Widening his lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, John Kerry won five of Tuesday's seven primaries and caucuses. The Massachusetts senator said his first-place finishes in Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota show "I am the candidate who can take on [President] George Bush and beat him." Rival Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina touted a "resounding" victory in South Carolina, while retired Gen. Wesley Clark narrowly won in Oklahoma.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut dropped his White House bid after consistently poor showings in the early primaries. Lieberman announced the decision Tuesday night at a rally in Arlington, Va. He was Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential election.

Legalizing civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in an advisory opinion. "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the court said. The four-justice panel was following up on its previous - and highly contentious - decision in November that homosexual couples are entitled to wed. Lawmakers, meanwhile, will take up a proposal next week to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Oregonians firmly rejected a proposed $800 million tax increase, voting "no" Tuesday by a 59 percent margin. That means $544 million in spending cuts to schools, welfare programs, and law enforcement are due to take effect May 1. Some Republican lawmakers want Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) to call a special session of the state legislature to rework the budget.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) was hospitalized after a rollover accident involving his sport utility vehicle. Baldacci did not appear seriously injured, a spokeswoman said. His state police bodyguard and driver also was hurt.

Federal agents have joined in the search for a young girl whose abduction Sunday outside a car wash in Sarasota, Fla., was caught by a surveillance camera. The parents of sixth-grader Carlie Brucia pleaded for help in obtaining her safe return at a news conference Tuesday. The tape shows a man in a mechanic's uniform approach the girl and lead her away. The FBI is working with NASA to enhance the image for clues to the kidnapper's identity.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium announced a memorial service for Keiko the killer whale Feb. 20. The star of the popular "Free Willy" children's films died Dec. 12 in remote Taknes Bay, Norway, where he'd lived since being released off the coast of Iceland two years ago. The whale resided at the Oregon aquarium from 1996 to 1998 in preparation for its return to the wild.

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