Senator Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House gained steam Tuesday as she won three primary races, ending Barack Obama’s string of twelve straight victories. Clinton won decisively in Ohio and Rhode Island and narrowly beat Senator Barack Obama in the Texas primary.
Sen. Hillary Clinton: “You know what they say: as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Well, this nation’s coming back, and so is this campaign. The people of Ohio have said it loudly and clearly: we’re going on, we’re going strong, and we’re going all the way.”
Senator Barack Obama won in Vermont, and initial results show he is leading in the caucus held in Texas.
Sen. Barack Obama: “And we know this: no matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination.”
Record turnouts were reported in all four states. Some Ohio voting sites ran out of paper ballots due to overwhelming demand. With Clinton’s victories on Tuesday, the Democratic race is expected to continue until at least April 22, when Pennsylvania holds its primary.
In the Republican race, Senator John McCain won all four states and won enough delegates to secure the party’s nomination.
Sen. John McCain: “I understand the responsibilities I incur with this nomination, and I give you my word, I will not evade or slight a single one. Our campaign must be and will be more than another tired debate of false promises, empty sound bites or useless arguments from the past that address not a single of America’s concerns for their families’ security.”
McCain is scheduled to travel to Washington today to receive the endorsement of President Bush. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race last night after the networks called Ohio for McCain.
For Democrats, the focus on the delegate count intensifies. Despite Clinton’s victories on Tuesday, Obama maintains a significant lead in delegates. The Washington Post reports that it is “nearly impossible” for Clinton to secure more pledged delegates than Obama before the convention. Clinton would need to win more than 60 percent of the vote in each of the dozen contests remaining between now and June 7. However, Clinton could still win the nomination by securing enough superdelegates. In another potential setback to Clinton, the Dallas Morning News reports Obama might emerge as the winner in the pledged delegate race in Texas, even though Clinton won the popular vote.
In other election news, Congressmembers Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Ron Paul of Texas both won primaries for their House seats Tuesday after facing challenges from within their own parties.
In Vermont, voters in the towns of Brattleboro and Marlboro approved measures Tuesday calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for crimes against the Constitution. The symbolic votes instruct the police department in each town to arrest Bush and Cheney or to extradite them for prosecution elsewhere if they ever step foot in the towns.
Tensions remain high in South America days after Colombian troops crossed into Ecuador and killed twenty members of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On Tuesday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega criticized Colombia for carrying out an attack inside Ecuador.
Daniel Ortega: “This attitude taken by the Colombian government of bombing Ecuadorian territory, three kilometers inside — President Rafael Correa said that it was a prepared operation to assassinate the man who had worked in favor of negotiation and peace… Colombia is becoming a factor of destabilization and uncertainty for Latin America.”
Meanwhile, in Washington, President Bush publicly defended the actions of Colombia, a close US ally.
President Bush: “I told the president that America fully supports Colombia’s democracy and that we firmly oppose any acts of aggression that could destabilize the region. I told him that America will continue to stand with Colombia as it confronts violence and terror and fights drug traffickers.”
On Monday, Ecuador and Venezuela broke diplomatic ties with Colombia and moved troops to the Colombian border. In Bogota, Colombian officials have begun making several new accusations about the FARC rebels. Colombia’s vice president claimed FARC was trying to acquire radioactive material to make dirty bombs. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe threatened to bring Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez before the International Criminal Court for sponsoring and financing genocide. Uribe accuses Chavez of financing the FARC. Chavez, in turn, accused Colombia of being the “Israel of Latin America” for carrying out an assassination strike in a foreign country.
Meanwhile, President Bush is using the tenuous situation in South America to push Congress to pass a free trade deal with Colombia. On Tuesday, Bush said passage of the deal is vital for national security.
President Bush: “If we fail to approve this agreement, we will let down our close ally, we will damage our credibility in the region, and we will embolden the demagogues in our hemisphere.”
In news from Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Tuesday for the second time in a month. The meeting comes as the Washington Post reports the US has moved Predator hunter-killer drones into a secret air base located in the Pakistani city of Jacobabad. The Pentagon is preparing to send about 100 US military trainers to Pakistan to assist a paramilitary force that is operating along the border with Afghanistan targeting al-Qaeda.
In the Middle East, Israel is continuing attacks on the Gaza Strip, despite promising to hold back while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits the region. On Tuesday, a Palestinian baby girl less than one month old was killed when Israeli troops traded fire with Hamas fighters in southern Gaza. The past week has seen the deadliest Israeli assault on Gaza in years. The ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths has reached forty-to-one. 120 Palestinians have been killed, around half of them civilian. Palestinians have killed three Israelis — one civilian and two soldiers. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced support for Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Condoleezza Rice: “Israelis have a right to defend themselves. I have also said to the Israelis that it is extremely important that they remember that there has to be a day after, a partner to work with, and that innocent people who have the bad fortune to have to live under Hamas control should not be subject to injury and death. There should really be a very strong effort to spare innocent life.”
After meeting Rice on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to commit to renewing negotiations with Israel. Abbas cited the latest Gaza assault and continuing Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.
The McClatchy newspapers reports federal law enforcement agencies have secretly established profiling techniques to screen immigrants based on their nationalities. According to a leaked memo, federal agencies have created an internal list of thirty-five countries that are of “special interest” for national security reasons. Most of the nations have significant Muslim or Arab populations. Almost 20 percent of the world’s countries are on the list, including key US allies such as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. The government is proposing to classify immigrants as so-called “special interest aliens” simply if they have ties or sympathies with any of the listed countries.
Leading global warming deniers have wrapped up a three-day conference in New York. The slogan for the gathering was “Global Warming Is Not a Crisis.” Organizers describe it as the first major international conference to focus on issues and questions not answered by advocates of the theory of man-made global warming. The Heartland Institute organized the conference. The free-market public policy think tank received nearly $800,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2005. Board members of the Heartland Institute include Thomas Walton, director of Economic Policy at General Motors, and James Johnston, former senior economist for the oil company Amoco.
The Federal Communications Commission has begun investigating allegations that an Alabama television station censored the transmission of a recent 60 Minutes expose about the state’s imprisoned former Governor Don Siegelman. The station, WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama, went black during most of the segment. The station claims there was an equipment failure. The 60 Minutes investigation examined how the Bush administration targeted Siegelman for political reasons. The FCC has taken action on cases of censorship in the past. The New York Times reports that in 1969, the FCC revoked the license of WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, after the commission established a systematic effort by the broadcaster to suppress information about the civil rights movement.
And the magazine Mother Jones has compiled a so-called “torture playlist” — a list of songs that the US military and CIA have used during interrogations to disorient detainees and to drown out screams. The list includes Neil Diamond’s “America,” “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen, “White America” by Eminem, “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, the Sesame Street theme, the Barney theme song and a commercial for Meow Mix. At least one of the artists is happy their song was used during interrogations. Steve Asheim, the drummer of the group Deicide said, “It’s cool. If we’re up to military standards of audio abuse, it makes me feel like Deicide’s doing our part for the troops.”