Two-term senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas narrowly beat liberal Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter for the Democratic Senate nomination in Tuesday’s runoff election. Halter had received major backing from progressive groups and organized labor in his race against Lincoln, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate.
Arkansas was one of twelve states to hold elections Tuesday. In California, Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, won the Republican nomination for governor after spending a record $71 million of her money on the race. Whitman will face former governor Jerry Brown in the general election. Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, won the Republican nomination for senator in California. She will face Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November. Meanwhile, incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman fought off a challenge from progressive Marcy Winograd.
The most surprising election occurred in South Carolina, where an unemployed veteran named Alvin Greene won the Democratic Senate nomination without raising any money or public campaigning.
Also in South Carolina, Nikki Haley will face Gresham Barrett in a runoff election in two weeks for the Republican nomination to succeed Gov. Mark Sanford. Haley had received the backing of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. In Nevada, another Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle won the Republican Senate nomination and will face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the fall. Angle has called for phasing out Social Security for younger workers and the elimination of the Department of Education.
A fourteen-year-old Mexican boy is being buried today, less than forty-eight hours after being shot by a US Border Patrol agent on Mexican soil. Mexican officials say Sergio Adrian Hernandez Güereca was shot in the head. Graphic photos published in the Mexico press show the boy lying next to a pool of blood. Sergio and his friends were reportedly playing in a dry section of the Rio Grande and throwing rocks at border guards. The Mexican government has condemned the shooting, saying the use of firearms to respond to boys throwing rocks was a "disproportionate use of force." An eyewitness said Hernandez was clearly on the Mexican side of the border when he was shot.
Eyewitness: "Once the youngsters were on Mexican soil, an official — I don’t know if he was an immigration agent or a police officer — arrived on a bike, wearing a white shirt, a helmet and shorts, and he shot at the youngsters, at the whole group. Some ran in one direction, and others in another. This one teenage victim hid behind the wall. He looked out, and that’s when the teenager was shot."
The shooting comes just weeks after President Obama announced a plan to send an extra $500 million and 1,200 National Guard troops to the border. Two weeks ago, a Border Patrol officer in California shot and killed an undocumented Mexican immigrant with a stun gun. The thirty-two-year-old Anastacio Hernandez had lived in San Diego since he was fourteen and had five American-born children. Border Patrol agents claim he had resisted being deported.
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote today to impose a fourth round of UN sanctions on Iran because of its alleged nuclear weapons program. Western diplomats expect twelve of the council members, including all five that hold vetoes, to vote for the resolution. Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon are not expected to support it. The Obama administration has described the resolution as "the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced."
US Ambassador Susan Rice: "It is a strong, broad-based resolution that will impose meaningful and significant new sanctions on Iran. Our aim remains to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program and negotiate constructively and in earnest with the international community."
The Obama administration is pushing this new round of sanctions against Iran even though Iran recently reached a deal with Turkey and Brazil to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for low-level nuclear fuel to run a medical reactor. On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to abandon the nuclear fuel swap deal if new sanctions are imposed.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "The Tehran deal has shown everyone that not only Turkey and Brazil, but many other world countries too, want a breakthrough over the current situation. The Tehran deal has provided the US and its allies a new opportunity, and we hope they will use this opportunity in the best possible way."
In Pakistan, at least seven people have been killed and seven injured after a large NATO convoy was attacked just outside Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. More than fifty trucks carrying military vehicles for NATO forces in Afghanistan were torched. The attack was carried out by twelve fighters armed with machine guns and grenades.
In Afghanistan, four NATO troops have been killed after their helicopter was shot down earlier today in Helmand province. The Taliban said its fighters had shot down the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
In other news from the region, the New York Times reports the US military is rebranding its efforts in Kandahar. For months, US officials have discussed plans for a large-scale military offensive. But now the US is reportedly adopting a different strategy because of widespread Afghan opposition and growing doubts that the US military could secure the area.
President Obama is meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today. The leaders are expected to discuss Israel’s deadly attack on a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid boat and the plight of the people of Gaza. The meeting comes as Israel has announced it is slightly loosening its blockade on Gaza. For the first time in three years, Israel will allow soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy into Gaza.
The federal government is finally acknowledging the BP oil spill has created large underwater oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists at the University of South Florida say oil plumes now stretch forty-two miles northeast of the Deepwater Horizon well site and 142 miles southwest. Scientists attempting to study the oil plumes say their efforts have been hindered because BP has refused to share samples of its oil. In late May, BP CEO Tony Hayward disputed reports of oil plumes. In an interview, he said, "The oil is on the surface. There aren’t any plumes."
A Louisiana sheriff has admitted that his office requested federal immigration officials to search for undocumented workers among those cleaning up BP’s oil spill. In a statement to the magazine ColorLines, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens said he was concerned about “illegal aliens” and “criminals” coming into the area “under the guise of doing legitimate work.” Last week, the journalism project Feet in Two Worlds revealed that immigration officials had visited two oil spill command centers to check the documents of workers.
As BP and the the federal government battled the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the United Nations held an event Tuesday commemorating World Oceans Days. Sylvia Earle from National Geographic Explorer said human life would not be possible without the ocean.
Sylvia Earle: “The ocean drives climate and weather, shapes the character of the planet. We do know now that the ocean, where 97 percent of earth’s water is, is vital, not just to the dolphins, the whales, the coral reefs, the kelp forests; it’s our life support system, too. We are sea creatures as much as any of the other creatures who actually live in the ocean, because without the ocean, our lives would not be possible. Anything we care about — our economies, our health, our security, life itself — depends on the fact that this is a blue planet. The ocean is the key to our survival.”
In Texas, two workers died Tuesday from a natural gas pipeline explosion. It was the second natural gas line explosion in Texas in as many days.
Here in New York, a group of immigrant youths have entered their second week of a hunger strike outside the offices of Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. The hunger strikers are calling on Schumer to support the DREAM Act, which would grant the children of undocumented immigrants a path to legal status. Schumer is the chair of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. The hunger strikers include twenty-year-old Sonia Guinansaca, who was born in Ecuador.
Sonia Guinansaca: "Senator Schumer has a strong role. He has played at beating around the bush, saying that, 'Yeah, I support the DREAM Act,' but we need him right now to take a critical stand on the DREAM Act. We need it to pass soon. We can’t just keep telling little children and telling our youth and telling each other that, you know, it’s next year. And no, it’s not next year, it’s this year. And he has to take a stand now. It’s out of the question that he can just put everybody’s dreams on hold like it’s nothing. So we want him to take a stand clearly, and we’re giving him a deadline: this Thursday by 12:00."
Documentary filmmaker Joseph Berlinger won a victory in court Tuesday as a three-judge panel decided to stay a subpoena order for him to hand over hundreds of hours of footage to the oil giant Chevron. Berlinger’s film Crude chronicles the struggle of indigenous Ecuadorians against Chevron’s oil contamination of their land. Chevron has sought Berlinger’s outtakes to help defend itself against an Ecuadorian lawsuit seeking $27 billion in environmental damages.
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was met by protests Tuesday when she spoke before a gathering of progressive activists organized by the Campaign for America’s Future. Minutes into her speech, two men spread out a banner reading "Stop Funding Israel Terror." Then a wheelchair-bound woman named Carrie James interrupted Pelosi’s speech, calling on her to support the Community Choice Act. Others started chanting "Our homes, not nursing homes."
And the private security firm Blackwater is up for sale. Erik Prince, the former member of the Navy Seals and heir to an automotive fortune who founded Blackwater, said in a statement given to the Associated Press late Monday that making the decision to sell the company was difficult, but that he no longer wanted to deal with the intense criticism the business has faced.
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