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    Nicolas Sarkozy loses to French Socialist Francois Hollande in France’s presidential run-off; Al-Qaeda releases a video of American hostage Warren Weinstein; Vladimir Putin returns to the Russian presidency; Biden speaks on gay marriage; and registration for black and Hispanic voters drops. Meanwhile, Jay-Z is spoiling his new daughter; Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’ threatens Matt Lauer’s family; and Mark Ruffalo’s Twitter account is hacked.

    Kelly + Caitlin


    Al-Qaeda Releases Video of American Hostage, http://ti.me/KCOn70
    Al-Qaeda released a video Sunday that shows American hostage Warren Weinstein saying he will be murdered unless President Obama agrees to the terrorist group’s demands. Weinstein has been a hostage since August when he was abducted in Lahore, Pakistan after his security guards were fooled and gunmen broke into his home. Weinstein, 70, is from Rockville, Md., and works as a country director for J.E. Austin Associates, a firm that advises Pakistani businesses and government groups. Leaders of the al-Qaeda group are demanding that U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen stop, and for all al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects around the world to be released. So far the White House has provided no comment on the situation.

    Flashy, fiery Sarkozy fades from French scene, http://bit.ly/KOHrX3
    Nicolas Sarkozy lost to French Socialist Francois Hollande in France’s presidential run-off election on Sunday. Sarkozy has become the first French one-term president since 1981. Many political strategists attributed Sarkozy’s light and sometimes sarcastic attitude as unappealing to voters who had been hit hard by the economy. Sarkozy’s inability to fulfill his 2007 campaign promises to shrink joblessness was also an issue since France’s unemployment rate is close to 10 percent right. S&P had also demoted France’s state debt rating from its top standing in January.

    (via MSNBC) 400 protesters arrested hours before Vladimir Putin’s return to Russian presidency: Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s president at a glittering ceremony on Monday, hours after clashes between police and thousands of protesters in the country’s capital laid bare the deep divisions over his return to the Kremlin for six more years. In the latest demonstrations on Sunday, police detained more than 400 people, including three opposition leaders, after tensions boiled over at a rally attended by about 20,000 people across the Moscow river from the Kremlin. Police hit protesters on the head with batons as they tried to stop demonstrators advancing towards them, carrying metal crowd barriers and throwing objects. The crowd fought back with flagpoles before the police eventually restored order. Months of protests have polarized Russia and left Putin facing a battle to reassert himself or risk being sidelined by the powerful business and political elites whose backing is vital, http://on.msnbc.com/K5w9jB

    Syrians vote for new parliament amid boycott calls, http://bbc.in/IxJTQ4
    Despite continuing violence, Syrian authorities are holding parliamentary elections promised by President Bashar al-Assad. The elections are the first in four decades not to guarantee a majority win for the Baath Party already in power. Opposition groups are dismissing the election as a sham and a distraction from the government’s heavy-handed reaction to dissent. Nine new parties were created and seven candidates are running, compared to a total of 7,195 candidates that were registered to contest the 250-seat People’s Assembly. A total of 14.8 million Syrians are eligible to vote at 12,152 polling stations.

    A Scramble as Biden Backs Same-Sex Marriage, http://nyti.ms/LujWW8
    In an interview on NBC’S “Meet the Press” this Sunday, Vice President Joseph Biden said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages and approved of the issue’s growing acceptance across the country. The White House is now fretting to clarify that Biden’s views do no indicate that the administration is advocating for an official change in policy. The blogosphere went wild, noting that Biden’s remarks make him the highest-ranking White House official to express acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Obama administration has only endorsed civil unions so far.

    Voter registration down among Hispanics, blacks, http://wapo.st/IP3jyf
    According to the Census Bureau, the number of black and Hispanic voters has fallen by 7 and 5 percent, respectively, across the country. Factoring in that voter registration reduces in non-presidential election years, and that white voter registration fell as well, it is the first time in 40 years that registered Hispanic voters has dropped this significantly. In some swing states, the fall-out is much higher. In New Mexico, Hispanic voter registration dropped by over 28 percent and in Florida by 10 percent.


    Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock Pays Tribute To Adam Yauch, http://on.mtv.com/J7zVWZ

    Jay-Z Can’t Help Spoiling Blue Ivy, http://bit.ly/LuJGSa

    Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Dictator’ threatens Matt Lauer’s family, promotes film, http://on.msnbc.com/K6bCvk

    Justin Bieber: Meet My Clean-Cut Mentor … Floyd Mayweather! http://bit.ly/IwslUC

    Nationals’ Jayson Werth breaks left wrist, ‘out for a while,’ http://lat.ms/JbAn4E

    The Avengers Star Mark Ruffalo’s Twitter Account Hacked, http://eonli.ne/IF0mpw

    ‘Avengers’ Opening Weekend Shatters Box Office Records, http://on.mtv.com/ICaLxm

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    Kelly Holleran

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

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