Israel has arrested and detained 64 Palestinian lawmakers and ministers from the ruling Hamas party, including the government’s Foreign Minister and eight other cabinet members. Hamas called the arrests an "open war against the Palestinian government and people," and vowed retaliation.
Israel made the arrests as it continues its military operation to recover a captured Israeli soldier. Nearly half of the Gaza Strip remains without power following Israeli air strikes that knocked out a main power station. In other news Syrian television is reporting Israeli warplanes flew over the home of President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile The IDF announced it has found the body of eighteen-year old West Bank settler Eliyahu Asheri. Asheri was captured on Sunday as he prepared to go on a school trip. His captors had threatened to slay him unless Israel halted its reinvasion of the Gaza Strip. At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan called for calm.
The Supreme Court has issued a major ruling that could lead to the redrawing of many legislative districts for partisan reasons. The court largely upheld Texas’ controversial 2003 redistricting plan devised by former Congressman Tom Delay that helped Texas Republicans gain six seats in Congress. The Court said it was OK for state legislators to redraw district boundaries as often as they like. Up until now it was customary for states to redraw the districts once a decade based on new census information. The League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other groups criticized the court ruling because it is expected to lead to a new round of partisan gerrymandering. The Supreme Court didn’t fully back the Texas plan. It found that Texas lawmakers had violated the Voting Rights Act when it redrew the borders of one district to remove 100,000 Mexican-Americans in order to help a Republican candidate.
Meanwhile the Supreme Court is expected to rule today on the legality of military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. The case — Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld — may decide the future of the prison camp. Today’s ruling comes as a number of former Guantanamo prisoners are speaking out. Mamdouh Habib, a citizen of Australia, spoke with Reuters this week and discussed the conditions at the prison where he was held for almost three years.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, another former detainee named Sher Bad Khan described his experience at Guantanamo.
In news on Iraq, President Bush accused Democrats last night of waving the "white flag of surrender" for backing proposals to bring the troops home from Iraq.
Eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered to immediately halt all attacks if the United States agrees to withdraw all foreign troops within two years. However several of the main Sunni and Baathist groups have not backed the proposal.
A U.S. Marine who appeared in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 has been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Sgt. Raymond Plouhar was seen in the film trying to recruit young men and women to join the military at a shopping mall in Flint Michigan.
In Mexico, as many as 200,000 people gathered Wednesday for the final campaign event for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ahead of Sunday’s election. Opinion polls show the populist candidate has a slight lead over his main rival Felipe Calderon. At the event Lopez Obrador vowed to renegotiate NAFTA and help the poor.
In news from Capitol Hill, the Senate Commerce Committee has dealt a setback to efforts to keep the Internet open and accessible to everyone. The Committee rejected an amendment that would have preserved net neutrality. But media activists who support net neutrality said the close vote showed momentum is growing in their favor. The amendment fell just one vote short of passing.
Senate Commerce Committee did approve an amendment to create as many as 2000 new low power FM radio stations across the country.
In Pennsylvania, up to 200,000 people near the city of Wilkes-Barre have been ordered to evacuate. Officials feared the city’s levee system might fail. The mid-Atlantic states have been hit with record rainfall. Earlier this week Washington D.C. suffered the worst two days of rain in its history. The storm has affected residents from Virginia to Vermont. At least 12 people have already died.
In New Orleans, public housing residents have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The residents are accusing the agencies of preventing low-income black families from returning to the city. Two weeks ago HUD announced plans to tear down five thousand units of public housing.
In other news from New Orleans, a judge has sentenced three people to fifteen years in prisons for looting in the days after Hurricane Katrina. The three were convicted of taking liquor, wine and beer from a grocery store.
A new report by Environmental Defense has determined that American cars and pickup trucks are responsible for nearly half of the greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles globally although they comprise only 30 percent of the world’s cars. The study found that cars in the U.S. are driven more miles, face lower fuel economy standards and use fuel with more carbon than many of those driven in other countries.
In military news, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday that it would no longer describe homosexuality as a mental disorder. The Pentagon had come under criticism from the American Psychiatric Association and other groups after it was uncovered that a 1996 document placed homosexuality among a list of "certain mental disorders."
In news on Haiti, the country’s new president Rene Preval has said he expects former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and the musician So Ann to soon be released from prison. Neptune and So Ann have been held since 2004. They were both strong supporters of ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide.
Berkeley California has become the country’s first city to put a referendum on the ballot to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
In Philadelphia, 10 members of the Granny Peace Brigade were arrested Wednesday after refusing to leave a military recruiting center.