Senator Barack Obama went five-for-five this weekend, beating Hillary Clinton in all of the primaries and caucuses held on Saturday and Sunday. Obama received at least 57 percent of the vote in each contest. Obama spoke on Saturday in Richmond, Virginia.
Sen. Barack Obama: “People want to turn the page. They want to write a new chapter in American history, and today the voters from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the heart of America stood up to say, yes, we can. We won in Louisiana, we won in Nebraska, we won in Washington State. We won north and south and in between, and I believe we can win Virginia on Tuesday, if you’re ready
to stand for change.”
Obama has now won a total nineteen of the first twenty-nine states, and Obama and Hillary Clinton remain in a near deadlock in the race for delegates.
Meanwhile, there has been a shakeup in the Clinton campaign. Campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle has been replaced by Maggie Williams, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff when she was First Lady. Solis Doyle is Latino. Her replacement, Maggie Williams, is African American. During a campaign rally, Clinton said she is the candidate best suited to defeat John McCain.
Sen. Hillary Clinton: “And who will be our best nominee to win, because it appears the Republicans will nominate Senator McCain, and he will be a formidable opponent on national security, national defense. I disagree with him, but, you know, we’ve got to nominate someone who’s got to stand there on that stage and take on the Republicans when it comes to national security, national defense and protecting our nation and our interests around the world.”
In the Republican race, it was a tough weekend for John McCain. Just days after he appeared set to seal up the party’s nomination, he was defeated by Mike Huckabee in Kansas and Louisiana. In the Kansas caucus, Huckabee grabbed 60 percent of the vote, while McCain got only 24 percent. In Washington State, Republican officials named John McCain the winner, but Huckabee is challenging the results. McCain was declared the winner when the party decided to stop counting votes before results from 13 percent of the state came in. At the time McCain had a slim lead of less than two percent over Huckabee. Had Huckabee won in Washington, it would have given him a three-state sweep on Saturday. Huckabee said he still has a chance to win the nomination.
Mike Huckabee: “There are only a few states that have voted. Twenty-seven have not. People in those twenty-seven states deserve more than a coronation, they deserve an election. They deserve to have their voices and their votes heard and counted. I know the pundits, and I know what they say. 'The math doesn't work out.’ Folks, I didn’t major in math; I majored in miracles, and I still believe in those, too.”
Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has ruled out running for president on a third party ticket. Many of his supporters were urging him to drop out of the Republican race and run as a Libertarian.
In other campaign news, President Bush has weighed in on the possibility of Barack Obama becoming president. He was questioned by Chris Wallace on Fox News.
President George W. Bush: “I certainly don’t know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he’s going to attack Pakistan and embrace Ahmadinejad, which — I think I commented that at a press conference when I was asked [inaudible]”
Chris Wallace: “But, but, but — you don’t think that we know enough about him or what he stands for?”
President George W. Bush: “It doesn’t seem like it to me. But the campaign is plenty of time for candidates to get defined. He is yet his party’s nominee.”
Chris Wallace: “So why do you think he has gotten this far, if people don’t know what he stands for?”
President George W. Bush: “You’re the pundit. I’m just a simple president.”
Chris Wallace: [laughter]
The Obama campaign responded by saying, “Barack Obama doesn’t need any foreign policy advice from the architect of the worst foreign policy decision in a generation.”
In East Timor, President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose
Ramos-Horta has been seriously wounded during an apparent coup attempt. Ramos-Horta is in critical condition on full life support and has been put into an induced coma. Gunmen attacked his home in a pre-dawn attack. Jose Ramos-Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to lead East Timor’s bid for independence from Indonesia. Since East Timor became an independent nation, he has served as prime minister and president.
In labor news, a tentative deal has been reached between striking writers and Hollywood studios, networks and productions. Workers will vote on Tuesday to end the fourteen-week-old strike. On Sunday, the governing boards of the Writers Guild of America unanimously approved the deal, which will eventually give writers a percentage of revenue for their work posted online. The president of the Writers Guild of America East, Michael Winship, praised the agreement.
Michael Winship, President of Writers Guild of America, East: “I believe it is a good deal. I believe it’s a good deal. I am going to be recommending this deal to our membership. I think it covers a lot of what we were asking for. We were asking for jurisdiction in new media. We were asking for part of the distributors’ gross, and we have achieved those goals. No negotiation is ever perfect, but I think we have done well, and I am very happy with the deal.”
Filmmaker Michael Moore said the writers needed to go on strike to demand pay for work on the internet.
Michael Moore: “They’ve been using all of our work, for free, on the internet, and then saying they’re not making any money on it, but then you look at their business plans and what they tell their shareholders and clearly, they plan to make billions on the work of the people in this room.”
Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for six prisoners being held at Guantanamo for allegedly playing central roles in the September 11 attacks. One of the prisoners who will be put on trial before a military commission is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Attorneys predict the treatment of the detainees in US custody will likely be raised before the military commission. The CIA has admitted to waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a secret prison. Pentagon investigators concluded in 2005 that another one of the men, Mohammed al-Qahtani, had been subjected to abusive treatment at Guantánamo, including sleep deprivation, being forced to wear a bra and being led around on a leash.
Another prominent member of the American Psychological Association has resigned to protest the organization’s stance allowing psychologists to be involved in CIA and military interrogations. The former chair of the APA’s Ethics Committee, Kenneth Pope, resigned earlier this month after twenty-nine years in the APA. In August, author Mary Pipher returned an award from the American Psychological Association to protest the group’s stance on torture.
The Boston Globe is reporting lawmakers and human rights activists are sharply criticizing President Bush for issuing a signing statement that they said has undermined congressional efforts to pressure the Sudanese government over the situation in Darfur. The act authorizes state and local efforts to divest from certain companies with business ties to Sudan. The Bush administration opposed the legislation alleging that it would undercut the President’s constitutional powers over foreign affairs. Bush signed the bill into law and then asserted in a signing statement that the act was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Darfur has warned the situation in Darfur risks spiraling into a full-scale war. Up to 12,000 refugees have fled the Darfur region to neighboring Chad after Sudanese government aircraft, army and militia attacked three towns on Friday.
In Iraq, at least fifty-three Iraqis died Sunday in a series of attacks that occurred while Defense Secretary Robert Gates was visiting the country.
A US Army sniper has been sentenced to ten years in prison
for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian and planting a rifle on his body.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting the number of civilian contractors reported killed in Iraq jumped 17 percent in 2007. Contractors accounted for more than one in four deaths associated with the US occupation last year. Labor Department figures show at last 353 civilian contractors died last year, up from 301 in 2006.
At least six workers have now died following a massive explosion last week at the Imperial Sugary refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia. More than thirty other workers were injured.
And in Puerto Rico, FBI agents have arrested Puerto Rican
independence activist Avelino Gonzalez Claudio. The FBI accused him of being a member of the militant independence group Los Macheteros and of being involved in a $7 million bank heist in Connecticut in 1983. In 2005, FBI agents shot dead the leader of Los Macheteros, Filiberto Ojeda Rios.