Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter helped open the Democratic National Convention vowing John Kerry would win in November’s election.
Carter delivered the harshest critique of Bush charging that President Bush can’t run as both a war president and a peace president and he criticized Bush for waging a preemptive war.
Former Vice President Al Gore called on third party supporters to vote for Kerry. Senator Hillary Clinton introduced her husband as she called for improvements in health care and homeland security.
Tonight speakers include Kerry’s wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, Senator Ted Kennedy, Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan’s son Ron Reagan.
In convention news from outside the Fleet Center, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rejected an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild to force the city to redesign the so-called free speech zone outside the convention hall.
The National Lawyers Guild responded to the decision by stating “This ruling eviscerates the First Amendment and gives the government carte blanche to confine demonstrators in “protest pens” at those important political events where free expression is most essential.”
The protest zone has been likened to an internment camp or Camp X Ray at Guantanamo Bay because the area is enclosed by a maze of overhead netting, razor wire and chain link fence. During the day protesters gathered at the area to protest the protest zone. In a piece of political theater, many kneeled on the ground with their hands behind their back to highlight the similarities between the free speech zone and Guantanamo Bay.
The president of the largest AFL-CIO union, Service Employees International Union, said yesterday the Democratic Party and labor movement might be better off in the long run if Senator John Kerry loses the election. SEIU’s head Andrew Stern told the Washington Post that both the party and organized labor are in a deep crisis, devoid of new ideas and working with archaic structures. SEIU, which represents 1.6 million workers, is officially backing Kerry. But Stern said Kerry’s election may slow much needed reforms within the Democrats which he described as a “hollow party.” During the primaries SEIU backed Howard Dean.
In Iraq, an Iraqi resistance group announced yesterday they had kidnapped two Jordanian drivers. According to a video obtained by the Associated Press, the group threatened to kill the men in 72 hours if their company did not stop doing business with the American military.
Meanwhile an Iraqi group released the Egyptian diplomat yesterday who they had been holding since Friday. Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb was the first diplomat kidnapped in the wave of abductions in Iraq over the past several months. The United States, Australia and Iraq’s interim government have accused Manila of encouraging more abductions through the withdrawal.
Also in Iraq, a senior hospital official in Baghdad was killed late yesterday. The hospital says he died in “a terrorist act,” but provided no other details.
Earlier today, an Iraq garbage collector was killed and 14 US soldiers and a civilian were wounded in a mortar attack on a residential neighborhood in Baghdad.
U.N. envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi recently issuing an unusually critical comment about the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. He said the war in Iraq was useless, it caused more problems than it solved, and it brought in terrorism.”
The Guardian of London is reporting that new aerial photos from the West Bank show that Israel is building thousands of news homes in a quiet land grab that is illegally increasing the size of Israeli outposts. According to the Israeli group Settlement Watch, Israel has increased the size of settlements by 65 acres in the last two months.
A new Justice Department study found that 7,000 people who were barred from buying guns were able to buy them anyway in 2002 and 2003. Under federal law, gun buyers must wait three business days before receiving their weapons to allow for background checks. If the background checks aren’t completed within three days, the sale must go through.
FBI agents have begun questioning activists tied to protest organizations across Kansas and Colorado in an investigation reportedly connected to the political conventions. In Lawrence, Kansas, the FBI went door-to-door throughout the city to track down members connected with a local anarchist group for questioning. Similar searches were reported in Kansas City, Topeka and in St. Louis, Missouri.
Meanwhile in Denver, the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out a similar operation. One activist questioned was an intern at the American Friends Service Committee. Both the Rocky Mountain News and Lawrence Journal World reported the FBI operation was tied to the Democratic and Republican political conventions.
Last week the FBI warned that domestic groups may target media organizations at the conventions but ABC News is now reporting police are downplaying the warning. But Boston police are concerned that a national neo Nazi group called Volksfront may cause problems outside the convention. The group recently opened its first branch on the East coast in Boston. The group has long had branches in Oregon, California and Arizona, as well as Germany.
A new poll by the Boston Globe has found that delegates at the Democratic National Convention disagree with Senator John Kerry on several key issues. The poll found that 62 percent of delegates disagree with Kerry and support same sex marriages. Only 26 percent of delegates back Kerry’s belief that life begins at conception. And 95 percent of delegates now believe the U.S. should have never gone to war in Iraq. Kerry has criticized the war but mostly for the way Bush went to war.
br> In news from Iraq, a 16-month review by the United States found no basis to prosecute members of an Iranian opposition group in Iraq even though the group is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. The People’s Majahadeen remains on the terrorist list although it is not known to have conducted a terrorist act towards the U.S. for 25 years. Senior U.S. officials in Iraq said members of the group had been designated QUOTE “protected persons,” which means they will not be prosecuted or handed over to Iran.
The U.S. has released four French citizens who had been held at Guantanamo Bay for over two years. Some 600 detainees from 40 different countries remain at Guantanamo Bay.
A Muslim charity accused the FBI yesterday of fabricating evidence to prove that the group funds Palestinian suicide-bombers. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development filed a complaint with the Justice Department calling for an investigation of and citing 67 discrepancies or errors in translation in a four-page Israeli intelligence document used in the case. The Holy Land group was the biggest Muslim charity in the United States before the Bush administration froze its assets after the September 11 attacks, accusing it of using charitable contributions to help finance Hamas.