In Iraq, at least 26 people have died in a massive car bombing in Baghdad–almost all of the victims were children. The bomb went off next to a U.S. army vehicle. At the time U.S. troops were reportedly giving out sweets to Iraqi children. One witness said: “Children gathered around the Americans who were handing out sweets. Suddenly a suicide car bomber drove round from a side street and blew himself up.” The bombing marked the deadliest attack on Iraqi children since September when a triple car bombing killed 37 children. That bombing also occurred while the children were gathering to take candy from soldiers.
A new study from an Iraqi humanitarian organization is estimating that 128,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invaded in March 2003. The group — Iraqiyun — estimates that 55 percent of those killed have been women and children aged twelve and under. Meanwhile the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies has also attempted to estimate the number of Iraqis killed. The organization recently estimated that 39,000 Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of combat or armed violence since the war began.
Police officials in Britain now believe that four British-born men carried out last week’s deadly bombings that left at least 52 people dead. Three of the men lived in the city of Leeds and at least three are believed to have died in the attacks. None of them are believed to have had any criminal convictions or known connections to terrorist organizations. Police said all four men are of Pakistani descent. Closed circuit television film from the day of the bombings captured the four young men together that morning all wearing identical large backpacks similar to those carried by infantry soldiers. Police first learned of the four men when the family of one of them reported their 22-year-old son, Hasib Hussain, was missing. Police said it was Hasib who blew up the double-decker bus. On Monday investigators searched five homes in Leeds and discovered an abandoned car that may have been used by the attackers. One man was arrested in West Yorkshire. The BBC reports that detectives believe that at least three of the men died carrying out the attacks.
A neighbor of one of the other suspected bombers — Shehzad Tanweer —expressed shock that he could have been involved in the attacks. The neighbor said “”I’ve known him all my life. I know he was a good kid, from a good family. Just a nice kid starting in a little age to the current day. He was a nice kid. He liked to go out, he liked to play football, he liked to play cricket. That’s what he liked to do, play sports.”
On Capitol Hill, the White House refused for a second day to answer questions about Karl Rove’s involvement in the outing of an undercover CIA operative. Several of the top leaders of the Democratic Party–including Senator John Kerry and Hillary Clinton — called on President Bush to fire Rove who is his top advisor. The Republican National Committee has come to Rove’s defense. The party issued talking points to Republican operatives that described the scandal as a “blatant partisan political attack on Rove.” The talking points defended Rove’s actions by claiming he was “attempting to advise a reporter about potential inaccuracies in a story that he was writing.” On Sunday Newsweek revealed that Rove personally spoke with a reporter from Time Magazine about the undercover operative — Valerie Plame — although he did not state her name. Plame was outed as an undercover CIA operative just days after Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly revealed that the Bush administration had lied when it claimed that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger. We’ll have more on this in a few minutes.
In other news from Washington, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee James Sensenbrenner has introduced a bill to make the USA Patriot Act permanent. 16 provisions of the Act are set to expire this year. The Washington Post reports that Sensenbrenner’s proposed legislation does not go as far as legislation approved recently by the Senate intelligence committee. In June the committee voted to make it easier for the FBI to open mail and issue subpoenas without a judge’s approval in terrorism investigations.
In Israel, four women have died in a suicide bombing near a shopping mall in the coastal town of Netanya. The dead included two 16-year-old girls from Tel Aviv. 30 people remain hospitalized. The bomber was identified as an 18-year-old member of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. Earlier this morning Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Tul Karm killing at least two people. Israel has put the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip under total closure for an indefinite period of time. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Israel’s Defense Minister ordered a suspension of talks between Israeli and Palestinian defense officials. Israel is also expected to postpone the planned transfer of Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority which was set to take place later this week.
This news from Pakistan–the country has suffered its worst train accident in more than a decade. Three passenger trains collided on Tuesday killing about 150 people and injuring over one thousand.
In Amsterdam, a 27-year-old man has confessed to the killing of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was murdered last November. His latest film Submission had dealt with violence against women in Islamic society. After Mohammed Bouyeri confessed to the killing, he claimed that he acted out of his religious beliefs. He said “I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same.”
In San Diego, two activists have been jailed for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. The activists — David Agranoff and Danae Kelley–were jailed on Tuesday. The grand jury is investigating a fire set at an apartment complex two years ago. The government claims individuals connected to the Earth Liberation Front set the blaze. But activists in San Diego have accused the government of using the fire to suppress political activism in the city. A spokesman from the group San Diego Activist Defense Group said, “The fire was an excuse for the FBI to do intelligence work on activist groups.”
And musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp announced Tuesday that Farm Aid will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a benefit concert in September in Illinois. The concert aims to raise money and support for family farms.
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