A federal appeals court yesterday ordered the October 7th gubernatorial recall vote in California to be postponed likely until March 2. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled voters in six counties would be disenfranchised if they were forced to use antiquated punch-card voting machines similar to the ones used in the Florida presidential election three years ago. Experts say that votes cast using the punch-card system are two and a half times more likely not to register than votes cast on more modern equipment.
The court decision is expected to be appealed and may quickly land at the Supreme Court. The appeals court decision was based primarily on the findings of the high court in the Bush vs. Gore case which stopped the recount of Florida’s votes in 2000.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the delay raises additional questions for the state including whether to count the 100,000 ballots already submitted by absentee voters and whether new candidates would be allowed to join the race. It will also force candidates to prepare for a six-month campaign versus a six-week campaign.
Political analysts say Gray Davis, the Democratic governor who faces recall, stands to benefit most from a delay. Many Republicans protested the court’s decision including Darrell Issa, the state legislator who bankrolled the recall drive. Issa called the ruling an example of “judicial hijacking” He noted that all three judges on the panel were appointed by Democratic presidents.
CNN’s top war correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, has admitted that CNN reporters practiced self-censorship during the invasion and failed to ask enough questions about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction before hand.
Speaking on the program Topic A With Tina Brown, Amanpour said “I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I’m sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News.”
She went on to say “And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did.”
In response to Amanpour’s comments a spokesperson for Fox said “Given the choice, it’s better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda.”
In news from Iraq, the police chief of the Iraqi city Khaldiya was killed yesterday after his convoy was ambushed during a daylight attack. A week ago police officers there complained to the Washington Post that they faced increasing accusations from residents that the police had become collaborators with the U.S. occupying forces.
A top Bush administration official, John Bolton, is planning to testify today before Congress that Syria has an ambitious program to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. New York Times reporter Judith Miller obtained a draft of Bolton’s statements in which he also suggests that Syria is partly responsible for the ongoing attacks of U.S. troops in Iraq because, he claims, Syria has failed to stop militants from entering and fighting in Iraq. Bolton is also expected to testify that Syria “a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin that can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missiles, and has engaged in the research and development of more toxic and persistent nerve agents such as VX.
The Zimbabwe government has shut down the country’s only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, for refusing to register with the government-appointed Media and Information Commission.
In Chechnya, three people died and 25 were injured when a bomb exploded outside the headquarters of a Russian security service base.
Coming under international criticism, the Israeli government reversed itself yesterday and claimed the government’s official policy on controlling Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat did not include the option of assassinating him.
On Sunday, Israel’s vice Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said: “Arafat can no longer be a factor in what happens here. The question is: How are we going to do it? Expulsion is certainly one of the options, and killing is also one of the options.”
In election news, Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is meeting with political, fundraising and legal advisers in Arkansas to discuss possibly joining the presidential race. An announcement is expected tomorrow or Thursday. Clark has been urged to run from grassroots organizers of the Draft Clark movement as well as celebrities including filmmaker Michael Moore. The Washington Post reports former President Bill Clinton has also encouraged Clark to run.
In other campaign news Sen. John Kerry’s communications director, Chris Lehane, has resigned citing differences in the direction of Kerry’s campaign. The Associated Press reports the resignation may mark the beginning of a wider shake up on Kerry’s team.
Attorney General John Ashcroft continued his defense of the Patritot Act yesterday by charging librarians were fueling “baseless hysteria” by warning library patrons about the government’s power to subpoena library records.
Speaking before the American Restaurant Association, Ashcroft claimed the government, “has no interest in your reading habits. Tracking reading habits would betray our high regard for the First Amendment.”
Under the Patriot Act, federal agents were given the power to secretly demand records from librarians and booksellers about patrons. The New York Times reports it is not known how many times this aspect of the law has been used because the information is classified. And librarians are bound by a gag order to tell no one if and when records are requested.
In sports news, the Women’s United Soccer Association, a three year-old professional soccer league, has been forced to fold due to the lack of corporate sponsors.
The Senate is expected to vote today to roll back the new media ownership laws approved by the Federal Communications Commission three months ago.