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Nasrallah Says He Regrets Soldier Captures

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has admitted he would not have ordered last month’s capture of two Israeli soldiers had he known Israel would have responded as it did. In an interview with Lebanese TV, Nasrallah said: "We did not think, even one percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude… Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it."

Reports: Prisoner Swap Imminent, Italy Offers Help

Nasrallah’s comments come amid increased speculation of an imminent prisoner exchange with Israel. The Hezbollah leader says Italy and the United Nations have made overtures to help negotiate a deal. Meanwhile, the Egyptian state newspaper Al-Ahram is reporting the German government has brokered a deal between Israel and Hizbullah for a prisoner exchange within two or three weeks. Hezbollah officials did not confirm or deny the report but Israel says it’s untrue. Israel has acknowledged it holds 13 Hezbollah prisoners and the bodies of dozens of guerrillas that it could swap for the two captive soldiers.

Rev. Jackson: Syria To Assist Negotiations

Meanwhile, the US civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson is in the Middle East as part of ongoing talks for a hostage exchange. In Damascus Sunday, Reverend Jackson said Syria was prepared take part in a negotiated solution.

  • Rev. Jesse Jackson: "(Syrian President Bashar Assad) supports the finding of their status and their release — the Israelis, Lebanese, and Syrians — but they are not in his direct control. He uses influence and appeal. At the end we find out what their status is and ultimately their release. And his influence, we think, is positive and substantial."

In Lebanon, British MP Galloway Praises “Great and Historic Victory”

The British Parliamentarian George Galloway is also in Lebanon this week. Speaking in Beirut Saturday, Galloway hailed what he called Hezbollah’s "great and historic victory."

  • British MP George Galloway: "I came here to extend my congratulations to the Lebanese people on a great and historic victory against this aggression... And in particular, I want to congratulate the Lebanese resistance and their leading edge, Hizbollah, whose martyrs and whose heroes have achieved this great victory… Tony Blair did everything he could to extend, to prolong, to intensify the suffering of the people of Lebanon. The blood of these thousands is on his hands."

EU Pledges 7,000 Troops for Lebanon Force

The European Union has pledged up to seven thousands troops for an expanded UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The decision came out of an international conference in Brussells.

  • Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh: "We are happy here in Lebanon because the Brussels conference yielded positive results. The decision taken by sending about 7000 to 8000 European soldiers to join the UNIFIL is of great assistance and help the Lebanese army which has already started to deploy in the south of Lebanon."

Fox News Journalists Freed in Gaza

Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig have been freed. The Fox News journalists were kidnapped two weeks ago by a previously unknown militant group in the Gaza Strip. All of the major Palestinian factions had called on the captors to let them go. Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig spoke on Sunday just hours after their release.

  • Fox News Reporter Steve Centanni: "I just hope this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story, the people are very beautiful, kind-hearted loving people who the world need to know more about, and so do not be discouraged, come and tell a story it is a wonderful story and I am just happy to be here and thanks again for all your support."
  • Fox News Camera Operator Olaf Wiig: "I just want to add something very briefly, my biggest concern really is that as a result of what has happened to us foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming here and tell the story, and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine and especially for the people of Gaza. Your story doesn’t get very well told, because it is difficult to work here, and anything that any little discouragement that you know something incident like this could give a network an excuse not to be here and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Gaza."

Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were freed after appearing in a video announcing their conversion to Islam. They say their captors forced them to convert at gunpoint.

Two Journalists Wounded in Israeli Airstrike

Meanwhile in Gaza, two other journalists were wounded when an Israeli gunship bombed their vehicle on Saturday. Witnesses say the car was hit despite being clearly marked as a media vehicle with markings on all sides, including the roof. Sabbah Hmaida, a journalist for a local Palestinian news site, was left with serious leg injuries. A camera operator working for Reuters was also wounded.

80 Iraqis, 8 US Troops Killed in Weekend Violence

In Iraq, a suicide attack outside the Interior Ministry in Baghdad earlier today has killed at least fourteen people. The bombing follows the weekend deaths of at least eighty Iraqis and eight US troops in violence around the country.

US Shells Ramadi Mosque

Iraqis in the city of Ramadi are expressing outrage over a US attack on a mosque Friday that left at least three people dead and twenty-two injured. The mosque suffered major damage to its dome and minaret. The Pentagon says it was responding to fire coming from inside.

  • Adnan Naji, the prayer caller at the mosque: "The tanks arrived and started to shell and the sniper was stationed there. The tank moved towards here. Some of the worshippers were martyred and others were wounded, we do not know how many? Some of the people have managed to go out from here, through holes gouged on the walls while cars started to transport the wounded. We do not know the number of the people who were martyred, but most of those killed were children who could not managed to escape."

Report: Most Iraqi Deaths Unpunished in US Military

In other Iraq news, a major review by the Washington Post has concluded most US service members charged in the killings of Iraqi civilians have either been acquitted, convicted of minor offenses or given light punishments. Just over three dozen US troops have been accused in the deaths of twenty Iraqis since the US invaded Iraq three years ago — despite the deaths of an unknown thousands of Iraqis at the hands of US forces. Just twelve troops have served time in prison.

Reuters Calls For Independent Inquiry Into US Killing of Journalist

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency is calling on the US military to investigate the killing of television sound technician Waleed Khaled. The 35-year old Khaled died one year ago today. He was working for Reuters in Iraq when US troops shot him in the face and chest. U.S. soldiers were heard joking around when Waleed Khaled’s family came to the scene of the shooting. An independent inquiry by a former British military investigator has concluded the shooting was unlawful. The Pentagon has also been criticized for claiming it lost crucial video footage taken by Khaled’s passenger after he was shot.

Results of Partial Mexico Vote Recount Expected Today

In Mexico, results are expected today of a partial recount of last month’s presidential election. Second-place candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has demanded a full recount of all polling stations. But the recount will cover just nine percent. Lopez Obrador told supporters in Mexico City Sunday he will continue his campaign for a full recount.

  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: "If the will of the people is not respected, it will be an abuse to the rights of the people which would signify a rupture of constitutional order and a hit against the state."

More Than 24 Injured in Blasts in Turkish Resort Town

In Turkey, more than two dozen people have been injured in a series of blasts in the resort town of Marmaris. The explosions targeted areas popular among foreign tourists.

Rebel Tribal Chief Killing Sets Off Protests in Pakistan

In Pakistan, the government’s killing of a rebel tribal chief has set off major unrest. Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti died Saturday in a bombing in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Pakistan says the killing was unintentional and the result of clashes with government forces. Bugti’s death has led to protests across the province. Three demonstrators and at least one police officer have died.

As US Workers Increase Productivity, Real Wages See Decline

Here in the United States, new figures show increasing economic growth has not led to a rise in real wages for American workers. The New York Times reports the median hourly wage has declined by two percent in the last three years. Economists say the drop is unprecedented because overall productivity has risen over the same period of time. Wages and salaries now account for the lowest share of the US economy in over half a century. Corporate profits have reached their highest share over the same period.

Report: White House Limiting Input From Opponents of “Secret Evidence”

There is new controversy over the Bush administration’s illegal military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. The Boston Globe is reporting the White House is limiting input from career military lawyers who say detainees should have the right to see the evidence used against them. The administration has been forced to re-draft its rules for military commissions after the Supreme Court ruled they were illegal in June. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has assured Congress the administration will consult with military legal experts. But in several meetings over the last two months, the issue of secret evidence has been discussed on just one occasion.

Anti-War Protesters Target Bush Family Wedding

In Maine, a wedding in President Bush’s family received an unexpected presence this weekend — anti-war protesters. On Saturday, about 700 people marched past the seaside church where President Bush was attending his second cousin’s wedding. The marchers denounced the war on Iraq and called for the withdrawal of US troops.

Authors: Armitage Leaked Plame’s Identity

This news on the CIA leak case — a new book has identified former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as the White House source who outed former CIA operative Valerie Plame. The authors, journalists Michael Isikoff of Newsweek and David Corn of the Nation, cite three government sources who say Armitage outed Plame to columnist Robert Novak and journalist Bob Woodward in July of 2003. Armitage apparently admitted his action as early as three months later to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Plame is apparently considering bringing Armitage to court for leaking her identity to the press.

Evolutionary Biology Absent From List of Federal Study Grants

In education news, the New York Times is reporting evolutionary biology is no longer listed as an acceptable field of study for low-income recipients of federal study grants. The omission would mean students studying evolutionary biology could not receive federal money without declaring another major. That is causing concern among scientists who say their field is under attack from opponents of evolutionary theory. A government spokesperson said the omission was unintentional and will be corrected.

Nuremberg Prosecutor: Bush, Hussein Should Be Tried For War Crimes

And finally, a chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said President Bush should be tried for war crimes. Benjamin Ferencz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers involved in the killings of more than one million people, told OneWorld.Net both President Bush and Saddam Hussein should be tried for starting "aggressive" wars — Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his invasion of Iraq thirteen years later.


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