Three back-to-back bombings have rocked Egyptian resorts where Israelis were vacationing during Jewish holidays. The blasts killed at least 22 people and wounded more than 120 others. Some estimates put the death toll over 30. The most powerful explosion ripped through the 400-room Hilton Hotel at Taba, a Red Sea resort just across Egypt’s border with Israel. Police sources said the blast was the work of a truck bomb that crashed into the hotel lobby. At least 39 people are missing in the rubble and officials fear the death toll will rise. The dead are believed to be mainly Israeli and Egyptian. The only claim of responsibility came from a previously unheard of group: the Islamic Tawhid Brigades. Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister said the attacks bear the hallmarks of al Qaeda.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai who has become the first African woman and first environmentalist to ever win the award. In awarding the prize, the Nobel Peace Prize said today QUOTE “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment.” In 1977 Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement which has overseen the planting of more than 30 million trees in Africa. Maathai currently serves as Kenya’s Assistant Minister for the Environment. We’ll have more on this later in the show.
Hospital officials in Fallujah are reporting 11 Iraqis attending a wedding party were killed last night during a U.S. airstrike. Another 17 people at the wedding party were injured. This according to a report by Reuters. The U.S. however claimed the strike hit a “safe house” being used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The New York Times reports the Pentagon has identified as many as 30 Iraqi cities and towns, including Fallujah, that the U.S. plans to bring under control before the January elections.
In Baghdad, the Green Zone came under attack again yesterday when rockets were fired at the Sheraton Hotel. The heavily fortified Green Zone — which was considered a safe area — has recently come under repeated attacks.
One of the chief military critics of the invasion of Iraq, retired General Anthony Zinni, yesterday predicted that U.S. will be forced to remain in Iraq for another 5 to 10 years. Zinni said, “we can’t afford failure.” He also agreed with the former head of the occupation Paul Bremer that the U.S. never had enough on the troops in Iraq. Zinni said, “I think we are still paying the price.”
On the campaign trail, Senator John Kerry claimed that President Bush and Vice President Cheney “may well be the last two people on the planet who can’t face the truth about Iraq.” Kerry’s comments came as Bush and Cheney attempted to claim that the CIA’s new report on Iraq justified the invasion. The 900-page report found Saddam Hussein had no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and that Iraq’s threat to the world was decreasing at the time of the invasion. But Bush and Cheney seized on portions of the report that said Saddam Hussein one day wanted to again have weapons of mass destruction. Bush said “He retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction.” Bush added “he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies.”
Ex-Weapons Inspector on Saddam: “Intent Without Capabilities is Not an Imminent Threat”
Former weapons inspector David Kay disagreed with Bush’s claim. He said on The Today show “Look, Saddam was delusional. He had a lot of intent. He didn’t have capabilities. Intent without capabilities is not an imminent threat.”
Tonight President Bush and Senator Kerry square off for a second time at town-meeting-style debate in St. Louis.
In Washington, a federal judge has ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller to be jailed for up to 18 months for refusing to name her sources as part of a federal investigation. The case centers on CIA agent Valerie Plame who was outted by columnist Robert Novak. Now a federal judge is attempting to force other journalists who covered or considered covering the story to name their sources. Miller contemplated writing an article on Plame but never did so. Since she is now refusing to name who she talked to, a judge is holding her in contempt of court. Her jail sentence has been suspended pending her appeal. It remains unclear whether the federal government has ordered Novak to release his sources.
In Pakistan, the government has banned all political and religious meetings except Friday Prayer after a car bombing yesterday killed 40 people and wounded 100. A Sunni religious gathering was targeted in the blast. The car bombing came six days after a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque killed 31 people.
The New York Civil Liberties filed two lawsuits yesterday against the city police department for its treatment of detainees during the Republican National Convention. The group charges the police made illegal mass arrests, detained peaceful protesters for an unnecessarily long time, and violated their rights by fingerprinting them even though most were arrested for minor violations.
The Independent Media Center is reporting that its internet service provider Rackspace has handed over two of its servers after a U.S. governmental agency ordered the company to hand over the servers. The seized servers affected about 20 of Indymedia’s sites including thos in Italy, Brazil, Britain and France. Rackspace has told members of the Indymedia network that a gag order prevented it from saying why the servers were seized. The incident marks the second time in the last two months that the federal government has attempted to crack down on the Indymedia network. In August the US Secret Service used a subpoena before the Republican National Convention in order to trying to get information about who posted an article to the site that include publicly available information about Republican delegates.