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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. Today 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 tripled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $90 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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Senator Hillary Clinton has won the Pennsylvania primary, beating Senator Barack Obama by ten percentage points. Clinton received 55 percent of the vote, Obama had 45 percent. Pennsylvania was seen as a must-win state for Clinton.
Sen. Clinton: “Today, here in Pennsylvania, you made your voices heard. And because of you, the tide is turning. We were up against a formidable opponent, who outspent us three-to-one. He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of the race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas today.”
The race now heads to Indiana and North Carolina, which both hold primaries on May 6th. Senator Barack Obama spent Tuesday night in Evansville, Indiana, where he addressed supporters in a speech largely focused on the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.
Sen. Obama: “We can’t afford to play the same Washington games with the same Washington players and expect a different result. Not this time. Not now. We already know what we’re getting out of the other party’s nominee. John McCain has offered this country a lifetime of service, and we respect that. But what he’s not offering is any meaningful change from the policies of George W. Bush.”
Although Clinton won by ten percentage points in Pennsylvania, she only gained about nine pledged delegates. According to NBC political analyst Chuck Todd, it now appears impossible for Obama to lose his lead in pledged delegates.
Meanwhile, the editorial page of the New York Times has blasted Clinton for her campaign tactics. In an editorial titled “The Low Road to Victory,” the editors wrote, “It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election.”
In other news, the World Food Program has begun describing the global food crisis as a silent tsunami that threatens to plunge more than 100 million people on every continent into hunger and poverty. World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran said a large-scale global response is needed to combat what she described as the biggest challenge ever faced by the World Food Program.
Josette Sheeran: “We’re seeing the rising food prices affect virtually every market in the world. The difference is, for the richer countries, there’s more resiliency. We can give up desserts, we can give up meat once or twice a week. For people making less than a dollar a day, there is nowhere to retreat. And so what we are seeing is, in places where people were not desperate before, more people hungry, more people cutting out vital parts of their diet, including some going to one meal a deal. And so, in those cases, we really feel we need a strategy to work with those governments and communities to help people meet this increased need.”
Meanwhile, World Vision, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, has announced that it cannot feed 1.5 million people that it fed last year because of the rising cost of food and the increased need. World Vision said the cutback could affect donations to thirty-five of the 100 countries in which the agency works. World Vision has already been forced to eliminate its food aid programs in East Timor and Sri Lanka, and reductions have been made in aid sent to Burundi, Niger, Cambodia and Sudan.
Colombian authorities have ordered the arrest of President Alvaro Uribe’s cousin for suspected ties to paramilitary death squads. Mario Uribe is a former senator who has been one of Alvaro Uribe’s closest allies for years. Uribe’s arrest could hurt Colombia’s bid to secure a free trade deal with Washington. Last night, Mario Uribe attempted to avoid arrest by seeking asylum in the Costa Rican embassy in Bogota, but Costa Rica denied the request. Colombian human rights activist Ivan Cepeda criticized Uribe for trying to avoid being arrested.
Ivan Cepeda: “It’s an unprecedented occurrence that a senator of the Republic, who is being required by authorities, is fleeing justice and appeals for political asylum so that his crimes and acts remain unpunished in Colombia.”
Meanwhile, at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Summit in New Orleans, President Bush urged Congress to pass the Colombian free trade deal.
bq.President Bush: “An agreement with Colombia would level the playing field. And a failure to pass an agreement would send a terrible signal to our neighborhood. The Speaker of the United States Congress has killed this bill, unless she gives us a date certain for a vote. It’s a bad decision on her part. And it’s bad for our hemisphere to have the United States of America turn its back on a mutual friend like Colombia.”
The Washington Post reports at least two dozen former and current prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they have been given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged. The allegations have resurfaced after the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees. In the memo, former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected a decades-old US ban on the use of “mind-altering substances” on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or “profound” psychological damage. Legal experts and human rights groups say that forced drugging of detainees for any nontherapeutic reasons would be a particularly grave breach of international treaties banning torture.
In news from Africa, a top UN official said the death toll in Sudan over the past five years may now be as high as 300,000. John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, mentioned the new estimate in a speech at a UN Security Council meeting on the conflict in the western Sudanese region.
John Holmes: “A study in 2006 suggested that 200,000 had lost their lives from the combined effects of the conflict. That figure must be much higher now, perhaps half as much again. Yet we continue to see the goalposts receding, to the point where peace in Darfur seems further away today than ever.”
Sudan’s UN Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem said the figure was grossly exaggerated.
Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem: “The death of even a single Sudanese is something very regrettable and tragic. But in our own calculations, the number, total number, does not exceed ten thousand.”
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman cannot be held liable for telling residents near the World Trade Center site that the air was safe to breathe after the September 11 attacks. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by residents, students and workers in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous dust and debris from the fallen Twin Towers after September 11.
In media news, Rupert Murdoch has put forward a $580 million bid to buy the New York-based newspaper Newsday. If the deal is approved, this would give Murdoch control of three of the nation’s ten largest circulation papers: the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Newsday. Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Wall Street Journal’s top editor, Marcus Brauchli, resigned in a move that will give Murdoch more power to remake the paper, which he bought in December.
A New Jersey man has been arrested on four counts of conspiracy and espionage for allegedly providing Israel with US military secrets on nuclear weapons, fighter jets and missiles in the 1980s. Ben-ami Kadish is a former US Army engineer who worked at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey. He has reportedly acknowledged to the FBI that he acted to help Israel. Kadish is accused of reporting to the same Israeli government handler who was the main contact for Jonathan Pollard, an American citizen serving a life term for spying for Israel. Haaretz reporter Yossi Melman said the arrest will stain Israel’s reputation.
Yossi Melman: “The significance of this affair is that it is clear now that Pollard was not the only spy Israel operated in the United States on American soil, as Israel had claimed at the time. In terms of the quantity and the quality of this espionage affair, I would say it doesn’t match the magnitude of Pollard.”
In Pennsylvania, three female members of the group MOVE have been denied parole. They have been held since 1978 following a police raid on their Philadelphia headquarters. During the raid, a police officer was shot dead. Nine members of the group were convicted of third-degree murder. Seven years after the 1978 raid, Philadelphia police bombed the MOVE headquarters, killing eleven members of the group, including five children.
And a federal judge has dismissed charges against a University of Buffalo art professor who was charged with mail and wire fraud after the FBI found harmless bacteria used in art displays in his apartment. The judge said the charges against Steve Kurtz were “insufficient on its face.” Kurtz was originally investigated for bioterrorism.