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President Bush has bypassed the Senate and appointed John Bolton to be his ambassador to the United Nations. With the recess appointment, Bolton will serve at the United Nations until January 2007. For five months, Senate Democrats have blocked Bolton’s appointment. He was accused of abusing his power at the State Department and manipulating intelligence data to support his views. Last week it was revealed that Bolton had inaccurately told Congress he had not been interviewed or testified in any investigation over the past five years. In fact, Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general as part of a joint investigation with the Central Intelligence Agency related to alleged Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger. Bolton has also been a fierce critic of the United Nations. On Monday President Bush praised Bolton. "I chose John because of his vast experience in foreign policy, his integrity and his willingness to confront difficult problems head on," said Bush. Democrats widely criticized Bush for giving Bolton a recess appointment. Senator Edward Kennedy said: "It’s a devious manoeuvre that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate and only further darkens the cloud over Mr Bolton’s credibility at the UN." In June, one of Bolton’s Republican supporters — Sen. Pat Roberts said a recess appointment "would weaken not only Mr. Bolton but also the United States."
The Washington Post is reporting that a major U.S. intelligence review on Iran has projected that the country is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon. This new National Intelligence Estimate contrast with public statements by the White House that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal. Last year John Bolton said "If we permit Iran’s deception to go on much longer, it will be too late. Iran will have nuclear weapons." At the time Bolton was working in the State Department. The classified intelligence estimate report represents the consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies. It marks the first major review of what is known and what is unknown about Iran since 2001.
In Saudi Arabia, the late King Fahd is being buried today during a small ceremony in Riyadh. He died on Monday at the age of 84. His half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, will be sworn in as the new Saudi king on Wednesday. Meanwhile oil prices hit record highs on Monday following the announcement of King Fahd’s death. Prices topped sixty two dollars a barrel.
In Sudan up to 42 people have now died following sectarian fighting following the death of the country’s Vice President John Garang. Garang died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. The former rebel leader played a key role in ending the two-decade old Sudanese civil war that led to the signing of a peace deal in January. Garang became Vice President less than a month ago.
In Iraq, the Associated Press is reporting that U.S. and coalition forces were attacked on average 68 times a day during the month of July. This marks a near 50 percent increase over the number of attacks that took place last July. Meanwhile the number of Iraqis killed since the new Iraqi government took power in April has now topped twenty one hundred.
Meanwhile British foreign secretary Jack Straw has admitted that the presence of British and US troops in Iraq is fuelling the uprising there. Straw told the Financial Times QUOTE "although we are part of the security solution there, we are also part of the problem."
The investigation over last month’s bombings in London continue. An attorney for one of the men arrested for taking part in the failed July 21st bombing has said her client has justified the failed bombing as a "peaceful protest over the Iraq War." Hussain Osman’s attorney Antonietta Sonnessa said "He has justified his actions as a form of protest against the fact that civilians are suffering in wars at the present time... He is not at all a violent person and made sure he would not cause any damage, injuries or deaths." Unlike the bombings on July 7th which killed over 50 people, the July 21st bombs failed to detonate and injured no one. The attorney also denied that her client had connections to any terrorist organization. Britain is now trying extradite Osman to face charges.
A new study out of MIT has determined that the destructive power of hurricanes in the North Atlantic and North Pacific has nearly doubled over the past 30 years, at least in part because of human-induced global warming. The scientist — Kerry Emanuel — says there is a "clear correlation" between increasing strength and length of storms and a temperature increase on the surface of the sea. His findings appear in the journal Nature. Some of the nation’s leading hurricane forecasters, including William Gray of Colorado State University, have criticized the findings. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Gray said that hurricanes are not intensifying and that the cause of the rising ocean temperature is natural, not man-made.
In India, the death toll from heavy monsoon rains around Mumbai (Bombay) has left about 1,000 people dead. The Indian government is estimating that the lives of more than 20 million people have been disrupted by the heavy monsoon rains. The city center is under water and much of the city has been completely paralyzed. Repairing damage to the city could top $10 billion.
Here in this country, the federal government has begun employing the services of immigration and customs officers to target individuals described by the government as suspected gang members. So far this year more than 1,000 foreign citizens have been arrested as part of a campaign dubbed Operation Community Shield. The majority of the arrests have taken place over the past two weeks. As part of its strategy the government is moving to deport most of those arrested instead of going to criminal courts where the government would have to prove the suspects committed a crime. On Monday Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said 900 of those arrested are eligible for deportation.
Meanwhile Newsday is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that border officials illegally interrogated a group of Muslim Americans that were returning from a religious conference in Toronto. The Muslims filed suit earlier this year in federal court in Brooklyn to challenge the government’s practices after they were detained, interrogated, fingerprinted and photographed.
New York’s Republican Governor George Pataki has announced that he will veto a bill that would allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill known as Plan B. The move has been welcomed by opponents of abortion. This comes as speculation has been growing that Pataki is positioning himself for a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Last week he announced he would not seek his fourth term as governor.
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