Hastert Dismisses Calls For Resignation Over Foley Scandal

Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert is dismissing calls for his resignation amid mounting criticism of his handling of the Mark Foley scandal. Foley is the Republican Congressman from Florida who stepped down Friday after it was revealed he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to underage boys that used to work as pages on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner reversed an earlier denial he had talked to Hastert about Foley earlier this year. Boehner now says he raised the issue with Hastert and was assured it was being addressed. Boehner added: "In my position, it is in his corner, it is his responsibility." Hastert is receiving backing from the White House. At a campaign appearance in California, Bush said he is confident Hastert will handle the issue and ignored a question asking whether he thought the speaker should resign. The President also made his first comments on Foley’s resignation.

  • President Bush: "I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley’s unacceptable behaviour. I was disgusted by the revelations and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office."

Foley Claims Childhood Sexual Abuse

Meanwhile, Mark Foley released a statement Tuesday announcing he is gay and was molested as a child.

  • Foley attorney David Roth: "As is so often the case with victims of abuse, Mark advises he kept his same to himself for almost 40 years. Specifically Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15, he was molested by a clergyman. Mark will address this issue further upon his release from treatment."

Foley Offered Minor Alcohol, Engaged in Online Sex During House Vote

Roth also maintained his client’s sexual interaction with the pages was strictly kept to the internet and did not involve direct contact. But new instant messages released by ABC News show Foley and a page discussing a meeting in San Diego. Foley also offers to serve the page and other minors alcohol at his apartment in Washington, DC. In another message, Foley and the page engage in internet sex as the House is preparing to vote on a resolution for defense spending.

Report: Bush Admin Preparing New Bolton Recess Appointment

In other news from capital hill, the Conservative news site HumanEvents.com is reporting the Bush administration is preparing to make a second recess appointment of UN Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton was appointed during a recess last year after his nomination failed to win enough support in the Senate. An administration source said Bolton will be re-appointed if the Senate fails to confirm him before his recess appointment ends at the end of the year.

16 Dead, 80 Wounded in Baghdad Attacks

In Iraq, sixteen people are dead and more than eighty wounded after a series of bombs went off in a shopping district of Baghdad earlier today. At least fifty people were killed around the country Tuesday.

At Least 20 US Troops Killed Since Weekend

Meanwhile, the US military is suffering one of its deadliest periods so far this year. At least twenty soldiers have been killed since Saturday. Eight soldiers were killed in Baghdad on Monday. It was the military’s worst single-day loss in the capital in more than a year.

Cuba: Period Since Castro Hospitalization Undermines US Predictions

In Cuba, National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon is calling on the Bush administration to re-think its policy of seeking regime change in that country. Alarcon said the two months since Fidel Castro’s hospitalization show the White House’s predictions of upheaval have been off-base.

  • Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon: "One thing that has been clearly demonstrated is the schizophrenia of some in the United States, it has also shown how out of touch with reality some people are in the White House, where Condoleezza Rice seemed to be talking about another planet."

Miami Herald Loses Publisher, Re-Hires Government-Funded Journalists

In media news, the Miami Herald has reversed its decision to fire three journalists caught taking payments from the US government. The announcement came as the newspaper’s publisher, Jesus Diaz Jr., said he is stepping down because the controversy in the scandal has prevented him from doing his job. The journalists were fired last month after it was disclosed they received money for doing work on the U.S. government-run Radio Marti and TV Marti. The anti-Castro stations are beamed into Cuba but its broadcasts are prohibited in this country due to laws than bar state propaganda. The Herald says its re-hiring the journalists because it did not properly communicate its policies on conflict of interest and taking outside payments. The re-hiring follows an intense lobbying campaign from Cuban exile groups in support of the fired journalists.

Chavez Rebuffs Rumsfeld Over Arms Claim

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrapped up a visit to Nicaragua Tuesday with a new warning for Venezuela. Speaking at a conference of defense ministers, Rumsfeld said neighboring countries have told him they’re concerned Venezuela’s arms purchases could end up in the hands of armed guerrillas Rumsfeld did not say whom he had spoken to. In Venezelua, President Hugo Chavez called on Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for an explanation.

  • Venezuela President Hugo Chavez: "The only neighbouring country of ours that has guerillas is Colombia. Therefore from here I request with much respect that the president of Colombia, Mr. Alvaro Uribe, say something since his silence would indicate that he agrees [with Rumsfeld]."

Secretary Rumsfeld’s visit to Nicaragua has also attracted controversy amid accusations the Bush administration is meddling in that country’s presidential elections. The Bush administration openly opposes the current frontrunner, former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, and says a victory for him would force the US to re-evaluate its ties. Rumsfeld was asked to comment.

  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "I don’t get involved in politics in the United States so you can be certain that I’m not going to get involved in politics in Nicaragua."

Study: Antarctica Suffers Highest-Ever Ozone Loss

In environmental news, a new study says Antarctica has suffered its highest-ever loss in ozone already this year. Ozone is the atmospheric molecule that shields the planet from dangerous ultraviolet rays. The European Space Agency says it’s been depleted by human-made chemicals.

AWOL Purple Heart Iraq Veteran Surrenders at Fort Knox

And finally, in an update on a story on yesterday’s Democracy Now, a US soldier who spent nearly two years in Canada rather than re-deploy to Iraq turned himself in Tuesday at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Specialist Darrell Anderson, a Purple Heart Veteran, just returned from Canada this week. At a news conference shortly before his surrender, Anderson said: "I feel that by resisting I made up for the things I did in Iraq. I feel I made up for the sins I committed in this war." He’ll be held at Fort Knox where he could face charges.

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