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Bush Takes “Full Responsibility” For Katrina Response

As New Orleans marked the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, President Bush for the first time said he takes "full" responsibility for the government’s highly criticized response to the crisis.

  • President Bush: "The challenge is not only to help rebuild, but the challenge is to help restore the soul. I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response, and a year ago I made a pledge that we will learn the lessons of Katrina and that we will do what it takes to help you recover."

President Bush said he would support legislation that would give Louisiana a higher share of offshore gas revenues, but did not say how much money he thinks should go to the state. Dozens of ceremonies were held Tuesday from the city’s core to surrounding Parishes. At 9:38 in the morning, Mayor Ray Nagin rang a bell to commemorate the time when the first levee broke one year ago.

  • New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin: "As I look out among all of you, I know that there are some people out there that are having a difficult time with today. I am personally having a difficult time with it, but trust me that we will get through it. And we will get through it if we work together. There’s never been a disaster like this in the history of this country, and we are hopeful that there will never be a disaster like this ever again."

Annan Repeats Blockade Call, Foresees Increased Peacekeeping Force

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is in Israel today where he continues his tour of the Middle East. Appearing with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, Annan repeated his call for an end to Israel’s blockade of Lebanon and said he expects to step up the UN peacekeeping force on the ground.

  • UN Secretary General Kofi Annan: "We have about 2,500 troops on the ground now and we are going to try and double that number and get it to 5,000 in the coming days and weeks and I hope that as we do that the Israeli withdrawal will continue and by the time we are at that level Israel would have fully withdrawn and we will have an effective credible force on the ground that we can continue to build on."

UNICEF: 12 Lebanese Killed By Unexploded Bombs Since Ceasefire
In other news from the region, UNICEF says twelve Lebanese have been killed by unexploded cluster bombs since the ceasefire was reached earlier this month. The organization says the bombs remain a major threat to civilians, especially children.

Lebanon Surveys Environmental Damage From Oil Spill

Lebanese officials have conducted a new aerial survey of the massive oil spill on Beirut’s coastline. Up to 15,000 tons of oil spilled into the sea following Israel’s bombing of a power plant at the outset of its attack on Lebanon. This is environmental expert Georges Pinier.

  • Environmental Expert Georges Pinier: "The objective of this trip today was to get additional data comparing to what we already got yesterday with the first survey we did for which we did not go further north than Tripoli. This is why we had to go to the border. What we have seen mainly is that there is no oil underwater in the sea, all the oil which is there is at the coastline."

Lebanon was able to conduct the new survey only after receiving permission from Israel, which continues an air and sea blockade.

3 More Suspects Charged in British Airliner Plot

In Britain, three more people have been charged in the alleged plot to blow up US-bound airliners. Fifteen of the twenty-five initial suspects have now been charged in the case.

Bush Admin Funneling Millions Into Chavez Opposition Groups

The Bush administration is facing new accusations its seeking regime change in Venezuela. Documents obtained by the Associated Press show the US Agency for International Development — USAID — has given more than twenty six million dollars to opponents of President Hugo Chavez in the last four years. USAID released copies of more than one hundred contracts with the groups — but hid the names of about half of them. Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said: "This indicates there is a great deal of money, a great deal of concern to oust or neutralise Chávez. The US is waging diplomatic warfare against Venezuela."

Palestinian Workers Protest Unpaid Wages

In the Occupied Territories, hundreds of Palestinian workers held protests in both Gaza and the West Bank Tuesday to protest unpaid wages. More than 160,000 Palestinian government employees have gone without salaries following a US and European aid freeze on the Hamas-led government.

  • Riyad Awawi, a teacher in Ramallah: "We the employees are oppressed because we do not have any salaries but at the same time we do not want our government and our legislative council to give up its steadfastness. No to hunger and no to kneeling, no to sanctions. We want the world to hear our voices and tell them that we are being mistreated."

Iran President Challenges Bush To Debate, Defends Nuclear Enrichment

In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued a new challenge to President Bush — a televised debate. On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said he would like to debate Bush about "world affairs" and the ways to solve them. He also defended Iran’s right to nuclear energy.

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Peaceful nuclear energy is the right of the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has chosen that based upon international regulations, it wants to use it and no one can stop it."

Ahmadinejad’s comments come ahead of the UN’s deadline Thursday for Iran to suspend nuclear enrichment. The Security Council has threatened sanctions if Tehran fails to comply.

40 Dead in Iraq Violence

In Iraq, at least forty people are dead following bombing attacks across the country today. At least twenty-four people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Shurja, Baghdad’s largest wholesale market. Another thirty-five people were wounded. In Hillah, an attacker posing as an army recruit set off a bicycle bomb killing 12 people and wounding 28.

Census Figures Show Rise in Medically Uninsured, No Drop in Poverty Rate

Here in the United States, new figures show an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance and a virtually unchanged poverty rate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in eight Americans and almost one in four African Americans lived in _poverty last year. It was the first year the poverty rate did not increase since President Bush took office. Just under sixteen percent of the population, or 46.6 million people, had no health insurance last year, up slightly from two years ago.

Report: Armitage Admits To Plame Outing

This news from the CIA leak case — The New York Times is reporting former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has admitted he was the White Source source who outed former CIA operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak three years ago. This according to a lawyer involved in the case and several of Armitage’s associates.

Ex-CPB Chair Accused of New Ethics Violations

More trouble for former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair Kenneth Tomlinson — The State Department has concluded Tomlinson committed several ethics violations in his current position chairing the board that overseas most US broadcasts to foreign countries. According to investigators, Tomlinson gave a friend $250,000 in taxpayer funded-contracts, overbilled the government for his time and used federal employees for his personal business. Among that personal business: running a stable of thoroughbred horses he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai. This is only the latest scandal for the former Reader’s Digest editor and long-time Republican. Tomlinson was forced out of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year after it was revealed he improperly tried to promote conservatives in the organization and monitored programs he accused of having a liberal bias.

Nobel Prize Winning Egyptian Author Naguib Mahfouz Dead at 94

And finally, the Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz has died at the age of 94. He was one of the most celebrated writers in the Arab world and the first Arab to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.


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