The security presence on the New York City subway system has been significantly increased in the wake of Thursday’s dramatic announcement by the city’s mayor Michael Bloomberg that New York’s subway system is facing what he called a “specific threat.” Bloomberg and other officials said the threat was specific and could involve explosives smuggled onto trains via briefcases or baby strollers. Here is New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: “The New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have received information which indicates that the city subway system may be the target of a terrorist attack in the coming days. While the information has not been fully corroborated, it has been deemed of sufficient concern for the police department to enhance its counter-terrorism coverage of the subway system and to advise the public of the threat and to ask its assistance in reporting immediately any suspicious individual or activities to police or transit personnel.”
Earlier, ABC News reported on what the NYPD deemed a credible tip that 19 operatives have been deployed to New York to place bombs in the subway. ABC says the tip stretches all the way to Iraq, saying that when three Iraqis were arrested several days ago during a raid by a joint FBI-CIA team, one of those arrested disclosed the threat. Because it slipped out during the arrest, the plot was deemed credible. The 19 operatives were reportedly to place improvised explosive devices in the subways using briefcases. The police are deploying additional officers, dogs and heavy weapons teams in subways and commuter rail terminals, sources said. Department of Homeland Security sources told ABC they are very doubtful the threat information is credible. On average, some 4.5 million commuters use New York’s subway system daily.
The International Atomic Energy Agency and its chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, have won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. The Committee said it chose Baradei and the IAEA “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.’’ Washington has long been at odds with Baradei for his consistent challenge to US claims, particularly about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
As President Bush announces his renewed war on what he calls radical Islam, a new BBC series is revealing new details about President Bush’s own perceived religious mission. According to the BBC, Bush told Palestinian ministers in 2003 that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq–and to create a Palestinian State. In the BBC program, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen and foreign minister Nabil Shaath describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003. Shaath quotes Bush as saying at the time QUOTE “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it,’” Shaath quoted Bush as saying. The White House denied Bush made the comments, calling them “absurd.”
Washington is abuzz with speculation today about possible indictments coming down against multiple senior administration officials over the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. On Thursday, the special prosecutor heading the investigation summoned senior Bush advisor Karl Rove to appear before the grand Jury—for a rare 4th appearance. Rove appears before the Grand Jury with no offer of immunity with the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, informing Rove in writing that he could face indictment later. Meanwhile, the LA Times reports: “In Washington, talk of imminent indictments — of Rove alone or with others as part of a conspiracy — was overheard in the corridors of the FBI, Justice Department and White House.” The New York Times is reporting that prosecutor Fitzgerald will likely call on several other White House officials to return to the grand jury to testify about their actions in the case. The Grand Jury expires October 28. In addition to Rove, Fitzgerald is also reportedly re-examining grand jury testimony by Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
A massive rescue operation is under way in Central America and southern Mexico, where mudslides caused by a tropical storm have killed at least 250 people. That number is expected to rise as emergency services are continuing to find buried bodies as they reach more isolated villages. Tropical Storm Stan has passed, but heavy rain is still falling and river levels are dangerously high. The worst affected countries, El Salvador and Guatemala, are struggling to evacuate everyone at risk. Shelters in both countries are holding thousands of people, while road links have been cut off. In Mexico, reports are now coming in that dozens of people are missing. The death toll so far has been put at 79 in Guatemala and 62 in El Salvador. At least 19 deaths have been reported across Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.
The United States is threatening political groups and politicians that Nicaragua will lose millions of dollars in aid from Washington if any moves are made to bring down the US-backed president, Enrique Bolaños. In a move reminiscent of US intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the US deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, is in the capital Managua this week to head off the possibility of the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, returning to power. The Nicaraguan national assembly has been debating a proposal to impeach Bolaños over campaign finance violations. He was elected in 2001. Zoellick said that $4billion in debt forgiveness and a $175million grant to Nicaragua would be withheld if Bolanos is impeached. After the 1979 Sandinista revolution, the US organized, armed and funded death squads in Nicaragua known as the Contras.
The former US-backed president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, has announced his intention to run for the presidency again in an election set for next April. Fujimori is accused of widespread human rights abuses and political killings and currently faces criminal charges if he returns to Peru. Fujimori fled Peru in 2000 and is currently living in Japan, which refuses to extradite Fujimori. Among the many crimes he is accused of are the death-squad murders of 25 people.
In environmental news, a new report from the World Bank says that nearly a fifth of all ill health in poor countries and millions of deaths can be attributed to environmental factors, including climate change and pollution. The report links cancers to environmental conditions and says global warming has a major impact on health. Many human rights and environmental groups regularly target the World Bank for its treatment of the poor worldwide, as well as the impact of its policies on the environment.
The Pentagon said Thursday the number of U.S. troops in Iraq has grown to 152,000. The troop total is now at its highest since shortly after the January elections for an Iraqi National Assembly.
The International Criminal Court has issued its first arrest warrants since it was founded in 2002 amidst strong opposition from Washington. The warrants were issued Thursday for five members of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army. The group is alleged to have killed thousands of civilians and forced more than a million to flee their homes.
Thursday marked the 29th anniversary of the bombing of a Cuban airplane killing all 73 people on board. One of the men accused of involvement in that bombing remains in US custody—Luis Posada Carriles. Hundreds of people gathered at Havana’s main cemetery to remember the victims, which included the entire Cuban national fencing team. Cuba and Venezuela want Posada extradited to Venezuela to face charges for the plane bombing.