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Campaign Notebook

AFL-CIO to spend $200m on 2008 vote

WASHINGTON - The AFL-CIO and its member unions said yesterday they will spend an estimated $200 million on the 2008 elections, including $53 million devoted to grass-roots mobilization.

In addition, the nation's largest labor federation said it would deploy more than 200,000 volunteers leading up to the election, focusing on battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The AFL-CIO and its unions spent an estimated $150 million during the 2004 presidential elections, but Democrats came up short in their bid for the White House and congressional control.


Fund-raiser denied bail

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Fallen Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu was ordered held without bail yesterday, and his lawyer attacked the FBI for allegedly extracting a confession while the convicted swindler was hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt.

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Hsu appeared briefly in San Mateo Superior Court on a 15-year-old grand theft conviction, one day after federal authorities charged him in New York with bilking investors out of $60 million, some of which investigators said he donated to Democratic candidates and causes.

Hsu, 56, did not speak while his lawyer asked a judge to return the $2 million Hsu had posted as bail before skipping a court date earlier this month. Deputy Attorney General Ron Smetana said prosecutors would oppose the return of the money.

"If the federal charges are correct, then the money is stolen," he said outside court. "It would be inappropriate to return it."


Edwards offers school plan

John Edwards wants to take successful education measures in his native North Carolina across the country as president.

At a middle school in Des Moines yesterday, the Democratic presidential contender unveiled an education plan that includes creating a national version of the "Smart Start" early childhood education program in North Carolina. It also calls for a "School Success Fund," also used in North Carolina, to put experienced teachers into struggling schools.

In a policy statement, Edwards said giving all children an equal chance to get a quality education is a commitment that is at the core of his plan to build a country "where everyone has a chance to succeed."

Other key provisions of the plan include a partnership to provide quality schooling to every 4-year-old, higher pay of up to $15,000 a year for teachers who go into high-poverty schools, a National Teacher University to recruit and train 1,000 top college students a year, an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind law, and an initiative to build or expand 1,000 successful schools.


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