In a rare victory for President Bush since Democrats took control of Congress, the House approved a free-trade agreement with Peru on Thursday in a vote that exposed a major rift within the Democratic ranks over the issue.
Despite efforts by leading Democrats to persuade a majority of their party to back a deal that included standards to protect workers and the environment, most Democrats nonetheless voted against it, including a number of freshmen who had highlighted job losses and other negative effects of globalization during their campaigns.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and 108 other Democrats joined 176 Republicans in approving the measure, 285-132.
Little Rock, Ark.
Social activist backs Huckabee
Republican Mike Huckabee on Thursday gained the endorsement of conservative activist Donald Wildmon, who has led national boycotts against corporations over social policies.
Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association and a retired United Methodist minister in Tupelo, Miss., announced his support for the former Arkansas governor in a statement released by Huckabee’s campaign.
The endorsement was yet another example of the deep divisions within conservative ranks over the presidential choices in the GOP race. It came a day after televangelist Pat Robertson backed Rudy Giuliani and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain. Earlier this week, conservative Paul Weyrich expressed his support for Mitt Romney.
Poker chips flush with lead
Arizona health regulators issued a warning Thursday about a popular brand of high-end poker chips that may contain high levels of lead.
The warning about Paulson brand chips – used in many casinos and sold at retail to gamblers – came a day after ABC affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix aired a story about the potential contamination.
The television station had 200 of the poker chips tested by a private laboratory, and swabs showed all had levels of surface lead exceeding the EPA limit of 0.06 percent. More than half maxed out the swab’s 10 percent limit, which is more than 160 times the federal limit.