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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free daily news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or our in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. You need news that isn't being paid for by campaigns or corporations. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How? This model of news depends on your support. Right now, every new monthly sustaining donation to Democracy Now! will be tripled by a generous supporter. That means if you can give just $4 a month, Democracy Now! gets $12 today. Pretty amazing right? If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, start your monthly contribution today. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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The battle over Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is heating up. On Tuesday, the White House released 15,000 pages of documents stemming from Roberts service as an attorney for the Reagan administration. But the administration is refusing to hand over documents related to his work as deputy solicitor general under the first President Bush.
According to the Washington Post, the newly released documents show that Roberts was a significant backstage player in the legal policy debates of the early Reagan administration.
According to the Washington Post, in the rare instances revealed in the documents in which Roberts disagreed with his superiors on the proper legal course to take on major social issues of the day, he advocated a more conservative tack.
T he Washington Post reports the Bush administration will not give Senate investigators access to recent federal tax returns of Roberts. Instead the IRS will produce a one-page summary of Roberts’ tax returns. Historically nominees to the high court were required to provide their three most recent annual tax forms, but the Bush administration quietly changed that policy in 2001. The Washington Post reports that some senior Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are only learning now that the policy had ever been changed.
In Britain, police have arrested a man in the city of Birmingham who they believe may have been involved in last week’s failed bombings. Police detained him after shooting him with a stun gun. Three other arrests were made today in the city as part of the investigation.
The Guardian of London is reporting that hundreds of thousands of Muslims have considered leaving Britain following the July 7th bombings. The British newspaper conducted a poll that found one in five Muslims living in Britain say they or a family member has faced abuse or hostility over the past three weeks. Nearly 80 percent of Muslims in Britain believe the country’s participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq lead to the bombings. Overall about two-thirds of the British population holds that view.
In Iraq, it appears legislators are drafting a new constitution that calls for Islam to be the main source of Iraqi law and the official religion of the state. A draft of the constitution was published earlier this week in an Iraqi newspaper. The draft reads “Islam is the official religion of the state and is the main source of legislation.” The draft would make it illegal for the Iraqi government to pass any legislation that contravenes the law of Islam. In addition, the draft constitution would permanently grant the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani and future top Shiite religious authorities official authority to help guide the government. According to Middle East analyst Juan Cole, Shiite judges could use this section to allow the Grand Ayatollah to over-rule secular legislation. Cole said the constitution as drafted will move Iraq closer to being a fundamentalist state. Women’s groups in Iraq also fear they might lose rights that they have held for decades in Iraq under the secular governments of Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi rulers. The Los Angeles Times reports that the draft constitution jettisons nearly 50 years of progressive Iraqi legislation protecting women’s rights.
In other news from Iraq, a company of the California Army National Guard has been put on restricted duty following allegations that battalion members mistreated detainees in Iraq and extorted shopkeepers. This according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Among the allegations is that at least six soldiers from the battalion took part in a scheme to extort over $30,000 from Iraqi shopkeepers, apparently in exchange for protection. Up to 17 soldiers are also under investigation for mistreating Iraqi detainees. A videotape reportedly exists that shows soldiers abusing a handcuffed and blindfolded detainee with a stun gun. In addition, a first sergeant has been relieved of duty after being accused of shooting a water heater during an interrogation, then turning to an Iraqi detainee and saying: “You’re next.” The sergeant then reportedly held his pistol to the man’s head, moved it a few inches to the side and fired.
Talks between the U.S. and North Korea have entered a second day. North Korea has reportedly offered to dismantle its nuclear weapons if the United State normalizes relations and pledges not to topple the regime. Meanwhile South Korea has offered to provide the North with 500,000 tons of rice and some 2,000 megawatts of electricity if it abandons its nuclear ambitions.
In news from Capitol Hill, the House is expected to vote as early as today on CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement. A very close vote is expected. This morning President Bush is holding a closed meeting with House Republicans ahead of the vote. Many Republicans have opposed the trade pact.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has apologized to a group of British tourists who were targeted over the weekend as possible terror suspects. On Saturday, New York police stormed a sightseeing bus and detained five tourists visiting from the British city of Birmingham. The tourists were all Sikh. They were handcuffed and forced to kneel on the street. Police evacuated the entire bus and then searched the belongings of the passengers. The police came to the bus after an employee from the tour bus company — Gray Line–alerted them about the Sikh tourists acting suspicious. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “I certainly apologize on behalf of the city of New York any time we ever detain anybody unnecessarily.”
Also in New York–five Sikh workers who work for the transit system have announced they are planning to sue the MTA because the agency is requiring all Sikh workers to now place an MTA patch on their turbans. The workers say the request would be equivalent to asking a Christian to put the MTA logo on the cross.
Cycling champion Lance Armstrong–who just won his seventh Tour de France —has publicly criticized the war in Iraq because it has prevented the country from spending more on cancer research. He told Time Magazine, “’Funding [for cancer research] is tough to come by these days. The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day?” He went on to say ” The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again. Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public.”
And In Florida, Wal-Mart has ordered a local newspaper — Pensacola News Journal — to remove its racks from store property after a columnist at the paper criticized the store’s treatment of workers. The column pointed out that thousands of Wal-Mart employees are forced to be on Medicaid because their wages are so low.