President Bush has dismissed the ongoing anti-war vigil in Crawford Texas initiated by Cindy Sheehan. He claimed she was advocating a policy that would weaken the country. "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be — are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States," Bush said. "So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn’t represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I’ll continue to meet with families." Bush’s comments came during a last-minute trip to the Idaho resort town of Donnelly. The trip was scheduled after hundreds of military families, veterans and anti-war protesters began camping outside his 1,600 acre estate in Crawford Texas.
In Idaho Bush is staying at Tamarack Resort, known for its world-class ski mountain, its professional golf course and the beautiful Lake Cascade. Meanwhile anti-war protesters met Bush in Idaho. Even though the tiny town of Donnelly only has a population of 130, some 200 protesters took to the streets Monday night. Protests were also held in Boise. There were reports protesters planned to issue a citizen’s arrest warrant for the president. Laura McCarthy, whose son is in Iraq, said at a rally "President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last night. But no matter where he goes, he’s going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The name is going to be different, but the message is going to be the same."
Meanwhile in Boise, the CBS and Fox affiliates are refusing to run an ad featuring Sheehan. An official at CBS’s KBCI said QUOTE "Sheehan accuses the President of the United States of being a liar. She claims the President lied about, among other things, the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There is no proof that we are aware of regarding the truthfulness of her claim." Earlier in the week the ABC Affiliate in Salt Lake City refused to run the same ad claiming that it could "be offensive to our community in Utah."
Meanwhile the Bush administration appears to have launched a coordinated effort to discredit the anti-war movement. On Tuesday, President Bush, White House spokesman Trent Duffy and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld all took jabs at critics of the war. Duffy described the critics as people who don’t believe the U.S. must win the war on terror. And Rumsfeld compared anti-war activists to American supporters of Joseph Stalin. He said "Throughout history there have always been those who predict America’s failure just around every corner... Many Western intellectuals praised Stalin... For a time, Communism was very much en vogue... thankfully the American people are better centered. They ultimately come to the right decisions on big issues. And the future of Iraq is a very big issue."
Meanwhile opinion polls show President Bush’s approval rating has dropped to a new low of just 36 percent — according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Bush’s approval rating is now lower than Richard Nixon’s was at the height of the Watergate scandal.
In Iraq, the country’s deputy justice minister has survived two assassination attempts over the past 24 hours. Earlier this morning gunmen ambushed Bosho Ibrahim’s convoy in Baghdad. Four of his bodyguards died in the ambush. His convoy also came under attack on Tuesday.
Meanwhile a suicide bomber killed 10 people at a joint U.S.-Iraqi base in the town of Baquba. Eight policemen died in the explosion along with a U.S. soldier and a contractor. American soldiers responded to the attack by accidentally killing three members of an Iraqi special forces unit.
Donald Rumsfeld announced the Pentagon would send up to 2,000 more troops to Iraq ahead of the October 15 referendum on the constitution.
In Africa, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is visiting Niger where up to 5 million residents are facing severe food shortages. "I think it is important as an international community to work with the government to deal with this emergency not just in the short term but also on the longer term issues of food and security to ensure that in another five or three years, we don’t come back to the same problem," Annan said. Meanwhile Doctors Without Borders accused the United Nations of being slow to react to the current epidemic of acute malnutrition in the country.
Meanwhile, here in this country three TV stations in Washington DC are refusing to run an ad that criticizes the networks lack of coverage of the ongoing genocide in Sudan. The ad was created by the Center for American Progress for the campaign called a BeAWitness.
Israel has announced the evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip and from four small West Bank settlements has been completed ahead of schedule. The Army is estimating that it evacuated 15,000 Israelis over the past week–6,000 of them were non-residents who had traveled to the settlements to protest the pull out. On Tuesday, 31 police officers and soldiers, as well as 11 civilians, were injured during the evacuation of two settlements in the West Bank.
10,000 troops from China and Russia are taking part in joint military exercises this week. The Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan described the war games as a "major historical event."
The city of New York has signed a $200 million security contract with defense contractor Lockheed Martin to develop a high tech surveillance system of the city’s mass transit system. 1,000 cameras and 3,000 motion detectors will be installed on subways and other forms of mass transit.
In medical news, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have issued a report determining that fetuses likely don’t feel pain until the final months of pregnancy. Opponents of abortion rights have widely criticized the report. It is being issued at a time that anti-abortion advocates are pushing for fetal pain laws aimed at curtailing abortion.
The Bush administration has proposed slightly increasing the fuel efficiency of minivans, pickups and some SUVS over the next five years. Environmentalists have criticized the proposals because the rules will not apply to the biggest SUVs such as the H-2 Hummer. This comes as gas prices are reaching record high.
Meanwhile officials in nine states have reached a preliminary agreement to freeze power plant emissions and to reduce them over the next 15 years. The decision came after the Bush administration decided not to regulate greenhouse gases.
In news from Britain, the Sunday Mirror is reporting that Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to join the U.S.-based investment giant Carlyle Group after he leaves Downing Street. Nicknamed the Ex-President’s Club, the investment firm already has on staff former President Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major and former secretary of state James Baker.
And writer, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel is recovering at home after undergoing a risky open-heart surgery. Earlier this month, the 93-year-old Terkel underwent a six hour operation to replace a narrowed aortic valve and redo one of five coronary bypasses. Doctors said Terkel is the oldest patient known to have undergone such a procedure. Terkel’s surgeon said, "His progress is spectacular. He is recovering physically and mentally as well as someone half his age."