- - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ATLANTA — Saying it won’t let recently enacted voter ID laws suppress turnout, the NAACP on Wednesday launched a nationwide drive to register thousands of mostly minority, student and elderly voters before the Nov. 6 elections.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said those groups could be the ones most affected by laws requiring them to show identification before they can exercise their right to vote.

NAACP President Ben Jealous said the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization would work harder and smarter to meet the new voting requirements. He framed them as a negative reaction to historic voter turnout in 2008 that led to Barack Obama’s election as the first black U.S. president.

“Were we students of history, we would’ve expected that night, when everybody was celebrating, that we needed to be preparing for what we’re dealing with right now,” he said, referring to election night 2008. “We saw the largest, most diverse presidential electorate this country has ever seen.

“Every time that the vote has been expanded, especially for black people in this country, it has been followed by a massive backlash,” Mr. Jealous added. “We will ensure that those who intend to steal this election cannot.”

It is unclear whether or how such laws might affect voter turnout in the fall.


Rep. Bachmann becomes citizen of Switzerland

MINNEAPOLIS — Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has been granted citizenship in Switzerland.

Mrs. Bachmann’s spokeswoman Becky Rogness said the congresswoman has been eligible for dual citizenship since she married Marcus Bachmann, who is of Swiss descent, in 1978. Ms. Rogness tells Minnesota Public Radio that some of the couple’s children wanted to exercise their eligibility for dual citizenship, so they went through the process as a family.

Mrs. Bachmann represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District and plans to seek re-election following her unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination.


Ad tries to link Obama to Ann Romney criticism

NEW YORK — An independent group backing Mitt Romney has launched a TV ad tying President Obama to negative comments about Mr. Romney’s wife by two Obama supporters.

Restore Our Future, a super PAC run by former Romney advisers, is running the ad in the battleground states of Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire and Ohio.

The ad highlights comments by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and talk-show host Bill Maher suggesting Ann Romney never worked.

Mrs. Romney raised five sons but did not work outside the home.

The ad concludes by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day from Barack Obama’s team.”

Ms. Rosen is not connected to Mr. Obama’s campaign. Mr. Maher contributed $1 million to a super PAC supporting the president’s re-election.


Leaders push U.S. to sign sea treaty

Top defense leaders argued Wednesday for the U.S. to ratify a long-debated treaty governing ocean rights in order to bolster the nation’s national security interests in the Asia-Pacific region and other key global waters.

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said approving the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty would strengthen America’s strategic position in Asia.

“The western Pacific is a mosaic of competing claims for territory and for resources,” Gen. Dempsey said during a forum hosted by the Atlantic Council and the Pew Charitable Trusts. “This is a critical region where, as a Pacific nation, our security and economic prosperity are inextricably linked. We have a vested interest in mitigating any conflict in the Asia-Pacific before it occurs.”

The U.S. is the only major nation that has refused to sign the treaty, which has been endorsed by 161 countries and the European Union.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta dismissed objections from treaty opponents who claim it would restrict military operations or limit intelligence collection in territorial waters.

The opponents, he said, “have put forward the myth that the Law of the Sea Convention would force us to surrender U.S. sovereignty. Nothing, nothing, could be further from the truth. Not since we acquired the lands of the American West and Alaska have we had such a great opportunity to expand U.S. sovereignty.”

Mr. Panetta added that signing onto the treaty would help enforce sea lanes, including the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to block.


Panel cuts foreign aid, military aid to Pakistan

A GOP-controlled House panel has cut the U.S. foreign aid budget by about 9 percent, targeting the cuts on economic aid and contributions to the United Nations and the World Bank.

Despite the cuts, the legislation won bipartisan backing by the Appropriations foreign aid panel, though it is sure to be hit with a White House veto threat because it’s in line with a broader GOP budget plan that breaks faith with last summer’s budget and debt pact with President Obama.

The panel maintains aid to Israel and Egypt at the administration’s requests but denies $800 million in requested funding for a special fund for training and equipping Pakistan’s military in counterinsurgency tactics.

The measure also would boost funding to help Mexico and Colombia fight drug cartels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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