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About 27,000 union machinists, mostly at Boeing Co. plants in the Puget Sound area, began picketing over the weekend after a 48-hour contract extension failed to resolve a dispute over pay, outsourcing, retirement benefits, healthcare provisions, and other issues. The company said it would not try to assemble planes during the strike.

The Democratic Party has posted big gains in voter registration since the last federal election in 2006, adding 2 million Democrats to voter rolls in the 28 states that register voters, the Associated Press reports. During the same period, Republicans lost nearly 344,000 voters.

The probe of Gov. Sarah Palin's dismissal of her public safety commissioner has been politicized, state Rep. John Coghill (R) said in a letter sent to the Alaska Legislature's Legislative Council. Coghill claims that another state lawmaker, Hollis French, a Democrat who oversees the Palin investigation, should be replaced because of remarks French made about an "October surprise" that presumably might damage Palin's election as John McCain's vice-presidential choice.

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