President Bush is facing criticism for citing religion as a reason why he selected his personal attorney and friend, Harriet Miers, to be nominated for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. “People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers. They want to know Harriet Miers’ background,” Bush told reporters Wednesday. “They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions. And part of Harriet Miers’ life is her religion.” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, responded by saying “The White House is basically saying that because of Harriet Miers’s religious beliefs, you can trust her.” Bush’s comments came on the same day that the influential evangelical leader James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, revealed that President Bush’s top advisor Karl Rove spoke with him about Miers on October 1 — two days before Bush nominated her. Dobson said Rove told him “she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally pro-life.” Dobson denied that Rove gave him any assurances that Miers would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Kermit Hall, editor of the “Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said ” I cannot think of any president who has ever made a nomination because of the religious beliefs that a person held.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist to hand over personal financial records related to his recent sale of stock in his family’s company HCA, the Hospital Corporation of America. The SEC is investigating whether Frist violated insider trader laws when he sold off HCA stock shortly before the company’s stock value fell. HCA is the largest private hospital corporation in the country.
A newly released CIA study on Iraq has concluded that the White House ignored a pre-war CIA assessment warning of major chaos in Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein. The report found that policymakers within the Bush administration worried more about making the case for the war — particularly the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction — than planning for the aftermath.
In Russia, Chechen rebels have claimed responsibility for carrying out coordinated attacks on government buildings in the southern Russian city of Nalchik. Reuters is reporting that 90 people died in the attacks. Hospital sources and local officials said the dead include about 20 Russian security forces, 12 local residents and 50 gunmen.
In the Philippines, dozens of students were injured after anti-riot police fired waters cannons in an attempt to stop a protest on Wednesday. At the rally outside the presidential palace in Manila, students were demanding President Gloria Arroyo resign. Last month Arroyo ordered police to break up all unpermitted rallies. Arroyo has also issued a gag order on any official who is called to appear before legislative investigations organized by opposition lawmakers. Opposition leaders are now openly comparing Arroyo to Ferdinand Marcos, the country’s former dictator. Opposition Congressman Teodoro Casino said “At least during the Marcos period, you knew what to expect. You were up against a fascist dictatorship, you knew that under a dictatorship, your rights were really being violated openly. This time, they have this veneer of legality, of the rule of law. Casino went on to say “They keep on saying the rule of law, when in fact they are violating it.”
In California, officials have scheduled Stan Tookie Williams to be executed on December 13, two months from today. On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Williams’ final appeal. Williams helped found the Crips gang in Los Angeles and was sentenced to death in 1981 for the killing of a convenience store worker. But he has since been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at San Quentin State Prison where he was worked to curtail youth gang violence. Last year a documentary titled “Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story” aired on television. Jamie Foxx played Williams.
In Italy, 45 police officers, prison guards and medical staff went on trial Wednesday for their role in beating and abusing protesters during the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa. State prosecutors have admitted that at least 150 activists were kicked, punched, assaulted and dragged by their hair while in police detention. Some were forced to put their heads in toilets and bark like dogs. On Friday another 28 police officers go on trial for taking part in a violent raid inside a Genoa school during the summit.
In Haiti, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said that “technical problems” have forced the government to delay elections set for Nov. 20 by three weeks. If confirmed, the delay would be the second time the elections have been postponed. The elections will be the first since the elected government of President Jean Bertrand-Aristide was overthrown in February 2004.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s Supreme Court has ruled a Haitian-born U.S. millionaire may run in the presidential elections. Dumarsais Simeus, owner of a Texas food services company, had been barred from the race because he is a U.S. citizen. Simeus called the decision “a victory for the Haitian people.” Another prominent candidate, jailed priest Gerard Jean-Juste remains out of the race. Representatives of the Fanmi Lavalas, the party of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, tried to register him last month but were rejected on grounds he wasn’t present himself. Amnesty International calls him a “prisoner of conscience.”
In Washington DC, 10th anniversary of the Million Man March is being commemorated this weekend with the Millions More march. Key organizers include the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan. The weekend events begin with a conference on Friday titled “Reparations, Healing, and Hurricane Katrina.”
And this news from Washington: The chief operating officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has resigned. The official, Ken Ferree, joined the CPB in May. He previously had worked as the Federal Communications Commission Media Bureau chief under Michael Powell.