In Iraq news, the Washington Post is reporting most members of the country’s U.S.-appointed Governing Council no longer support the Bush administration’s plan to choose an interim government through indirect elections. In November the Council had endorsed Washington’s model to hold a series of carefully vetted caucuses to indirectly elect a government. But now members want the Council itself to take power on June 30 and remain in power until proper elections can be held. Without the the Governing Council’s support it appears the US will have to abandon its plans for indirect elections and caucuses. One official told the Washington Post “It’s hard to imagine pulling off the caucuses without the Governing Council. What happens when these people — people we selected — say they do not support the process? It can’t work.”
Meanwhile the head of the Iraq occupation Paul Bremer has indicated he would veto any move to make Islamic law the principal source of the Iraqi constitution. Governing Council member Muhsin Abdul Hamid of the Iraqi Islamic Party has called for the shari ’ah to be the source of Iraqi law.
And the UN’s top envoy in Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi warned Iraqi leaders that the country could fall into a civil war. He said, “I have appealed to the members of the Governing Council and to Iraqis in every part of Iraq to be conscious that civil wars do not happen because a person makes a decision, 'Today, I'm going to start a civil war.’” He went on to say that civil wars erupt “because people are reckless, people are selfish, because people think more of themselves than they do of their country.” Meanwhile roadside bombs killed three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks on Monday. 541 U.S. service members have now died in Iraq. And two Iraqi children were killed and four others wounded in an explosion at a primary school in a Shia Muslim suburb of Baghdad.
CNN is reporting that a new study by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has concluded that nearly 4,500 Roman Catholic priests have been accused of sexually abusing children over the past 50 years. The study estimates about 11,000 children have been abused. About 22 percent of those abused were 10 years old or younger. These figures are to two to three times as high as previously reported but some warn the actual total number of children abused may be much higher.
In business news, the board of directors of Disney have rejected an attempt by cable giant Comcast to buy the company. Together Comcast and Disney would have formed the world’s largest media company.
In other business news, the nation’s second largest wireless telephone company, Cingular, has bought AT&T Wireless for $41 billion in an effort to create the country’s largest cellular phone company.
President Bush has granted a pardon to a Texan who pleaded guilty to fraud in one of the 1980s Savings and Loans scandals. The man, David McCall, is the former mayor of Plano Texas. In 1995 he was indicted with four others on federal bank fraud charges involving a series of loans totaling more than $25 million.
In San Francisco, nearly 2,500 same sex couples have now been married since Thursday in defiance of state law. But today opponents of same sex marriage are going to court in an attempt to overturn the marriage licenses.
In the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie has told cabinet members he is considering quitting following an argument with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat over security and financial reforms.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said today that France has been in contact with other United Nations members about sending an international peacekeeping force to Haiti. De Villepin said “We have the means — and many friendly countries are mobilized and ready to act. We have to find a way to do this in liaison with the different Haitian parties.” On Monday in Haiti, armed rebels stormed the city of Hinche killing the police chief and two officers.
The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the British government is considering a plan to break up the BBC and remove its independent status. This comes in the wake of a battle between the state broadcaster and the government over its coverage of Iraq. The Sunday Times said the BBC may be split into separate entities for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The British government is also considering giving a media watchdog greater control over the BBC’s output.
On the campaign trail Howard Dean’s campaign chair Steven Grossman quit Monday to join John Kerry’s campaign. The move came one day before voters in Wisconsin go to the polls.
And in a speech in London last night, the South African archbishop Desmond Tutu called on President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to admit they made a mistake by waging a “immoral” war in Iraq.