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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This week Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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In a major setback to the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman Michael Powell, a federal appeals court yesterday blocked the implementation of the FCC’s new media ownership rules. The regulations which are expected to lead to greater media consolidation are to go into effect today.
The request of the stay was sought by the Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group for low power radio stations.
Dissident FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said, “The court has done what the commission should have done in the first place.”
A secret internal report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff criticizes the Bush administration for failing to adequately plan for the reconstruction and policing of Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and for failing to predict that a guerilla war would emerge.
The report titled “Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned” was obtained by the Washington Times.
The report also shows that President Bush approved the war plans last August, a month before the U.S. approached the UN Security Council for a war mandate. And the Washington Times reports that the U.S. kept in close contact with Israel over the war plans. A meeting to discuss the invasion was held in mid-February with “key Israeli leaders” according to the report.
The Washington Post is reporting that the White House is seeking 60 to 70 billion dollars more from Congress to cover the cost of the reconstruction and occupation of Iraq. The Post reports the request will be an acknowledgement by the administration that it “vastly underestimated” the cost of war.
This comes as the U.S. prepares to officially ask for a United Nations resolution on Iraq to help urge other countries to supply troops and money to the occupation.
According to the Post, the U.S. resolution is unprecedented in UN history. It would seek the creation of a UN-mandated multinational force to operate in a country where the UN does not have political control.
Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday lobbied for the resolution. He said “With the resolution, you’re essentially putting the Security Council into the game.”
In London yesterday, it was revealed during the David Kelly inquiry, that officials within the British defense intelligence agency protested the government’s decision to publish a dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that they claimed was greatly exaggerated.
Brian Jones, a retired senior official with the defense intelligence analysis staff said, “We had not seen the weapons being produced. We had no evidence of any recent testing or field trials and things like that. So that all cast some doubts in our mind.”
Jones said his staff’s concerns were ignored and not reflected in the dossier’s final version.
Another official who was only identified as Mr. A told the judicial inquiry, “The perception was that the dossier had been around the houses several times in order to try to find a form of words which could strengthen certain political objectives.”
In other news on weapons of mass destruction, Agence France Press is reporting that the United States will miss by three years an international deadline to destroy a portion of its arsenal of chemical weapons.
Under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, the U.S. is required to liquidate 45 percent of chemical stockpile by April 2004. But now the Defense Department has acknowledged the task will not be completed until December 2007.
A retried chief White House aide has revealed that top White House officials approved the evacuation of about 140 influential Saudis including relatives of Osama Bin Laden shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks at a time when all commercial flights were grounded.
Richard Clarke, who ran the White House crisis team after the attacks, writes in the new issue of Vanity Fair that the FBI claimed none of the Saudis could be linked to the attacks which were carried out by 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.
According to The New York Times this marks the first public acknowledgement that the White House approved the controversial evacuation plan.
New York Senator Charles Schumer said yesterday, “This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get. It’s almost as if we didn’t want to find out what links existed.”
Israel warplanes last night bombed portions of southern Lebanon last night in an attack of Hezbollah positions there.
The State Department is being sued by an HIV-positive man who claims he was not hired as a diplomat because of his condition.
In France, the government yesterday buried 57 Parisians whose bodies were never claimed after they died in last month’s heat wave.
And abortion clinics in Florida and elsewhere have been put on heightened alert following the execution of last night of abortion doctor killer Paul Hill.