WASHINGTON (CNN) – Some school kids learned Monday that getting better grades means getting to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll next week, with federal and local school officials stopping at one school in the District of Columbia to announce distribution of the hard-to-get tickets.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a classroom of wide-eyed third-graders that, "We're going to give out 4,000 tickets to school children in this area, but 2,000 here to the D.C. public schools - and this is because you guys are working so hard."
As he visited with students Monday to tell them about the tickets, the secretary was accompanied by District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of public schools in the District of Columbia.
Among the surprised school children was 8-year-old Chauntia Mabry, who stood and thanked Duncan.
(CNN) – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday she believes voters deserve another chance to consider electing Ted Stevens to the U.S. Senate now that federal prosecutors have decided to drop their case against him, and supports a re-match between the former senator and Democrat Mark Begich.
Begich defeated Stevens last November soon after the incumbent was convicted on ethics charges.
"Many voters did not choose Stevens because they were told he was guilty, and now, after the election we see there was improper conduct in his trial, so how fair an election was that?" asked Palin, in an email to an Alaska Public Radio reporter. CNN has confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail.
"I agree with other Alaskans who would like to see an election that's free from improper influence, and I can't imagine how Mark Begich could argue that," she continued.
(updated after the jump with Begich camp response)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters Friday that he enjoys his private life, and that he does not want a job with the incoming administration.
Powell, who crossed party lines weeks before the general election to endorse Obama, has said before that he is not interested in working for the soon-to-be president. Powell is currently an honorary co-chair of Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.
“I am very happy in private life, thank you very much, and I'm trying to be as helpful as I can to the president-elect and the vice president-elect,” Powell told reporters Friday. “I look forward to assisting in anyway that I can, but I have not been offered a job, and I've kind of made it clear that I am not looking for a position.”
Powell also praised incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and called her “the most distinguished public servant.”
“I am a very close friend of hers, and I congratulate her selection and appointment as Secretary of State,” Powell said. “I think she'll do a very, very - a very, very fine job.”
Powell spoke at a Washington event Friday unveiling an Obama community service program and the web site USAservice.org, an online tool to publicize available service projects and connect volunteers with non-profit organizations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A woman who had been a juror in the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens told a judge Monday she made up a story about her father dying, so she could go to California for a horse race.
The judge last week initially accepted her story about a family emergency, but was later unable to reach her to learn when she would return.
He then was forced to recall an alternate juror so the panel could resume deliberations on October 27 and possibly render a verdict. Six hours later, the verdict against Stevens was unanimously guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.
The fate of the missing juror was in doubt through the middle of last week, when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order calling her to a hearing Monday morning.
At the hearing, she was publicly identified as Marian Hinnant, known during the trial as Juror No. 4. Hinnant's attorney, public defender A.J. Kramer, told CNN the story about her father's death was a lie.
Kramer said he told the judge that "she was okay, that her father had not died, and that she was in a state of mind where she had to go out of town on that Friday and couldn't deliberate."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Pennsylvania judge rejected state Republican party demands to obtain lists of voters registered by the community group known as ACORN.
The state GOP accuses ACORN of widespread fraud in helping register some 140,000 voters in Pennsylvania.
ACORN welcomed the ruling against the Pennsylvania state Republican party, spokeswoman Ali Kronley told CNN Friday, turning the GOP charges back against the party.
"This kind of manufactured crisis is masking their own efforts to keep voters from voting," she said.
The top lawyer representing the Pennsylvania Republicans said they were "disappointed."
But, Heather Heidelbaugh added, the wording of the court order indicates the judge thinks ACORN has problems.
The judge said he would favor "expedited discovery" should someone want to pursue "evidence that in Pennsylvania practices of ACORN Outreach Workers can encourage duplicate voter registration."
The case hinges on allegations that ACORN canvassers are not trained properly, leading to improper voter registrations.