Bush Takes in $34M in Fundraising With Help From Enron Pals

President Bush has raised over $34 million in fundraising over the past three months — more than his nine Democratic rivals combined. This according to financial reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission.

On the Democrat side former Vermont governor Howard Dean took in the most with about seven and a half million dollars over the last three months. John Kerry though has the most money in the bank among the Democratic challengers.

Rep. Richard Gephardt fell more than $1 million short of his goal.

According to the Washington Post, Bush relied largely on a group of 68 friends who pledged to raise one hundred or two hundred thousand dollars.

Bush labels anyone who helps raise $100,000 or more a Pioneer. Anyone who helps raise more than $200,000 becomes a Ranger.

Among the Rangers, was Texan Nancy Kinder who had close ties to the Enron corporation. Kinder was the former personal assistant to Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay and she is married to Richard Kinder, the former president of Enron.

Bomb Kills Puerto Rican Soldier in Iraq

Another U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq at nine a.m. local time today when a bomb exploded near a convoy of U.S. troops west of Baghdad.

Specialist Jose Colon said the dead soldier was blown out of the vehicle by the blast.

The convoy was made up of reservists from a unit based in Puerto Rico that had recently arrived in Iraq.

Specialist Carlos McKenzie said "We need more protection. We’ve seen enough. We’ve stayed in Iraq long enough."

Washington Post: Niger-Iraq Link Among Several White House Nuclear Claims Proved False

The Washington Post is reporting that between October of last year and the time of Bush’s State of the Union address in January, almost all of the so-called evidence the U.S. had on Iraq’s nuclear program had been undercut or disproved by UN inspectors in Iraq. It is for this reason, the Post reports, Bush may have gone ahead at his January State of the Union and charged that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Africa although the information was disputed by the CIA and others.

The Post reports that the Iraq-Niger deal was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration’s case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program.

At his speech in Cincinnati on October 7 Bush referred to several pieces of intelligence that indicated Iraq may be restarting its nuclear program.

Bush said the U.S. had satellite photographs that showed Iraq was rebuilding past nuclear sites. He also said meetings took place between Saddam Hussein and Iraqi scientists. And finally Bush said Iraq attempts to buy high strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium.

But he made no reference to the alleged sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq because CIA Director George Tenet had personally raised questions over the intelligence.

By his January speech, all three of these assertions had been largely proved inaccurate and instead Bush included the Niger link despite warning from the CIA.

CIA Says Administration Exaggerating Syria’s WMD Threat

The Bush administration called off a briefing on Syria’s program to develop weapons of mass destruction after a dispute emerged over the intelligence between the CIA and the White House.

The Knight Ridder news agency reported that Undersecretary of State John Bolton was scheduled to tell the House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee that Syria’s development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons had progressed to such a point that they posed a threat to stability in the region.

Knight Ridder reports that Bolton’s appearance was cancelled after CIA and other intelligence agencies said that assessment was exaggerated.

Bolton has been at the center of controversy before. A year ago he claimed in a speech that Cuba had a biological warfare program.

Anti-Muslim Incidents Increases By 15 percent in U.S.

A new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations has determined that Muslims living in the U.S. faced more than 600 incidents of discrimination, harassment or violence last year. This marked a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

The report was called "Guilt by Association."

Human Rights Watch: Rapes & Sexual Assault Increase in Iraq

Human Rights Watch issued a report today claiming that insecurity that is plaguing Iraq is forcing women and girls from participating in public life because they have to fear for their safety.

One Human Rights Watch officials said, " If Iraqi women are to participate in postwar society, their physical security needs to be an urgent priority."

The group found at least 25 cases where women were abducted or were the victims of sexual violence, but many more cases go unreported. The New York Times reports today that even after some of the women who have been raped or abducted come home they are sometimes murdered by their own families in so-called honor killings.

Doctors report they have seen more rape cases after the war than before.

Court OKs Ex-Dictator Montt to Run For President

Guatemala’s top court has ruled former dictator Efrain Rios Montt can run for president in November. Montt took power in a military coup in 1982 and served for 18 months. Human rights groups protested the court’s decision because Guatemala’s constitution of 1985 bars coup leaders from seeking office. But Montt argued the ban could not be applied retroactively.

Israel Arrests 8 International Protesters

Israeli police have arrested eight internationals peace activists connected to the International Solidarity Movement. The eight are being held without bail in a West Bank jail.

Four of the eight were arrested for protesting the construction of Israel’s massive wall that runs through West Bank.

Israel claims the activists pose a "security risk."

EPA Refuses to Regulate Rocket Fuel Ingredient in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to regulate a key ingredient of rocket fuel that has been found in the drinking water of millions of Americans.The chemical perchlorate can interfere with normal thyroid function and may cause cancer.

The EPA also chose not to set safety standards for other chemicals that are used to disinfect drinking water.

The EPA announced the decisions by burying the information at the bottom of a press statement quietly released late Friday afternoon.

Erik Olseon of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, "This is nothing less than a sneak attack on America’s drinking water safety. These are major regulatory decisions that they essentially were trying to hide from the American public."

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