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DAILY BRIEFING

Justices: No choice on Florida recount

Three of the five Supreme Court justices who voted to end ballot recounting in Florida in the 2000 presidential election say they had no choice but to intervene in the recount. Comments from Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor are in a new book published this week, and Justice Antonin Scalia made his remarks Tuesday at Iona College in New York. Scalia, answering questions after a speech, also said the critics of the 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore need to move on six years after the electoral drama of December 2000, when it seemed the whole nation hung by a chad awaiting the outcome of the presidential election. "It's water over the deck -- get over it," Scalia said, drawing laughs from his audience. (AP)

Senate panel OK's Iraq commander
A Senate committee yesterday approved the nomination of Army Lieutenant General David Petraeus to command American forces in Iraq. The Senate Armed Services Committee sent the nomination to the full Senate, which is expected to approve it today. Bush named Petraeus to replace General George Casey as part of a revamping of his top military and diplomatic officials in Iraq and the Middle East. (AP)

Louisiana

Governor says Bush slighted Gulf Coast
NEW ORLEANS -- Governor Kathleen B. Blanco angrily criticized President Bush yesterday for not mentioning 2005's destructive hurricanes in his State of the Union address, and she said Louisiana is being shortchanged in federal recovery funding for political reasons. "I guess the pains of the hurricane are yesterday's news in Washington," Blanco said. "But for us it's still very real, very real. . . . But we will continue to fight." White House spokesman Blair C. Jones said yesterday that Bush wants the Gulf Coast region to be rebuilt as quickly as possible and that the president was committed to helping New Orleans's recovery. (AP)

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