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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has propelled himself back into the Republican presidential race with a primary victory in Michigan. Romney won Tuesday’s contest with thirty-nine percent of the vote.
Mitt Romney: “You know only a week ago a win looked like it was impossible, but then you got out and told America what they needed to hear. You said we would fight for every job. You said we would fight to get health care for all Americans. You said we would fight to secure our borders. You said you would fight for us to be able to lower taxes for middle-income Americans. And Michigan heard, and Michigan voted tonight. Congratulations.”
Arizona Senator and New Hampshire victor John McCain came in second with thirty percent. Iowa winner and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was third at sixteen percent. With no candidate taking more than one state so far, the three-way split is fueling talk of the most wide-open Republican race in decades. By nightfall, McCain was already campaigning in South Carolina, the site of the next Republican primary on Saturday.
Sen. John McCain: “Tonight, my friends, we congratulate another candidate’s campaign, but tomorrow we get up and fight. Now it’s your turn, South Carolina. We’re going to fight for your votes, we’re going to win this primary and the nomination of our party, and we’re going to be proud of the way we do it.”
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee’s religious views are coming under more scrutiny after he called for the Constitution to be re-written in “God’s standards.”
Mike Huckabee: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards, rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”
Huckabee was speaking Monday in Michigan. On the Democratic side, Senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards squared off in a debate last night in Nevada. Missing from the stage was Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who lost a last-minute legal fight with NBC over his inclusion. Kucinich had sued the network after it disinvited him from participating. He’ll join us later in the broadcast.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Palestinian death toll from Israel’s latest attack on the Gaza Strip has hit nineteen. It was the highest single-day Palestinian toll in more than a year. Another fifty Palestinians were reportedly injured. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the assault as a “massacre.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “Today there was a massacre and butchery against our people, and we say to the world, to Israel and to all the people, crimes such as these, one can not remain silent over, and in no way whatsoever can it bring peace.”
The fighting came just days after President Bush visited both Israel and the West Bank to promote U.S.-brokered negotiations. At least 115 Palestinians have now been killed in Israeli attacks since the Bush administration launched the latest phase of talks in Annapolis two months ago. Dismissed Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Palestinian Authority was partly responsible for the ongoing attacks.
Ismail Haniyeh: “These attacks are the gifts from Bush, the gifts to who clapped for Bush, and the gifts for the people who sold their nation just for Bush. But we tell them, Bush is leaving, and you are leaving, but this case, this nation, this power, and this dignity will stay forever.”
Meanwhile, several Israelis have been wounded in Palestinian rocket fire on nearby Israeli towns. Hamas said it took part in the rocket-firing for the first time since seizing power in Gaza last year. An Ecuadorian national working on an Israeli farm was also killed by Palestinian sniper fire. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Israel was acting to prevent Palestinian attacks.
Israeli President Shimon Peres: “We left Gaza completely. We took out our army, we took out our settlements. There is no single Israeli in the Gaza Strip. It’s totally in the hands of the Palestinians, and we don’t understand exactly why they are the shooting, what do they want to achieve. But as long as they are shooting, we are left without a choice but to answer and stop it.”
Israel has continued attacks on Gaza after rejecting a truce offer from Hamas last month. Israel has also cut fuel, water and electricity supplies, barred almost all Palestinians from leaving, including those needing medical care, and cut off staples, including food and bottled water.
In Sri Lanka, at least twenty-four people have been killed in a roadside bombing on a civilian bus. The attack is renewing fears of a new outbreak of violence as a six-year ceasefire between the government and Tamil rebels formally expires.
In Lebanon, at least three people were killed Tuesday in a bomb targeting a U.S. embassy vehicle in Beirut. Another twenty bystanders were reportedly wounded. Speaking from Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the attack.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: '’The United States will of course not be deterred in its effort to help the Lebanese people, to help the democratic forces in Lebanon, to help Lebanon resist foreign interference in their affairs and to uphold the many security resolutions that have been passed in the past of a stable and democratic Lebanon.'’
In Indonesia, doctors for the former dictator Suharto say he is developing a life-threatening blood infection. Suharto oversaw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, most coming during his rise to power in the late 1960s and in Indonesia’s invasion and occupation of East Timor. Suharto was also charged with stealing billions of dollars in public funds. On Tuesday, a group of students rallied in Solo, the site of the Suharto family home, to call for returning Suharto’s fortune to the Indonesian people.
Protester: “We are consistently striving against Suharto, and and his assets should be given to the people for their welfare.”
In Washington, more than two dozen scientists have come to Capitol Hill this week to protest the Bush administration’s alleged interference in science linked to the environment. Members of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Endangered Species Coalition are calling for congressional probes and better oversight of how the administration interacts with government scientists. The administration has been accused of censoring reports highlighting global warming and of gutting the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Coalition says at least fifty different species decisions have appeared to be motivated by politics rather than environmental science.
The Food and Drug Administration has declared food from cloned animals safe to eat. Despite the announcement, the Department of Agriculture is asking farmers to continue withholding cloned meat from the market in order to give consumers time to accept the idea. The Washington Post reports there’s new evidence showing the cloned meat ban has already been violated. Several major cattle-cloning companies admitted Tuesday they’ve been unable to keep track of the number of clone offspring that have entered the food supply.
And here in New York, state lawmakers have approved a bill that would bar holding seriously mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement. Under the measure, the prisoners will now be transferred to secure treatment facilities rather than kept in twenty-four-hour solitude. The measure caps a four-year campaign by mental health and prisoner advocates. They’ve argued that solitary confinement of mentally ill prisoners is inhumane and has led to increased suicides and declining mental health.