,000 in 2009 through various media interviews and modeling related activities."
Palin also says she has received only "sporadic financial assistance" from Johnston over the last year - $4,400 in total.
Johnston's manager contends Palin has been paid more than $10,000 by Johnston since her son was born, according to TMZ.
Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said in a statement to CNN: "Bristol has set forth the facts regarding child support in her affidavit filed in court. The law in Alaska is clear: a parent is obligated to support his or her child. It is unfortunate Bristol has to seek court intervention in this regard."
CNN) - The National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised its Democratic counterpart last month but begin the new year at a slight financial disadvantage, according to disclosures released by both parties Friday.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised just over $3.4 million in December, about $700 thousand less than Republicans in the same time frame.
But Democrats begin 2010 with $12.5 million cash-on-hand - over $4 million more than the $8.3 million the NRSC has in the bank. However Democrats have $1.25 million in debt while Republicans are debt free.
The two parties were nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to fundraising totals over the course of 2009: Democrats raised a total of $43.5 million while Republicans took in $41.2 million.
Each party is defending 18 seats this cycle.
Washington (CNN) - A second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke became more uncertain Friday as two leading liberal senators announced they would vote no, and many other Senate Democrats said they were undecided.
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, both issued statements announcing their opposition to Bernanke.
"Under the watch of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve permitted grossly irresponsible financial activities that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Under Chairman Bernanke's watch predatory mortgage lending flourished, and 'too big to fail' financial giants were permitted to engage in activities that put our nation's economy at risk," said Feingold.
Sen. Boxer said she's voting no because Bernanke "played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration's economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis."
"Our next Federal Reserve Chairman must represent a clean break from the failed policies of the past," she said.
Elyria, Ohio (CNN) - Offering his most extensive public comments about the election debacle in Massachusetts, President Obama is acknowledging he's taking some "lumps" but is also trying to cast himself as a populist who will "never stop fighting" to bring health care reform and jobs to communities like this hard-hit manufacturing area outside Cleveland.
"Let me tell you - so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I'll never stop fighting for you," Obama said in prepared remarks at the beginning of a town hall meeting with voters. "I'll take my lumps, too. I'll never stop fighting to bring jobs back to Elyria. I'll never stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded, where responsibility is honored, where accountability is upheld, where we're creating the jobs of tomorrow."
Obama said "folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy" over Republican Scott Brown's election to the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which has ended the President's 60-seat supermajority in the chamber. But the President vowed to keep battling for health reform, even as he bluntly conceded that he's facing major roadblocks.
"Now, we've gotten pretty far down the road, but I have to admit, we've run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way," Obama said. "The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done."