Voters head to the polls today for New Hampshire’s Democratic and Republican primaries. Every major opinion poll indicates Senator Barack Obama will beat Senator Hillary Clinton, just as he did five days ago in Iowa. Over the last three decades every presidential candidate who has won in both Iowa and New Hampshire has gone on to win their party’s nomination. The Republican race appears to be a much closer fight between Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
On Monday, Hillary Clinton made headlines after she momentarily choked up with tear-filled eyes when discussing why she was running for president.
Sen. Clinton: “This is very personal for me. It’s not just political, it’s not just public. I see what’s happening. We have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it’s who’s up and who’s down. It’s about our country, it’s about our kids’ futures. It’s really about all of us together. Some of us put ourselves out there and do this against some pretty difficult odds. And we do it, each one of us, because we care about our country. But some of us are right, and some of us are wrong, some of us are ready and some of us are not, some of us know what we will do on day one, and some of us haven’t really though that through enough.”
Senator Barack Obama is continuing to enjoy a wave of new support from across the country following his victory in Iowa. Obama is expected to pick up a major endorsement in Nevada later this week from the largest union in the state: the Culinary Workers Union. Nevada holds its primary on January 19. During a campaign stop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Obama vowed to help lead the fight against global warming.
Sen. Barack Obama: “In one day’s time, we have a chance to break the lock that big oil has on our economy and on our foreign policy. We know what to do. If we increase oil efficiency standards to forty miles per gallon, we save the equivalent of all the oil we import from the Persian Gulf. We know that climate change is real and that we have to cap the emission of greenhouse gases.”
On the Republican front, Mitt Romney has shifted the tone of his campaign and is now presenting himself as an agent of change. He has repeatedly questioned whether Senator John McCain could beat Barack Obama in November.
Mitt Romney: “This is going to be a time of choice for our party. Are we going to have someone as a nominee who can stand up to Barrack Obama, who I think could very well be their nominee? He’ll stand up and talk about change. He hasn’t ever done it, but he’ll talk about change, and he’ll be able to stand up, as he has right now against long-serving U.S. senators who talk about their experience, and he just blows them away.”
Tensions between the United States and Iran appear to be increasing after an incident on Sunday when three U.S. warships were approached by Iranian boats in the Strait of Hormuz off the Iranian coast. The U.S. claims five Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats came within 500 yards of the U.S. warships and threatened to blow them up.
The Iranian boats backed away before the American warships opened fire. The Pentagon described it as a serious provocation. This is State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack.
Sean McCormack: “We would urge Iran to refrain from any provocative actions that could lead to dangerous incidents in the future… Again, part of what we’re trying to do is make sure that the Iranians don’t have an easy pathway to engage in behaviors of either illicit or antithetical to the interest of the region or the United States.”
The incident occurred just prior to President Bush’s trip to the Middle East that will include his first visits to Israel and the West Bank as president. Israel is planning its largest security operation since the Pope’s visit in 2000. A security force of more than 10,000 officers will be on duty to protect President Bush. Police say the President’s hotel in Jerusalem will resemble Fort Knox. On Monday, President Bush said he wants to help push talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
President Bush: “As I already said, there is going to be a timetable. One timetable is the departure of George W. Bush from the White House. Not that I’m a great, you know, heroic figure, but they know me, and they’re comfortable with me, and I’m a known quantity, and therefore the question is will they decide to make the effort necessary to get the deal done while I’m president, as opposed to, maybe the next person won’t agree with the two-state or maybe the next person will take a while to get moving”.
In Pakistan, the party of slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is calling for a United Nations inquiry into her assassination. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party has aired deep suspicions over the motives and identities of her assassins. PPP Information Secretary Sherry Rehman said it was important for the region’s stability that the UN intervene.
Sherry Rehman: “It is very important not just for Pakistan’s stability but the region’s stability that the United Nations intervene. We ask for, that it will be larger than a police investigation. We want the events that led up investigated. We want the sponsors, financiers, organizers and perpetrators of this crime. This is U.N language, and the UN does intervene when there is a fundamental violation and grave violation of fundamental human rights. And there is no bigger violation of our rights than this.”
On Monday, a team of Scotland Yard investigators visited a hospital in Rawalpindi to talk to witnesses injured in the attack that killed Bhutto.
In news from Africa, Kenya’s president and its opposition leader have agreed to begin negotiations to break the political stalemate following last month’s disputed presidential election. On Monday, the top US Africa envoy, Jendayi Frazer urged both sides to talk.
Jendayi Frazer: “It’s obviously clear that some Kenyans don’t feel that they have been treated fairly, they haven’t had their fair share of power and wealth and so addressing those grievances is necessary. So those are the areas that we think if a dialogue is to help to transform Kenya and to prevent a future crisis like we see today these areas probably need to be part of the agenda, but that’s the United States perspective; the agenda will need to be decided by Kenyans themselves.”
About 500 Kenyans have died in violence following the election. Another 250,000 have been displaced.
For the first time in over a century, the Supreme Court is addressing the legality of a method of execution. Oral arguments were held on Monday in a case that will decide whether lethal injection practices in Kentucky amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Outside the Supreme Court, attorney Donald Verrilli said the court should ban lethal injections that use a three-drug cocktail.
Donald Verrilli: “The obligation here on the state is to bring about a humane execution. That’s why we have the 8th Amendment. That’s why we have a prohibition of 'cruel and unusual punishment,' because it affirms the dignity of our system, and our respect for everyone, even those who have committed the most heinous crimes. And that’s why the states have got to do what they can to reduce the risk of the awful kind of torture that this kind of execution can produce when it goes wrong.”
Attorney Roy Englert defended the State of Kentucky.
Roy Englert: “The State has no obligation to guarantee a pain-free execution, but Kentucky does everything in its power to ensure to bring about a pain-free execution.”
According to the New York Times, the opponents of lethal injection made little headway Monday in their effort to persuade the Court that the Constitution requires states to change the way they carry out executions. Since September, when the high court agreed to hear this case, there has been a de facto national moratorium of executions by lethal injection. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Indiana’s voter ID law.
New Jersey has become the first Northern state to officially apologize for slavery. The state assembly and senate passed a resolution declaring that slavery shattered the fundamental values of Africans. Legislators in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have also passed resolutions apologizing for slavery.
The City of Baltimore is suing Wells Fargo Bank, contending that its lending practices discriminated against African American borrowers and led to a wave of foreclosures that has reduced city tax revenues and increased its costs.
According to the lawsuit, in 2006, Wells Fargo made high-cost loans to 65 percent of its black customers in Baltimore but to only 15 percent of its white customers in the area.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to declare that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring are safe to eat. Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety warned about the dangers of cloned livestock. Mendelson said, “Once the FDA says these products are safe and that they are out there, it’s very hard to turn it back.”
And in labor news, the Golden Globes ceremony has been canceled after actors said they would not cross picket lines in support of striking writers. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since November. Last night Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert returned to the airwaves of Comedy Central — but without their writers.
Last night Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert returned to the airwaves of Comedy Central. Members of the striking Writers Guild of America were picketing outside the studios.
An excerpt from The Colbert Report:
Stephen Colbert: Can you get a shot of all three of these guys shooting each other, showing there’s nothing in the prompters? Now, Jim, what the hell’s going on? Where are my words?
Jim: We have no script, Stephen.
Stephen Colbert: Why not?
Jim: The writers are on strike.
Stephen Colbert: Yeah, I know that, Jim. I’m not a complete idiot. But how does that affect me?
Jim: We have nothing to put in the prompter.
Stephen Colbert: No, I — that’s not my understanding of how this works, Jim. My understanding is that this little — this little — this little magic box right here, it reads my thoughts, and then it lays them up on the screen right there into little words that I read and the audience can hear my thoughts. It’s a labor-saving device, Jim. That’s how I understand this works.
Jim: Well, no, actually, it’s what the writers put in.
Stephen Colbert: The writers. The guys on the fourth floor with the opium bongs and playing Guitar Hero all day. You’re telling me — you’re telling me that those guys are responsible for what I say. I find that a bit of a stretch, Jim. I’m sorry. Get it fixed, and get it fixed now.