The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is warning that as many as 30 nations could soon develop nuclear weapons. Mohamed ElBaradei said more countries than ever are starting uranium enrichment programs or have the technology to do so.
Last week North Korea became the ninth nuclear nation. It joined the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Pakistan, India and Israel. Israel has never acknowledged its nuclear program but it is widely believed to have about 200 with nine weapons state only but another 20 or 30 who will have nuclear weapons.
Relief organizations are warning millions of North Koreans could face famine and starvation this winter if the international community decides to cut off food aid. Michael Huggins of the United Nations World Food Program said the agency urgently needs more funding.
Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart has been sentenced to 28 months in prison. Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to give her a 30-year sentence but federal judge, John Koeltl, said he did not believe Stewart represented the threat the government described. Koeltl said there was no evidence that any victim was in fact harmed by her actions. 20 months ago a jury found her guilty of conspiring to aid terrorists and lying to the government. Stewart was released on bail, pending an appeal. We’ll have more on the case in a few minutes.
In Sri Lanka, at least 103 people died Monday after a suicide truck bomb exploded alongside buses packed with soldiers. It was the deadliest suicide bombing in the country’s history. Over 150 people were also wounded. UN secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the attack and called on the government and the Tamil Tigers to return to the negotiation table. More than 2,300 people have been violently killed in Sri Lanka since December.
In Nicaragua, over 1,000 U.S. citizens have written an open letter to the U.S. embassy there to urge the Bush administration not to meddle in the upcoming presidential elections. The ad appeared in two of the country’s largest newspapers last week. It was addressed to US Ambassador Paul Trivelli. The letter said “The United States cannot claim to support free and fair elections while it attempts to control and manipulate the voting in Nicaragua.” The Bush administration has openly warned voters in Nicaragua not to elect Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. Last month U.S. Congressman Dan Burton visited Nicaragua and said that U.S. aid to the country would be cut off if Ortega was elected. Burton said “It is important that the people know what could happen if the FSLN wins the elections.”
In news from the United Nations — Voting in the race for Latin America’s open seat on the Security Council will go into a second day after delegates failed to end a deadlock between frontrunners Venezuela and Guatemala. Neither country obtained the 125 votes needed to win, but after ten rounds of voting, Guatemala established a wide lead. The balloting resumes Tuesday and could last until one country prevails or the Latin American group decides to bring forth a compromise candidate. Guatemala’s bid for the open seat is heavily backed by the United States.
Here in this country, FBI agents have raided the home of Republican congressman Curt Weldon’s daughter. The FBI is investigating whether the Pennsylvania lawmaker illegally used his influence to help his daughter win lucrative foreign contracts.
In other news from Washington, President Bush’s former head of the food and Drug Administration — Lester Crawford — has been charged with lying about his ownership of stock in several companies regulated by the agency.
British Muslims are condemning reports that the government may soon ask college professors to begin spying on students they suspect of involvement in Islamic extremism. The Guardian reported British teachers may be asked to report suspicious “Asian-looking” or Muslim students to a special branch of the government.
Gemma Tumelty, the president of the National Union of Students, also condemned the spy program:
In other education news, the Israeli human rights organization Gisha has filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn a new policy that bars Palestinians from enrolling at universities in Israel. The petition was filed on behalf of Sawsan Salameh. The 29-year-old Palestinian woman was accepted as a PHD student in chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem but she is barred from attending classes.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office has begun formulating an indictment against Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Israeli police said they have uncovered enough evidence to charge the president with rape, sexual harassment, fraud and wiretapping. Katsav’s attorney said today that the president would resign when and if he were charged with a crime. Knesset member Limor Livnat criticized Katsav for staying in power this long.
Israeli News analyst Zeev Segal said the country has never faced such a situation.
In news from Guantanamo, the Marines Corps has put a gag order on a top Marine lawyer and a paralegal after they disclosed new allegations about widespread abuse at the prison. Last week the paralegal — who serves in the Marines — filed a sworn statement saying that guards at the prison bragged to her about beating detainees. One guard reportedly admitted taking a prisoner by the head and hitting the prisoner’s head into the cell door. Other guards talked about hitting prisoners, punching them in the face and denying them water.
The play My Name is Rachel Corrie has finally opened up in New York at the Minetta Lane Theater. In February, the New York Theater Workshop canceled the play in a move that was widely criticized. Corrie was killed in Gaza nearly three years ago when she stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer set to demolish a Palestinian home. The play is based on Corrie’s writings before her death. Last night her father Craig Corrie spoke in New York.
In other news from New York, the brutal killing of Michael Sandy was condemned yesterday at a rally at city hall. Sandy, who was a black gay man, died on Friday after he was beaten to death by four white men. He met one of the men on a gay Internet chat room. Speakers at yesterday’s rally included Leticia James, member of the New York City Council.
And the country’s population has topped 300,000,000 for the first time. Census officials believe the milestone was be reached at 7:46 this morning. According to census bureau, a person is born every seven seconds in this country. A person dies every 13 seconds. And an immigrant arrives in this country every 31 seconds. Based on these figures, the country’s population increases ever 11 seconds. More than half the population lives within 50 miles of the coasts. Meanwhile North Dakota is losing population.