A report on the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia predicted that NASA would suffer similar tragedies killing more astronauts if it did not transform its quote “broken safety culture.” The report focused on both the physical errors that caused Columbia to explode on its on Feb. 1 mission as well as the work culture at NASA. The explosion that killed seven marked the second time in 20 years that a Space Shuttle blew up. Investigators determined NASA’s engineering had grown careless, its safety system was flawed, and communication within the agency was muddled. NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe was also cited for creating the problematic culture. The board did recommend the government should spend more money on NASA but one analyst told the New York Times, “The problem is, the program is worthless. It doesn’t involve anything worth dying for.”
The Congressional Budget Office yesterday predicted the federal budget will keep growing even if the economy improves. The New York Times reports this report is in sharp contrast to projections by the White House that claims the deficit will hit nearly $500 billion next year and then decline significantly.
U.S. official Paul Bremer who is heading the occupation of Iraq told the Washington Post it is “almost impossible to exaggerate” the amount of money need to reconstruct Iraq. He said “several tens of billions” of dollars will be needed.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed today in separate attacks in Baghdad and a city just to the west, the military reported. The deaths brought to 281 the number of soldiers killed since the invasion began on March 20. Since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1, 143 American soldiers have died
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting that U.S. and Israel are looking into the possibility of reconstructing an old oil pipeline to transport oil from Iraq to Israeli refineries in Haifa. The pipeline was last used in 1948. Haaretz reports Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sees the reopening of the pipeline as a possible “bonus” for Israel’s support of the U.S. during the Iraq invasion.
International inspectors said yesterday they had discovered particles of highly enriched weapons-grade uranium in Iran that might indicate Tehran may soon be able to develop nuclear weapons. The finding was included in a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna that was leaked to the press.
Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and wounded 20 others in a failed attempt to assassinate three members of Hamas in Gaza. The BBC reported it was the third strike on Hamas in the last five days.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root has been awarded a no-bid contract to expand the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay. The extra space will allow the U.S. to hold 10 percent more detainees at the base.
The Missouri Supreme Court yesterday overturned the death sentence of a man who was 17 when he killed a woman a decade ago. The court found that “a national consensus has developed against the execution of juvenile offenders.”
The Associated Press is reporting that a group of conservatives in Nevada plan to notify the Secretary of State’s office today that it intends to recall Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn. The pro-recall groups are protesting the governor’s decision to impose record tax increases. If opponents can gather some 125,000 signatures, a recall vote could take place similar to the one in California. Guinn was elected to office last year.
And Pennsylvania radio state WKYW is reporting that state Republicans may soon draft legislation that would allow for gubernatorial recall elections in Pennsylvania.
A church minister in Milwaukee was charged yesterday with physical abuse of child and could face up to 10 years in prison after an eight-year-old autistic boy died while church leaders were trying to heal him at a storefront church. Police say the boy suffocated after a church elder sat on his chest while trying to remove “evil spirits” from him.
Gen. Wesley Clark yesterday accused the White House of pressuring CNN to fire him as a military analyst during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Clark told a radio station in Phoenix that the White House apparently called CNN to request his ouster.
In Rwanda Paul Kagame has won the country’s first presidential election since the 1994 genocide. He received 94% of the vote.
And bioweapons scientist Steven Hatfill is suing the Justice Department and FBI. He accuses the government of smearing his name during the investigation of the anthrax attacks of 2001. Hatfill has been identified as a person of interest in the case and the government has been closely monitoring him for months. Hatfill’s lawyers said the government “embarked on a highly public campaign to accuse Dr. Hatfill without formally naming him a suspect or charging him with any wrongdoing.”