A day after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agreed to a ceasefire the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they are not bound by the agreement. Hamas said it should have been consulted before any announcement. Meanwhile Egypt and Jordan have agreed to resume diplomatic ties with Israel and send ambassadors there for the first time in four years. Tuesday’s Israeli-Palestinian summit was hosted by Egyptian President Husni Mubarak and attended by King AbdAllah of Jordan.
In Iraq, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded television station Al-Hurra was shot dead in Basra. Abdel Hussein Khazal and his 8-year-old son Karar were killed as they left their home this morning.
Meanwhile the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto is reporting that their correspondent, Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped Friday, is still alive and being held by the Sunni resistance.
In other Iraq news, gunmen have reportedly kidnapped a senior Iraqi Interior Ministry official.
Since the election 9 days ago, 153 Iraqis and 15 U.S. soldiers have died in fighting. Hardest hit for the Iraqis have been security forces. At least 106 Iraqi soldiers, police officers and recruits have been killed.
In news from the Philippines, fighting between government forces and two Islamic groups have left 60 dead over the past three days.
Meanwhile Spain, a car bomb exploded earlier today near a convention center in Madrid. Police said 42 people were injured in the attack.
Italian police are investigating whether U.S. intelligence agents kidnapped an Egyptian dissident on the streets of Milan two years ago. This according to a report in the Sunday Times of London. In February 2003, eyewitnesses saw three men approach Osama Moustafa Nasr as he walked to a mosque. He disappeared that same day only to turn up later imprisoned in Egypt. He later said he was stopped in the street, forced into a car, taken to a military base and flown to Egypt. In Egypt Nasr was reportedly tortured so badly by secret police in Cairo that he lost hearing in one ear. The Sunday Times reports Nasr’s disappearance is likely the latest example of the US carrying out what it calls extraordinary rendition. The controversy practice allows the US to extradite suspects from one foreign state to another for interrogation and prosecution.
In related news, Congress member Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has announced she will introduce legislation that would ban torture by U.S. interrogators and bar transfers of detainees to countries that engaged in torture.
The New York Times is reporting that the government has quietly begun designing a new generation of nuclear weapons that are meant to be more reliable and last longer than older nuclear arms. Critics of the program say the move could result in a new nuclear arms race. Robert Norris, a senior nuclear expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said too little was known publicly about the initiative to adequately weigh its risks and benefits. Norris said “These are big decisions. They could backfire and come back to haunt us.”
Meanwhile, the Natural Resources Defense Council has issued a new report that claims the United States still keeps as many as 480 nuclear weapons at air bases across Europe. The figure is twice what independent military analysts had previously estimated. The nuclear bombs are reportedly kept at eight bases in Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands.
In Nevada, the military has entered the fifth day of a space war game exercise where war planners are trying to improve design of military space systems.
The Washington Post is reporting the White House is now admitting the cost of its Medicaid prescription drug plan will cost $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The sum is more than three times what Congress was told in 2003 when the program was narrowly approved.
In other news from Washington, the White House has announced President Bush’s senior adviser and top political strategist Karl Rove will be given more power within the administration. On Tuesday Rove was named deputy White House chief of staff. He will be in charge of coordinating policy between the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. For the first time Rove will have a formal role in shaping the country’s foreign policy. Outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence McAuliffe said “Bush knows that Rove is neither an economic nor a national security expert; he’s simply an ideological strategist who has a history of bending the truth and using dirty tricks to get his way.”
In other political news, a Republican operative named Allen Raymond has been sentenced to five months in prison. He plead guilty to jamming Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 election. They were the designated lines to allow Democrats to call in and get free rides to their polling precincts.
In business news, the British oil giant BP reported Tuesday that its annual profit jumped 26 percent to a record $16 billion. Shell, and ExxonMobil have also announced record profits for last year.
A federal grand jury has indicted the company W.R. Grace and seven of its executives for failing to warn the residents of Libby Montana about the dangers of a cancer-causing asbestos mine in their town. The executives are accused of trying to hide the danger from workers and townspeople. Studies have shown that nearly 200 died and more than 1200 became ill because of exposure to asbestos. The indictment was unsealed less than a week after President Bush described lawsuits by victims of asbestos against companies such as WR Grace as “frivolous.”
Newsday reports the government’s case against attorney Lynne Stewart could end in a mistrial. On Tuesday two jurors sent the judge separate notes asking to speak with him. After the meeting took place, Stewart’s co-defendant Ahmed Sattar was seen smiling broadly. Newsday reports the notes appear to indicate there was some disagreement that could lead to a mistrial if jurors declared themselves hopelessly deadlocked.
In Los Angeles, a 13-year-old African-American boy has died after being shot 10 times by police. The unarmed eighth-grader was shot dead while driving a stolen car. Police initially claimed Devon Brown was a gang member but it later emerged that he attended a magnet school for gifted children. Following the shooting, the Los Angeles mayor called on the police department to quickly adopt a new policy on shooting at moving vehicles. The shooting has increased tension between the city’s African-American community and the police. Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade said, “They have killed women, they have killed black men wholesale and now they are killing our children.”
And in related news in New York — jury selection is expected to begin today in the trial of a New York Police Officer Bryan Conroy. In May 2003 Conroy shot dead Ousmane Zongo, an unarmed African immigrant. Conroy is being charged with second-degree manslaughter.