More than 10,000 U.S. soldiers in the Third Infantry Division have been ordered to remain indefinitely in Iraq. This comes less than a week after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said they would return home by September. The Division, which spearheaded the attack on Baghdad, originally expected to return home in June.
The Pentagon made the announcement soon after India rejected a request by the U.S. to send almost 20,000 peacekeeping troops to Iraq. India said it would only send troops under a mandate by the United Nations. Pakistan and Portugal have also declined to send troops.
This news from Zimbabwe, the Independent of London is reporting that Robert Mugabe has agreed to step down as the head of Zimbabwe’s ruling party by December, paving the way for his exit as President and for new elections to be held by next June.
The Independent reports South African President Thabo Mbeki told President Bush during their recent meeting that Mugabe had promised to step down in a secret deal.
The paper is also reporting that the U.S. offered Zimbabwe up to $10 billion in aid if a new leader is chosen in democratic elections
Former defense secretary William Perry is warning that a war between the U.S. and North Korea may begin as early as this year. In an interview with the Washington Post the former head of the Pentagon said the situation has worsened considerably in the past six months because of the White House?s failure to address the problem.
Last week North Korean officials warned the Bush Administration that they had reprocessed hundreds of spent fuel rods that can provide plutonium for weapons.
Perry said much of the problem is President Bush and his refusal to negotiate with North Korea.
Perry told the Post, “My theory is the reason we don’t have a policy on this, and we aren’t negotiating, is the president himself. I think he has come to the conclusion that Kim Jong Il is evil and loathsome and it is immoral to negotiate with him.”
Meanwhile the Financial Times is reporting that the Bush administration has rejected an offer from Iran to open direct talks about its nuclear program. Along with North Korea, Bush last year labeled Iran as part of the axis of evil.
In other news from Iran, the Iranian government says it has discovered one of the world?s largest undeveloped oil fields. The field is believed to contain more than 38 billion barrels of oil. Tehran is reportedly looking for a foreign partner to invest in the oil field.
The White House is now forecasting this year?s budget defecit will now top a record $450 billion, more than 50 percent the administration?s estimate from just five months ago. The Washington Post reports the war, tax cuts and the weak economy all play a role.
Yesterday the nonpartisan deficit watchdog group the Concord Coalition said the first six months on this year were “the most fiscally irresponsible in recent memory.?
The Justice Department yesterday defied a federal court order and refused to allow a detained member of Al Quada appear as a witness in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Moussaoui had requested to appear at his trial Ramzi Binalshibh the self-described planner of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The Washington Post reports the federal judge may now be forced to drop the indictment against Moussaoui which could lead the government to try him by a secret military tribunal.
NAACP President Kweisi Mfume yesterday lashed out at three Democratic presidential candidates who did not attend the organization?s annual convention in Miami. The candidates were Sen. Joseph Lieberman, and Congressmen Dennis Kucinich.and Richard Gephardt.
Mfume said, “When candidates choose to ignore the NAACP, they have no legitimacy when they go into our communities later asking for our votes.?
The BBC is reporting that the U.S. government will divert about $35 million in research this year on combating AIDS in order to test an anthrax vaccine. Several AIDS studies have already been scaled back or stopped altogether due to lack of funding.
This news from Kashmir: At least 21 people, including five soldiers and 12 Muslim rebels, died yesterday in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir. It was the worst day of violence in the area in months.
Meanwhile, in Israel, a Palestinian man who said he was a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades stabbed three people in Tel Aviv killing one.
Meanwhile Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas announced last night that he had met with Yasser Arafat and the two had settled their differences.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday urged President Bush to send peacekeeping troops to Liberia but Bush deferred making any decision saying he needed to gather more information. Bush said, “I think everybody understands, any commitment we have would be limited in size and limited in tenure.? .