On Capitol Hill, a surprise compromise was reached Monday night to avert a showdown over judicial nominees. The deal — agreed upon by a bipartisan group of 14 Senators — came less than 24 hours before the Republican leadership was expected to change the Senate rules in order to deny Democrats the ability to filibuster judicial nominees. Under the agreement, the Republican leadership will not implement a ban on judicial filibusters. Meanwhile Democrats will allow votes to proceed on at least three of President Bush’s nominees for federal judgeships. News analysts say the compromise represents more of a cease fire than a long term deal. The Los Angeles Times reports the agreement includes two big loopholes that could come back to haunt the Senate: Democrats reserved the right to filibuster future judicial nominations in “extraordinary circumstances.” Meanwhile Republicans kept the power to revisit the so-called nuclear option if they believe Democrats are filibustering in circumstances that do not reach that standard. The Democratic leadership has hailed the compromise as a victory. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke to reporters last night shortly after the agreement was reached.
Not all in the Democratic Party backed the compromise. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said “Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House.” Feingold went on to say “Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions.” Conservative leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family also criticized the deal. He said “We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.” Under the compromise three right-wing judicial nominees are now expected to be approved: Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor Jr.
In other judicial news, the Supreme Court announced Monday it will take up its first abortion case in five years. The case involves the legality of parental notification requirements for minors seeking abortions.
In Iraq the death toll from a string of attacks on Monday has risen to at least 54. Over 130 people were wounded. In the deadliest attack, two suicide car bombers drove into a crowd in the city of Tall Afar killing at least 35 people. Earlier in the day, eight people died in Baghdad following a car bombing outside a popular restaurant in a Shiite neighborhood. Also on Monday the Pentagon announced that five U.S. soldiers died over the weekend.
And the Associated Press is reporting that at least 20 Iraqis holding key government, political or religious posts have been assassinated since Iraq’s new government was announced four weeks ago.
Tension between the Bush administration and Syria is escalating. The New York Times reports Syria has broken off all ties with the U.S. military and CIA. This comes after the Bush administration accused Syria of not doing enough to stop foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq.
Human Rights Watch has called on the government of Uzbekistan to release one of the country’s most prominent human rights defenders. The man — Saidjahon Zainabitdinov — has been in custody since May 21. He was detained after he spoke out against the government’s killing of hundreds of protesters two weeks ago.
In Saudi Arabia, women rights activists have been dealt another setback. The kingdom’s consultative council has shelved a proposal to allow women to drive cars in the country. This according to a report in the Daily Star of Lebanon.
In Bolivia, thousands of protesters took to the streets Monday calling for the resignation of President Carlos Mesa and the nationalisation of the country’s oil and gas industry. The protest was organized by opposition leader Evo Morales.
In labor news, as many as 15,000 employees at the BBC staged a one-day strike Monday — it was the largest work action at the news organization in over a decade. The strike was called after the BBC announced plans to eliminate nearly 4,000 jobs. Several live news program including Newsnight were unable to run live programming due to the strike.
Meanwhile, in this country, 1,700 workers at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Los Angeles went on strike Monday in a dispute over wages and rising health insurance costs. A smaller strike also took place at a Coke bottling plant in Hartford Connecticut.
In Arizona, 12 people have died in recent days as they tried to cross the Mexican border into Arizona where temperatures are already reaching triple digits. According to the Border Patrol, 55 immigrants died in Arizona between September 2003 and 2004 because of the heat.
In Mississippi, a judge ruled Monday that the trial of a reputed Ku Klux Klansman accused of slaying three civil rights workers in 1964 will go ahead as planned on June 13. Edgar Ray Killen is charged with the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
In Texas a public high school has apologized for describing an African-American student as simply a “Black GIrl” instead of running her name in a photo in the school’s yearbook. The photo featured members of the school’s National Honor Society. Every student was identified by name except one female student who was the only African-American pictured. Instead of her name were the words “Black Girl”. The school claims the words were used as an inappropriate placeholder that was overlooked before publication.
Sister Carol Gilbert has been released from prison after serving a 33-month sentence in a federal prison. She was jailed along with two other Dominican sisters — Sister Ardeth Platte and Sister Jackie Hudson. They were arrested for destroying government property during a Plowshares action at the N-8 Minuteman silo in Colorado. Last night at a welcome home celebration at Jonah House in Baltimore she defended her actions. “We acted because we never want a child to ask, 'Why were you complicit?',” she said. “And absolutely, I will continue to ask myself what needs to have truth spoken to it, so that a child would never ask me that, and I hope that I can be faithful in following conscience wherever that might lead.”