Charles Taylor is expected to step down as Liberian president today at noon Liberian time and hand over power to his vice president. Taylor, who has been indicted for war crimes, is expected to go into exile in Nigeria as early as today. In a farewell address Sunday, Taylor blamed the U.S. for refusing to offer troops unless he stepped down. He accused the US of using food as a weapon against the Liberian people and challenged Bush to provide Liberia billions with humanitarian aid. He ended his speech by saying,: “God willing, I will be back.”
In the days and weeks following the collapse of the World Trade Center, the White House pressured the Environmental Protection Agency to not warn the public about the potential health effects and to not issue guidelines for the public about cleaning apartments and offices. That is the conclusion of a yet-to-be-released investigation by the EPA’s inspector general, according to a report in the New York Times. The report goes on to say the White House’s handling of situation was influenced strongly by its desire to see the stock markets quickly reopen on Wall Street.
Israeli jets yesterday bombed targets in South Lebanon after it accused Hezbollah forces there of shelling a Northern Israeli town killing one and injuring five. Hezbollah claimed it did not fire shells but shot anti-aircraft weapons at Israeli warplanes that had crossed the Lebanese border. Both Israel and Lebanon have lodged complaints with the United Nations. Meanwhile in Nablus, Israeli forces killed two top members of Hamas Friday night.
The Boston Globe is reporting that the Bush administration largely ignored a CIA briefing in February that predicted the U.S. would face armed resistance from Iraqis following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. A month after the briefing was produced, Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC’s Meet the Press, “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
Meanwhile a U.S. soldier was killed and two were wounded last night in a bombing in the Iraqi town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. On Saturday two other U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, one of heat stroke and another who was found dead in his bed. The military did not release the cause of death. 263 U.S. troops have now died since the invasion of Iraq began.
Massive protests erupted over the weekend in the Iraqi city of Basra against British occupying forces. The Washington Post described it as “the worst unrest in Iraq” since Baghdad fell. Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets, setting tires on fire to block British troop movements. As temperatures topped 120 degrees, the city is mostly without electricity and faces chronic fuel shortages. At least one protester was shot dead. A Nepalese security guard who worked for the foreign firm Global Security was also killed.
In Southern France, up to 300,000 rallied over the weekend to protest the upcoming World Trade Organization negotiations set for next month in Cancun, Mexico. The size of the protests surprised even organizers who expected smaller crowds because of the record breaking heat wave that has swept across Europe. On Saturday, the temperature topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever in Britain.
More than 190 candidates have filed paperwork to run in the California gubernatorial recall race if voters oust Governor Gray Davis. On Sunday California Senator Dianne Feinstein urged voters to support Davis and reject the recall.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO has taken command of the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. It marks NATO’s first operation ever outside Europe.
On Saturday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy called for the elimination of mandatory prison sentences. Kennedy told the American Bar Association, “Our resources are being misspent. Our punishments are too severe. Our sentences are too long.”
Concern is growing over touch-screen voting machines after a new study by researchers at John Hopkins University found such systems were vulnerable to hackers, multiple votes and vote-switching. The state of Maryland has now ordered a review of its touch-screen voting system that they planned to launch for next spring’s presidential primary.
The U.S. Army has begun incinerating portions of its own chemical weapons stock, including rockets loaded with sarin, in Anniston, Alabama. More than 70,000 munitions have been stored in Anniston a largely African-American residential area. After years of legal objections from residents, a judge OK’d the Army’s incineration plans Friday.
And tap dancing great Gregory Hines has died at the age of 57.
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