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Trump v. Collins

Donald Trump seemed to have been walking a fine line between charisma and insanity this last week.

Trump got involved in a tit-for-tat with New York Times columnist Gail Collins, responding to her "Donald Trump Gets Weirder" column with a letter to the editor also published in the NYT.

Starting with a scathing review of Collins' skills, the impact of which was only slightly lessened by the grammatically incorrect wording ("Her storytelling ability and word not at a very high level..."), Trump went on to defend his belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

In return, Collins wrote another article deriding Trump and debunking his arguments. In the end, this exchange served as "some unexpected light relief", wrote Christina Lamb for The Australian.

Fundraising begins for presidential election of 2012

Spring is here, the second financial quarter of 2011 is now underway, and politicians with an interest in the 2012 elections are beginning to poke their heads out of the thawing ground and stretch out new tendrils in search of money.

This includes the sitting president. President Obama is expected to officially start his re-election campaign this week, and campaign manager Jim Messina has asked a group of elite donors to raise $350,000 each this year, according to the Washington Post.

If each of the 450 top donors meets that challenge, that would mean an unprecedented $157 million by the end of 2011--and that's not counting contributions from smaller donors, which are also expected to be significant, The New York Times reported.

The top contenders for the Republican nomination, by comparison, plan to raise $55 million (Haley Barbour), $50 million (Mitt Romney), $30 million (Newt Gingrich), and $25 million (Tim Pawlenty) for the primaries, according to a report by the Associated Press.

"In 2012, the Republican candidates are going to be in the same position as they were in 2008: chasing Obama," political fundraising expert Anthony Corrado told USA Today. "He has the biggest base of donors [4 million] at the beginning of a re-election campaign of any president in history."

Obama has already brought in $1.5 million dollars at a fundraiser in New York City just last week, reported ABC News. Some speculate that he will be the first $1 billion presidential candidate. For his 2008 campaign Obama raised three-quarters of that amount, a grand total of $750 million.

The woman who made waves as the first female major party vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine A. Ferraro, died Sunday in Boston at age 75.

She died from complications relating to the blood cancer she had fought for the last 12 years, according to a statement from her family.

Ferraro was a congresswoman from Queens when former Vice-President Walter Mondale picked her as his running mate in the 1984 elections, reported The New York Times. Although the Mondale/Ferraro ticket lost badly, for many women just seeing her nominated as a candidate for national office--64 years after women first claimed the right to vote--was a success.

Ben W. Heineman Jr. was part of the team that helped prepare Ferraro for her debate with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. "[T]here was no difference between the public person and the private person," he wrote in an article for The Atlantic, calling Ferraro "a tough, smart, savvy, fearless, funny woman who was totally authentic."

Ferraro was not only the first female to run for national office but the first Italian American--a categorization which was unfortunately tainted by campaign rumors of ties to organized crime, The New York Times reported.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Ferraro was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University from after her and Mondale's failed bid until 1992, when she waged an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate nomination. After that, she worked for a time as an advocate for Yugoslavian rape victims, and served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council from 1994-95. Another unsuccessful bid for a Senate nomination followed.

Although her political ambitions were never realized, and controversy continued to follow her, Ferraro will be remembered overwhelmingly for her role in breaking down the gender barrier standing between women and the White House.

Disco icon Loleatta Holloway died Monday

HOLLOWAY-obit-popup.jpgSoul and disco singer Loleatta Holloway died on Monday at age 64.

Holloway was known for her powerful voice. "Loleatta always sounded as if she was about to climb through the speakers and slap you six ways from Sunday," wrote Martin Samuel for the Daily Mail.

Holloway's manager Ron Richardson confirmed her death, saying she had died of heart failure after slipping into a coma, according to Ray Fitzgerald at

Holloway started in soul, but had most of her successes on the dance charts with hits such as "Dreamin'," "Hit and Run," and the popular "Love Sensation" which reached No. 1 on the dance chart and would go on to be extensively sampled, The New York Times reported.

The Italian disco group Black Box sampled Holloway's "Love Sensation" vocals in their hit "Ride on Time," but failed to give her credit. Holloway sued, and the matter was settled out of court in her favor, according to The New York Times. "Love Sensation" was again drawn on for the 1991 Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch hit "Good Vibrations," with due credit given to Holloway.

Although her last studio album was Love Sensation in 1981, Holloway continued to release singles until the time of her death, with numerous hits reaching the dance charts, according to the Jamaica Observer.

Ironically, Holloway did not always consider herself a good singer. "When I was 5 years old I started singing in church and I hated my voice because I sounded like a grown woman, not a child," Holloway said in 2009, quoted in The New York Times.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowling resigned on Sunday following remarks he made Thursday criticizing the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been held in military detention for months on suspicion of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Crowling was speaking to a small group at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar on new media when he was asked about the treatment of Manning, The Boston Globe reported. He answered that what was being done to Manning was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

Politico reported that Manning is being held in near-constant lockdown, and had filed a complaint about being forced to strip down each night before bedtime.

According to a report by Warren P. Strobel for McClatchy Newspapers, Manning's treatment while in confinement has also been criticized by human rights groups.

President Obama, quoted in Politico, said in a press conference on Friday that he has been assured by the Pentagon that procedures relating to Manning's detention were appropriate and met basic standards.

Crowley said in a statement that he accepted responsibility for his comments and stressed that his remarks had been intended to highlight a broader issue of how actions undertaken by national security agencies could affect the U.S.'s global standing.

Crowley did not withdraw the gist of his remarks, as Strobel points out, saying in his statement, "The exercise of power in today's challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values."

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