Iran has broken several UN seals at a uranium processing plant, sparking a harsh response from the United States and spurring several European nations to begin rallying international pressure for a resolution urging Tehran to go back to the voluntary freeze it broke earlier this week. The International Atomic Energy Agency put on the seals after Tehran agreed with the European Union’s biggest powers to halt all nuclear fuel work last November. A draft resolution submitted to the IAEA says Iran must resume a full suspension, but does not say Iran should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamid Reza Asefi said the European demands that Iran cease all work at Isfahan were “illogical and arrogant.” He said “The resumption of activities at Isfahan nuclear plant is a step to protect the nation’s right. Pressures and threats can not make us put our people’s right on auction.”
The Pentagon has refused to punish any senior military officers for the prison abuse at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, but the army has taken the rare action of relieving a four-star general of his command. But not for any role in torture of prisoners. Gen. Kevin Byrnes stands accused of having an extramarital affair with a civilian. The General led the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia and he was reportedly set to retire in November after 36 years of service. Army officials say they could find no case of another four-star general being relieved of duty in modern times.
The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said this week that the Pentagon may consider sending troops on third tours for active-duty as part of the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. That is generally not the norm in the military, though some have accused the Pentagon of deploying soldiers for 3 tours already.
Pakistan says it has fired its first cruise missile, describing the launch as a “milestone” in its history. The missile is reportedly capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads and has a range of 300 miles. The country’s information Minister said the launch was a birthday gift to President Pervez Musharraf. The launch comes days after Pakistan and India agreed to give each other advance notice of future nuclear ballistic missile tests. Even still, India was not informed about Thursday’s test.
For many, the upcoming September 11th anniversary will be a time for somber reflection. Apparently not for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. This week, he announced the Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Rumsfeld is calling the event the “America Supports You Freedom Walk.” The march will start at the Pentagon and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black. Black is the man behind the song “I Raq and Roll,” a song that conflates Saddam Hussein with “the devil” who attacked the United States on 9/11. One verse of the song goes, “We can’t ignore the devil, he’ll keep coming back for more … If they won’t show us their weapons, we might have to show them ours. It might be a smart bomb — they find stupid people, too. And if you stand with the likes of Saddam, one just might find you.” The announcement of this 9/11 celebration and concert outraged victim’s family groups and veterans organizations.
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan is continuing her vigil outside the ranch where President Bush is once again vacationing. And her campaign is gaining momentum and support. Sheehan, of course, grabbed headlines in recent days since she began camping near President Bush’s ranch. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As more military families arrived from several states to join Sheehan, 38 members of Congress signed a letter asking Bush to meet with her. On Saturday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin met with Sheehan briefly, but she called the exchange “pointless” and has said she will stay in Crawford until the president meets with her.
Federal prosecutors investigating corruption at an Illinois state pension fund have subpoenaed records concerning more than $4 million in fees that the Carlyle Group is paying to the new treasurer of the Republican National Committee. The subpoena calls for documents related to the group and Robert Kjellander, whom was named Treasurer of the RNC over the weekend. He headed President Bush’s re-election campaign in three states. Carlyle allegedly paid him more than $3 million to land contracts for the group with the pension fund—that is as much as corporations like Merrill Lynch or Goldman Sachs would be paid for such services. The subpoena was part of an ongoing federal investigation of corruption involving the fund. A former fund trustee and two Chicago attorneys already are under indictment. One of the two lawyers is a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s wife and younger son were arrested Wednesday and charged as accomplices in a tax evasion case linked to an investigation into the former dictator’s multimillion dollar fortune overseas. The case is one of several against Pinochet. Most recently, he was charged in the 1975 killing of dissidents in a case known as Operation Colombo.
And finally, today marks the 40th anniversary of the Watts uprising in Los Angeles. A white California Highway Patrol officer named Lee Minikus pulled over 21(twenty-one) year-old Marquette Frye, who was black, on suspicion of drunk driving. Frye had been driving in the car with his brother and additional officers were soon called to the scene. Rena Frye, the mother of the two boys showed up as well and eventually all three members of the Frye family were arrested. As the officers questioned them, the police hit the brothers with their baton. The crowd grew increasingly angry and a confrontation began that led to six days of rioting leaving 34 people dead, 1000 wounded and 4000 people arrested. The Watts uprising sheparded in a new more militant era of the civil rights movement as African-Americans took to the streets in a mass protest against white economic exploitation and police brutality. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed in Oakland, California less then a year after the rebellion. Yesterday, a report was presented to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police chief William Brattion by the Los Angeles Urban League and the United Way titled “The State of Black Los Angeles.” The report found that, 40 years after Watts, African-Americans continue to face many of the same conditions they faced in LA forty years ago. They point to the fact that in L.A, African Americans still have the lowest household income in the city, are far more likely to go prison and are searched by the Los Angeles Police Department at four times the rate of whites.