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HeadlinesAugust 21, 2003

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Israel Assassinates Top Hamas Leader

Aug 21, 2003

Israeli forces have assassinated a senior leader of Hamas and two others just hours ago as an Israeli warplane bombed a car in Gaza City carrying Ismail Abu Shanab and two other Palestinians. And in the West Bank, Israeli tanks have moved into Nablus and Jenin and are on the outskirts of Ramallah. And in the West Bank town of TulKarem, Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy and wounded five others.

The moves come two days after a suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 20 people including six children and five Americans citizens.

Meanwhile Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas ordered his forces to find the Hamas members who organized Tuesday’s bombing which was the deadliest since the second Intifada began. The Guardian of London reports fear is growing that a civil war between Palestinians could break out if Abbas cracks down too heavily on Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Annan Blames U.S. For Failing To Protect UN HQ

Aug 21, 2003

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday criticized the US for failing to secure the UN headquarters in Baghdad which was bombed on Tuesday killing at least 23.

Annan said, “The occupying power is responsible for law and order and the security of the country.”

Annan went on to say “We had hoped that by now the coalition forces would have secured the environment for us to be able to carry on the essential work of political and economic reconstruction, institution-building and for Iraqis to carry on with their work. That has not happened.”

Meanwhile the US said it was up to the UN to provide their own security.

In other news related to the UN bombing, the World Bank has pulled its staff out of Iraq and has suspended plans to open an office in Baghdad.

The U.S. is also planning to now ask the United Nations Security Council that will urge other nations to provide troops to the occupation effort without diluting the power the U.S. in Iraq

One diplomat told the Washington Post, “My reading is that people in Washington have a wish list and they are saying, ’Here is a chance to get everything we wanted.”

Kathy Boudin Paroled After 22 Years in Prison

Aug 21, 2003

Kathy Boudin, the former member of the Weather Underground, has been granted parole after serving 22 years in prison.

US Could Save $200B By Switching to Health Care For All

Aug 21, 2003

The U.S. would save $200 billion a year in administrative costs if it switched to a government-run universal health care system. That is the conclusion of two new reports being issued today including one in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. The studies conclude the savings would cover the cost of insuring the 41 million Americans without health insurance.

Victory Act To Target Drug Dealers as Terrorist

Aug 21, 2003

Drug users and drug dealers may soon be treated like terrorists if the proposed Victory Act is passed by Congress.

The Victory Act stands for the Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act greatly expands the Justice Department’s power. Law enforcement agents could soon be able to seize personal records without court orders, to secretly search the homes of drug users and dealers. In addition the legislation would classify some drug offenses as terrorism and it would lower the standards for the government to tap home phones and computers.

A Democratic House aide who has seen the legislation told ABC News:

“This bill would treat drug possession as a 'terrorist offense' and drug dealers as ’narco-terrorist kingpins. To say that terrorist groups use a small percentage of the drug trafficking in the United States to finance terrorism may be a fair point, but this bill would allow the government to prosecute most drug cases as terrorism cases.”

The aide concluded “It really seems to be more about a political agenda to jail drug users than a serious attempt to stop terrorists.”

The Justice Department has denied it played any part in drafting the legislation.

N.Y. Suspect in Missile Plot Out on Bond

Aug 21, 2003

One of three men arrested last week for smuggling a shoulder-fired missile launcher that could take down airlines has been released on bond. The man, Yehuda Abraham, who is an Afghan Jew living in Queens, was released yesterday on $10 million bond. A week ago the Justice Department portrayed the three arrests as a major development in the war on terror.

Albright Criticizes Bush Foreign Policy

Aug 21, 2003

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is lashing out against President Bush saying the administrations’ foreign policy is creating a dangerous rift between our European allies and has alienated the United States from many moderate Arab nation.

In an article in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, she noted what Bush told his advisors before invading Iraq. He said “at some point we may be the only ones left. That’s OK with me. We are America.”

GOP Has 3X More $$$ Than Dems for 2004

Aug 21, 2003

New filings with the Federal Election Commission show that the Republican National Committee now has nearly $25 million in the bank to spend on the 2004 campaign. This is three times the amount of money its Democratic counterpart has saved.

Dems Launch Recall Bush Website & PAC

Aug 21, 2003

Democrats have also launched a new website Bush-Recall-Dot-Org and a new political action committee called the Fair and Balanced PAC to help oust Bush from powers.

One of the founders, Political consultant Mike Lux said, “What we hope to do is to remind people that all of the things that are being said about Gray Davis as the reasons for the recall can be applied to George Bush. For example, they say Davis turned big surpluses into deficits in a matter of a couple of years. That’s the same thing that happened with George Bush.”

Heat Wave: 5,000 Dead in France; 1,300 in Portugal

Aug 21, 2003

Heath officials in Portugal are estimating over 1,100 people have died recently as a result of the recent heat wave. In France the total is believed to be over 5,000.

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