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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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As the race for the White House intensifies, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are scrambling to raise more money in what is already projected to be the most expensive election ever. On Wednesday, Clinton revealed she personally loaned her campaign $5 million last month. According to Time magazine, the campaign’s shortage of cash has forced some staff members of the Clinton campaign to forgo pay this month, including campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. In 2007, both Clinton and Obama raised over $100 million, but Obama out-fundraised Clinton in January, when he pulled in over $32 million to her $14 million. The Obama campaign has claimed it has raised another $6.6 million dollars in online donations since Super Tuesday. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Democratic and Republican candidates have already spent nearly $500 million, more then every election in U.S. history except 2004.
On Tuesday, both Senators Clinton and Obama attempted to claim to be the winner of Super Tuesday.
Sen. Barack Obama: “Two weeks ago, we were trailing Senator Hillary Clinton in some national polls by as much as twenty points. Last night, we won more delegates, and we won more states in every region of this country. We won big states and small states. We won red states, and we won blue states, and we won swing states. So I believe that we had an extraordinary night. It was a big victory for our campaign.”
The Obama campaign says the Illinois senator will wind up with slightly more delegates from Super Tuesday, but the Clinton camp has rejected that claim.
Sen. Hillary Clinton: “We had a great night last night with victories across the country and ending up once again with a total of more votes and more delegates and lots of energy from voters who decided that they really needed a president on day one to be able to manage the economy and provide the leadership that is going to be required to deal with the problems facing our country.”
According to CNN, Clinton had a slight edge over Obama in the popular vote on Super Tuesday. Of the 14.6 million Democratic voters who voted on Tuesday, 50.2 percent backed Clinton, 49.8 percent backed Obama.
In the Republican race, Senator John McCain is expected to reach out to the party’s conservative base today, when he addresses CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee. On Wednesday, McCain vowed to unite the Republican Party.
John McCain: “So we’ll be hitting the campaign trail tomorrow morning, flying back this afternoon, and hopefully we can wrap this thing up, unite the party and be ready to take on the Democratic nominee in November.”
In California, the acting Los Angeles County Registrar has announced his office will examine more than 94,000 ballots cast on Tuesday following an uproar from voters who fear their votes will not count. In California, independent voters are allowed to take part in the Democratic or the American Independent Party primaries. In Los Angeles County, these nonpartisan voters are given a special ballot where they must pick a candidate and mark an additional bubble denoting which party primary they were voting in. If the second bubble is not marked, officials say the vote does not count. It is unclear how many votes for presidential candidates may have gone uncounted.
In news from Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have blocked a bid by Democrats to add $44 billion to the $161 billion economic stimulus plan. Senate Democrats attempted to add the additional money to help the elderly, disabled veterans, the unemployed and businesses, but supporters of the bill fell a single vote short of the sixty needed to move the measure forward.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted to expand the economic stimulus plan. John McCain missed the vote even though he was in Washington at the time.
Attorneys for the Bush administration urged a federal judge earlier this week to dismiss a lawsuit accusing a subsidiary of Boeing of helping the CIA secretly transport prisoners to overseas torture chambers. The Bush administration claims the lawsuit against Jeppesen International Trip Planning risks exposing state secrets. The lawsuit accused Jeppesen of arranging at least seventy flights since 2001 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.
Meanwhile, the United Nations’s top torture investigator has criticized the Bush administration for defending the use of waterboarding. Manfred Nowak, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, said, “This is absolutely unacceptable under international human rights law.” Nowak’s comment came one day after CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged that three detainees were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003. On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Tony Fratto said that CIA interrogators could use waterboarding again with the President’s approval. Attorney General Michael Mukasey is expected to be questioned about waterboarding today, when he appears before the House Judiciary Committee.
Lawmakers are also planning to question Mukasey about how former Attorney General John Ashcroft received a government contract worth as much as $52 million to monitor out-of-court settlements between prosecutors and corporations. New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor Christopher Christie awarded the contract to Ashcroft.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mukasey is urging Congress to block a plan to give thousands of federal prisoners jailed on crack cocaine offenses a chance to reduce their sentences.
Mukasey said, “Many of these offenders are among the most serious and violent offenders in the federal system, and their early release… would produce tragic, but predictable results.” Last year the US Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the sentences in an attempt to offset the disparity in sentences involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Under current law, possession of five grams of crack cocaine triggers the same mandatory minimum sentence as possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine.
The Associated Press has revealed new details about how the US military is running a secret prison at Guantanamo known as Camp 7. For the first time, the top commander of detention operations at Guantanamo — Rear Adm. Mark Buzby — has confirmed the existence of the mysterious prison. The military is reportedly holding fifteen so-called high-value detainees at Camp 7. But the military has refused to disclose where Camp 7 is located within the grounds of Guantanamo.
Turkey is continuing to carry out bombing raids in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. On Monday, Turkish F-16 fighter planes reportedly bombed seventy-seven targets during a twelve-hour bombing raid. Iraqi villagers were reportedly unable to flee the bombing, because heavy snow had closed many roads. Meanwhile, hundreds of Kurdish residents of Turkey gathered on the Iraq border Tuesday to protest the air strikes. The activists from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party called for a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebels who seek autonomy.
In Gaza, six Palestinians, including a teacher, were killed today after Israeli tanks and aircraft opened fire in another cross-border raid. The teacher died when an Israeli surface-to-surface missile struck an agricultural school in the northern town of Beit Hanoun. On Wednesday two Israeli girls were injured after being hit by a rocket fired from Gaza.
In West Virginia, a forty-six-year-old woman has been indicted on hate crime charges in the case of Megan Williams. Williams is the twenty-year-old African American woman who was kidnapped and tortured last year. Prosecutors say she was held for days in a trailer, where she was sexually assaulted, stabbed and forced to eat animal feces. Six people have been arrested in the case, but Karen Burton of Chapmanville, West Virginia is the first to be charged with a hate crime.
The death toll in the South has risen to at least fifty-five following the devastating tornadoes that hit Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama on Tuesday.
It was the deadliest barrage of tornadoes in the country since 1985. The White House has announced President Bush will tour damaged areas on Friday.
President Bush: “This was a bad storm that affected a lot of people in a variety of states. The administration is reaching out to state officials. I just called the governors of the affected states. I wanted them to know that this government will help them. But more importantly I wanted them to be able to tell the people in their states that the American people hold them up and hold those who suffer up in prayer. Loss of life, a lot of loss of property, prayers can help, and so can the government. So today, before we begin this important ceremony, I do want the people in those states to know the American people are standing with them.”
In Maryland, two dozen high school students were arrested Wednesday on the steps of the state house while protesting cuts in school funding. The students traveled to Annapolis to call for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley to be arrested for failing to address what they described as a historic underfunding of public schools in Maryland.
In other election news, the Green Party held several primaries on Tuesday. In California over 25,000 party members cast ballots in the largest Green Party primary. Ralph Nader won about 61 percent of the vote. Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney placed second with 25 percent. Nader’s name was placed on the ballot even though he has not declared his candidacy. In Arkansas, where Nader was not on the ballot, McKinney received 21 percent of the vote, but 54 percent of Green Party members voted uncommitted.
And the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has died at the age of ninety-one. He became famous in the 1960s after the Beatles traveled to his ashram in India to study transcendental meditation techniques.
John Hagelin, of the Maharishi University of Management: “Maharishi was extremely special in this world. He has left a huge legacy. He’s the one who brought meditation to the world. He is the one who encouraged scientific research on the effects of meditation fifty years ago, which brought meditation out of the realm of mysticism and into the light of mainstream science, mainstream society.”