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Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld affirmative action in higher education.

In two landmark decisions, the Court issued the most important rulings on affirmative action in a quarter of a century.

By a vote of 5 to 4, the high court ruled the University of Michigan Law School’s admission policy is legal.

In the second case, the court ruled 6 to 3 rejected the point system used by University of Michigan’s undergraduate admissions program but allowed race to be considered as a factor to consider in admitting a student. [ More Democracy Now! coverage__]

Bush names Qatari man ‘enemy combatant’

For only the third time President Bush yesterday designated a suspect in the so-called war on terror as an enemy combatant. This gives the government the power to hold the suspect indefinitely without ever pressing charges and barring him any access to an attorney.

The man Ali Marri of Qatar has actually been in U.S. custody since December, 2001. Until yesterday he was facing criminal charges for lying to the FBI and for credit card fraud. But those charges were dropped yesterday and he was handed over to the U.S. military. He is now being held on an undisclosed military brig.

Federal prosecutors charge Marri was a sleeper operative for Al Qaeda who was living in Illinois.

His lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said Marri was designated an enemy combatant because his legal team was raising powerful challenges to the government’s allegations.

Lustberg said, "If the government had proof he was involved in terrorism, they would have charged him with that, but they didn’t."

Israelis conduct mass arrests of Palestinians in West Bank

At least 150 Palestinians have been detained overnight in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus. The raid targeted suspected members of Hamas. It was the largest arrest campaign since the intifada began 33 months ago.

Palestinian officials fear the roundup may jeopardize the chance of Hamas agreeing to a ceasefire.

Palestinian cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters, "These arrests are an attempt to sabotage the understanding with Hamas. Israel does not want a ceasefire."

Five Syrians injured in U.S. attack

The U.S. now believes it did not likely kill Saddam Hussein or any other top Iraqi leaders in an attack last week near the Syrian border. But the Washington Post is reporting that five Syrian border guards were wounded in the attack which was supposed to be targeting a convoy of vehicles carrying one or more senior members of Hussein’s regime.

The Post reports the clash with the Syrian boarder guards likely occurred inside Syrian territory.

U.S. journalist in custody of Indonesian military

The BBC is reporting that U.S. journalist William Nessen has given himself up to Indonesian troops. Nessen had spent several weeks with separatists on the Indonesian province of Aceh.

Indonesian officials said Nessen would be interrogated for his actions. The BBC reports Indonesia has threatened to treat him as a spy instead of a journalist.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and the U.S. Embassy have urged Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to help Nessen leave Aceh safely.

Meanwhile human rights groups from around the world are calling for an international military embargo on Indonesia. The boycott call came a day after the Indonesian military said it had begun using British-made Scorpion tanks in the attack on Aceh.

Afghan Man Dies in U.S. custory

For at least the third time since the Taliban fell, an Afghan man has died in the custody of the U.S. military.

The U.S. has not explained the circumstances of the death or why the man was detained. The Washington Post reports the military has opened an investigation into the death.

Supreme Court OKs use of internet filters in libraries

In other Supreme Court news, the high court voted 6 to 3 yesterday to uphold a federal law that requires libraries use filtering software to prevent minors from accessing pornography. Libraries risk losing their federal funding if they refuse to install the filters.

The filtering law was opposed by the American Library Association and other groups because the filtering technology is so imprecise that it could block modern art sites and in at least one case the webpage of an elected official in Massachusetts.

In a dissenting opinion Justice David Souter, compared it to "buying an encyclopedia and then cutting out pages with anything thought to be unsuitable for all adults."

Bush makes $4 million in NYC fundraiser

President Bush last night collected $4 million in a major fundraising last night in New York City. Some Republican officials said the total topped $4.1 million which would set a new fundraising record for a presidential candidate.

Henry McKinnell Jr. was one of the chairs of last night’s host committee. He is also the chairman and CEO of Pfizer the world’s largest drugmaker.

Outside the midtown fundraiser, protesters rallied to demonstrate against Bush’s record on civil rights, abortion AIDS and foreign policy among other things.


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