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In his first formal interview with an Arabic TV network, President Obama told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Monday that he wants the US to do more "listening" than "dictating" in the Middle East. The point, he indicated, was imparted to special envoy George Mitchell as he headed off on an eight-day trip to the region with instructions to talk to "all the major parties involved."

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) of Illinois skipped his impeachment trial in the state Senate Monday and opted to conduct nationally televised interviews with various TV outlets in New York. During the media blitz, he complained that "the fix is in" and that he couldn't get a fair hearing on corruption charges, which include trying to sell President Obama's vacant US Senate seat.

Stock dividends that often act as a security blanket for investors are being cut at the fastest pace since 1958, when annual payments fell 8.4 percent, according to new Standard & Poor's research. Among S&P 500 companies, the Bank of America has reported the largest decrease, from $1.28 a share to 4 cents in its annual dividend.

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