The Guardian of London is reporting that Saudi Arabia is considering acquiring nuclear weapons to counter the possible nuclear threat from Israel and Iran. Meanwhile, Arab countries yesterday urged the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Authority, to force Israel to less inspector assess its nuclear program as it is doing with Iran.
President Bush’s $87 billion request for Iraq is coming under intense criticism from some Democratic legislators on capitol hill. Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin issued the report showing how Bush is spending more money per person in Iraq than in the United States in areas such as hospitals and sewage improvements. Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware introduced legislation that would reduce the size of the Bush tax cut to the wealthiest 1% in order to pay for the $87 billion.
The Treasury Department reported that for the first time in history the annual federal deficit had blown through the $400 billion mark and the White House estimates the deficit could reach $535 billion in the next fiscal year.
In other Iraq news, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says he believes Iraq destroyed most of the weapons of mass destruction ten years ago. Blix said Hussein may have simply wanted to give the impression he had banned weapons to deter a military attack. Blix also accused the British government of using spin in developing its pre-war intelligence.
Agence France Presse is reporting that U.S. soldiers shot dead a teenager and wounded four others when troops opened fire at a wedding celebration in Fallujah. The shooting came on the same day that a tape emerged purportedly from Saddam Hussein that called on Iraqis to fight the occupation and for the U.S. to leave Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. is stepping up plans to create a 40,000 strong new Iraqi Army to relieve some of the pressure on U.S. troops.
This news from Wall Street, the chair and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso was forced to resign yesterday over protests that his $140 million retirement package was excessive.
Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch yesterday accepted responsibility for the alleged criminal activity of some of its employees who dealt with Enron. In order to avoid prosecution, the financial giant agreed to let the government monitor portions of its business and to avoid financial arrangements like it had with Enron. Also yesterday three former Merrill Lynch bankers pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to help client enron record a phony profit.
Washington D.C. is largely shut down as hurricane Isabel heads to the region. Over 300,000 people in North Carolina and Virginia have been told to evacuate their homes.
And former member of the Weather Underground, Kathy Boudin was released yesterday after 22 years in prison. She was jailed in connection with an armed car robbery carried out by the black liberation Army that left three people dead. In prison she helped create programs for women who are infected with HIV.
Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has formally charged 35 men, including al-Qaida leader Osama bin Ladin and veteran Al Jazeera correspondent Tayir Alouni, with involvement in the September 11 attacks. Aljazeera says its reporter is innocent and has accused the United States and Israel of inciting Spain to incriminate him. Alouni interviewed bin Ladin shortly after September 11. The Syrian-born reporter was arrested on September 5th and was ordered to remain in prison without bail, pending trial. The judge emphasised that Alouni did not participate in “terrorist” actions. But he accused him of using his journalistic work to move money and assist an individual to obtain a residency permit. Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon came to international attention several years ago for his attempt to extradite and try former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet.