At least six people have died in Iraq after a car bomb exploded in Fallujah today in front of the city’s power station. This comes a day after a series of bombings in Baghdad killed 35 and wounded 220.
President Bush yesterday claimed that Monday’s bombings were actually a sign of progress because it showed how desperate the Iraqi opposition had become. Bush said "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react. The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can’t stand the thought of a free society." Bush was speaking from the Oval Office as he met with Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official overseeing the Iraqi occupation. No groups have taken responsibility for Monday’s bombings that targeted the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad as well as four police stations. U.S. and British officials said foreigners may have orchestrated the attacks. A man carrying a Syrian passport was arrested as he attempted to carry out another bombing. But a senior intelligence official told the Washington Post that the U.S. knows little about the militant groups in Iraq "because intelligence resources have been devoted to locating weapons of mass destruction."
A new poll of over 1600 Iraqis has found that only 33 percent of the population supports the presence of occupying forces in Iraq. The poll was conducted by the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies. Less than one in five Iraqis now view U.S. troops as a liberting force. When the troops first arrived, twice as many saw them as liberators.
In the escalating battle between the White House and the independent 9/11 commission, President Bush yesterday refused to agree to turn over the classified intelligence reports wanted by the commission. Bush said the documents were "very sensitive." The commission has threatened to subpoena the White House for the documents if they are not voluntarily handed over. Among the wanted documents are the daily briefings prepared by the CIA for the President. On the campaign front Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and Joseph Lieberman called on Bush to hand over the documents. Dean said "The administration’s current stonewalling suggests that there is more that they knew and want to hide from the American public."
In California and Mexico, a series of 10 wildfires have now killed 17 people and destroyed some 1,500 homes. More than 500,000 acres have burned. The fires spread from the Mexican border to the suburbs of Los Angeles.
The Guardian newspaper of London is reporting that Palestinians living near the new Israeli wall in the West Bank are being forced to obtain special permits in order to keep living in their own homes. Israel said all land near the massive wall is considered to be a "closed military zone" and that all Palestinians without permits would be barred access. The Guardian reports 52,000 Palestinians will eventually be forced to obtain the permits.
The country’s first openly gay Episcopal bishop is now under round the clock FBI protection because his life has been repeatedly threatened. The priest, Gene Robinson, is to be formally installed as Bishop of New Hampshire on Sunday. Robinson recently canceled a planned trip to a gay Christian conference in England in part due to security concerns. FDA Warns Doctors Over Giving Youths Antidepressants
The Food and Drug Administration yesterday issued a public health advisory warning doctors to be careful in prescribing antidepressant drugs to youth. The agency noted that antidepressants may be leading to increases in suicidal behavior among young people.
12 states and more than 20 cities yesterday filed a suit against the federal government seeking to block changes to the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit charges the recent rule changes to the act would weaken protections for the environment and public health. In other environmental news the Senate is expected to vote today to confirm Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt as the new head of the EPA. Yesterday Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats ended a standoff on his nomination.
And the Japanese company Sony has announced plans to eliminate 20,000 jobs over the next three years.
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