John McCaslin

Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who lost both of his legs and his right arm in a grenade accident in Vietnam in 1967, says he's not surprised by the so-called "whispering" campaign against fellow Democrat Barack Obama, figuring "our opponents put my picture next to Osama bin Laden and said I wouldn't keep America safe."

'Intense' intrigue

Due to popular worldwide demand, upcoming acceptance speeches by Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, as well as other news generated by both political parties at their respective conventions, will be broadcast around the world in Persian, Mandarin, Pashto and Urdu.

The Voice of America says it is fielding a team of 90 reporters, technicians, producers, directors and coordinators at both the Denver and St. Paul, Minn., convention sites to create "round-the-clock" radio, television, and Internet broadcasts in two dozen languages.

"This election, historic in many ways, is attracting intense interest around the world," says VOA Executive Editor Steve Redish. "We'll be working hard to explain to people how the process works and who the personalities are."

The VOA, it's worth noting, says one of its largest audiences is in Iran.

Big draw

That is former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota set to provide a Democratic National Convention "preview briefing" next Tuesday at a private residence in Alexandria.

The $500 per-person, non-tax-deductible briefing will benefit the Barack Obama Victory Fund, and be held at the Alexandria home of Peter and Barbara Appel.

Denver reminder

The National Black Republican Association says it hopes to have 50 "Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Republican" billboards throughout the city of Denver by the time the Democratic National Convention opens later this month.

Getting closer

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation says the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are the latest to contribute $3 million and $1 million respectively toward building a $120 million monument to the slain civil rights leader.

This brings the amount raised to date to $98.8 million.

The memorial will be built on the Mall adjacent to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. Congress passed joint resolutions in 1996 authorizing Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity to establish a memorial honoring King.

Life's a movie

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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