Despite Largest Blackout in U.S. History Bush To Delay Upgrade of “Third World Grid”

Aug 18, 2003

Power has been restored to tens of million in the Northeast after the nation suffered its worst blackout in history on Thursday and Friday. New York City, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto and Ottawa were among the cities to lose power Many energy experts now believe the blackout began in Ohio where a series of line failures and plant shutdowns spread rapidly across the region..

Much of the blame has been placed on the nation’s antiquated energy grid. Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the country is running on a “third world grid.”

A proposal to strengthen the nation’s power transmission center has been stalled by Senate Republicans for months. On Thursday President Bush said the blackout should serve as a “wake up call.” But the Washington Post reports that President Bush plans to side with opponents of the plan and delay an upgrade of the system by three years.

Among the groups investigating what happened is the North American Electric Reliability Council, which was formed after the 1965 blackout to monitor energy utilities.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Council had been warning Congress for four years that deregulation of the energy industry has made its job harder to monitor and enforce rules. But Congress has so far refused to give the energy Council enforcement powers.

Investigators examining the cause of Thursday’s blackout are centering specifically on the company FirstEnergy Cop. based in Akron Ohio though Representatives from First Energy say it is too early to determine if its plant caused the problem.

The energy firm has had a history of past problems since 1997 when it was formed from the merger of Ohio Edison, the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Toledo Edison. In 2001, it acquired General Public Utilities, which owned Pennsylvania Electric Co., Metropolitan Edison near Redding, Pa., and New Jersey Central Power and Light.

Sabotage Derails Iraqi Oil & Water Supply

Aug 18, 2003

Saboteurs blew up the main oil pipeline from Iraq to Turkey Saturday halting oil exports in northern Iraq just three days after they began. And in Baghdad, over 300,000 homes have been left without water after the city’s water main was bombed.

Mortars were also fired at a large prison outside of Baghdad where the U.S. is holding 1,000 Iraqis. Six inmates died in the attack and 60 more were wounded. The Los Angeles Times reports the mortar attack was meant to hit the U.S. soldiers guarding the jail.

US Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian Cameraman

Aug 18, 2003

After the mortar attack US troops shot and killed a journalist covering the story for the Reuters news agency. Soldiers claimed they mistook the cameraman’s camera for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. The journalist, Mazen Dana was 43 and considered by Reuters to be one of its finest cameraman.

Peace Deal Nears in Liberia

Aug 18, 2003

The BBC is reporting that a peace deal in Liberia is very close and that warring factions may sign an agreement to set up an interim government as early as today.

Pentagon Ignored Report Calling for U.S. Troops In Liberia in July

Aug 18, 2003

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Pentagon ignored an internal report that recommended sending 2,300 Marines into Liberia in July to quell the violence. But the LA Times found the Pentagon rejected the report, forced it to be rewritten with toned down language and did not pass on the initial recommendation to President Bush. One official told the paper, “The Pentagon squashed it. It was way too strong for their liking.” The International Rescue Committee predicts that thousands of Liberian lives would have been saved if the U.S. sent in troops back in July.

Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin Dies

Aug 18, 2003

Former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin died Saturday at the age of 78 while living in exile in Saudi Arabia. He ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979. During this time, up to 400,000 people were killed or disappeared out of a population of 12 million. He was never tried before an international court. A representative from Amnesty International said “Amin’s death is a sad comment on the international community’s inability to hold leaders accountable for gross human rights abuses. It was the international community’s indifference that allowed Amin to escape justice.’

Bustamante Takes Lead Over Arnold

Aug 18, 2003

One of the first major polls of voters in California finds Democrat Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to be leading the race to succeed Gov. Gray Davis if voters recall Davis next month. Bustmante stood at 25 percent, three percentage points higher than Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The other candidates trailed in the single digits. The California Field Poll also found Gray Davis to be most unpopular governor in the 56 years since the poll was first conducted. Nearly 60 percent of Californians now back the recall.

While the recall is set for Oct. 7, a federal judge in San Jose may delay the recall vote by months because the hasty schedule may violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Schwarzenegger’s Ties To Nazis & English Only Groups Revealed

Aug 18, 2003

Criticism against Schwarzenegger has been increasing by opponents to his left and right. Independent candidate and political columnist Arianna Huffington revealed Friday that the Terminator actor had met with former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay in the midst of the California energy crisis. The Los Angeles Times reported that Schwarzenegger’s father had voluntarily joined the Nazi Party in Austria before World War II and served as a storm trooper or brown shirt. The Washington Post reports that for 15 years Schwarzenegger has served on the advisory board for US English Inc., which opposes bilingual education and advocates English to be the country’s official language. On the Republican side, millionaire businessman and recall candidate Bill Simon has launched the race’s first television commercial. He attacks both Gov. Davis and Schwarzenegger for their tax policies.

The multi-millionaire Huffington also came under criticism after she released tax records that showed she paid less than $800 in federal taxes over the past two years.

22 Die in Taliban Attack in southeast Afghanistan

Aug 18, 2003

In Afghanistan, at least 22 people died in a gun battle after up to 400 Taliban fighters attacked government offices in the southeastern town of Barmal.

Israeli Jets Fly Into Syria To Warn Assad

Aug 18, 2003

The Israeli press is reporting that Israeli warplanes entered into Syria last week and buzzed by the palace of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to warn Syria about its support for the pro-Palestinian group Hezbollah. Syrian sources dismissed the report. Meanwhile Agence France Press reports a 16-year-old Israeli boy was killed in attack near the Lebanese and Syrian border during an attack by Hezbollah.

Dean Taps Ex-AIPAC Head For Campaign Post

Aug 18, 2003

In campaign news, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont has named Steven Grossman to a top campaign post. Grossman is the former head of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

WSJ: Wesley Clark Leans Toward Running for Prez

Aug 18, 2003

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Gen. Wesley Clark is leaning towards entering the Democratic race for president. Television ads urging Clark to run will soon air in three states. The ads are paid for by the group

3 Children Die While Working in Washington

Aug 18, 2003

Calls for stricter child labor laws are increasing in the Washington state area after three 16-year-old boys were killed last week in work-related accidents. One boy was crushed by a 12-foot crain. The other two were found dead in a cattle feed silo. They apparently died from hazardous fumes in the unvented silo.

Vatican Ordered Sex Case Cover-up 40Years Ago

Aug 18, 2003

The Vatican 40 years ago instructed Catholic bishops around the world to cover up cases of sexual abuse or face excommunication from the Church. This according to the Observer of London which obtained 69 pages of internal church documents from Pope John the 23rd (XXIII).

An attorney representing victims abused by priests in the United States, said the letter “proves there was an international conspiracy by the Church to hush up sexual abuse issues. It is a devious attempt to conceal criminal conduct and is a blueprint for deception and concealment.”

It is unknown how many people have been raped or sexually abused by Catholic priests. In Boston alone, the Massachusetts attorney general estimates at least 800 children have been abused over the past 60 years.

Troop Pay Won’t Be Cut, Pentagon Says Now

Aug 18, 2003

The White House is now backpedaling from supporting a plan that would have reduced the amount of pay to the nearly 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plan to eliminate the $75 a month “imminent danger pay” and $150 “family separation allowance” was first reported by the publication Army Times which editorialized against the cutbacks. After coming under intense criticism by military families and Democratic presidential candidates, Bush reversed his decision.

U.S. Past & Present Prison Population: 5.6M

Aug 18, 2003

A new Justice Department study has found that some 5.6 million people living in the U.S. have been incarcerated at one time. Over the last 30 years the number of current and former inmates has risen by 3.8 million.

About 17 percent, or nearly one in five, African-American male adults have been or are in prison. That’s compared to nearly 8 percent of Latino men and about 2 and a half percent of white men.

The study went on to determine that if the incarceration rate from 2001 stays steady, one in three African-American men born in the year 2001 will serve time in jail at some point in their lives.

New Tools Used in Hunt for Hussein: Photoshop & Billy Idol

Aug 18, 2003

Beginning today U.S. soldiers are planning to begin posting pictures of Saddam Hussein around Tikrit in an effort to catch Hussein and his supporters. But these won’t be any normal wanted pictures. Instead the military has superimposed Saddam’s head on the bodies of Hollywood stars such as the late actress Veronica Lake, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elvis Presley and 80s rock star Billy Idol

Colonel Steve Russell told Reuters “Most of the locals will love 'em and they'll be laughing. But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are.”

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