Charles Taylor stepped down as the president of Liberia yesterday and surrendered power to his vice president Moses Blah. He then flew into exile in Nigeria. The Associated Press described hundreds of Liberians lining the country’s rock-lined shores, exclaiming and hugging on a day that they prayed would mark a turning point for their country. We’ll have a live report from Monrovia in a few minutes.
Four people including two apparent suicide bombers, died in back to back attacks in Israel and the West Bank today. The first attack occurred at a shopping center in the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin. The second took place 40 minutes later at a bus stop near the Israeli settlement town of Ariel in the West Bank. Agence France Press reports the attacks came four days after an Israeli raid on the West Bank town of Nablus that left four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier dead. No group has taken responsibility for the bombings. A Hamas spokesman told AFP that Israel is "responsible for this situation because of their rejection of the ceasefire and their tough position." The attacks were the first suicide bombings in the area since July 7.
President Bush yesterday nominated Utah governor Michael Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency replacing Christie Todd Whitman who resigned in May. Philip E. Clapp, head of the National Environmental Trust, said, "I can’t think of too many governors more hostile to government regulations than Mike Leavitt." We’ll have more on this later in the show. Bush’s announcement came at the beginning of a three-week drive during which he hopes to bolster his environmental image. A Wilderness Society official in Montana, predicted Bush would attempt to "to do more environmental stuff in the next three weeks than he has done in the last three years"
In news from the California gubernatorial recall, The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that it has obtained documents that reveal "a Republican strategy to oust Gov. Gray Davis and help President Bush before the 2004 presidential election." And yesterday California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley warned that the cost of the recall to taxpayers would be about $66 million. He also said it may take five weeks after the Oct. 7 recall for state officials to certify a winner in the race. He told reporters, "Let me be candid: There are going to be problems."
The Associated Press is reporting that private analysts now estimate the total cost of the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq will be $600 billion. The estimate is far higher than anything put forward by the Pentagon which estimates it is spending $3.9 billion a month but that does not include the cost of replacing damaged equipment or the cost of munitions used in the invasion.
The British government yesterday opened an inquiry into the death of weapons scientist David Kelly who allegedly killed himself after being identified as the British official who told the BBC that the Blair administration had exaggerated the case for war. Yesterday evidence emerged that many top officials within the British intelligence community shared Kelly’s belief that Blair was distorting the evidence to make the case for war. In addition the Guardian reports that Kelly played a much more significant role in advising British officials on the controversial Iraq dossier than had been previously disclosed.
In Iraq six huge explosions rocked a US military base west of Baghdad late last night. There was no report on U.S. casualties. The attack came hours after 2,000 US troops raided nearby villages in the hunt for backers of Saddam Hussein.
The Guardian of London is reporting that U.S. troops killed six Iraqi civilians including a father and three of his children over the weekend in Baghdad. The family members were shot dead as they were hurrying home before the nightly curfew. Surviving family members said the U.S. troops gave them no warning. 36-year-old Anwaar Kawaz, said "We kept shouting, ’We’re a family, don’t shoot.’ But no one listened. They kept shooting." She lost her husband and three of her four children.
Americans who traveled to Iraq to act as human shields before the invasion are now facing $10,000 in fines or 10 years in jail. The Treasury Department is charging that the protesters violated U.S. sanctions by traveling to Iraq.
In Afghanistan, two Pakistani border guards have died after being mistakenly shot and bombed by U.S. Special Ops forces.
The ongoing heat wave in Europe has threatened the safety of nuclear plants in France which rely on river water to cool the reactor casings.
In campaign news, Delaware Senate Joseph Biden announced Monday he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Fox News Channel is suing liberal humorist Al Franken and his publisher the Penguin Group in attempt to block the publication of his new book titled "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." The book’s cover features photos of four of the so-called lying liars that Franken writes about: Fox host Bill O’Reilly, commentator Ann Coulter and President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Among other things, Fox claims the term "Fair and Balanced" can not be used in the title because it was trademarked by the news organization in 1995.