In a nationally televised prime-time address last night, President Bush said that he would ask Congress for $87 billion in emergency spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Iraq had now become what he called “the central front” in the campaign against terrorism.
The speech was Bush’s first from the White House since he announced the bombing of Baghdad on March 19. He omitted any mention of how long American troops would remain in Iraq, how much the operation will ultimately cost and the administration’s failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Citing Defense Department figures, USA Today is reporting that the monthly bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan now rival the Pentagon’s average monthly spending during Vietnam. That tab doesn’t include reconstruction costs.
Meanwhile, the latest Zogby America poll says that President Bush has dropped to the lowest approval ratings of his presidency. The poll says 54 percent of Americans rated Bush’s performance as fair or poor. Only 40 percent said he deserved to be re-elected.
Zogby America says Bush’s popularity has been on a steady decline since a post-Sept. 11 peak.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat nominated the speaker of the parliament as prime minister to replace Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned Saturday after just 4 months in office.
Ahmed Qureia was an architect of the 1993 Oslo peace accords. He was accepted by top representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah political movement as Arafat’s nominee to fill the position and attempt to quell a mounting political crisis.
Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian legislator and chief negotiator with Israel and the United States, said Arafat nominated Qureia today after Abbas “made a very public statement saying his resignation was final.’ ”
Qureia does not have a wide base of popular support among Palestinians, though he has been an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council from Jerusalem since 1996. He also previously served as economy and trade minister and industry minister for the Palestinian Authority.
Qureia was bypassed earlier this year when U.S., European, U.N. and Russian representatives pushed Arafat to accept Abbas. Israeli officials have already indicated they may protest the appointment, saying he is too closely associated with Arafat.
Meanwhile, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, is vowing to avenge Israel’s attack on Gaza over the weekend that wounded him and 14 others. On Saturday, an Israeli F-16 dropped a quarter ton bomb on a Gaza neighborhood.
About 3,000 students marched in Gaza City yesterday in support of Sheikh Yassin. Hamas vowed revenge for the attack and said that Israel had opened the “gates of hell”.
Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, warned that Hamas leaders were now “marked for death.
Israel sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip overnight.
The Drudge Report says that Another African American bodybuilder has come forward claiming that California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger has a history of making racist comments.
Robby Robinson, one of the most respected and well known of all body builders [a former Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe titleholder], backs up claims made by fellow black bodybuilder Rick Wayne.
Robinson says that Schwarzenegger repeatedly directed the term “nigger” at him.
The only videotape known to have captured both planes slamming into the World Trade Center, and only the second image of the first strike, has surfaced days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The footage, obtained by The New York Times, was taken by a Czech immigrant construction worker whose son at one point came close to accidentally erasing the rare, chilling footage, the newspaper reported on its Web site Saturday.
Federal officials investigating the trade center collapse are trying to obtain a copy of the hour-long tape, which could cast light on the cause of the north tower’s collapse by helping to determine factors including the exact speed at which the first plane traveled, The Times said.
The only other known footage of the first plane’s impact came from a French film crew making a documentary about a probationary firefighter.