In Nepal hundreds of thousands of people have filled the streets of Katmandu to celebrate King Gyanendra’s decision to reinstate the country’s parliament. The king’s announcement came after weeks of protests and strikes that have crippled the country. Last night King Gyanendra announced that he would agree to some of the demands of the protesters. Nepal’s parliament has been dissolved since 2002. Meanwhile Maoist leader Prachanda accused the other opposition groups of making “another historic mistake” by calling off the protests. Prachanda encouraged the people to continue demonstrating until the parties declared elections for a constituent assembly to write a new constitution.
In Egypt, up to 30 people have died in a series of simultaneous bombings in the resort town of Dahab. Over 115 people wounded. No group has taken responsibility for the attack but the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram linked the blasts to previous Islamist attacks on resorts in the Sinai penisula. The paper reported three members of a group called Tawhid wal Jihad had been arrested. The international community, including the new Palestinian government, condemned the bombings. This is Ghazi Hamad, spokesperson for the Palestinian cabinet.
In Greece, thousands of demonstrators tried to march earlier today to the U.S. embassy in Athens to protest a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Police dressed in riot gear fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators. On Monday, protesters managed to hoist a giant poster reading “Condoleezza Rice Go Home” from the central Athens Music Hall, next to the U.S. embassy. Two years ago Rice’s predecessor Colin Powell had to cancel a visit to Athens in order to avoid mass protests.
In news from Washington, CNN is reporting that Fox News anchor Tony Snow is likely to soon leave his job at Rupert Murdoch’s network and become the chief spokesperson of President Bush — succeeding White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Sources said they expect an announcement within the next few days.
Here at home, support for Presidential Bush has reached a new low. A new CNN poll found only 32 percent of the country approve of the president’s performance. Last week a Fox News polls put Bush’s approval rating at just 33 percent.
Meanwhile the price of gasoline is soaring. The national average price for a gallon of self-serve gas is now just under three dollars. The price has shot up nearly 25 cents per gallon over the past two weeks. President Bush is expected to call on the Energy and Justice Departments today to investigate whether oil companies have been engaged in price gouging.
In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has revealed that a number of prominent Latino officials have received death threats in recent weeks because of their stance on immigration. Schwarzenegger said two of the officials were Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. A spokesperson for Bustamante said the lieutenant government received one postcard from Pasadena that said words to the effect of “The only good Mexican is a dead Mexican.”
Meanwhile President Bush addressed the issue of immigration during a speech in California.
Six New York teenagers have sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alleging that the Pentagon has illegally created a massive student database to help identify college and high school students as young as 16 to target for military recruiting. The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the six teenagers by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
A new report has determined the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq has largely been a failure. Nearly $60 billion has been spent but Iraq is still producing less oil, has less electricity and less water than before invasion. The authors of the report, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the slow pace is largely due to bad planning and poor execution on the part of the Bush administration.
In Washington, fired CIA analyst Mary McCarthy is denying that she leaked classified information to the press about how the CIA is running secret prisons overseas. McCarthy was fired from her job in the CIA’s Inspector General’s office last week. On Monday her attorney said that McCarthy did not have access to the information she is accused of leaking.
As the world prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the Chernobly nuclear disaster, pro-nuclear forces are pushing for the construction of new nuclear plants. On Monday the newly formed Clean and Safe Energy Coalition launched a campaign to advocate that Nuclear Energy Is America’s Clean and Safe Energy Solution. The coalition is being run by former EPA head Christine Todd Whiteman and Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. From its website the group portrays itself as a new environmental grassroots group that supports nuclear energy. However the Cleveland Plain Dealer has revealed the group is entirely funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute and being run by the public relations company Hill and Knowlton.
In business news, Enron founder Kenneth Lay took the stand for the first time and claimed had nothing to do with the crimes that helped cause the collapse of the company he founded. He denied accusations that he was part of a conspiracy to defraud investors. Lay blamed the company’s former financial officer for the collapse of Enron. Lay said “It all begins with the deceit of Andy Fastow.”
A new report by Human Rights Watch has harshly criticized the use of lethal injections as a means to execute prisoners. The group says lethal injection put condemned prisoners at needless risk of excruciating pain. 37 states still use lethal injection to kill prisoners.
In academic news, a group of right-wing commentators are urging Yale University not to hire prominent University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole because of his views on the Iraq war, Israel and the state of the Middle East. Cole run a popular blog called Informed Comment where he has criticized the Bush administration’s decision to attack Iraq. Cole is reportedly a top candidate for a senior faculty position in modern Middle East studies at Yale University. American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin and Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund have both written recent articles attacking Cole.
And here in New York, the leader of the local Transport Workers Union, Roger Toussaint, has begun serving a 10-day jail sentence for authorizing last year’s strike that shut down New York City’s Transit system. Shortly before he was jailed Toussaint walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and addressed supporters.