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HeadlinesAugust 08, 2003

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Gore: “Something Pretty Basic Has Gone Wrong in Our Country”

Aug 08, 2003

Former Vice President Al Gore blasted the Bush administration’s handling of the war on Iraq and domestic economic policy, saying that “something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country.”

Gore was addressing over 600 people at a MoveOn.org event in New York. He said the Bush administration’s routine disregard for public debate stifled the truth and misled the public on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, as well as on domestic issues ranging from the tax cuts to the environment.

Gore said President Bush and his cohorts in Washington have “developed a highly effective propaganda machine” to push policies in Iraq and in the U.S. that favor friends and supporters at the expense of the public interest.

Rivals Claim Gov’t Favors Halliburton on $1B Iraq Contract

Aug 08, 2003

Competing engineering companies are charging that the U.S. government has unfairly set up the bidding process to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry to favor just one company, Halliburton, the oil services company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Bechtel Group has announced it wouldn’t even bid on the $1 billion project because it has already concluded Halliburton will win the project.

Halliburton was quietly selected in the spring to handle initial repairs. There was no competitive bidding on the initial project.

Now the Army Corps of Engineers has set up the bidding process that Halliburton would be the only company possible to complete tasks within the prescribed timelines.

California Supreme Court: The Recall Is On

Aug 08, 2003

The California Supreme Court agreed yesterday to allow the gubernatorial recall to go forward on October 7.

In other recall news, Representative Darrell Issa announced he would drop out. Issa is the man who spent nearly $3 million to make the recall happen. His announcement, made at a tearful press conference, came following Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to run.

Two top elected Democrats are now running: Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and state insurance commissioner John Garamendi. Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth also announced his candidacy papers. A total of 500 people have now taken out papers to run.

Ashcroft to Target Judges Who Hand Down Lenient Sentences

Aug 08, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft is asking federal prosecutors to report the names of any federal judges who issue lenient sentences. Prosecutors have also been told to be better prepared to appeal for longer sentences.

Ryan King of The Sentencing Project warned against the move, saying, “It’s telling judges from the get-go, ’If you want to depart, that you will be put on a list and you will be watched.” King went on to say, “We’re no longer judging a case on the merits.”

Saudi Gov’t Backed Man Linked to 9/11 Hijackers

Aug 08, 2003

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Saudi man connected to two of the 9/11 hijackers was being paid by a Saudi government contractor for several years while he was living in San Diego.

Newly reviewed documents also show that when the private company tried to kick the man, Omar al-Bayoumi, off the payroll, the Saudi government insisted he stay on the payroll even though he was apparently doing no work.

The Journal also reports the FBI started to investigate Bayoumi in September 1998, but the inquiry was stopped in 1999 for unknown reasons.

In San Diego, Bayoumi met two of the would-be hijackers, found them housing and paid for their first two months of rent.

Financing for Peruvian Pipeline Blocked

Aug 08, 2003

Two international banks, headed by the U.S., have halted as much as $335 million in loans for the completion of the environmentally unsafe Camisea natural gas pipeline in Peru.

The building of the $800 million pipeline, which is 60% complete, has displaced many Indigenous in the Amazon rainforest and has destabilized the rainforest’s ecosystem, environmental groups say.

Two U.S. corporations stood to profit from the pipeline: Hunt Oil, headed by a family with close ties to the Bush family, and Halliburton, where Vice President Dick Cheney used to work as CEO.

Liberian Rebels Attempt to Hire Private Firm to Arrest Taylor

Aug 08, 2003

The Financial Times is reporting that Liberian rebels recently discussed an unusual proposal with a private military company: arrest the president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, and bring him to Sierra Leone to face war crimes charges.

The company, Northbridge Services Group, never carried out the arrest, but the negotiations have raised concern with British and U.S. officials who are investigating whether Northbridge broke any international laws.

Report: Bush Misuses Science to Advance Political Agenda

Aug 08, 2003

A new report titled “Politics and Science in the Bush Administration” charges the White House has repeatedly misused scientific facts to push its political agenda in areas from sex education to missile defense. The report was released by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California.

Protesters Denounce Burmese Military Regime

Aug 08, 2003

Protests against the Burmese military are being held in several countries today to mark the 15th anniversary of the crushing of the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988. During a protest outside the Burmese Embassy in Washington on Thursday, security officials arrested three women who unfurled a banner denouncing Burma’s military regime. International protests are again expected to focus on calls for democratic change and the immediate release of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for two months.

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