The White House is delaying the release of some 50,000 documents related to Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. This according to a report in the Washington Post. Most of the papers deal with legal work done by Roberts for the Reagan administration in the 1980s. The White House has sent a team of lawyers to the Reagan library to review all unreleased documents. Questions about Roberts have intensified after other documents revealed that Roberts consistently took a very conservative view of the law while he worked for the Reagan and Bush administrations in 1980s. He argued against affirmative-action quotas and other civil rights remedies and he expressed deep skepticism about what he called the “so-called right to privacy” that underpins the constitutional right to abortion.
Meanwhile a conservative organization based in Virginia called Public Advocate has announced it is withdrawing its support for Roberts to be a Supreme Court justice. The group is upset that Roberts once helped overturn a Colorado referendum on that would have allowed discrimination against gays.
And the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America has begun airing television ads that accuses Roberts of siding with violent extremists and a convicted clinic bomber while serving in the solicitor general’s office. The ad focuses on Roberts’s role in a case involving whether a 19th-century anti-Ku Klux Klan statute could be used to shut down blockades of health clinics by abortion protesters. The solicitor general’s office–where Roberts worked — filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with the clinic protesters, including Operation Rescue. Backers of Roberts have accused NARAL of distorting the nominee’s record.
In Florida, a federal court has overturned the convictions of the Cuba 5. The Cuban nationals were arrested in 1998 after they shared information with the U.S. government on how anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Florida were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Cuba. The men were accused of being spies and a threat to the national security of the United States. For years activists around the world have organized calling for their freedom. On Tuesday the federal court ruled that the men did not get a fair trial in Miami, a stronghold of Cuban exiles opposed to the Cuban government. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is now calling on the U.S. government to release the men and drop all charges. We’ll have more on this story in a few minutes.
In Iraq, a suicide car bombing struck a U.S. convoy in Baghdad on Tuesday killing seven including one U.S. soldier. 90 people were injured. Another suicide attack in Baghdad killed six and wounded 14. Four U.S. soldiers were also killed in the northern city of Beiji.
In Iraq, the mayor of Baghdad has been ousted after 120 Shiite gunmen reportedly stormed his office and installed a new mayor. The outgoing mayor warned that the move was dangerous and undemocratic.
Meanwhile a new poll by USA Today in this country has found that 57 percent of respondents believes the war in Iraq has made the United States more vulnerable to another terrorist attack. Only 34 percent said the war had made the country safer.
In Texas, more military families are heading to Crawford to join Cindy Sheehan in an ongoing vigil in Crawford where President Bush is vacationing. Sheehan has threatened to stay in Crawford until the president agrees to meet with her. Sheehan’s son Casey died last year in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Military families from Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia and Arkansas are expected to join Sheehan at the vigil site. “He doesn’t have any children in harm’s way. You know, if there are more soldiers and marines killed today, it’s not going to worry him if one of them is his daughter,” said Sheehan. “I mean, he’s insulated. He’s safe. Nobody in this administration has to worry about their children. And if I have to stay out here all month in this heat, it’s nothing compared to what our soldiers are going through or what the people of Iraq are going through.”
The Bush administration is in the process of quietly eliminating most State Department arms control offices by phasing out senior positions and merging personnel and functions with nonproliferation and other units. This according to a report by the Global Security Newswire. The move appears to reflect a shift by the administration away from decades of promoting international arms control agreements.
The Israeli government is preparing for next week’s planned evacuation of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. Earlier today the Israeli army announced that Gaza will become a closed military zone for Jewish settlers and Israelis beginning on Sunday. Israel is threatening settlers that if they do not voluntarily leave, their homes will be demolished and they will lose everything inside. Meanwhile the Israeli military is cracking down on soldiders who are refusing to take part in the evacuation.
At least 50 enlisted soldiers and several dozen reservists have already refused orders. The Israeli army is warning that these dissident soldiers could create militias within the IDF. The Army is also currently searching for at least nine AWOL soldiers who still have their IDF-issued guns. Last week one AWOL soldier wearing an IDF uniform shot dead Israeli Arabs in the town of Shfaram. Also in Israel, a group of prominent rabbis have called on soldiers to refuse orders related to the evacuation of Gaza
Five people have died in California and Arizona over the past week after being shot by police with Taser stun guns. This brings the total number of people killed in the United States by stun guns to at least 147. In one case Arizona police shot a man outside a convenient car because he refused to get out of a car that was not his. After police tried to remove him from the car, they shot him in the arm and leg with a Taser. After he was taken to the hospital, he had a seizure and died.
In media news, the Federal Communications Commission has launched an investigation into an emerging payola scandal where record companies paid off radio stations to play their recordings. Last month a probe by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer resulted in a $10 million settlement paid by Sony BMG.
The NCAA has announced it will begin to prohibit college sports teams from using any nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically hostile or abusive. The ban will only go into effect during post-season play. Notifications are being sent out to 18 teams that use Native American mascots, nicknames or logos. Several schools have threatened to sue the NCAA over the decision including Florida State, the home of the Seminoles. Florida Governor Jeb Bush said QUOTE “How politically correct can we get? The folks that make these decisions need to get out more often.”
And finally the Indonesian government is expected to sign a peace agreement on Monday with the Aceh rebels known as the GAM. The Indonesian military has killed thousands in Aceh province over the past decade.