The Senate yesterday voted 55 to 40 to overturn all of the controversial new media ownership rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission last month. A dozen Republicans led by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott joined with Democrats in passing a “resolution of disapproval” that gives Congress the power to block federal agency regulations. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), warned the FCC rules would lead to QUOTE “galloping concentration” in the media industry. The White House has threatened to veto any measure that diminishes the FCC rules which were lobbied for by the major media organizations. The resolution now heads to the House which is not expected to approve such a sweeping measure. The Senate vote came less than two weeks after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia put the new FCC rules on hold as it considered an appeal.
The United States yesterday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that called on Israel to drop its threat to harm or expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The U.S. was the only Security Council member to oppose the resolution. Three countries abstained from the vote. Palestinians negotiations minister Saeb Erakat responded to the vote by saying “The US veto is a black day for the UN and for the Arabs. I hope that Israel does not understand the decision to kill the resolution as a licence to kill President Arafat.
The London Sunday Times is reporting that the US and Britain have decided to delay indefinitely the public release of a full report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. A progress report from the Iraq Survey Group headed by weapons inspector David Kaye was originally expected to be released this week. The Sunday Times reports no report will be issued because the hunt for chemical and biological weapons had so far ended in failure.
Unnamed Defense Department officials are telling the New York Times that the main source of resistance against the US in Iraq is not coming from foreigners or ex members of the Baath party but ordinary Iraqis who opposed the U.S. occupation. This analysis contradicts the public statements of Pentagon head Donald Rumsfeld who yesterday described the US enemies in Iraq as “dead-enders, foreign terrorists and criminal gangs.” But the unnamed officials say classified US intelligence shows that opposition to the US extends well beyond the Sunni heartland. One defense official said “To a lot of Iraqis, we’re no longer the guys who threw out Saddam, but the ones who are busting down doors and barging in on their wives and daughters,”
The U.S. military is now holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq including six people claiming to be US citizens and two who say they are British. The number of prisoners is twice as high as previously reported.
The Senate by a 53-41 voted yesterday to rejected a measure that would have put a ban on “bunker buster” nuclear bombs. Senator Ted Kennedy, who called for the ban, warned that the US is starting a new nuclear arms race. Kennedy said “At the very time when we are urging other nations to halt their own nuclear weapons programs, the administration is rushing forward to develop our own new nuclear weapons.”
Sources close to Wesley Clark say the retired four star general will announce today that he is entering the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Political analysts said the news was leaked yesterday in order to drown out Sen. John Edwards official announcement that he is running. Clark has never held office before and is best known for commanding the NATO forces in Kosovo. He has surrounded himself with advisors from the Clinton and Gore campaigns.
Federal agents in Connecticut are now arresting all illegal immigrants as soon as they are issued orders of deportation marking a major policy shift. Until now most immigrants have been allowed to remain free while they appeal their deportation order. The Department of Homeland Security is testing a pilot program in Connecticut which is scheduled to begin nationally on Sept. 30. The Department estimates there are 400,000 cases where immigrants in the US have ignored deportation orders.
Wired.com is reporting that the Senate has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from the budget of DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Pentagon’s office had come under great criticism over the past year for proposing programs such as the Big Brother-like Total Information Awareness. DARPA’s Information Awareness Office, which was until last month headed by John Poindexter, will face the largest budget cuts.
This news from Sweden: A 35-year-old man, identified by the Swedish press as having ties to the far right, has been arrested and charged with the murder of foreign minister, Anna Lindh, who was killed last week.
And over 100,000 residents on the east coast have been urged to flee their coastal homes and head inland as Hurricane Isabel approaches. North Carolina and Virginia have declared a state of emergency in advance. Washington D.C. has been placed on hurricane watch. Meanwhile concern is growing that the large deployment of national guard members overseas in Iraq has left the states with depleted forces to help during a local emergency. In South Carolina, the military estimates one fifth of the state’s national guard is overseas. In addition a military official said that the guard’s best dump trucks, backhoes and other heavy equipment were not in South Carolina but in Iraq.