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Mitt Romney
US elections: no matter who you vote for, money always wins
Republican presidential debates are not for the faint-hearted. Last week in Jacksonville, Florida, Rick Santorum warned of the "threat of radical Islam growing" in Central and South America. Newt Gingrich advocated sending up to seven flights a day to the moon, where private industry might set up a colony, and reaffirmed his claim that Palestinians were invented in the late 70s. Mitt Romney argued that if you make things tough enough for undocumented people, they will "self-deport".
Florida GOP debate: Mitt Romney restores control
Debates, particularly by this stage, are a performance. There are few substantive questions the candidates have not been already been asked. There are few answers we haven't already heard.
State of the union: President Obama addresses inequality
If you want to understand the relevance of President Barack Obama's state of the union message look at where he's off to tomorrow. First, Iowa; then, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. All swing states. All, with the exception of Arizona, which was John McCain's home state, he won comfortably four years ago. It was an election speech, for an incumbent playing defence.


Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the Fox debate. Photograph: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
South Carolina's steady state GOP debate
And then there were four. The smaller fry have left – first Horny, then Crazy, Sleepy and, finally, Dopey. But while the line-up was trimmed, the central tension in this primary season held strong.


In the US almost one in 10 young African-American men are behind bars. Photograph: Ric Francis/AP
For too many African-Americans, prison is a legacy passed from father to son
According to Jeffrey Gamble, the luckiest day of his life was when his car hit the kerb at the corner of Jefferson and National in Los Angeles while he was drunk-driving. It flew over a fence, falling 80ft into a creek below, leaving him with a broken neck and paralysed. "If I hadn't had that accident, I would be dead – or in jail for the rest of my life, just like my brothers," says Gamble, 47. Prison, for the Gambles, is as common a destination as university might be for a middle-class family. His two brothers are both in jail. Ricky, who was convicted for burglary and assault with a firearm under the three strikes law, is in for 110 years to life. Mike got life without parole for the murder of a local councillor. His father was in jail for a series of alcohol-related offences. His son, Khalif, has also been in jail for dealing drugs and possession.


Michelle and Barack Obama. The first lady has dismissed claims she is
Michelle Obama, reluctant presidential consort
When asked if she found it limiting to be described as a black woman writer, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison replied:


Mitt Romney:
Mitt Romney's bruising Republican primary progress
Pity Mitt Romney. He's the first Republican in recent history to take both New Hampshire and Iowa in the primary process. His double-digit victory last night, was emphatic by any standard. Barring some cataclysmic revelation or humiliating gaffe, he will be the Republican presidential nominee in November.
The GOP’s Blatant Racism
In the British original of


Rick Santorum addresses supporters at the Iowa caucus. Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP
Rick Santorum's surge in Iowa means Mitt Romney is no winner
The secret to surging this Republican primary season, like the secret to a good joke, is timing. For most of the last year, Rick Santorum has virtually been living in Iowa and the Iowans didn't seem to care. Religious conservatives and Tea Party followers fell in and out of love with Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Each time they were propelled to frontrunner status their lead would bring the kind of scrutiny a future presidential nominee might expect. And each time that was enough to send them back to the second tier.


Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Photomontage by Jaime Turner
US primaries promise little – and this year could deliver even less
'They are in a terminal panic," said Pat Buchanan in February 1996 of the Republican establishment, as his insurgent campaign against Senate leader Bob Dole gathered pace. "All the knights and barons will be riding into the castle pulling up the drawbridge in a minute. All the peasants are coming with pitchforks. We're going to take this over the top." By March his campaign was suspended. By November he was supporting Dole.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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