The Guardian of London is reporting that UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, will openly challenge the White House doctrine of preemptive military attacks today on the floor of the United Nations shortly before President Bush addresses the General Assembly. Annan is expected to accuse the U.S. of using "lawless use of force." Annan will say the logic of preemptive attacks "represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years."
Bush is expected defend his decision to invade Iraq without UN backing. Bush told Fox News Sunday, "I will make it clear that I made the right decision and that the others that joined us made the right decision." Bush is also expected to announce his support for UN involvement in the writing of an Iraqi constitution and the oversight of elections.
Ahmad Chalabi, the president of Iraq’s interim government, has broken with the Bush administration and called for the Iraqi Governing Council to be given at least partial control of the Iraq’s finance and security ministries. This according to a report in the New York Times. The paper reports Chalabi is also attempting to get the UN to grant sovereign status for the unelected 25-member Governing Council, a move Washington opposes. French President Jacques Chirac has also called for the UN to oversee a two-stage plan to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi Governing Council. The White House opposes the plan. National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said yesterday the French calls for an immediate handover were "not going to work".
Meanwhile two UN food agencies said today that about half of the Iraqi population of 25 million is still in need of food assistance. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program blamed the U.S. invasion and years of economic sanctions and drought.
Agence France Presse is reporting that Iraq’s governing council is preparing to temporarily expel the Arabic television networks al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya charging the stations are guilty of "incitement to violence" in their reporting about Iraq.
The Federal Communications Commission yesterday approved the creation a new Spanish-language media giant by approving the $3.5 billion merger of the television company Univision Communications and the radio company Hispanic Broadcasting. The FCC’s vote was 3 to 2, with the commissioners taking the same sides as they did three months ago when they approved the rewriting of the nation’s media ownership laws to allow for greater media consolidation.
The Bush administration is attempting to use the Patriot Act to deport two Palestinian Americans for their actions 16 years ago when as students they allegedly raised money for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In 1987 The Reagan administration attempted to bar the two men, Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh, and six others on the grounds that they were connected to a communist group. The men became known as the L.A. 8. They were never deported because a federal appeals court declared the anti-communist law to be unconstitutional. The Washington Post reports that at the time FBI Director William Webster conceded the men would never have been arrested if they were U.S. citizens and he concluded they never took part in terrorist activity.
But now the Washington Post reports the Bush administration is claiming the men broke the Patriot Act of 2001 which retroactively made it a crime to supply material support for organizations the government deems to be "terrorist." Their attorney David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law said "This has always been a case of guilt by association, and nothing more."
Attorney General John Ashcroft is making it tougher for federal prosecutors to strike plea bargains with criminal defendants. In a memo sent to all 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices yesterday, Ashcroft ordered Federal prosecutors to pursue maximum criminal charges and sentences whenever possible and to seek lesser penalties through plea bargains only in limited circumstances. A past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the change "creates a system that is not only inflexible and problematic, but becomes a sort of immovable object. You’re adding more unfairness to the system." During the summer Ashcroft instructed U.S. attorneys to seek the death penalty whenever applicable and announced a plan last month to track data on judges who give lighter sentences than recommended by federal guidelines.
Newsweek has released a poll showing that former general Wesley Clark, who announced his run for the White House last week, would beat President Bush in a head-to-head race by a 49 to 46 percent margin. Clark polled better than his nine Democratic counterparts. In other campaign news, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who is the only African-American woman to serve in the US Senate, officially declared her candidacy for president yesterday calling for a "partnership for peace, prosperity and progress."
In California, a panel of 11 judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are expected to rule today whether the gubernatorial recall election should be held next month or postponed until March.
The highest levels of the Air Force leadership knew a decade ago that the Air Force Academy was suffering from a major sexual misconduct crisis but failed to take effective action. That’s the conclusion of a report released yesterday by an independent panel investigating sexual assault at the Academy.
In Afghanistan, Agence France Press is reporting that the Taliban have now officially retaken control of four districts in southeast Afghanistan where they have formed committees to organize "resistance" against US-led forces.
The nation’s capital region is still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel as over a million people remain without power for a fourth consecutive day.
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