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USA

February 23, 2004



Ralph Nader announced his decision to run again for president - this time as an independent, on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. His Green Party candidacy in the 2000 race, some observers believe, might have swung the election to George Bush by siphoning support for Al Gore, especially in the much-contested Florida balloting. Democrats had urged Nader, who received 2.9 million votes in 2000, to stay on the sidelines this time.

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California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) called for the state's attorney general to take immediate steps to halt the rush of same-sex marriages in San Francisco over the past two weeks. A spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) said his boss was planning to seek a judgment soon but insisted he was not under the governor's authority. Meanwhile, Sandoval County, N.M., became the latest battleground in the growing controversy, with the state's attorney general declaring same-sex marriage licenses granted over the weekend are invalid.

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," meanwhile, Schwarze-negger suggested that anyone who has been an American citizen more than 20 years - and not just those born in the US - should be eligible to run for president. The Austrian-born governor, however, said he had no thoughts of a future run.

New Jersey is expected to become the first state to commit funding to research on human embryonic stem cells. According to the New York Times, Gov. James McGreevey (D) will announce Tuesday in his budget address $6.5 million for a stem cell research institute.

State health officials in Pennsylvania found that a string of 40 possible nurse-induced deaths were not sufficiently suspicious to merit reporting them as suspicious at the time, as required by state law. Charles Cullen, a nurse for 16 years, was arrested in December after claiming he killed the patients. Thus far, he has only been charged in two drug-related deaths in New Jersey.

An offshore supply vessel and a container ship collided near the mouth of the Mississippi River Saturday, sinking the smaller boat and leading to a Coast Guard search for its five crew members. The incident was the second in as many days to close the river to deep-draft shipping.

Lawyers for Martha Stewart were expected to advise their client to wait until Monday to make a decision on whether to take the stand in the conspiracy and false statements case involving her sale of ImClone Systems stock. The prosecution rested its case Friday, leaving the judge to consider the possibility of dismissing the most serious charge against her: securities fraud.

As many as 60 people in San Luis Obispo, Calif., were arrested during Mardi Gras celebrations that turned violent late Saturday. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse an estimated 5,000 revelers, some of whom had pelted them with bottles, cans, and even a steel pipe.

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