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U.S. Seeks U.N. Help in Iraq

The Bush administration yesterday decided to seek a new United Nations Security Council resolution that would give the international body a greater role in the reconstruction and policing of Iraq.

The decision marks a major shift for the administration which shunned the United Nations in the lead-up to the invasion.

But senior officials say Washington is attempting to limit the power the UN and other countries will actually have. The Pentagon is insisting that a U.S. general maintains control of the U.S. troops in Iraq. One official told the Washington Post: "What remains key is that the U.S. remain in charge of the operation."

Another official summed up the need for the UN resolution in four words: "We need the forces."

Congress: U.S. Can’t Maintain Current Troop Levels

Yesterday a Congressional Budget Office study revealed that the U.S. can not keep up its level of troops presence in Iraq past new spring.

The study concluded: "The Army does not have enough active-duty component forces to simultaneously maintain the occupation at its current size, limit deployments to one year, and sustain all of its other commitments."

Yesterday three more U.S. troops died.

Ousted Army Secretary Says U.S. Plan 'Totally Inadequate' in Iraq

The recently retired Amy Secretary Thomas White is describing the Bush administration’s reconstruction effort in Iraq as "totally inadequate."

In a new book to be published Thursday, White writes "Clearly the view that the war to 'liberate' Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored the harsh realities on the ground."

World Council of Churches to U.S.: Leave Iraq

The World Council of Churches is calling on U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq and transfer matters to the United Nations. The coalition of 342 Protestant and Orthodox denominations also called on the U.S. and Britain to pay for reparations to the Iraqi people for damage caused during the invasion.

Court Overturns 100 Death Penalty Sentences

A federal appeals court in California yesterday overturned the death sentences of more than 100 inmates living in Arizona, Montana and Idaho. The decision follows a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that mandated only juries not judges could impose the death penalty. Yesterday the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the high court’s ruling should be applied retroactively.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said yesterday his state will ask the Supreme Court to review the decision.

Abortion Doctor Killer Set To Be Executed

In Florida today, abortion doctor killer Paul Hill is scheduled to be executed for the 1994 killing of Doctor John Britton and his security escort James Barrett. He is to become the first person in U.S. history to be executed for killing an abortion provider.

Hill has been unrepentant saying "I expect a great reward in heaven. I am looking forward to glory. I don’t feel remorse. . . . People have asked me if I would do it again; if I was put in a similar circumstance, I believe I would act similarly."

Layers For Guantanamo Detainees Seek Supreme Court Intervention

Lawyers for the 660 men held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba yesterday asked the The Supreme Court to consider whether the Bush administration has violated the Constitution by holding the detainees without charges or access to attorneys.

GAO: Superfund To Run Out Of Money

A new Congressional study has founded that the trust fund set up to clean hazardous Superfund sites will run out of money next month. The lack of money came about in part because in 1996 Washington stopped placing an environmental tax on chemical and oil companies to pay for cleanup of contaminated sites.

Bush Eases Emergency Room Rules

Emergency room patients may soon find it harder to get emergency care because the Bush administration has relaxed rules that regulate hospital service.

Among other things hospitals will no longer need to have specialists on call all the time. It may become more difficult for injured patients to receive legal compensation for poor care. And it will also become harder for patients to sue hospitals if they are turned away from emergency rooms.

UK Closes Iran Mission; UK-Iranian Relations Worsen

Britain has closed its embassy in Iran today after shots were fired at the building. The attack came hours after Iran recalled its ambassador to Britain. Tension between the two countries has escalated over the past two weeks since Britain arrested Iranian diplomat Hade Soleimanpour whose extradition is being sought by Argentina in connection with the bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz Calls for Arafat’s Expulsion

This news from the Occupied Territories: Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has called a vote of confidence on Thursday in the Palestinian parliament. He has threatened to resign if the Parliament does not back his policies on the peace process. Meanwhile Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday called for the expulsion of Yassir Arafat as early as this year.

Private Lynch Signs $1M Book Deal

Jessica Lynch has signed a $1 million book deal to tell the story of her combat experience in Iraq. Former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg will co-write the book which will be titled "I am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story."

WTO Activists Protest Mexico Activist Watch List

The Guardian of London is reporting that Mexican security officials have developed a watch list containing the names of 80 activists and academics who are believed to attend the World Trade organization protests later this month in Cancun.

To protest the creation of the list, a growing number of activists are voluntarily submitting their own names to the so-called watch list.

A letter to Mexican officials is circulating that reads in part "we are concerned that you were only able to find 60 internationals and 20 Mexicans who are opposed to the World Trade Organization Haven’t you noticed that the tide of public opinion is turning decidedly against the WTO? ...Please add my name to your 'watch list' immediately!"

The letter continues: "If you are unwilling to add my name to the list, then I must insist that you remove those singled out for special attention. I can assure you that we have similar views–we are all opposed to the WTO and a 'free' trade agenda that impoverish the majority of us while enriching a few corporations."

Census: # Living In Poverty Up By 1.3 Million

New figures from the Census Bureau show the number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by more than 1.3 million last year.

Around 12 and a half percent (12.5%) of the country’s population is now living below the poverty line. That amounts to nearly 35 million people. And nearly one in five children live below the poverty line.

Bush Hires Close Friends to Rewrite Iraq Laws

A U.S. law firm with close ties to the Bush administration has been tapped to set up Iraq’s legal system. This according to a report in the London Observer.

Among other things the firm, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, will advise on how to privatize former government-held industries and to develop a tax structure.

In 2000 the firm donated $41,000 to Bush’s election campaign. One of the firm’s partners Ronald James now serves as personnel chief of the new Department of Homeland Security. James also used to work for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and during the Nixon administration he shared an officve with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Study: Presidential Donors Overwhelmingly White & Male

A new study by a North Carolina campaign watchdog group has found that donors to presidential campaigns are overwhelming white and male. The group, Democracy North Carolina, examined that of the state residents who gave more than $200 to a campaign, 96 percent were white and 64 percent were men.

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