President Bush admitted on Monday the Iraq war is “straining the psyche of our country.” But he vowed to stay the course.
Monday’s press conference was President Bush’s first since it was revealed that a record 3,500 people had died in Iraq last month.
The Lebanese government is accusing Israel of repeatedly violating the nine-day-old ceasefire. On Monday night, Israeli troops in South Lebanon shot and killed three Hezbollah fighters. Italy has agreed to send 3,000 troops to South Lebanon and lead the international force to police the region. But Italy’s Foreign Minister said Italy would only do so if Israel stopped fighting.
In Washington, President Bush pledged to give Lebanon $230 million in humanitarian aid. The total aid package is a fraction of what the United States sends annually to Israel.
Meanwhile the head of Lebanon’s Central Bank, Riad Salame, criticized Israel for continuing its naval and air blockade.
Lebanon’s Economy Minister Sami Haddad said it would be impossible to build a stable democracy if Israel continues to invade Lebanon.
Lebanese officials have begun studying possible ways to sue Israel and its political and military leaders for war crimes. On Monday Lebanon’s Justice Minister held a meeting with top Lebanese magistrates and legal experts.
The Daily Star of Beirut is reporting a leading Lebanese scientist has discovered a crater caused by an Israeli bomb that contains a high degree of unidentified radioactive materials. The bomb landed in the Lebanese town of Khiam. It caused a crater 10 feet deep and 30 feet wide. The National Council for Scientific Research is planning to test samples from the site.
In Israel, calls are increasing for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign over his handling of the war in Lebanon. On Monday, a group of reservist soldiers protested in Jerusalem. Israeli Reservist Sonny Katz: “The prime minister the minister of defence and the chief of staff of the military should resign because at the end of the day soldier went to fight and they did not have proper equipment and nobody knew what was the bottom line mission that these guys should I achieve and that was politics, so we blame that on the government and the leaders of the Army.”
Three Palestinians have died in Gaza after Israeli tanks raided the region early this morning. Israel said the dead were all militants.
In Britain eleven people have been charged in connection with an alleged terror plot to blow up transatlantic airliners.
British police are holding eleven other people without charge.
Police in Germany have arrested a 21-year-old Lebanese student on charges that he plotted to plant bombs on two German trains. The student, Youssef Mohammad, is reported to have lost a brother in an Israeli air strike last month in Lebanon.
In Florida, a U.S. federal judge has dismissed one of the main changes against Jose Padilla, the man once accused of plotting to set off a dirty bomb. US District Judge Marcia Cooke dismissed count one of the indictment: conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country. She said the allegations in that count were already covered in the indictment. Earlier this month Judge Cooke ordered prosecutors to provide more details to make their case against Padilla and two co-defendants. She said the case against Padilla appears “very light on facts.”
In Mexico a group of striking teachers have seized control of 12 commercial radio stations in the state of Oaxaca. Since June, tens of thousands of teachers have been on strike. They have demanded higher wages and the resignation of the governor of Oaxaca. The stations were seized after gunmen attacked another radio and TV station that has been occupied by the demonstrators for weeks.
UN nuclear inspectors said Monday that Iran has denied them access to an underground nuclear site. The UN officials said that this may be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch is calling on both the government and the Tamil Tigers to allow humanitarian aid to reach thousands of civilians trapped by fighting. In north Sri Lanka about 500,000 residents have been left with dwindling supplies of food and water and no ability to go to safe areas. About 40,000 people are believed to have fled their homes. Meanwhile, here in the United States, police have arrested 13 people on suspicion of conspiring to buy arms for the Tamil Tigers.
In news from Africa, Barack Obama is preparing to visit Kenya for the first time since he became a Senator. Obama’s father was born in Kenya. On Monday Obama visited South Africa and criticized how the government there is handling the AIDS epidemic. He said he planned to speak about AIDS in Kenya as well.
Meanwhile, 400 extra European Union troops are being flown into the Democratic Republic of Congo. The capital of Kenshasa has seen three days of clashes between forces loyal to the two men who are facing each other in a presidential runoff in October. Supporters of Jean-Pierre Bemba have accused President Joseph Kabila’s guards of attacking Bemba’s house.
In an update in a story we’ve been following: First Lt. Ehren Watada has been charged with three offenses for refusing to fight in Iraq. In June he became the first US military officer to openly oppose the war in Iraq. He was charged with Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, Missing Movement, and Contempt toward Officials.
And in California, legislators have agreed to raise the state minimum wage to eight dollars an hour by January 2008. Workers will get a 75-cent increase Jan. 1 and an additional 50 cents on Jan. 1, 2008. The pay hike will affect more than one million Californians who earn the current minimum wage, six dollars and seventy five cents an hour.