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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire, his second consecutive win after taking the Iowa caucuses last week. Romney finished with 39 percent of the vote, followed by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in second and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman in third. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum appeared to be tied in fourth place. In his victory speech, Romney lashed back at recent criticism of his record as a corporate executive when he oversaw deals that led to layoffs and benefit cuts for thousands of workers.
Mitt Romney: “President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial, and in the last few days we’ve seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our party and for our nation. The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We have to offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we’re lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.”
As Republicans move on to the South Carolina primary, the state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, has announced plans to sue the Obama administration for blocking a recent law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls. The Justice Department says the law violates the Voting Rights Act, citing data showing minority voters were about 20 percent more likely to lack acceptable photo ID required at polling places. On Tuesday, Haley said she would challenge the law as part of a push-back against what she called the federal government’s “war on South Carolina,” which she said has included the blocking of the state’s new immigration restrictions and a labor challenge to a Boeing assembly plant.
Former Guantánamo prisoners and legal advocates gathered in London on Tuesday for an event marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Moazzam Begg, who spent nearly three years in U.S. custody without charge, was among those to speak.
Moazzam Begg: “What does 10 years of Guantánamo mean? It’s an anniversary. And we love celebrating anniversaries in the West, don’t we? And this is an anniversary of tragedy, of pain, of torment, of families being ripped apart, of a dark page in the modern history of humanity. It’s a story of children in custody. It’s a story of amputees in custody. It’s a story of old men. It’s a story of people held without charge or trial for a decade by the world’s most powerful and democratic nation, that talks about freedom.”
The anniversary comes on the heels of President Obama’s recent endorsement of the National Defense Authorization Act, which mandates indefinite military custody for al-Qaeda suspects and would make it even harder to free Guantánamo detainees. Clive Stafford Smith of the legal charity Reprieve said dozens of Guantánamo prisoners will remain behind bars despite being cleared for release.
Clive Stafford Smith: “The tragedy, I suppose, right now is that of the 171 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, or at least one of the tragedies, is that more than half of them—89 according to the best estimates—have been cleared for release. I mean, this is extraordinary. This is not me saying it. This is the—first the Bush administration, in a large number of those cases, and then the Obama administration, saying that these people are no threat to the West and should be released.”
Guantánamo Bay prisoners also spoke out at public events in a number of other cities. In France, Amnesty International said two Algerian prisoners are living in virtual destitution after being released from Guantánamo. Amnesty is calling on the French government to hand over payments from the United States for taking in the prisoners following their release. One of the prisoners, Lakhdar Boumediene, spoke about his ordeal.
Lakhdar Boumediene: “What I can remember at Guantánamo is a very, very difficult situation, because the first time I went to jail, like Guantánamo, not like Bosnia or France, I was very, very sick. I remember the torture, the cell. I can’t forget—never, never, I can’t forget Guantánamo, because I try sometimes to forget, but it’s difficult to forget.”
The commemoration of Guantánamo’s decade mark continues today with a national day of action in the United States. Activists are holding a major protest in Washington, D.C., where they plan to form a human chain stretching from the White House to the Capitol.
A former Arab League observer in Syria is criticizing the League’s monitoring mission during the Assad regime’s crackdown, calling it a farce. Anwar Malek, an Algerian national who recently stepped down from the mission, spoke out in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Anwar Malek: “The mission was a farce, and the observers have been fooled. The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League taking action against the regime. What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime is not just committing one war crime, but a series of crimes against its people. The regime didn’t meet any of our requests. In fact, they were trying to deceive us and steer us away from what was really happening, towards insignificant things. They didn’t withdraw their tanks from the streets. They just hid them and then redeployed them after we left.”
In his first public speech since June, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enact more reforms but rejected the full-scale changes demanded by the protests, which he blamed on a foreign conspiracy. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said killings have accelerated since the arrival of the Arab League observers.
Susan Rice: “The Under-Secretary-General noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in fact some—an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case even before their deployment. That is a clear indication that the government of Syria, rather than using the opportunity of its commitment to the Arab League to end the violence and fulfill all of its commitments under the protocol, is instead stepping up the violence.”
New figures show Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank has reached record levels. According to the Israeli group Peace Now, settlement building rose 20 percent last year, with construction starts on thousands of new homes. Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now announced the group’s findings.
Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now: “Netanyahu and his government broke their own record and built more this year than the two years before. We can see that in many places in the West Bank there are construction of new settlements and new houses. And this year will be remembered as the 'year of the settlers' regarding construction in the West Bank.”
With U.S. backing, Israel has rejected Palestinian calls for a settlement freeze as a precondition for peace talks. In response to the Peace Now report, Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev said Israel has in fact shown “great restraint” in the West Bank.
Mark Regev, Israeli spokesperson: “We have shown great restraint. This government initiated an unprecedented 10-month settlement moratorium. And even today, with the conclusion of that moratorium, we continue to exercise great restraint.”
At least three people have been killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack in Pakistan. If confirmed, the drone strike would mark the first inside Pakistan in nearly two months.
New figures show drones now account for a major portion of the U.S. military’s aircraft. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, 31 percent of all U.S. military aircraft are drones, compared with just 5 percent in 2005.
The Iranian government says a nuclear scientist involved in its uranium enrichment program has been killed by assassins in Tehran. The scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was reportedly killed by a magnetic bomb placed on his car. He would be the latest Iranian scientist to be killed in a series of similar incidents. As in previous instances, Iran blamed the attack on what it called “[foreign] government-sponsored terrorism.” On Tuesday, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, Israel’s military chief of staff, said Iran should expect more “unnatural” events this year.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is warning the world is moving closer to nuclear doom. On Tuesday, the group moved its symbolic Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight.
Allison Macfarlane: “Now, time to announce the Doomsday Clock, and it is now five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats we face. In many cases, this trend has not continued, or has been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.”
Lawrence Krauss: “And faced today with the clear and present dangers of nuclear proliferation, climate change and the continued challenge to find new and sustainable and safe sources of energy, business as usual reigns the norm among world leaders.”
The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 to warn the world of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.
New figures show child malnutrition in India has reached more than 40 percent, almost double the rate of sub-Saharan Africa. The figures contrast with India’s global image as a beacon of economic development. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said child hunger is a matter of “national shame.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “The problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame. Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high. We have also not succeeded in reducing this rate fast enough. What concerns me and what must concern all enlightened citizens is that 42 percent of our children are still underweight. This is an unacceptably high occurrence.”
In New York City, Occupy Wall Street protesters streamed back into Zuccotti Park by the dozens Tuesday night after the barricades were removed. In a complaint to city officials this week, the New York Civil Liberties Union had challenged the barricades, saying they infringe on freedom of assembly. Tuesday’s action followed a New Year’s Eve demonstration that saw protesters also remove the barricades to retake the space.