Californians last night voted by a 54 to 46 percent margin to recall Gov. Gray Davis just 11 months into his second term and overwhelmingly elect Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him.
Davis is the first California governor to be recalled and only the second in the nation’s history after North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier in 1921.
Schwarzenegger easily won the vote to replace Davis with 48 percent. Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante finished second with 32 percent. We’ll have on the recall in a few minutes.
Meanwhile in Washington Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has announced he may push for a constitutional amendment to allow the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger to become president of the United States. The Constitution only allows people born in the United States to run for president. Hatch told the Salt Lake Tribune, "If Arnold Schwarzenegger turns out to be the greatest governor of California, which I hope he will, if he turns out to be a tremendous leader and he proves to everybody in this country that he’s totally dedicated to this country as an American . . . we would be wrong not to give him that opportunity."
Turkey’s parliament voted yesterday to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq to aid the U.S. occupation. But members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council have announced plans to meet with US administrator Paul Bremer today to voice their opposition to Turkish troops in Iraq. The Washington Post reports the U.S. pressured the Governing Council not to take a vote condemning the Turkish troops. If Turkey goes ahead with sending troops the BBC reports it could lead to the biggest split yet between the Iraqi Governing Council and Washington.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Financial Times that he was not informed by the White House that it was stripping him of some of his power overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq until the decision was already made. In a sign that the Pentagon-led reconstruction was not going as planned, President Bush named national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to head the new Iraq Stabilization Group. Rumsfeld says he still doesn’t know why Bush made the major overhaul. In other Iraq news, three more U.S. soldiers have died.
The House International Relations Committee is expected to widely approve imposing strict new sanctions on Syria today. And the full House is expected to approve the measure later this week. Already 275 members of the House and 75 Senators back the legislation. The Washington Post reports the White House has sent messages to Congressional leaders that it had dropped its opposition to the sanctions in a sign of the worsening Washington-Damascus relations.
In other Syrian news, the nation’s ambassador to Spain said today that Syria would respond militarily if Israel continues to carries out more attacks in Syrian territory.
The Guardian of London reports that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has suffered a mild heart attack but tried to keep it secret because he feared it would create panic.
The Guardian reports the 74-year-old leader disappeared from the public view last week and when he reappeared his health had deteriorated greatly. His face was pale. He had lost weight. He was almost inaudible and he had trouble standing for more than a few minutes. Publicly Palestinian officials say Arafat has the flu.
The Washington Post reports Gen. Wesley Clark, who is running for president, may have broken federal election laws by discussing his campaign during recent speeches where he was receiving a fee. Since he declared his candidacy last month, Clark has continued to give paid speeches where he has received up to $30,000 per speech.
In other Clark news, Clark’s campaign manager resigned Tuesday saying the retired general was slighting the activists who launched the Draft Clark campaign in favor of Washington insiders.
And The Washington Times reports that Clark officially became a Democrat on Monday two weeks after he announced he was running as a Democratic candidate for president.
Reuters is reporting that the U.S. has released the most senior Taliban leader that it had been holding in Afghanistan apparently because he had broker talks between the U.S. and Taliban fighters.
In one of the largest media mergers, General Electrics’s NBC and Vivendi Universal announced today they had joined together to create a new $43 billion company called NBC Universal.
The new company will join major Hollywood studio Universal Pictures, TV production unit Universal Television, Universal theme parks, Spanish-language television network Telemundo and NBC’s network and production unit.