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Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination following victories in all five of Tuesday’s Northeastern primaries. Romney added to his delegate lead with victories in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Romney’s main rival, Rick Santorum, bowed out of the race earlier this month, and the third-place challenger Newt Gingrich is expected to follow suit. Speaking in New Hampshire, Romney said the Republican primary contest has come to an end.
Mitt Romney: “After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence, and gratitude, that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility, and together we are going to win on November 6th.”
Attorneys for the alleged Army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning have issued a new request for the military to dismiss all charges in the case. On Tuesday, Manning attorney David Coombs said military prosecutors had committed “widespread discovery violations” that should allow Manning to walk free without prejudice. A judge is expected to rule on the defense’s request today. Manning faces up to life imprisonment for allegedly leaking classified documents that ended up on the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
Syrian forces are apparently continuing attacks on anti-government protesters following the departure of U.N. monitors from key areas. The Douma suburb of Damascus was reportedly shelled this morning, just two days after anti-government protesters staged a rally during a monitoring team visit. More than 30 people were reportedly killed on Monday in the central city of Hama when troops fired automatic weapons. A spokesperson for special envoy Kofi Annan said there are credible reports that security forces are targeting people who approach observers. The United Nations plans to send dozens more monitors to Syria, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is preparing “additional steps” in case the peace plan fails. In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council, special envoy Kofi Annan said the attacks, if confirmed, would be “totally unacceptable and reprehensible.” The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, also criticized the Syrian government.
Susan Rice: “Our patience is exhausted. The fact that the violence continues despite the so-called ceasefire of April 12th is, in our view, not only unacceptable, but reprehensible. And we’ve been very clear, in supporting the dispatch of the balance of the monitoring mission, that the onus remains on the Syrian government to halt the violence, and then subsequently on both sides to maintain a cessation of violence and allow the observers to move freely and do their work without any obstruction.”
Pakistan is claiming to have successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads. The move comes less than one week after India carried out a similar test. Both countries have conducted missile tests since revealing their nuclear capabilities 14 years ago.
Israel has retroactively legalized three Jewish-only settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank while delaying the scheduled evacuation of a fourth. The move could mark a further extremist shift for the Israeli government, which has long insisted on its right to expand settlements considered illegal under international law, but vowed to crack down on ad hoc settlement outposts that have not received government authorization. Sharif Yassin, a Palestinian resident in the West Bank whose land was seized to build the Beit El settlement, said Israel is attempting to legalize theft.
Sharif Yassin: “We own this land. Netanyahu will not give it to us for free, after being at the Israeli courts and getting verdicts that it is ours and it belonged to our fathers and grandfathers. We used to plant in it before they kicked us out. I used to plant in this land myself.”
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland offered mild criticism of the new Israeli settlement grab, saying: “We don’t think this is helpful to the process, and we don’t accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”
Two Israeli lawmakers are drawing controversy for a photograph showing them posing on the sofa of a recently evicted Palestinian family in East Jerusalem. The Natcheh family was forced out of their home last week to make way for Jewish settlers after an eight-year effort by the Israeli government to evict them. The land had been in their family since the 1930s. A photograph posted on Facebook shows Israeli Knesset members Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad boastfully lounging on the Natcheh family’s sofa on the property’s front lawn.
New research shows that for the first time since the Great Depression more Mexican immigrants may be leaving the United States than entering. The study from the Pew Hispanic Center found the U.S. job market, increased border enforcement, a rise in deportations and other factors had slowed the net rate of Mexican migration to zero or even less. The news comes as states like Alabama and Arizona have implemented controversial laws to target undocumented people living in the United States. The dangers associated with illegal border crossing were cited as one specific reason for the decline.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case challenging Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law two years after its passage. The Obama administration has challenged four provisions of the law, known as S.B. 1070, for interfering with federal immigration enforcement. Immigrant right groups have organized a number of protests and vigils nationwide to coincide with today’s hearing. Ben Winograd of the American Immigration Council said the Supreme Court ruling will have major implications nationwide as a number of states seek to pass copycat measures.
Ben Winograd: “Allowing states to be the primary enforcers of federal immigration law would, from a civil rights perspective, have huge ramifications. All of a sudden, every traffic stop that is conducted by a local officer and involves someone who arguably looks or sounds like an immigrant could result in an extended detention and even possibly incarceration.”
A former drilling engineer for oil giant BP has been arrested and charged with intentionally destroying evidence sought by authorities after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill two years ago. Kurt Mix is the first person to face criminal charges for the disaster, which killed 11 workers and sent nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Mix is accused of destroying text messages between himself and a BP supervisor even though he was told to preserve all information. The messages appear to show Mix was aware that BP’s attempt to plug the gushing wellhead with mud — an effort known as “top kill” — was failing. They indicate Mix knew oil was flowing at a rate of more than 15,000 barrels a day at a time when the public was being told the rate was 5,000 barrels per day. He is being charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000 for each count.
Federal officials say they have discovered the first new case of mad cow disease since 2006. An infection was found in a dairy cow in California, but the U.S Department of Agriculture says it has been contained and poses no threat to the nation’s food supply. John Clifford, the department’s chief veterinary officer, made the announcement.
John Clifford: “First off, this particular animal did not enter the food supply at any time, so there is no concern about that. In addition, the safety of our food is addressed through our interlocking safeguards and through the removal of any type of material that contain the BSE agent in the United States. Therefore, we continually protect public health through the removal of these materials.”
Hundreds of Occupy protesters from across the country gathered in San Francisco Tuesday for a massive demonstration at the banking giant Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting. Several dozen activists had purchased company stock and were allowed inside. Police said two dozen people were arrested, including 15 who disrupted the meeting. Protesters inside shouted for Wells Fargo to pay a fair share of corporate taxes. They also condemned the company’s investment in private prisons and called for an end to foreclosures. Meanwhile, protesters outside the city’s Merchant’s Exchange Building blocked the street, chanting, “We are the 99 percent.”
Antiwar demonstrators in Chicago are alleging censorship after being told they will be kept away from next month’s NATO summit. On Tuesday, the Secret Service said protesters will be barred from coming within at least two blocks of the site where leaders from NATO countries will meet. The umbrella protest group, the Coalition Against NATO/G-8 War & Poverty Agenda, says the restriction will violate their right to be within sight and sound of summit attendees. Organizers say they are expecting thousands of demonstrators for the opening rally on May 20, the NATO summit’s first day.
The State Department has dropped its effort to stop a Pakistani lawyer who represents victims of CIA drone strikes from entering the United States. Shahzad Akbar is scheduled to speak later this month at an International Drone Summit in Washington, D.C. His trip had remained in limbo after the U.S. government failed to grant him a visa. While he has traveled to the United States in the past, he had not been granted permission to return since becoming an outspoken critic of the drone strikes and filing the first case in Pakistan on behalf of the families of civilian victims. But on Tuesday, after months of public protest, the State Department backed down and granted Akbar a travel visa. In a statement, Akbar said: “I will be speaking to American people about the loss of so many innocent Pakistani lives in their name. I believe the American people are good people and will want to do something to stop this unjust, counterproductive war.”
The Justice Department is refusing to reopen an investigation into the Kent State shootings just weeks ahead of its 42nd anniversary. On May 4th, 1970, National Guardsmen opened fire on hundreds of unarmed students at an antiwar rally at Ohio’s Kent State University. Four students were killed, and nine others wounded. Survivors of the massacre had called for a new federal probe two years ago following the discovery of an audiotape from the day of the shootings. The survivors say a National Guard officer can be heard issuing a command to fire followed by gunshots. But on Tuesday, the Justice Department rejected the request, saying the new audiotape is inconclusive. A group of Kent State survivors say they plan to respond by bringing the case to an international court.
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