A car bomb exploded outside the main police station in Baghdad this morning injuring at least 15 people. The BBC reports that Baghdad’s U.S.-appointed police chief Hassan Ali was the likely target of the bomb. It was the first major bombing since Friday when between 80 and 120 people were killed after a car bomb exploded outside the Tomb of Ali in Najaf.
Throughout the weekend hundreds of thousands of Shiites traveled to the holy city of Najaf to mourn the death of their spiritual leader Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim who died in the blast.
Al-Hakin headed the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and had lived in exile in Iran for over 20 years before returning after the fall of Baghdad. He was viewed as a moderate by the U.S.
Following the bombing one member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, suspended his membership to protest the lack of security in Iraq.
Ayatollah Hakim’s brother, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is also on the governing council, said the U.S. military is at fault for failing to provide security.
He said “These troops are ultimately responsible for achieving security and stability. They are ultimately responsible for the innocent blood which is being shed every day in Najaf, Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and all over Iraq.”
Meanwhile the Iraqi Governing Council yesterday appointed a 25-member cabinet to oversee foreign affairs, finance, internal security and oil.
The owners of the television networks CBS, NBC and Fox have joined efforts in a high profile lobbying effort to persuade Congress not to overturn the media ownership regulations recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the Wall Street Journal the networks are attempting to send the message to Washington that voters don’t care who owns their local television station and that voters oppose governments regulation.
The campaign is centered around the slogan, “America Says: Don’t Get Between Me And My TV.” The networks are running ads this week in the Washington-based papers, The Hill and Roll Call, which are primarily read by Senators, House representatives and their staffs.
During the run-up to the FCC vote, more than two million letters, emails and faxes were sent to the FCC. Almost all of them opposed the weakening of the nation’s media ownership regulations.
USA Today is reporting that the Bush administration has quietly overturned a 25-year-old ban on the sale of polluted property contaminated with PCBs. The EPA determined that the ban was “an unnecessary barrier to redevelopment (and) may actually delay the clean-up of contaminated properties.”
USA Today reports that the decision is already in effect but has yet to be made public. The EPA never allowed for public comment on the rule change. The agency said it wasn’t needed because the lifting of the band was simply a “new interpretation” of existing law.
Opponents of the change fear, PCB-contaminated soil may now be more easily spread to other properties.
Environmentalists are also criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency for quietly shifting millions of dollars from the energy conservation program called “Energy Star.” The under-funded program helps residents conserve energy and lessen the load on the nation’s electrical grid.
On Friday, the Bush administration filed paperwork urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California clean air law that attempts to cut pollution from buses, taxis and other vehicles. The law has resulted in municipalities buying vehicles that burn natural gas and other alternative fuels. The laws have been opposed by industry groups including the Western States Petroleum Association
New studies shows that a high percentage of cleanup and rescue workers who worked at the World Trade Center following Sept. 11 continue to face physical and health problems. This according to officials at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Nearly 50 percent of the workers report they still suffer from problems such as nasal congestion, hoarseness, headaches and throat irritation. Another 30 percent suffer pulmonary problems, including shortness of breath, persistent cough and wheezing. In addition nearly one in five of the workers have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is asking the Justice Department to fully investigate the possible lynching of an African-American man in Florida. The Commission has criticized the state of Florida for automatically treating the death of Feraris “Ray’’ Golden as a suicide. At the time of his death in May, Golden was dating the daughter of a white police officer.
The Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera has officially launched its English language website at the address English.aljazeera.net. During the invasion of Iraq, the network attempted to launch a scaled down English language site but the webpage was often inaccessible due to attacks by hackers.
Among the first stories on the website, Al Jazeera is reporting that nearly 40,000 of the U.S. military’s active troops are not US citizens. British MP George Galloway, accused the US of using so-called “green card” troops as cannon fodder.
Since the invasion of Iraq began, the U.S. military has been forced to evacuate over 1,100 U.S. soldiers from Iraq after they were seriously wounded in action. Twice as many soldiers have now been injured during the occupation and invasion as during the Persian Gulf War. The Washington Post reports that most injuries go unreported because U.S. Central Command has stopped issuing press releases for incidents where no troops died.
The Financial Times is reporting that sabotage has nearly crippled the chance Iraq will be able to pump oil this year from the country’s northern pipeline. The pipeline was bombed this weekend for the fourth time in the past month. The U.S. had originally hoped to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq using oil revenue. Now the Bush administration is expected to go back to Congress to seek more money. Congress’s orginal allocation of $79 billion has nearly run out.
The Washington Post is also reporting today that the Bush administration is having great difficulty securing pledges of money from other countries to help rebuild Iraq.
In some of the most fierce fighting in months in Afghanistan, two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday during a battle with reformed units of the Taliban. The New York Times reports that the Taliban has been able to reform in southern and eastern Afghanistan in part due to new volunteers from Pakistan.
Negotiations are continuing between media giant Vivendi and the General Electric-owned TV network NBC over the sale of the French company’s US entertainment business. Vivendi owns the Hollywood movie studio Universal Pictures as well as the USA and Sci Fi cable networks
Israeli forces yesterday fired missiles into the Gaza Strip killing a member of Hamas and injuring 25 other people. According to the Financial Times, Israel has now assassinated 11 Palestinian militants over the last two weeks in Gaza. At least three Palestinian bystanders have also been killed and scores have been injured. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday promised “to fight to the bitter end” against Hamas and threatened to launch a ground assault in Gaza. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas are no longer on speaking terms.
In other related news, a new government report has concluded that Israel used excessive force three years ago when it shot dead 13 Israeli Arab citizens during the opening days of the Palestinian intifada. The report also concluded that the Israeli police attempted to cover up their activities and treated Israeli Arab citizens as their “enemies.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the head of the electronic voting company Diebold is also a top fundraiser for President Bush’s re-election. In a recent fund-raising letter Diebold’s chief executive Walden O’Dell said he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” Diebold is one of three companies vying to run Ohio’s electronic voting system in time for the 2004 election.
This news on the California: Republican frontrunner Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will not take part in the first debate among leading candidates tomorrow night.
Republican Congressman Bill Janklow of South Dakota has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in jail for his involvement in a fatal car crash.
On Labor Day, The Rev. Jesse Jackson and 13 others were arrested at Yale University during a protest to show support for striking service and clerical workers at the university.
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has reportedly begun a hunger strike to protest her detention by the country’s wmilitary rulers. She was arrested three months ago.