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U.S. election notebook

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The urban legend site snopes.com explains that the Redskins' last home game before the election has built an uncanny record of coincidence. The games have correctly predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1936.

The formula is simple, the fortunes of the incumbent party micmic those of the team. If the Skins loses, so does the incumbent party. If the team wins, so does the incumbent party.
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New Yorker drops neutrality, backs Kerry
John Kerry has picked up an endorsement from The New Yorker, the first time in its 80-year history that the magazine has backed a candidate.

A five-page editorial in the coming issue, previewed by the Associated Press, criticizes President George W. Bush's tax cuts, his environmental policies, his execution of the war in Iraq and his Justice Department's record of "secrecy and arrogance."

On Iraq, it says that "the cakewalk led over a cliff, to a succession of heedless and disastrous mistakes that leave one wondering, at the very least, how the Pentagon's civilian leadership remains intact and the president's sense of infallibility undisturbed."
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Lost in cyberspace
A sharp-eyed reporter noticed that the list of countries participating openly in the "coalition of the willing" is no longer available the White House website.

In the absence of formal approval by multi-national institutions, the Bush administration has chosen to rely in Iraq on an ad hoc coalition of nations. The list of nations that publicly backed the toppling of Saddam Hussein was once available to anyone with a computer and internet connection.

But no more, as a reporter from Agence France-Presse found. That particular part of the White House site can still be found here, but the link that once said "Who are the coalition members?" is gone.

"This is not unusual. If there is incorrect, or out of date information, we take it down," White House spokesman Jimmy Orr told the French wire service. "What we're doing right now, with the entire Iraq site, is we're updating the information."

Some Bush critics said that the list may have been removed to protect Dick Cheney, who seemed to argue during the vice-presidential debate that Iraqis had become part of the Coalition.

"When you include the Iraqi security forces that have suffered casualties, as well as the allies, they've taken almost 50 percent of the casualties in operations in Iraq," Mr. Cheney said, countering the suggestion that U.S. troops were 90 per cent of coalition casualties.

But the problem is, Iraq was never considered a coalition member and was never on the official White House list of coalition nations. At least not yet, the list may have a symbolic addition if and when it goes back on-line.

In the meantime, viewers can read these statements of support from coalition members. It dates from early February of 2004 and includes 42 countries, provided you count Denmark both times it is listed
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Kerry, Bush share secret brotherhood
The near-certainty that the next President of the United States will be a member of the most exclusive and secretive club at Yale University has raised the hackles of some, notably third-place candidate Ralph Nader.

Although both George W. Bush and John Kerry have done much while campaigning to strengthen their credentials as "regular guys," the two are actually very wealthy men. They both have connections to the patrician sectors of New England (Mr. Kerry grew up there and Mr. Bush's extended family maintains a compound there), they were both educated at exclusive prep schools and they both went to Yale.

And, while at Yale, both men were selected for the Skull and Bones club. The club chooses the most ambitious and promising Yalies for inclusion and reportedly helps these people keep contact as they grow up to positions of power.

Alexandra Robbins, author of a book based on interviews with Bonesmen who broke their vows of secrecy, told Reuters that she shares the concern of those who worry about a club like Skull and Bones in a democratic society.

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