The White House rejected calls of setting up an independent council to investigate who within the White House illegally told reporters that the wife of retired diplomat Joseph Wilson was a CIA agent. Wilson is the former ambassador to Iraq who traveled to Niger and debunked the allegation that the African country was selling uranium to Iraq. When asked directly, White House press secretary said for the first time Bush’s chief advisor Karl Rove “wasn’t involved. The president knows he wasn’t involved.”
President Bush’s campaign manager in 2000, Joe Allbaugh, has set up a new private business firm in Washington and Iraq to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq including companies who are seeking government contracts. Until March, Allbaugh served as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was Bush’s chief of staff when he was governor of Texas. Other directors of the new firm called New Bridge Strategies include Edward Rogers Jr. and Lanny Griffith, two lobbyists who were assistants to the first President George Bush and now have close ties to the White House. The company Web site says the company was “created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” The New York Times reports the new company benefited from a decision by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that allows foreign companies to establish 100 percent ownership of businesses in Iraq.
New data from the Census Bureau shows that nearly 44 million people living in the United States last year lack health insurance. The figure jumped last year by nearly 2.4 million in the largest increase in a decade. Meanwhile the cost of an average family health plan jumped to about $10,000 annually. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents with 25 percent of the population lacking health insurance.
The BBC reports the number of foreign United Nations employees in Iraq has dropped to just 50 following the August 19 car bombing at the UN headquarters that killed 22. Much of the UN work now is being carried out by Iraqi employees of the UN.
Israeli troops today blew up the home of the family of a member of Islamic Jihad who killed two Israelis Friday, including a 7-month-old baby, in an attack on a West Bank settlement on the eve of the Jewish New Year. The gunman Mahmoud Hamdan, was killed at the scene by soldiers guarding the settlement.
In other news from Israel, the government’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee called today for the discharge of the 28 Air Force pilots who are openly refusing to bomb Palestinian civilian targets. The committee also said the letter signed by the pilots should be viewed as an incitement to mutiny in a time of war.
At the UN General Assembly Monday, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt accused the UN watchdog nuclear agency of failing to criticize Israel’s suspected nuclear program at the same time that the agency pressures other nations to give up their nuclear programs. Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons.
The military newspaper Stars and Stripes is reporting that the U.S. is making base preparations in Afghanistan that will allow U.S. forces to stay there for up to eight more years. Meanwhile a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded during a clash with suspected members of the Taliban yesterday in southeastern Afghanistan.
The Washington Post is reporting that President raised up to $50 million in campaign contributions over the last three years. That is more than three times as Much as the top Democrat, Howard Dean.
One of the nation’s leading Islamic leaders, Abdurahman Alamoudi, who heads the American Muslim Council, was charged yesterday with accepting money from Libya in order to lobby the U.S. to lift sanctions, a position the U.S. has adopted.
Meanwhile in Springfield Massachusetts, the city’s mayor is planning to ask the city’s retirement board to sell off all of the city’s pension investments in pharmaceutical stocks in protest. Mayor Michael Albano said, “It would send a message to the industry that these profits at the expense of the American consumer are outrageous They’re clearly flexing their muscles. It’s like a cartel, the oil cartel or the illegal drug cartel. That’s how they impact the marketplace and control pricing.” In July the city also made headlines when it became the nation’s first municipality to sign up with a Canadian drug supplier for its employee health plan.