In Spain, the country’s new prime minister elect, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero lashed out at President Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair in his first radio interview since the election that saw his Socialist Party sweep to power. Zapatero told Bush and Blair “you can’t organize a war with lies.” He added “The Spanish troops will come back.” The Socialists had campaigned on a platform that called for the withdrawal of Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq if there is no UN mandate. The new prime minister went on to say Spain would renew its ties with Germany and France while pulling away from the United States. He said “I want Europe to see us again as pro-European.” Meanwhile the Spanish newspaper El Pais is reporting police have identified six Moroccans who they believe carried out Thursday’s train bombings in Madrid that killed 200 people. One of the six is already in custody.
The Financial Times is reporting that the Syrian government has arrested scores of people after Syrian Kurds staged some of the country’s first public protests in 40 years. In northeastern Syria, at least 19 people were killed and 150 were injured. Unrest spread to the capital of Damascas where Kurdish leaders say hundreds of Kurds were arrested. The unrest began at a soccer game when a group of Syrian Kurds began waving a Kurdish flag and signs praising President Bush. They were chanting “We will sacrifice our lives for Bush.” Last week Syrian officials detained 25 people staging a protest in Damascas. One of those detained at the protest was a junior diplomat from the American Embassy. The State Department said he was monitoring the protest. Writing on the TomPaine.com website, longtime investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss questions if the US may be behind the rare public demonstrations. He writes ” it strains credulity to think that the Kurdish unrest in Syria is spontaneous.... What’s happening in Syria has all the hallmarks of a classic, 1950s-era, Cold War-style CIA coup d’etat.”
In Iraq four U.S. Christian missionaries with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board have been killed and a fifth wounded in a drive-by shooting in the city of Mosul.
The Knight Ridder news agency is reporting that the Iraqi National Congress routinely fed exaggerated or fabricated intelligence on Iraq to dozens of media outlets in the U.S. and around the world before the Iraq invasion. In June of 2002 the INC sent the Senate Appropriations Committee a list of just over 100 news articles about Iraq that were based on information provided by the INC’s Information Collection Program, which was funded by the U.S. government. The articles asserted Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Osama Bin Laden. Most of the information came from the same half-dozen defectors whose information was questioned by the CIA and State Department. Publications and agencies that ran the articles based on the U.S.-funded misinformation included many of the major US newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal as well as Time, CNN, the BBC and the Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that political appointees in the Environmental Protection Agency bypassed the agency’s professional staff and a federal advisory panel last year to craft a rule on mercury emissions based largely on language provided by lobbyists. According to the LA Times, EPA veterans say they cannot recall another instance when the agency’s technical experts were cut out of developing a major regulatory proposal. Last month a group of scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, signed a petition condemning the White House for politicizing science.
The Army is now admitting it was wrong to send military lawyers and intelligence agents to monitor a conference on Islam last month at the University of Texas at Austin. After the conference was over, the military requested a list of people who attended and the military aggressively questioned several students and staff members.
In Venezuela, the Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday setting the stage for a presidential referendum to go forward dealing a major victory to opponents of President Hugo Chavez.
In Britain the government is going to court today to argue that it has the right to make wrongfully convicted prisoners pay for the costs of their food and lodging while they were in jail. If the government wins the case, some former prisoners who received compensation for their wrongful convictions may have to pay back the government up to $90,000.
In a New York federal court, a former Congressional aide Susan Lindauer pleaded not guilty to charges that she aided the Iraqi spy agency. Outside the court she described herself as an anti-war activist and said “What I did was always good for homeland security and for Middle Eastern security.” Lindauer is a second cousin to White House chief of staff Andrew Card.
And a year ago today, a nine-ton Israeli bulldozer ran over and killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie in the Palestinian town of Rafah. In Israel, the government maintains her death was a “unfortunate accident.” But it has yet to publicly release the findings of its own investigation completed last June. She died while trying to peacefully stop Israeli forces from bulldozing Palestinian homes. She was 23 years old.
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