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News briefs for Sept. 10

Obama: Palin just another politician

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — Listening to Barack Obama, it can seem like Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is the main person standing between him and the White House instead of John McCain.

Obama is putting as much heat on Palin as he is on the man at the top of the GOP ticket, objecting to the Republican Party’s portrayal of her as a reformer who can bring change to Washington.

That is supposed to be Obama’s distinction, and he’s not taking kindly to Palin trying to claim it. Especially when it appears the new star on the GOP ticket is helping to boost its standing: McCain has jumped to a dead heat or narrow lead over Obama in the latest national polls since choosing Palin as his running mate.

Hurricane Ike soaks Havana before moving into Gulf

HAVANA — Hurricane Ike moved into the warm waters of the Gulf and took aim at the U.S. and Mexican coasts Tuesday after bringing down aging buildings in Havana and tearing through western Cuba’s tobacco country.

Forecasters said Ike, which has already killed at least 80 people in the Caribbean, could strengthen into a massive Category 3 storm before slamming into Texas or Mexico this weekend.

Some 1.2 million people — more than a tenth of Cuba’s population — sought refuge from Ike, which killed four people and shredded hundreds of homes as it barreled across the island.

Obama: Bush’s plan for Afghanistan, Iraq forces comes up short

RIVERSIDE, Ohio — Barack Obama said President Bush isn’t acting quickly or forcefully enough to get more U.S. forces into Afghanistan and out of Iraq.

Bush “is tinkering around the edges and kicking the can down the road to the next president” with his decision Tuesday to bring home only 8,000 combat and support troops from Iraq by February, said Obama, who hopes to be that next president.

Bush said a Marine battalion scheduled to be sent to Iraq in November will instead be deployed to Afghanistan, followed by an Army combat brigade early next year. In all, that would add 4,500 to 4,700 combat troops in Afghanistan.