The Iranian government has announced it has enriched a small quantity of uranium for the first time. In a ceremony Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: “Iran has joined the nuclear countries of the world.” The UN Security Council has demanded Iran cease uranium enrichment altogether. Several analysts said Iran is far away from approaching large-scale nuclear capability. An official at the International Atomic Energy Agency told the Los Angeles Times: “If they’ve enriched for 5 minutes it’s one thing, if you have major enrichment it’s another.” We’ll have more on Iran after headlines.
The Washington Post is reporting the Bush administration claimed to have found mobile weapons labs in Iraq after the invasion despite the explicit conclusions of a Pentagon-sponsored mission the claim was untrue. On May 29, 2003, President Bush cited the discovery of the trailers in an attempt to justify his decision to go war two months earlier. Bush said: “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.” But just two days before, a Pentagon team sent to Iraq had concluded that the trailers were in fact “the biggest sand toilets in the world.” One team member said: “Within the first four hours, it was clear to everyone that these were not biological labs.” The Bush administration failed to make the findings public and continued with its faulty claim for more than one year.
In Pakistan, a twin suicide bombing at a Sunni Muslim prayer ceremony in Karachi killed at least 57 people and injured dozens more. The attack was one of the deadliest bombings in Pakistan’s history. The bombing set off riots among youths who burned a gas station, buses and several cars.
In Italy, billionaire tycoon turned Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is refusing to concede defeat in the national elections. Official results show an opposition coalition has won control of both the House and Senate. Berlusconi says there were voting irregularities and is demanding a recount. With Berlusconi’s loss, President Bush will lose a key European ally. Romano Prodi has pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq and has criticized Berlusconi’s treatment of terror suspects.
In Spain, 29 people were indicted Tuesday in connection to the 2004 Madrid train bombings. 191 people were killed and 1800 injured when bombs exploded aboard four rush-hour commuter trains. Six of the 29 accused were charged with counts of murder. The remaining 23 were charged with collaborating to carry out the attack.
In Gaza, thousands of Palestinians marched Tuesday at the funeral of a young Palestinian girl killed by an Israeli rocket shell. Four-year old Hadeel died when Israeli forces fired on her house in the Northern Gaza Strip Monday. 12 people, including five children, were injured in the attack. Meanwhile, the US, Canada, and the European Union have now all cut off financial aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian authority. The aid freeze will continue until Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel. On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas renewed his calls for direct negotiations with the Israeli government. Israel says it will speak to Abbas but will not engage in final status peace talks.
Nepal is in the seventh day of a renewed phase of protest against the rule of King Gyanendra. The anti-government unrest marks the most sustained show of opposition since the King seized power in a coup last year. The government has responded with curfews, mass arrests and armed force. Police assaults on protesters were reported in at least three areas around the country Tuesday. Overall, three demonstrators have been killed and hundreds injured in the last week. According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, more than 110 Nepalese journalists have been arrested alone.
Here in the United States, a former White House aide denied Tuesday his office was involved in a phone-jamming scheme intended to block New Hampshire Democrats from carrying out an election day get-out-the-vote campaign. On November 5, 2002, the telephone lines at the New Hampshire Democrats’ voting headquarters received scores of hang-up calls. Ken Mehlman, who now chairs the Republican National Committee, admitted New Hampshire Republicans spoke to the White House around the time of the election. But he said the phone-jamming was not discussed. Phone records show that Bush campaign official James Tobin made two dozen calls to the White House during the three-day period in question. Tobin served as the New England chair of President Bush’s re-election campaign at the time. He and two others have already been convicted in the case. No White House or national Republican officials have been charged.
In other news, the Boston Globe is reporting thousands of low-income Americans are at risk with the pending activation of a federal law that would require them to show proof US of citizenship in order to receive health care. The requirement was attached to the Deficit Reduction Act, which President Bush signed into law this year. Healthcare advocates said the requirements could adversely affect undocumented immigrants and Medicaid recipients who will be unable to provide the necessary documentation. Bill Walczak, chief executive officer of the Codman Square Health Center in Massachusetts, said: '’We didn't create the healthcare centers to become citizenship enforcement centers.”
The National Security Archive has revealed that the government agency responsible for state archives colluded with the CIA and other intelligence agencies to remove thousands of previously declassified historical documents that were previously available to the public. In a secret agreement, the National Archives and Records Administration agreed to remove the archival records and re-classify them in order to avoid scrutiny from researchers. The re-classification scheme was disclosed earlier this year but details of how it came about were largely unknown.
And in Washington, Vice President Dick Cheney was greeted with loud boos Tuesday when he threw out the ceremonial pitch at the opener for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals. This wasn’t the first time Cheney has gotten a hostile reception at a baseball game–in June 2004, Cheney was booed at a Yankees game here in New York.