General Motors has announced plans to eliminate 25,000 jobs at its U.S. plants over the next four years. An unspecified number of plants will also be shut down. Wall Street investors responded favorably to the news — the price of stock in the company immediately rose.
For the first time since the Cold War, global military spending exceeded one trillion dollars last year. The United States spent by far the most — accounting for almost half of the world’s military expenditures. This according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Meanwhile a new poll shows that for the first time, a majority of Americans no longer feel the Iraq war has made the United States a safer place to live. The Washington Post-ABC News poll also found that seventy-five percent of the country feels the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq to be unacceptable. Nearly 1700 US soldiers have been killed since the war began. The deaths of three U.S. soldiers in Tal Afar was announced on Tuesday.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence met in secret Tuesday and approved expanding the Patriot Act to make it easier for the government to secretly gather records on individuals without a court order or grand jury subpoena. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the bill would give the government unilateral power to let agents seize personal records from medical facilities, libraries, hotels, gun dealers, banks and any other businesses without any specific facts connecting those records to any criminal activity or a foreign agent.
Meanwhile Former President Jimmy Carter has become the latest official to call for the Bush administration to shut down the Guntanamo Bay military prison as well as all other secret prisons around the world.
The United Nations is now estimating three million children will die because of famine in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of the failure of the global community to meet its promises on aid. Meanwhile President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced on Tuesday a proposal that could write off the debts of thirty-two nations in Africa. But Bush refused to meet even Blair’s request to double aid to African nations.
In Bolivia mass indigenous-led protests calling for the nationalization of the government continue. Late last night departing President Carlos Mesa called for immediate general elections to pick his replacement. He warned “The country is on the verge of a civil war.” Mesa added “By holding elections, we will avoid loss of human life. We will avoid violence that affects us all.” Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of La Paz. For the first time since the mass protests began, soldiers armed with rifles were patrolling the streets.
In Madrid, a Spanish judge has announced he wants to question three American soldiers connected to the killing of Spanish journalist Jose Couso in Iraq. On April 8th, 2003 a U.S. tank opened fire on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad killing Couso and fellow cameraman Taras Protsiuk. A Pentagon report on the incident concluded the U.S.-led forces bore “no fault or negligence.” No charges have been brought yet against the soldiers in Spain but they are being considered as suspects for murder and for crimes against the international community.
The New York Times is reporting that a White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming. The official — Philip Cooney — is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute.
In a surprise move the Justice Department has drastically decreased the amount it is asking tobacco companies to pay for anti-smoking programs as part of a deal to settle the largest civil racketeering and conspiracy case in U.S. history. The Washington Post reports the government was expected to seek $130 billion but instead it is asking for just ten billion dollars. William Corr, director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. said “It feels like a political decision to take into consideration the tobacco companies’ financial interest rather than health interests of forty-five million addicted smokers.”
And in Ethiopia, police have shot dead at least eleven people during student-led protests over last month’s elections. Hundreds of protesters have also been arrested in recent days. The government imposed a thirty-day ban on protests following last month’s election.