House Votes to Repeal FCC Regs

In a stunning vote, the House of Representatives moved yesterday to block a new Federal Communications Commission rule that would allow for further media consolidation of television networks.

Such a vote was almost unimaginable just six weeks ago when the FCC passed its new media ownership regulations that would allow the nation’s largest television station networks to grow bigger by owning more stations.

Congress 9/11 report: No Iraq link to al-Qaida

Among other findings, the 900-page Congressional report on 9/11 reveals that U.S. intelligence had no evidence that Iraq or Saddam Hussein had any involvement in the attacks or connection to Al Qaida.

Former Democratic Georgia Sen. Max Cleland who served on the congressional committee said, "The administration sold the connection to scare the pants off the American people and justify the war. What you’ve seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends."

Cleland also charged the Bush administration purposely delayed the release of the 9/11 report until after the Iraq invasion.

Cleland said, "Had this report come out in January like it should have done, we would have known these things before the war in Iraq, which would not have suited the administration."

Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Erred in Preparing for Post-Invasion Iraq

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, admitted yesterday that some of the key assumptions the Bush administration made about the Iraq occupation were wrong.

The administration had assumed the Baath Party would not present a threat after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was removed. The U.S. also wrongly assumed significant portions of the Iraqi police force and military would join the U.S. in rebuilding Iraq.

The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ignored predictions from U.S. intelligence agencies that a "armed opposition" would begin after the war. To handle the resistance, the Army’s chief of staff warned an international force of several hundred thousand troops would be needed, but Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz ignored the request assuming Iraqis would voluntarily help the occupying forces.

Wolfowitz yesterday claimed the Pentagon had a plan for a post-invasion Iraq, but it just didn’t work. Wolfowitz said, "There was a plan, but as any military officer can tell you, no plan survives first contact with reality."

3 More U.S. Soldiers Killed; Total Now 238

Meanwhile three more U.S. soldiers have been killed near the northern city of Mosul where U.S. forces killed Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay. Two other U.S. soldiers died on Wednesday. This brings the total number of U.S. troops killed since the invasion began to 238. More soldiers have now died since Baghdad fell than before.

As questions rise in Iraq as to whether the U.S. really killed the Hussein brothers, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday promised photos would be released but he did not say when.

Questions have also been raised if the killing of the brothers violated the U.S ban on assassinations. The ban was first spelled out in an executive order by President Ford and it has never been rescinded.

Mass AG: At least 789 Kids in Boston Area Sexually Abused By Priests

The Massachusetts Attorney General reported yesterday at least 789 children have been raped and sexually abused by priests and church workers within the Boston Roman Catholic Archdiocise over the past 60 years. Attorney General Thomas Reilly described the scandal as the "greatest tragedy to children in the history of the commonwealth." Reilly said he has no doubt the total of victims is far greater than the 789 documented.

California Prepares for Gubernatorial Recall

An unprecedented gubernatorial recall vote will take place in California as soon as September, the Secretary of State announced yesterday.

Opponents of Democrat Gov. Gray Davis submitted a ballot petition signed by 1.3 million voters calling for the recall of the governor who was elected less than a year ago.

The recall move was largely bankrolled by wealthy Republican Congressman Darrell Issa who opposes gun control and abortion. He contributed at least $1.7 million to the campaign.

If Davis is recalled, it could set the stage for Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for office and become the second actor to become governor of California. The first was Ronald Reagan.

BP & Shell Win Iraqi Oil Contracts; Shell Profits Up 82%

Oil giants BP and Shell yesterday signed two of the first long-term contracts to secure Iraqi oil. ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips are also believed to have won contracts. Under the deal, Iraq will export 20 million barrels of oil a month.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports net profits at the Royal Dutch/Shell Group have increased by 82 percent over the past year. The oil giant made $8.2 billion between January and July.

ICC Prosecutor: Israeli Troops Exempt From Prosecution

Haaretz is reporting that The International Criminal Court in the Hague will not prosecute Israeli soldiers for war crimes in the occupied territories.

The court’s chief prosecutor has said Israeli soldiers have been exempted from prosecution based on a legal technicality. Soldiers can only be tried by the ICC if permission is granted by the accused’s country or by the country where the alleged crimes are committed. The court’s prosecutor said Israeli troops are exempt because the occupied territories of Palestine are not internationally-recognized as a state.

Amnesty: U.S. Beating & Starving Detainees

Detainees at U.S. detention centers in Iraq have been beaten, deprived of food, water and sleep and are generally treated inhumanely by coalition troops. This according to Amnesty International based on visits to several camps and interviews with the relatives of detainees.

Coalition troops have reportedly shot and killed several detainees during riots at the centers.

Amnesty reports occupying forces continue to conduct unlawful searches of homes, seizing property and humiliating houseowners.

NYC Politician Shot Dead in City Hall By Political Rival

New York City Councilmember James Davis was shot dead yesterday by a political rival inside New York City Hall. Police said the gunman was then shot dead. The gunman was identified as Othniel Askew who had planned to challenge Davis this fall for his seat in Brooklyn.

Askew reportedly entered the City Hall with Davis and did not go through a metal detector. He then shot Davis in the City Council Chambers.

Davis was a former minister and police officer and a leading critic of gun violence. He was elected to the City Council two years ago.

South African Musician Denied Entry to U.S. on Alleged Visa Complications

And finally, South African poet, songwriter and musician Vusi Mahlasela went back to Johannesburg last night after being refused entry into the U.S. for supposed visa complications. He was scheduled to join us in our firehouse studio today. Mahlasela is one of South Africa’s most celebrated poets and freedom singers. In 1994, he performed at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. He is also featured in the new film Amandla. He was set to make his American debut this week in New York.

International artists have become prime victims of America’s post 9/11 Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act.

The government denied entry to all 22 Cuban musicians slated to appear at last year’s Latin Grammy Awards, including celebrated pianist Chucho Valdes.

British rock band Cousteau arrived in New York without the band’s principal songwriter who was born in Beirut.

Other casualties include ten of 28 members of an Iranian troupe scheduled for the Lincoln Center Festival and Yugoslav classical pianist Aleksandar Serdar, who INS deemed not "an artist of extraordinary ability or achievement."

On the eve of a meeting between President Bush and President Vladimir Putin, Russian members of the American-Russian Youth Orchestra were almost denied visas by the U.S. Consulate in Moscow.

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