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Ex-Giuliani aide alleges ethics abuse

NEW YORK – A former aide to Rudy Giuliani is out of prison and attacking the ex-mayor’s ethics, saying he was ordered to help Giuliani’s then-girlfriend get a below-market rent apartment.

Russell Harding, who got five years for embezzling more than $400,000 in city money and downloading child pornography onto his computer, claims on his Web site that Giuliani’s two terms as mayor were marked by ethical breaches.

Giuliani later married the girlfriend, Judith Nathan. Her spokesman and Giuliani aides denied the claims. They supplied a letter Harding wrote to another Giuliani adviser last year in which he said he doesn’t want to talk to the press about Giuliani but does need money.

Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel said Harding’s allegations “are false and untrue. Sadly, the letter makes all too clear Russell’s motivations.”

Introducing Mike Hucka … er, Beebe

Arkansas’ governor needs a name tag.

Mike Beebe has been in office nearly two years, but that hasn’t stopped officials in his state from confusing him with his similarly named predecessor, Mike Huckabee.

“To my right is Gov. Mike Huckabee,” University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson said Friday at a ceremony introducing Beebe. He quickly corrected himself as the audience howled.

The confusion provided a bit of levity last month during the funeral for Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney, who was shot and killed at the party’s headquarters. Beebe took advantage of the Rev. Vic Nixon’s reference to the current governor as Huckabee.

“Thank you, monsignor,” Beebe responded to the Methodist pastor’s introduction, using a term applied only by Catholics to some of their clergymen.

Bush passes 6-month VP security detail

President Bush signed legislation Friday giving Vice President Cheney and future vice presidents six months of Secret Service protection after they leave office.

The measure, which passed through Congress earlier this month, also extends protection to the spouse of the vice president and their children younger than age 16, and allows the Homeland Security secretary to extend the Secret Service guard if the situation warrants.

Since Hubert Humphrey left office in 1969, it has been common practice for the White House or Congress to extend temporary protection, usually for half a year, to former vice presidents. The measure Bush signed makes it permanent law.

Traders predict Obama will nab presidency

Traders in the University of Iowa’s electronic-futures market Thursday bet Barack Obama had a 63 percent chance of winning the popular vote in November’s presidential election. At futures market Intrade, the Democrat got a 59 percent chance of taking the election.

That’s not a huge gap, but in the 10 days before Thursday it was much wider, averaging about 10 percentage points a day. The two markets have significant differences: For example, Intrade accounts for the chance Obama could lose the popular vote but still get elected. But at no point since Obama locked his party’s nomination in early June has such a wide gap persisted for so long.

These political-futures markets typically predict election outcomes more accurately than polling.