This news just in from Iraq, a car bomb has exploded outside the Tomb of Ali in the central Iraqi city of Najaf, one of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims. Arab satellite TV stations are reporting at least 20 people have been killed and dozens were injured. The bombing occurred during main weekly prayers. It is reported that Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim leader Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim was among those killed. This comes five days after three people were killed in Najaf in an attempted assassination on a leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Seyed Mohammed Said al-Hakim.
The Environmental Protection Agency ruled yesterday it does not have the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from cars. The decision is seen as a major victory for the automobile industry. Three environmental groups including Greenpeace and Sierra Club petitioned the EPA to regulate the emissions in order to control global warming. But the EPA claimed Congress did not give it the power to declare carbon dioxide from autos as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. An attorney from the Sierra Club said “The Bush administration is again ducking its legal and moral responsibility to address global warming. But instead of just admitting that it isn’t doing anything about global warming, now the Bush administration is saying it’s not their job.”
A new Defense Department survey has found that nearly one in five female Air Force Academy cadets have been sexually assaulted at the academy. In nearly 90 percent of the cases the assailant was identified as another cadet.
In Peru, the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported yesterday that more than 69,000 Peruvians died or disappeared from 1980 to 2000 as a result of political violence. Investigators described the period as a “time of national shame.” The commission blamed the rebel group Shining Path was blamed for slightly more than half the killings. The report also criticized the government, the army and the nation’s political class. The president of the commission said Peru’s security forces employed a “systematic or generalized practice of human rights violations.”
In other news from Peru, the U.S. Export-Import Bank has rejected a request to lend over $200 million to build a controversial natural gas pipeline through the Peruvian Amazon. Two companies with close ties to the Bush administration, Halliburton and Hunt Oil, were pushing for the project which had come under intense criticism from environmentalists.
As a response to what they perceive as hostility from the Bush administration, North Korea yesterday threatened to begin testing nuclear weapons. The threat came during six-nation talks in Beijing. According to the Washington Post, North Korea accused the Bush administration of hindering its economic growth and requested that Washington help pay for its electrical power costs. The White House dismissed the threat and a presidential spokesman praised yesterday’s talks. Also at the meeting, North Korea denied it possessed a program to develop highly enriched uranium. The Washington Post reported that diplomats now believe North Korea may reject the Bush administration’s request for intrusive nuclear inspections.
The Washington Times is reporting that Israel has prepared plans to bomb Iran’s Bushehr nuclear-power plant if the plant begins developing weapons grade material.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair testified yesterday during a judicial inquiry that he did not exaggerate the threat Iraq posed before the invasion and he defended how his government handled the case of David Kelly. Kelly is the dead British weapons expert who allegedly committed suicide after it was revealed that he had told the BBC the government had exaggerated Iraq’s arsenal. Blair became only the second British prime minister to appear before a judicial inquiry.
1,800 pages of transcripts were released yesterday that capture the last telephone calls and police radio transmissions from inside the World Trade Center towers before the towers collapsed on Sept. 11 Among the comments recorded were: “Get outside! Get the hell outside!” “They’re jumping out of Building One on the south side.” One Port Authority police officer said as he prepared a rescue mission. “We’ve got people in there. We are going to go get them. I want everybody over here. We are going to do this right!”
This news from the Occupied Territories: Israeli forces have assassinated another member of Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile Israeli officials say a Palestinian shot and killed an Israeli and seriously wounded his wife north of the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Thousands of Yale University workers have gone on strike just days before classes begin. Workers are demanding increased wages, pensions and job security.
And French officials are now saying that nearly 11,500 people died in part due to the country’s recent heat wave.
The World Trade Organization has failed to agree on a plan to allow poorer countries to import generic drugs to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Reuters reported that the plan was held up by concerns of Argentina and the Philippines but it has not been revealed what those concerns were. Making it easier for poorer states to import cheap generic drugs when they need to is seen as vital to beating major killer diseases such as AIDS and malaria.
And London last night suffered a major two-hour blackout that stranded hundreds of thousands of commuters. Meanwhile parts of Washington D.C. and Maryland are entering its third day without power.