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Monday, July 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
An estimated 3,000 demonstrators, most of them protesting against the war, rallied on Boston Common before winding their way through the city and marching past FleetCenter, the downtown arena where the convention will be held. They were accompanied by a ragtag group marching against everything from oppression in Haiti to better funding for schools and health care.
At Faneuil Hall, an estimated 1,000 anti-abortion protesters staged a rally before a smaller group set off on their own march toward FleetCenter.
Brief scuffles broke out when the anti-war and anti-abortion groups crossed paths. Police moved them along, and the marches continued their separate ways after a few moments of confusion. Two people were arrested.
Kerry throws out first pitch at game
Sen. John Kerry made a surprise visit to Boston for the Yankees-Red Sox baseball game yesterday by secretly entering a city tightly secured for the Democratic convention that will nominate him for president.
"This plane is diverted," Kerry told reporters aboard his chartered Boeing 757 shortly after it left Columbus, Ohio, ostensibly for Titusville, Fla.
Kerry threw the ceremonial first pitch to Will Pumyea, a 23-year-old who served as a military police officer in the U.S. National Guard in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's a wonderful rivalry and it's a great event," Kerry said. "I love the Red Sox, the idea of missing a Yankees-Red Sox series right before convention week was not acceptable."
Kerry, who began a six-day, cross-country trek to the convention in Colorado on Friday, will hold a town-hall meeting at Cape Canaveral in Florida today where he will focus on technology and innovation in America. He is scheduled to be back in Boston on Wednesday afternoon.
Arab news channel covering convention
Perhaps symbolic of its growing influence, Al-Jazeera even has a skybox in the convention hall, along with the U.S. television networks, although it says it was denied a separate sign with its logo.
Stephanie Thomas, manager and spokeswoman for Al-Jazeera's Washington bureau, said Al-Jazeera is in Boston to give the Democrats a forum to reach Arab Americans. However, she says, the Democrats have not responded to Al-Jazeera's requests for interviews with party leaders.
Thomas notes that because Al-Jazeera's largest audience, Arabs in the Middle East, is about eight hours ahead of Boston, live coverage of the convention will be seen by relatively few there. Even so, she says the network plans about 12 hours of live coverage over four days more than the major U.S. networks.
Clark releases delegates to Kerry
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, one of only two Democrats to win a state primary before bowing to John Kerry, has released his delegates to the Massachusetts senator.
Clark sent an e-mail Friday directing delegates pledged to him in primary contests to cast their first ballots for Kerry on Thursday, Clark spokesman Erick Mullen said.
"It is my hope that every Clark for President delegate will assume a leadership role at the convention," Clark wrote in the e-mail. "The most important way you can do that is to stand with John Kerry and John Edwards and cast your vote for them on the first ballot."
Clark won the Oklahoma primary by a slim margin over Edwards and finished second to Kerry in Arizona, New Mexico and North Dakota, on his way to 73 pledged delegates. He dropped out of the race Feb. 11.
Clark is to speak at the convention Thursday.
Firefighters reach deal to avert picketing
Boston firefighters reached a contract agreement with the city yesterday after a marathon session of negotiations, averting union picketing at delegation welcoming parties for the Democratic National Convention.
The firefighters were the last big city union left without a contract. Unionized city police officers reached a four-year deal with city several days ago.
The contract for the 1,450 unionized firefighters calls for raises of 10.5 percent for three years.
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