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UN Condemns Israeli Wall in the West Bank

The United Nations General Assembly yesterday approved a resolution demanding that Israel stop building a massive 150-mile wall through Palestinian villages in the West Bank. The vote was 144 to 4. The only countries voting against the measure were the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. 12 nations abstained. Following yesterday’s vote, Israel vowed construction of the barrier would continue.

Senate OKs Abortion Ban

Seventeen Democratic Senators joined Republicans yesterday to pass a new law banning some forms of abortions. This marks the first time since Roe v. Wade that Congress has barred specific type of abortion. Opponents of abortion have long described the practice banned as "partial birth" abortions. But pro-choice groups say the bill is deliberately vague and bans often-used safe and common procedures. Three years ago the Supreme Court found a similar ban in Nebraska unconstitutional because the bill was written so vaguely. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa who voted against the ban said, "Congress has turned it’s back on America’s women, their right to privacy, the right to choose. America’s women are now second-class citizens."

Iran Agrees To Curb Nuclear Activities

Iran yesterday pledged to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency by temporarily halting the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium and by allowing in international inspectors. Iran reached the agreement with foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany.

Report: U.S. Set To Arrest Leading Shia Cleric In Iraq

In Iraq, the Guardian is reporting that U.S. and Iraqi officials are preparing an arrest warrant for Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who they charge was involved in the April murder of a rival Shia cleric. Sadr has been one of the most vocal opponents of the U.S.-led occupation. Last week he announced the formation of a rival government to the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. Observers in Iraq predict there will be massive resistance if Sadr is arrested.

In other Iraq news, defense officials announced plans yesterday to rotate 30,000 more reservists into Iraq.

U.S. officials said yesterday they now believe Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, personally played a role in the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was murdered in Pakistan.

Pentagon Probes General Over Islam Remarks

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the Pentagon is launching an investigation into public statements made by Lt. Gen. William Boykin that cast the so-called war on terror in terms of a holy war. Boykin once said the U.S. battling a spiritual enemy" named Satan. On Friday, Boykin insisted he was "not anti-Islam" and said his remarks had been misconstrued or taken out of context.

Report: One in Six U.S. Prisoners Suffer From Mental Illness

A new report by Human Rights Watch has determined that one in six U.S. prisoners suffer from mental illness. The group estimated that the nation’s prisons hold three times as many mentally ill men and women as do the nation’s mental hospitals.

Ecuadoreans Sue Texaco $1bn For Polluting Rainforests

In Ecuador, a trial has begun where 30,000 Ecuadoreans are suing ChevronTexaco for $1 billion for polluting the nation’s rainforests and water resources. Texaco, which later merged with Chevron, is accused of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic materials into unlined pits and rivers in the Amazon from 1972 to 1992.

Former President Bush Retires From Carlyle Group

And former US President George Bush is retiring as a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group. The Financial Times reported that Carlyle offered no explanation for Bush’s retirement other than his age and his desire to move on to other endeavors. Bush was one of many former top officials employed by the secretive private equity firm which invests in defense companies. Others include former British Prime Minister John Major, former US Secretary of State James Baker and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci.

George W. Bush also once served on the board of a Carlyle-owned company. Ties between the Bush family and Carlyle has become a growing political liability for President Bush in part because Osama Bin Laden’s family were major investors in Carlyle up until shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Anti-War Protests Set in D.C. and SF on Saturday

And anti-war protesters from across the country are planning to march in Washington and San Francisco this weekend to oppose the U.S. occupation in Iraq. The demonstrations are also timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the passing of the USA Patriot Act.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, a judge yesterday ruled in favor of 11 anti-war protesters who were arrested for trespassing while they committed civil disobedience outside the Federal Building in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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