A state court ruling in Boston yesterday has put Massachusetts on course to become the first state in the country to allow same-sex marriages. The justices ruled that a law to allow gay couples to form civil unions would establish “an unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.” President Bush condemned the ruling. In a statement he said “If activist judges insist on redefining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.” Democratic presidential frontrunner Senator John Kerry said “”I believe the right answer is civil unions. I oppose gay marriage and disagree with the Massachusetts court’s decision.” In Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney called for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. According to the Boston Globe, Massachusetts would join the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as the only governments that offer full civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The New York City Council approved a resolution Wednesday condemning the USA Patriot Act. The three largest cities in the country, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have now all condemned the law that was quickly passed after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a total of three states and 246 municipalities and counties have passed similar resolutions. Glenn Devitt, an organizer with the Committee said “So much is being done in the name of New York, we are saying don’t use our name to infringe on people’s rights.”
CIA Director George Tenet is scheduled to deliver an unusual public defense of the agency in a speech today at Georgetown University. Former US weapons inspector David Kay and others have criticized the CIA for miscalculating Iraq’s weapons threat. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee it is too early to determine whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Rumseld said “It took us 10 months to find Saddam Hussein. The reality is that the hole he was found in was large enough to hold enough biological weapons to kill thousands of human beings. . . . And unlike Saddam Hussein, such objects can stay buried.”
Meanwhile in Britain, a retired top intelligence official has told the Independent of London that not a single British defense intelligence expert backed Tony Blair’s most contentious claims on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Brian Jones, who was the leading expert on weapons of mass destruction in the Ministry of Defense said intelligence officers were overruled in their assessments.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s cabionet has recommended a presidential pardon for the famed nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan who admitted Wednesday that he shared nuclear secrets with Libya, Iran and North Korea. Khan, who invented Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and is considered to be a national hero, stunned the country when he confessed on television of leaking nuclear secrets. Khan claimed he had acted without authorization from the government and begged forgiveness. But other sources in Pakistan say the military and Musharraf knew and backed Khan’s dealings with other countries. Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said Khan’s confession was “just the tip of the iceberg for us” and he said that Khan was not working alone. One former army chief and ally of Musharraf told the Guardian of London he believed Khan would be kept out of court “because he knows too much” He said “If Khan had appeared in a court of law many things would have come out. That is very dangerous for President Musharraf.”
Newsweek is reporting the Justice Department has opened up an inquiry into whether Halliburton was involved in the payment of $180 million in possible kickbacks to obtain contracts to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria during a period in the late 1990’s when Vice President Dick Cheney was chairman of the company. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also conducting its own probe.
In Israel, police questioned Prime Minister Gen. Ariel Sharon today about a bribery scandal that might force him from office if he is indicted.
A group of British Parliamentarians called on the European Union to impose trade sanctions on Israel until it allows the free export of goods from the West Bank and Gaza. According to the Mps, malnutrition rates in Gaza have reached the levels of sub-Saharan Africa.
On the campaign trail, the Associated Press is reporting that Wesley Clark’s campaign is running out of money. 250 Clark staffers have volunteered to forgo pay for a week to help fund ads in Tennessee.
UPI is reporting that nearly one quarter of the detainees being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay are from Saudi Arabia. UPI’s survey marks the first time the nationalities of the detainees was closely examined. Of the 650 detainees, about 160 are Saudis. The second and third largest nationalities were Yemenese and Pakistani. Afghans are the fourth largest nationality. Other detainees are from Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, China, Turkey, Britain, Tunisia, Russia, France, Bahrain, Australia, Canada, Sudan, Syria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Qatar, Spain and Sweden.
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