In Nagasaki, Japan thousands gathered today to mark the 60th anniversary of when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city. At least 80,000 died in the bombing which came 69 hours after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Today, a bronze bell rang out over city marking the precise moment 60 years ago when the atomic attack occurred. Nagasaki’s Mayor Ichho Itoh called for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon is preparing to send more troops to Iraq ahead of a scheduled vote in October on the new constitution and elections in December. The U.S. currently has 138,000 troops in Iraq. The total jumped to 160,000 ahead of the elections earlier this year. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita said, “It’s perfectly plausible to assume we’ll do the same thing for this election.”
U.S. backed-Iraqi police offices opened fire on a crowd of Iraqis demonstrating in the town of Samawah. More than 1,000 people had taken to the streets to demand electricity, jobs and water. This marks the third summer that the residents of Iraq has suffered without regular electricity or water. Demonstrators threw stones at the governor’s office and members of a Shiite militia were seen moving around the streets carrying grenade launchers. According to the Times of London, more than 50 people were wounded including 18 police officers. One demonstrator died.
The former chief of the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq–Benon Sevan — has been accused by an independent panel of taking nearly $150,000 in kickbacks. Sevan resigned on Sunday but said the charges were false. Meanwhile another UN official is already facing criminal charges. The official, Alexander Yakovlev, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering charges. He could face up to 20 years in jail on each of the charges. Yakovlev has been accused of taking nearly $1 million in bribes from contractors. The oil-for-food program was set up to allow Iraq sell some of its oil under UN supervision so that revenues could be chanelled to buy food and medical aid.
The members of the disbanded Sept. 11th commission are accusing the White House of failing to turn over information requested by the group. Even though the commission has officially disbanded, its members have continued to meet in order to determine whether the government is doing enough to prevent future attacks on the country.
In related news, the New York Times is running a front-page article today claiming that a secret military intelligence unit had identified Mohammed Atta and three other future hijackers as members of Al Qaeda more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks. The article is based entirely on information provided by Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, and a former unidentified intelligence official who was interviewed by the paper in Weldon’s office. The Sept. 11 commission looked into this allegation and found no supporting evidence.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is holding an emergency meeting today one day after Iran resumed conducting work at one of its nuclear facilities. On Monday Iran announced that it has resumed converting uranium. Iran insists the nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes, but the Bush administration has warned that Iran is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. Both the U.S. and European Union condemned Iran’s decision.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced he is breaking all ties with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Chavez accused the U.S. of using DEA agents to spy on his country. The U.S. State Department may now impose sanctions on Venezuela for refusing to cooperate with the DEA.
The Federal Communications Commission has hired an anti-pornography activist and lobbyist to work as an advisor of indecency issues. The hiring of Penny Nance is expected to expand the FCC’s campaign to fight what it views as indecent broadcasts. Penny Nance founded the Kids First Coalition and until recently served as a board member of Concerned Women For America. That group describes its mission as helping QUOTE “to bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”
The Bush administration has filed a legal brief in a major abortion case that will be argued before the Supreme Court this fall. In the filing, the Justice Department said New Hampshire’s parental notification law for minors seeking abortion does not violate the Constitution. Earlier this year a federal appeals court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it didn’t provide an exception to protect the minor’s health in the event of a medical emergency.
In Los Angeles the family of a 19th-month toddler who was shot dead by the LAPD are seeking a federal probe into her death. The girl -Suzie Marie Pena–died when she was hit by police bullets during a police shootout with her father.
In South Africa, over 100,000 gold miners are staging the country’s first industry-wide strike in 18 years. The gold miners’ union is demanding a 12 percent pay rise and improved living conditions. South Africa produces about 15 percent of the world’s gold output.
And magazine publisher John H. Johnson has died at the age of 87. In 1942, he borrowed $500 to launch what would become the most successful African-American publishing empires. He would go on to start Ebony and Jet magazines. In 1982 he became the first African-American to make Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Johnson was educated in a segregated school in Arkansas. The town had no high school for African-American students so Johnson repeated eighth grade instead of dropping out of school.