In Iraq, over 100 Iraqis have died over the past day in a series of major suicide bombing attacks that targeted new Iraqi Army and police recruits. This morning at about 7 local time a large car bomb went off outside an army recruiting center in Baghdad. 47 people are believed to have been killed. This comes a day after 54 people died in a suicide bombing attack at a police station south of Baghdad. Also yesterday in Baghdad, four Iraqi police officers were killed in an ambush. The BBC reports this has been one of the bloodiest 24-hour periods since the fall of Baghdad.
In campaign news, Senator John Kerry easily won primaries Tuesday in Virginia and Tennessee giving him his first victories so far in southern states. Kerry won 52 percent of the vote in Virginia and 41 percent in Tennessee. The Massachusetts Senator has now won 12 of the first 14 contests. North Carolina Senator John Edwards scored second in both contests with 27 percent. Placing third was Wesley Clark. Aides to Clark said the retired general is dropping out of the race and would make a formal announcement today in his hometown of Little Rock Arkansas. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean failed to win 10 percent of the vote in either state.
The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush will announce today his endorsement of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that would bar same sex marriages. According to White House advisors, the amendment would not prevent state legislatures from allowing for civil unions and same-sex partnership arrangements but critics disagreed. But the head of Freedom to Marry said the proposed amendment is written in a manner that “is intended to deny any other measure of protection, including civil unions and domestic partnerships.”
The White House released summaries of President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service records and pay documents amid growing controversy over an alleged one-year gap in his military service between May 1972 and May 1973. The documents released yesterday include payroll sheets never before made public. Summaries prepared by the Defense Financing Accounting Service indicate that Bush was paid for two days in October and four days in November and none in December 1972. He was not paid for February or March 1973. But White House officials were careful to stop short of claiming that the records proved definitively that Bush had shown up for all the Guard duties he was expected to. We’ll have more on this later in the show.
In Haiti fighting between opponents of President Aristide and the government spread Tuesday into the historic Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city. Opponents of Aristide have called for a major anti-government protest in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. It will mark the first street protest in the capital since an armed uprising began last week. The government has portrayed the opposition — which includes many former Aristide supporters — as terrorists. The country’s national security chief said yesterday QUOTE “The entire population must work together with the police to fight this phenomenon of terrorism.” Agence France Press is reporting that the government has retaken control of three cities seized by opposition groups. And Reuters is reporting that in Washington a senior State Department official said proposals for a resolution on Haiti were under discussion which could involve Aristide’s departure from office. The official however did not specify who was making the proposals. And State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters “We recognize that reaching a political settlement will require some fairly thorough changes in the way Haiti is governed.”
Israeli troops have killed 12 Palestinians and wounded 40 in Gaza City and another 10 Palestinians were wounded in Rafah in one of the bloodiest days in the Occupied Territories in months. There were no reports of Israeli casualties. Hamas has vowed large suicide attacks in retaliation. Palestinian negotiations minister Saeb Erakat said “”We strongly condemn this aggression, this massacre while efforts are being made to revive the peace process.” Israeli officials said it invaded Gaza City with tanks early this morning after an army post came under mortar attack.
The US-installed regime in Iraq said last night it would pay a monthly pension to a former president overthrown more than 35 years ago in a coup that brought Saddam Hussein’s Baath party to power. The Iraqi Governing Council says it will pay Abdel-Rahman Aref $1,000 a month and allocate $5,000 to cover his medical bills in Jordan. Aref rose to prominence in 1963 when he was appointed army chief of staff by his elder brother, then President Abdel-Salam Aref. He was overthrown in July of 1968 in a coup that was aided by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA also gave the Baath Party the names of some 5,000 Iraqi Communists who were then hunted down and killed or imprisoned. Following the coup, Baath party leader Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr became president, with Saddam as his right hand man.
In Iowa, under public pressure federal prosecutors have reversed themselves and dropped a controversial subpoena that would have forced Drake University to hand over detailed information about who organized and attended an anti-war forum at the campus last November. The government has also dropped a subpoena for four anti-war activists to appear before a grand jury for questioning. Civil liberties attorneys said they had not seen such subpoenas since the 1950s during the McCarthy Era.