On Capitol Hill, House and Senate Republicans have agreed on a new tax bill critics say will disproportionately favor the wealthiest Americans. The $70 billion dollar measure would extend the 15 percent tax rate on capital and dividends until the year 2010. According to the Tax Policy Center, households earning more than $1 million dollars would save $42,000 dollars in taxes. Meanwhile, households earning around $45,000 dollars would save $46 dollars.
Meanwhile, Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Alphonso Jackson is coming under scrutiny after he revealed he cancelled a proposed deal with a government contractor who made critical comments of President Bush. According to the Dallas Business Journal, Jackson said the contractor had been selected for a government advertising contract. But the contractor was ultimately not selected after he told Jackson he didn’t like President Bush. Jackson said: “Why should I reward someone who doesn’t like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don’t get the contract. That’s the way I believe.” In response, Democratic Congressmembers Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Henry Waxman of California called for a full investigation of Jackson’s contract decisions. In a letter to Jackson, the Congressmemembers wrote: “If this account is accurate, your comments and actions were improper and most likely illegal. Federal contracts should be awarded based on merit, not on whether a contractor likes or dislikes President Bush.”
At the United Nations, the General Assembly elected 44 countries to the newly created Human Rights Council. The Council was created in March to replace the much-criticized U.N. Human Rights Commission. The US government took itself out of the running in protest of what it said were the council’s low standards.
Twenty-two US citizens have traveled to Iran to promote peace between Washington and Tehran. “(We are here to promote) understanding between our peoples so that our governments don’t get us into a situation where we go into a Conflict,” said delegate member Dave Robinson, Executive Director Of The National Catholic Peace Movement.”We’re here to learn about Iran firsthand so that we don’t succumb to the enemy building and demonising that’s going in the United States at the moment.”
In India, hundreds of people took the streets today to protest a US drug company’s attempt to patent a popular drug used by millions of people to treat the HIV virus. The company, Gilead Science, wants the Indian government to recognize its patent claim to the anti-retroviral drug TDF. Activists say the patent will make drugs like TDF inaccessible to thousands of people who could only afford a generic version. “We are protesting against the patent on anti retroviral drugs, HIV drugs because if it is patented the price will shoot up and we won’t be able to afford them and then we are going to die, it is a matter of life and death,” said Loon Gangte from The Indian Network Of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
The Quartet of Middle East peace brokers has reached a temporary agreement to resume aid to the Palestinians that has been frozen under the Hamas-led government. The United Nations, the United States, Russia and the European Union made the announcement Tuesday.
This news from Iraq — at least 17 people were killed and 35 wounded when a suicide bomber struck a crowded market in Tal Afar.
In Peru, thousands of people marched on Tuesday to demand Yale Universtiy return artifacts taken from an ancient city nearly a century ago. A Yale historian took the artifacts from the city of Machu Picchu in 1911. Yale has refused the Peruvian government’s demand for the artifacts return, saying it was given ownership rights during the excavations. The artifacts remain on display at Yale.
In other news, a Yale historian has uncovered a letter that supports the theory that Yale’s Skull and Bones society stole the skull of Native American leader Geronimo. According to legend, Skull and Bones members — including Prescott Bush, President Bush’s grandfather — dug up Geronimo’s remains from his burial plot in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.. The letter, written by a Skull and Bones member in 1918, says group members took skull and other remains and buried them in their Yale clubhouse.
In Nevada, a controversial bomb test that has drawn the opposition of local Native groups has been delayed at least three weeks. Members of the Western Shoshone tribe filed suit last month to prevent the military from setting off a 700-ton ammonium nitrate and fuel oil bomb that would generate a mushroom cloud over the Nevada deserts. Tribe members say the blast could let loose radioactive material and threaten their well-being.
President Bush’s approval rating has reached a new low — 31%. That figure matches the lowest rating of the presidency of his father, George H. W. Bush, and is the third lowest approval rating of any president in half a century.
And the Yes Men have struck again. On Tuesday, a man claiming to be a representative for the company Halliburton gave a presentation at the “Catastrophic Loss” conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. The conference included leaders from the insurance industry. The phony spokesperson gave his name as Fred Wolf. He told conference-goers Halliburton had invented the SurvivaBall — a new orb-like inflatable product to protect corporate managers from the effects of global warming. Wolf said: “It’s essentially a gated community for one.” The hoax comes less than two years after a Yes Men member appeared on the BBC claiming to be a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. He said Dow was taking responsibility for the Bhopal chemical disaster — forcing the company to remind the world it did not take responsibility for the disaster and that there was no compensation fund set-up for the victims.