In London, the 22-year-old British peace activist Tom Hurndall died last night. In April, Hurndall was shot in the head by Israel forces. He had spent the last eight months in a vegetative state. Charges of aggravated assault were recently filed against the Israeli soldier who shot Hurndall. Haaetz is reporting the charges will likely be increased to manslaughter now that Hurndall has died. The Israeli military has not identified the soldier by name but said he is an Arab member of a Bedouin unit. Hurndall’s mother, Jocelyn said “We hope that prosecution of the soldier involved in the shooting of Tom will send a message to all soldiers in the occupied territories that they cannot commit breaches of human rights whether these be killing, maiming, humiliation, the destruction of homes or the collective punishment of whole communities.”
Four Israelis have died after a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Reuters reports Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades jointly claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Washington Post is reporting the Senate Finance Committee is asking the Internal Revenue Service to hand over confidential tax and financial records including donor lists on dozens of Muslim charities and foundations. The Committee is making the rare request allegedly as part of an investigation into whether any tax-exempt organizations in the United States have ties to designated terrorist groups. Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said of the Senate request for IRS records, Are they now going to start a witch hunt of all the donors of these now closed relief organizations, so that Muslims feel they’re going to be targeted once more based on their charitable giving?” Among the groups targeted are the SAAR Foundation, Global Relief, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the Islamic Society of North America.
In an attempt to restore relations with Canada, President Bush announced Tuesday Canadian companies would be allowed to bid on contracts to rebuild Iraq. The U.S. had previously barred Canada along with France, Germany, Russia and India because the nations did not back the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The New York Times is reporting that at the time of his capture Saddam Hussein was carrying a copy of letter that he had sent to Iraqi resistance fighters urging them to beware of foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to fight U.S. troops. The Times says the letter offers additional evidence that questions the Bush administration’s assertion of ties between Hussein and Al Qaeda.
The Washington Post is reporting that top administration officials ordered the rewriting of a federal study on health care that had originally concluded minorities received less care and less high-quality care than whites. The report originally said the disparities in care along racial lines presented “national problems.” But those words never appeared in the final version released by the Department of Health and Human Services. Critics said the department rewrote the study to put a positive spin on a public health crisis. The final report says that disparities in care were influenced not just by race but geography and socioeconomic factors. Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California said “In effect, they whitewashed the issue away, even though they were told that health care disparities are a national problem.”
The Guardian of London is reporting that the U.S. is now offering to help pay for Russia to withdraw from its two remaining military bases in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Russia has agreed to a request by the new Georgian government to leave but said a full exit may take 11 years. The Guardian reports Washington has been slowly increasing its presence in Georgia. On Tuesday US deputy assistant secretary of state, Lynn Pascoe, also offered Georgia about $3 million in new aid to train Georigan troops. 77 heavily armoured vehicles also arrived to help in the trainings.
Feeney: U.S. Has Moral Authority to Control Space
President Bush is expected to ask today for a $1 billion boost to NASA’s budget over the next five years to fund the start of a new campaign in space to put a permanent base on the moon within 20 years and for American astronauts to land on Mars sometime after 2030. Meanwhile Republican Congressman Tom Feeney of Florida has publicly said United States has the “moral capability and authority to” take control of space. Feeney said on the cable news show “Scarborough Country ” Whoever is able to dominate space will be able to control the destiny of the entire Earth. And I think America is the only country with the moral capability and authority to” [do so].
In Iran President Mohammad Khatami has threatened to resign if reformist politicians are not allowed to run for office in next months parliamentary elections. 27 governors have also threatened to resign in protest.
Dean Wins D.C. Primary; Sharpton Second
On Tuesday former Vermont governor Howard Dean won the non-binding Democratic primary in Washington D.C. with 43 percent of the vote. The Rev. Al Sharpton came in second with 34 percent. Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and Congressman Dennis Kucinich came in a distant third and fourth. None of the other major candidates participated in the symbolic primary. Dean celebrated his victory by calling supporters in Washington. He noted that he had taken first place among an electorate with a majority of African American voters. He said “We’re going to build a rainbow coalition to take over this country for the people who own it.”