In brief: Romney forms 2008 committee
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took the initial step in a 2008 presidential bid, another hopeful in a crowded Republican field headlined by the party’s more familiar names of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
The governor filed papers to create an exploratory committee just an hour before he left the Statehouse for the final time on Wednesday, concluding his one and only term in elective office. Democrat Deval Patrick will succeed Romney today.
If elected, Romney will become the first Mormon president. The 59-year-old former venture capitalist is the son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who waged a short-lived campaign for the Republican nomination in 1968.
Other Republican candidates include Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who have established exploratory committees. California Rep. Duncan Hunter and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore have said they intend to follow suit. Others said to be mulling a bid include Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New York Gov. George Pataki, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating.
Troops begin push against drug gangs
Soldiers and federal police poured into the violent border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, manning checkpoints and inspecting local police stations as part of President Felipe Calderon’s latest offensive against powerful drug gangs.
Backed by helicopters, planes and boats, the force descending on the city across the border from San Diego will eventually consist of 3,300 troops, Mexico’s government has said. It was not clear exactly how many had entered Tijuana by Wednesday night.
Federal investigators allege there is a corrupt network of police in the city supporting traffickers who smuggle tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana over the busy border crossing into the United States. There were no immediate reports of arrests by the soldiers.
Dubbed “Operation Tijuana,” the mobilization is the second major military offensive against drug gangs by Calderon, who took office on Dec. 1 promising to crack down on organized crime.
Steve Irwin video given to his family
Authorities gave the video of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s fatal encounter with a stingray to his family and destroyed all copies to prevent the grisly footage from being made public, an Australian state coroner said Thursday.
Irwin, 44, died on Sept. 4 after being stabbed in the chest by the stingray’s poisonous barb while filming a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast.
Queensland State Coroner Michael Barnes said authorities gave the original video to his wife, Terri, in late December and destroyed other copies.
“The footage has been the subject of widespread media interest and it was wholly appropriate that we took all possible steps to ensure something of such a personal and tragic nature did not fall into the wrong hands,” Barnes said in a statement. “This is in line with the wishes of the Irwin family.”