At least 8 people have died after a car bomb exploded outside a police station in northeast Baghdad. Nearly 30 more people have been injured. U.S. officials said a suicide bomber drove a white Oldsmobile through the gates and detonated a bomb that left a crater in police courtyard 10 feet across and four feet deep. Meanwhile the Spanish Foreign Ministry reported that a Spanish diplomat was shot dead outside his home in Baghdad today. In other Iraq news, the U.S. announced they had detained 112 people in a major raid near the Syrian border on Sunday. Among those captured was a high-ranking official in the former Republican Guard.
House Panel OKs Sanctions Against Syria
On Capitol Hill, The House International Relations Committee voted 33 to 2 yesterday to impose sanctions against Syria. If the sanctions are signed into law, all U.S. exports to Syria would be barred except for food and medicine. Travel by Syrian diplomats in the U.S. would be severely curtailed to Washington and within 25 miles of the United Nations. U.S. businesses would be barred from holding investments in Syria. Syrian owned or controlled aircraft could no longer take off, land or fly over the United States. Syrian assets in the United States would also be frozen. The sanctions are expected to be approved by Congress and the White House.
The Washington Post reports the White House is launching a new public relations campaign to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As part of the effort President Bush is scheduled to speak today about Iraq and Vice President Cheney will speak tomorrow. The Republican National Committee also sent out a briefing to reporters in an attempt to spin the findings of weapon inspector David Kay who last week reported he had found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Republican briefing asked “What did David Kay find? Hidden labs, documents and equipment, biological and chemical weapon catalysts, UAV and missile programs, and more.” And National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice again justified the invasion as she spoke before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations yesterday. She said “Saddam Hussein lied to the Security Council. And, let there be no mistake, right up until the end, Saddam Hussein continued to harbor ambitions to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction and to hide his illegal weapons program.”
Israel has announced plans to mobilize over 1500 reserve troops in order to increase Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza.
The BBC is reporting that Catholic Church is coming under criticism for telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass. The president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family told a forthcoming BBC special: “The Aids virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom.” In Kenya where 20 percent of the population has AIDS, the Kenyan archbishop said “Aids… has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms.” The World Health Organization has condemned the Vatican’s views. The WHO said “These incorrect statements about condoms and HIV are dangerous when we are facing a global pandemic which has already killed more than 20 million people, and currently affects at least 42 million.” The church has long opposed any kind of contraception because it claims it breaks the link between sex and procreation.
The Boston Globe is reporting that the White House may invoke executive privilege to bar the Justice Department from viewing some documents related to the investigation into who within the administration revealed the identity of a CIA agent to reporters. The White House counsel is reviewing all of the documents pertaining to the case before anything is given to the Justice Department which will then carry out the investigation. Attorney General John Ashcroft has rejected calls for an independent counsel. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said “Asserting executive privilege would make a farce of the investigation. That’s why we need a special prosecutor, so that we can challenge any cover-up.” Meanwhile Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, called on Bush advisor Karl Rove to resign over the CIA scandal. We’ll talk to him in a few minutes.
Republican legislators have in Texas announced they reached a tentative agreement to redraw the Congressional districts in order to help more Republicans get elected to Congress. The final redistricting plan is expected to be unveiled this morning. Twice this year Democratic legislators boycotted the Texas legislature and fled the state to protest the redistricting.
In Ramallah, aides to Yasser Arafat are denying reports that the Palestinian leader was recovering from a mild heart attack.
In Afghanistan, the BBC reports up to 80 people have died in the heaviest fighting the country has seen in months. The fighting is between two feuding warlords in northern Afghanistan.
California governor elect Arnold Schwarzenegger announced plans yesterday to set up a transition team and to begin examining ways to improve the state’s financial situation. The Washington Post reports Schwarzenegger offered few details on his economic policy though he announced he will call President Bush and ask “for a lot, a lot of favors.”