At least ten people were killed and scores of others wounded when a suicide bomber rammed a car into a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
The attack occurred shortly before U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flew into Baghdad on an unannounced visit the Pentagon says is aimed at assessing security. An Iraqi hospital official said some 42 people were wounded and some reports indicate that the death toll is expected to rise. Most of the dead were Iraqi police officers. The deaths bring the number of Iraqi police killed since the fall of Baghdad to more than 300.
The Forward newspaper of New York is reporting that the U.S. has hired a South African security firm that is staffed by former henchmen of South Africa’s apartheid regime. The firm’s role in Iraq came to light after a South African security officer was killed in Iraq last month. The man works for Erinys International and is a former member of the Koevoet, a notoriously brutal counterinsurgency arm of the South African military that operated in Namibia during the neighboring state’s fight for independence in the 1980s. Injured in the same attack was a former officer of South Africa’s old secret police unit. Last August, the U.S. awarded Erinys an $80 million contract to protect 140 Iraqi oil installations and to train 6,500 Iraqi guards.
On Saturday, an Arabic-speaking delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited Saddam Hussein who is being held as a prisoner of war by US forces. The Red Cross did not comment on his condition but said his status as a POW was legally correct.
Meanwhile, for the first time since the fall of Baghdad an oil pipeline was attacked on Sunday. Pipelines in the north have been frequently targeted.
The Knight Ridder news agency is reporting the Pentagon is still paying millions of dollars to a group of Iraqi defectors known as the Iraqi National Congress even though the group has been accused of providing fabricated and exaggerated intelligence to the U.S. prior to the invasion of Iraq.
The money, up to $4 million is going to the INC’s Information Collection Program which was started in 2001 and was “designed to collect, analyze and disseminate information” from inside Iraq.”
In addition Knight Ridder has obtained evidence that some of the intelligence gathered by the INC went directly to officials in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office thus by passing the CIA, which had been critical of the INC.
Some of the INC’s information alleged that Saddam was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program, which was destroyed by U.N. inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War, and was stockpiling banned chemical and biological weapons, according to the letter.
Armed gangs captured Haiti’s second-largest city Cap-Haitien on Sunday and are threatening to march on the Haitian capital Port au-Prince within 15 days. A large cloud of black smoke hung over Cap-Haitien and there are reports of widespread looting in Haiti’s second largest city.
The armed gangs say they have no political agenda beyond ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but the man who started the rebellion, Gonaives gang leader Buteur Metayer, declared himself the president of liberated Haiti last week. The gangs have made no effort to install any kind of control, beyond halting a near-riot as people rushed to get food aid in Gonaives on Thursday.
A day earlier, Aristide accepted a U.S.-backed peace plan in which he would remain president with diminished powers, sharing a government with his opponents. The opposition reacted coolly and said any plan must include Aristide’s resignation.
In Uganda suspected members of the Lord’s Resistance Army have killed about 190 civilians living in a refugee camp. According to an eyewitness report many of those killed were forced into grass-thatched houses that were then set ablaze. About 5,000 people were also left homeless. Since the Lord’s Resistance Army took up arms against the Ugandan government in 1988 about 1.2 millions in northern Uganda have been displaced from their homes.
In Jerusalem, eight people died and dozens were injured in a suicide bombing attack on a bus during the Sunday morning rush hour. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for the attack.
Today in the Hague, the International Court of Justice will open a hearing to decide whether Israel can legally build a massive wall through the West Bank. Israeli officials said Sunday’s bombing highlighted the need for a security wall in the West Bank. But Israel is boycotting the hearing claiming the court does not have jurisdiction over domestic issues.
Palestinian and international groups, including the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, have condemned the barrier, which has been described as an apartheid wall because it is being built on Palestinian land and will break the West Bank up into a dozen enclaves.
Writing in the New York Times today, Noam Chomsky writes that the wall will help turn “Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the Bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.”
For the second time in five weeks, President Bush bypassed Congress to appoint a judicial nominee whose selection had been blocked in Congress. On Friday, Alabama Attorney General William Pryor was sworn in to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Democrats had blocked the nomination because of Pryor’s criticism of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.
Pryor was immediately sworn in by another 11th Circuit judge in Alabama. His appointment was widely criticized. Over 200 organizations had opposed his nomination because of his views on abortion, homosexuality and the environment.
Pryor has called the Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion as QUOTE “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”
He also signed a brief filed with the Supreme Court in a Texas sodomy case saying that if a law forbidding sex between homosexuals were overturned, it could pave the way for “prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography and even incest or pedophilia.”
In announcing his decision, Bush said in an email that Pryor demonstrates an “impressive record demonstrates his devotion to the rule of law and to treating all people equally under the law.”
President Bush raised nearly $13 million in campaign contributions bringing his total to about $144 million, which sets a record for this stage in the campaign. Top donors include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Merrill Lynch, UBS Financial Services Inc., and MBNA Corp.
In other campaign news, longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced he was running for president as an independent. Nader ran on the Green Party ticket and placed third. Nader had been urged not to run by the Democratic Party and many former supporters including the editors of the Nation magazine. Appearing on Meet the Press Nader said “Washington is still corporate-occupied territory, and the two parties are ferociously competing to see who’s going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate paymasters.”
Newly released campaign finance reports show that President Bush had about 100 times more money in the bank than either John Kerry or John Edwards. Bush had about $104 million at the end of month. Kerry’s campaign had a net balance of $1.2 million; Edwards’ net balance stood at just under $120,000. A spokesman for Kerry said “We will never catch up.”
Bush is running the richest campaign in history and is planning to spend $50 million over the spring and summer in the lead up to the conventions to attack the Democratic candidates.
On the party level, the Republican National Committee had just under $40 million at the end of January; the Democrats had about $14 million. Meanwhile, John Kerry has challenged President Bush to a debate about their military experiences during the Vietnam War.
The Observer of London has obtained a secret Pentagon report that predicts the climate change over the next 20 years could result in global catastrophe that leads to millions of deaths from war and natural disasters.
The Pentagon study predicts that major European cities will sink beneath rising seas and that Britain will suffer “Siberian”-like climate by 2020. As early as next year rising sea levels could create major upheaval for millions.
The rapid climate change will challenge U.S. power and lead to nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting across the world.
The report concludes: “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life. Once again, warfare would define human life.” The White House has consistently denied climate change is even occurring. A representative from Greenpeace said, “You’ve got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac River you’ve got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It’s pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue.”
Influential 82-year-old Pentagon defense adviser Andrew Marshall, who is close to Donald Rumsfeld, commissioned the climate change report. Marshall has been dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience.
The Central Intelligence Agency has admitted that it did not provide the United Nations with information about 21 possible weapons sites in Iraq prior to the war. This according to a report in the New York Times. Prior to the invasion of Iraq both CIA director George Tenet and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice claimed the US was fully cooperating with UN weapons inspectors.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan accused the Bush administration of purposely withholding the information in order to persuade the American people that the United Nations-led hunt for weapons in Iraq had run its full course before the war.
The newly formed Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers has announced plans to protest outside the offices of Halliburton and Bechtel on Tuesday in 20 American cites and in London. Halliburton and Bechtel are the top recipients of Iraq reconstruction. Among the groups sponsoring the protests are the California Federation of Teachers, Global Exchange and United for Peace and Justice.
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday issued a report recommending that Congress remove restrictions that keep low power FM radio stations out of most communities especially in urban areas. According to the Prometheus Radio Project this could pave the way for potentially hundreds, if not thousands of new community radio stations.
In a move that pits national security concerns against academic freedom and the international flow of information, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control recently declared that American publishers cannot edit works authored in nations under trade embargoes. Although publishing the articles is legal, editing is a “service” and the treasury department says it is illegal to perform services for embargoed nations. It can be punishable by fines of up to a half-million dollars or jail terms as long as 10 years.
This week, one publisher decided to challenge the government and risk criminal prosecution by editing articles submitted from the five embargoed nations: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Cuba.
In a statement issued Friday in response to questions from the Los Angeles Times, Bush’s science advisor, indicated unease with the regulations but said he supports “the use of economic sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism.”
While they wait for possible action, organizations are struggling to decide what to do. Recently, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which has some 360,000 members worldwide, applied for a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control that would allow it to edit pieces by authors from embargoed nations.
Richard Newcomb, director of the office, said that request is being reviewed. Newcomb said the office does not see its ruling as involving 1st Amendment rights or inhibiting academic exchanges. Rather, he said, the regulations are a technical interpretation of how Congress intended embargoes to be enforced.
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