World and Nation

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New York City Extends Term Limits

The City Council on Thursday cleared a path for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to run for re-election next year, voting to revise a term limits law twice approved by voters.

By a 29-22 vote, council members handed Bloomberg his most personal political triumph yet, and dramatically reshaped the political landscape for 2009.

While legal challenges are expected in the days to come, many election law experts believe that the measure will survive. That means Bloomberg, given his popularity and his intention to spend $80 million to win a third term, would instantly become the favorite in the race.

The mayor had pushed aggressively behind the scenes for the legislation after announcing three weeks ago that he wished to remain in office and steer the city through its deepening economic trouble.

Asked how he felt upon hearing that the measure had passed, Bloomberg said: “I had a smile on my face. Also a little bit of tinge of ‘Oh, my goodness! I hope I know what I’m doing here. We’re going to have some very tough times.’”

Questions Over Credibility Follow Voter Registration Firms

On Oct. 6, the community organizing group ACORN and an affiliated charity called Project Vote announced with jubilation that they had registered 1.3 million new voters. But it turns out the claim was a wild exaggeration, and the real number of newly registered voters nationwide is closer to 450,000, Project Vote’s executive director, Michael Slater, said in an interview.

The remainder are made up of registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Slater acknowledged.

In registration drives, it is common for a percentage of newly registered voters to be disqualified for various reasons, although experts say the percentage is higher when groups pay workers to gather registrations. But the disclosure Thursday that 30 percent of ACORN’s registrations were faulty was described by Republicans as further proof of what they said was ACORN’s effort to unfairly tilt the election.

U.S. Vows to Help Homeowners

With foreclosures mounting, Bush administration officials said Thursday that they were preparing to step up efforts to help struggling homeowners.

A senior policymaker told a Senate committee that the administration was working on a plan under which the government would offer to shoulder some of the losses on loans that are modified.

The insurance program could cost tens of billions of dollars, according to a person briefed on discussions about the plan, and would be run by the Treasury department under the $700 billion financial rescue Congress passed earlier this month.

The remarks about the plan, made by Sheila C. Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., came as a new report showed that foreclosure filings jumped 71 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. At the hearing, congressional Democrats criticized the administration for not doing enough to help homeowners even as the Treasury department and Federal Reserve have moved to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into banks and the financial system.