North Korea has announced that it intends to carry out a nuclear weapons test in defiance of the United States. The North Korean government released a statement today saying the test would be done as a response to threats and sanctions from the Bush administration. North Korea has previously said it has nuclear weapons, but it has never carried out a test to prove its claim. Japan and other countries criticized North Korea for threatening to go ahead with the test.
On Capitol Hill, calls are increasing for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign over his handling of the Mark Foley scandal. Foley is the Republican Congressman from Florida who stepped down on Friday after it was revealed that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to underage boys that used to work as pages on Capitol Hill. The conservative newspaper the Washington Times called today for Hastert to resign his speakership. Hastert knew about some of the Internet messages for months but took no action. On Monday, ABC News reported it had obtained more messages written by Foley to underage boys. In one exchange, he made repeated efforts to get a teenager to meet him at night. Foley wrote “I would drive a few miles for a hot stud like you.” The White House is attempting to downplay the severity of Foley’s actions. White House press secretary Tony Snow said Foley’s offense was sending “simply naughty e-mails.”
The State Department has confirmed that Condoleezza Rice was personally briefed by then CIA Director George Tenet about the threat posed by al-Qaeda two months before the Sept. 11 attacks. The July 10, 2001 meeting is discussed in a new book by Bob Woodward. According to the book, Tenet went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and 'sounded the loudest warning' to the White House of a likely attack on the United States by Bin Laden. Tenet said that he felt Rice brushed off the warning. When Woodward’s account first emerged over the weekend, Rice initially suggested no such meeting had ever taken place.
The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed the first legal challenge to the new Military Commissions Act passed by Congress last week. The legal group has filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of 25 detainees held at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan. The petition demands that the men be released or be charged with a crime. Some of the detainees have been held for years without ever receiving a hearing. Under the new bill — prisoners have no right to challenge their detention. On Monday, Bill Goodman, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, warned about the dangers of the new law.
Bill Goodman spoke last night in New York at a rally sponsored by the group World Can’t Wait. On Thursday, World Can’t Wait is organizing emergency protests in over 170 towns and cities to condemn the government’s sanctioning of torture.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist visited Afghanistan on Monday and acknowledged that the United States might never win the war against the Taliban. He said there are now too many Taliban fighters and that they have too much popular support. Frist said backers of the Taliban should be brought into the Afghan government.
In Mexico, President Vicente Fox is warning that force could be used to crush a popular uprising in the state of Oaxaca. Fox made the comments on Monday as Mexico marked the anniversary of the 1968 student massacre in Mexico City.
Over the past few months in Oaxaca, tens of thousands of striking public school teachers and other protesters have launched a widespread campaign of civil disobedience. The protesters are calling for Oaxaca governor Ruiz Oritiz to resign. Protesters have blockaded streets and government buildings and have taken over the state-run television station.
In other news from Mexico, the country’s president-elect Felipe Calderon has urged President Bush to veto a bill authorizing the construction of a 700-mile fence along the US-Mexico border.
In Washington, the State Department maintains the wall is needed.
At the United Nations, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon is poised to be elected the next Secretary General. He will replace the outgoing Kofi Annan.
In Lebanon, the Beirut Bar Association is demanding that Israel be tried for violating international law during its offensive on Lebanon. On Monday the bar association met with investigators from the UN Human Rights-Council. Meanwhile Lebanese President Emile Lahoud called on Israel to stop occupying the town of Ghajar in southern Lebanon. Lahoud said many issues remain unresolved.
Human Rights Watch is calling on the newly appointed interim prime minister of Thailand to immediately restore fundamental rights as the first step toward a return to democracy. The backers of last month’s military coup have banned political gatherings and put in place media censorship rules. Soldiers were initially placed inside newsrooms at TV and radio stations. More than 300 community radio stations in Thailand’s northern provinces were closed down, and at least 10 anti-coup websites have been taken off the internet.
In Pennsylvania, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school house on Monday and shot 11 girls in the head. Five of the girls died, the six others are in critical condition. The man — a local milk truck driver — entered the schoolhouse and ordered all of the boys and adults to leave. He then ordered the girls to line up facing the blackboard. After he tied them up, he shot them all in the head. This marks the third school shooting in the past week. Last Wednesday, a gunman took six students hostage at a high school in Colorado. The gunman sexually assaulted the girls and killed one of them. And on Friday, a 15-year-old student shot dead a teacher at a high school in Wisconsin.
And the Federal Communications Commission is holding a two-part public hearing today in Los Angeles on media ownership. The first meeting starts at 1 p.m. at the University of Southern California. Then at 6:30 p.m. the hearing resumes at El Segundo High School. All five FCC Commissioners are expected to attend the meeting. The Republican-led commission is considering plans to rewrite rules on media ownership to allow for greater media consolidation.