The Financial Times is reporting the White House and Attorney General John Ashcroft has * pressured the FBI not to prosecute senior officials* in connection with the investigation over who within the Pentagon leaked top-secret information to Israel and AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. One former intelligence official told the Financial Times "The White House is leaning on the FBI. Some people in the FBI are very upset, they think Ashcroft is playing politics with this."
In Indonesia, at least eight people have been killed and about * 100 injured in a bomb blast outside the Australian embassy* in Jakarta. Police said the blast was likely the result of a car bomb.
President Bush yesterday announced support for a * new national intelligence director* to solve the lack of coordination among agencies in the lead up to the attacks on Sept. 11. The 9/11 Commission had recommended creating a position where the new intelligence director would be a cabinet-level position and given full budget authority. Bush has proposed a scaled-back position where the director * controls about two-thirds of the overall intelligence budget*.
In Iraq, one U.S. soldier was killed and two others injured in a roadside bomb in Baghdad. In Fallujah, the U.S have carried out another round of bombing killing 6 and injuring 23. In the province of Anbar, members of the Iraqi resistance kidnapped the deputy governor.
Meanwhile the Guardian is reporting that the remaining international aid agencies in Iraq are considering * pulling out of the country* after the kidnapping of four humanitarian workers, including two Italian women, from their headquarters in Baghdad.
Tonight across the country over * 600 silent candlelight vigils* are scheduled to mark the death of the 1,000th soldier in Iraq. The vigils are being organized by * Win Without War* with backing from * United For Peace and Justice, * MoveOn, * Veterans For Peace* and other groups. Meanwhile last night in Iowa City critics of the war put on a life-size display of 1,000 footprints to symbolize the lives lost in Iraq.
The New York Times is reporting that the White House recently called the president of NBC News to * discourage the network* from broadcasting interviews with best selling biographer Kitty Kelley. Kelley has authored a new book on the Bush family that charges President Bush was a cocaine user and that he once used cocaine at Camp David while his father was president.
In other TV news, viewers in multiple markets reported last night their local CBS affiliate opted not to broadcast 60 Minutes which aired a segment * raising new questions about President Bush’s military record* in the National Guard. In Lubbock, Texas the station aired a pre-recorded show for the St. Jude’s Children charity and held 60 Minutes until 1:35 in the morning. WTVR in Virginia reportedly aired a special 15-minute weather report at the top of the air that coincided with the portion of 60 Minutes that discussed Bush. WYOU in Pennsylvania claimed the station had transmitter problems during the hour. In Oklahoma, the local CBS affiliate had * planned to not air 60 Minutes until 3:15 in the morning* but the station caved in following a campaign by the * Progressive Alliance Foundation*.
In West Virginia, one of the state’s five Republican electors is * threatening to vote against President Bush in the Electoral College* if the president carries the state’s popular vote. Richie Robb, who is the mayor of South Charleston, said he would do so to protest what he believes are misguided policies of the current administration. He said, "I know that among some in my own party, what I’m discussing would be considered treasonous. But I’m not going to cheerlead us down the primrose path when I know we’re being led in the wrong direction."
Meanwhile the Log Cabin Republicans have announced they will * not endorse President Bush* in the November election to protest his opposition to same-sex marriage. The group is the party’s largest gay and lesbian bloc.
In voting news, the state of California has * joined a lawsuit against Diebold* that alleges the electronic voting company sold the state equipment that could allow the elections to be manipulated by a hacker or disrupted by software bugs. The lawsuit was originally filed by electronic voting critic * Bev Harris*.
A new report from the * Center for Public Integrity* has found that both President Bush and John Kerry are relying on some of the * same major corporations to fund their campaigns*. Employees from four companies have given enough money to each candidate to be among the top largest contributors for each campaign. The companies are all financial corporations. They are Citigroup, the Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. as well as UBS AG Inc.
For the third time this year a federal judge has ruled an attempt by * Congress to impose a federal ban* on some forms of abortion is unconstitutional. A Nebraska judge rejected the so-called * Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003* because it lacks an exception for when a woman’s health is at risk.
In the Caribbean, * Hurricane Ivan*
has killed at least 15. In Grenada, the country’s prime minister told the BBC that the * island is 90 percent devastated. 125 mile an hour winds hit Grenada’s capital St. Georges. The category five storm is forecast to strike Jamaica on Friday and Cuba over the weekend. Hurricane Ivan is believed to be the worst hurricane to hit the Caribbean in over a decade. * Related Democracy Now! coverage__