USA

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry steamrolled his way to three more victories - in Idaho, Utah, and Hawaii - making him 18-for-20 in the Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses. Neither Kerry nor his chief rival, John Edwards, campaigned in those Western states, choosing to concentrate on next week's potentially decisive Super Tuesday showdown in New York, California, Ohio, and seven other states. Both candidates continued to harp on jobs, with Kerry advocating that companies disclose plans to ship jobs overseas to the federal government and to their employees.

President Bush's urging of congressional action to ban same-sex marriages with a constitutional amendment drew an angry response from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D), who opened the floodgates to thousands of them by having City Hall issue gender-neutral licenses begining Feb. 12. Newsom called the president's announcement a "shameful" attempt to politicize the Constitution. A new Los Angeles Times poll, meanwhile, shows Californians almost equally divided over the amendment idea.

With "The Passion of the Christ" opening in 2,800 theaters Wednesday, a prominent evangelical clergyman moved to defuse any possible anti-Semitic reaction to the film's graphic depiction of Jesus's last hours. At a press conference in Los Angeles, the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the 47-million member National Association of Evangelicals, discouraged "un-Christian" response to what he called a "love story."

The Pentagon announced it will not seek the death penalty against two Al Qaeda members being held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp for suspected terrorists. Although accused of helping Osama bin Laden flee Afghanistan, they are not charged with direct attacks on Americans. No date has been set for their military trial, the first since World War II.

The poultry industry was dealt another set back when South Korea and the European Union banned all US chickens, turkeys, and eggs following discovery of a strain of avian flu in Texas. The decision affects about 20 percent of the export market, which was already diminished by limited bans in Russia, China, and Japan.

Jury deliberations could begin Monday in the Martha Stewart case, according to the judge in her trial on charges stemming from a stock sale. Her lawyers, who planned a succinct defense Wednesday, said they will not call her to the stand.

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