World and Nation

Shorts (left)

Obama Tops Clinton in a Record Fundraising Month for Both

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton both had a record-breaking month of fundraising in February, bringing in more than $80 million combined, but with Obama again raising significantly more than Clinton.

Obama’s campaign did not release an official estimate of its February fundraising on Thursday. But several major donors estimated it to be about $50 million based on their calculations and knowledge of tallies during the month, when on many days the campaign took in as much as $2 million.

The unprecedented sum underscores the challenge facing Obama in his decision to accept public financing for the general election and abide by the spending limits that come with it, something he indicated last year he would do if the Republican nominee also signed up for the campaign finance program. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, has criticized Obama for wavering on the issue.

Obama campaign officials were still tabulating and said only that their total was “considerably more” than the $35 million that Clinton’s campaign announced Thursday that it had raised in February.

Partisan Split Emerges On Mortgage Crisis Relief

Just a month after President Bush and Democratic leaders hailed their bipartisan agreement on an economic stimulus plan, the two sides went to war on Thursday over how to prevent widening damage from the housing crisis.

Senate Republicans, lining up with President Bush, blocked a Democratic bill that would provide more money for homeowner counseling programs and let bankruptcy judges reduce the terms of a mortgage for people about to lose their houses through foreclosure.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration flatly rejected Democratic proposals to rescue hundreds of thousands of borrowers, as well as their mortgage lenders, by having the government buy up and restructure billions of dollars in delinquent home loans. Instead, the president called on Congress to extend indefinitely his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which expire at the end of 2010.

With new data showing that the economy may be even weaker than previously thought, Republicans and Democrats plunged back into a partisan, ideological clash over whether the government should try to stabilize home prices, prevent foreclosures and perhaps even bail out lenders.

Arctic Seed Vault Is a Fort Knox of Food

With plant species disappearing at an alarming rate, scientists and governments are creating a global network of plant banks to store seeds and sprouts, precious genetic resources that may be needed for man to adapt the world’s food supply to climate change.

This week, the flagship of that effort, the Global Seed Vault, received its first seeds here, millions of them. Bored into the middle of a frozen Arctic mountain topped with snow, the Seed Vault’s goal is to store and protect samples of every type of seed from every seed collection in the world.

As of Thursday, thousands of neatly stacked and labeled gray boxes of seeds — peas from Nigeria, corn from Mexico — reside in this glazed cavelike structure, forming a sort of backup hard drive, in case natural disasters or human errors erase the seeds from the outside world.