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Obama Widens Lead Over Clinton with Big NC Win, Narrow Indiana Loss

Senator Barack Obama has increased his lead over Senator Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Tuesday, Obama scored a decisive fourteen-point victory in North Carolina while narrowly losing to Clinton by two points in Indiana. Addressing supporters in Raleigh, Obama said he is close to securing the nomination.

Sen. Barack Obama: "Because you still believe that this is our moment and our time to change America, tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. More importantly, because of you, we’ve seen that it’s possible to overcome the politics of division and the politics of distraction, that it’s possible to overcome the same old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems."

Despite Obama’s lead in the popular vote and delegate count, he’ll be unable to wrap up the nomination without support of Democratic superdelegates. Clinton is expected to try to slow Obama’s momentum by focusing on resolving the dispute over the uncounted primaries in Michigan and Florida. Speaking to supporters in Indianapolis, Clinton promised to stay in the race.

Sen. Hillary Clinton: "Tonight, we’ve come from behind, we’ve broken the tie, and thanks to you, it’s full speed onto the White House… But I can assure you, as I have said on many occasions, that no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November."

Clinton has reportedly made another multi-million-dollar loan from her personal fortune to keep her campaign afloat.

Burma Toll Could Top 80,000

In Burma, the death toll from the weekend cyclone has topped more than 22,000. Up to 60,000 people are reported missing, while up to a million have been left homeless. Earlier today, the UN said the Burmese military junta had approved the first UN aid flight to help the victims. Rashid Khalikov of the UN disaster relief agency OCHA said hundreds of thousands are in need of aid.

Rashid Khalikov: "You also heard that the figures on the death toll now are more than 22,000. There is also figures used that more than 40,000 are still missing. I wanted to tell you that unfortunately we cannot tell you how many people are in need of assistance. We just clearly understand that it probably will be hundreds of thousands of people."

The UN says an aircraft carrying twenty-five tons of aid will land in Burma later today. At the White House, President Bush urged the junta to accept aid from the United States.

President Bush: “So our message is to the military rulers, let the United States come and help you, help the people. Our hearts go out to the people of Burma. We want to help them deal with this terrible disaster, and at the same time, of course, we want them to live in a free society."

Cyclone Nargis was the largest to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people died in Bangladesh.

White House Missing Emails Around Iraq Invasion

The Bush administration is claiming it can’t find hundreds of emails from one of the most critical periods of its time in office. The White House says it’s missing backup recovery files for emails beginning in March 2003, the same month it launched the invasion of Iraq. The first recorded file is dated on May 23 of that year. That leaves open the possibility more than two months’ worth of emails have been lost. The admission came out of a lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is suing the White House for email records.

Gitmo Lawyers Allege Government Spying

Lawyers for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are accusing the US government of eavesdropping on their phone calls. The charge comes in a new court filing in a case seeking information on whether Guantanamo lawyers have been the targets of government surveillance. One attorney says she’s stopped accepting any new clients, because the possibility of government spying means she can no longer guarantee confidentiality. The Justice Department has refused to acknowledge whether the lawyers have been put under surveillance.

San Diego Orders Probe of Blackwater Permit

The private military firm Blackwater is facing new scrutiny over its effort to build a training facility in Southern California. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has demanded a probe into whether Blackwater misrepresented itself when it sought permits for the facility’s construction. Blackwater didn’t file under its own name, instead using the names of two subsidiaries. Earlier this year, local residents successfully blocked Blackwater from opening an 824-acre military complex known as Blackwater West in the rural hamlet of Potrero, California. The grassroots group known as the Courage Campaign says it’s collected 2,500 signatures to oppose Blackwater’s latest plans.

House Subpoenas Cheney Chief of Staff on Interrogation

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to subpoena Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff over the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. David Addington is believed to have played a major role in White House discussions on the interrogations. Former Bush administration officials John Yoo, John Ashcroft and Douglas Feith have all avoided subpoenas by agreeing to testify.

US Re-establishes Navy Fleet in South America

In military news, the Pentagon has announced the re-establishment of a US Navy fleet to oversee activity in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The Fourth Fleet has not been used since its disbandment in 1950.
Some critics warn the fleet’s renewal could be seen as a warning to governments seeking greater regional integration to counter US influence, most notably Venezuela.

Studies: Racial Disparity in Drug Arrests Grows

New studies show racial disparities in drug arrests are continuing to rise. According to Human Rights Watch, black men are nearly twelve times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as white men, even though whites commit more drug-related crimes. Black women are five times as likely to see prison time for drug crimes than white women. According to the Sentencing Project, since 1980 the rate of drug arrests for blacks has increased by 225 percent, compared to 75 percent for whites.

Newly Published Photographs Depict Hiroshima Aftermath

New photographs have been unearthed of the aftermath of the US bombing of Hiroshima. The Hoover Institution says the photos were discovered soon after the attack in 1945. The photos show rare images of the effects of the bombing, with hundreds of disfigured bodies piled together on the ground. An estimated 140,000 people were killed instantly or died within a few months after the bombing on August 6th, 1945.

Brazilian Jury Overturns Rancher Conviction for Killing of US Nun

In Brazil, a jury has overturned the conviction of a Brazilian rancher for the killing of a US-born Catholic nun in the Amazon rainforest. Vitalmiro de Moura had been sentenced to thirty years for paying gunmen to murder seventy-three-year-old Sister Dorothy Stang in Feburary 2005. But on Tuesday, a new jury absolved him of the crime. Dorothy Stang’s brother, David, said her family would appeal.

David Stang: "We are surprised at the result. We will try all of the different agencies, judicial system to appeal this case, and we hope that we will win at another time."

Sister Stang had been trying to stop illegal logging by de Moura when she was killed. She had lived and worked in Brazil for more than thirty years.

NY Activists to Protest Sean Bell Killing

And here in New York, activists are planning to stage city-wide civil disobedience today in protest of the recent acquittal of three police officers in the killing of Sean Bell. The twenty-three-year-old Bell died in a hail of fifty police bullets on the morning of what would have been his wedding day in November 2006. He was unarmed. The Reverend Al Sharpton says the protests will be the first in what he hopes will lead to a city-wide shutdown.

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