As New Orleans marked the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, President Bush for the first time said he takes “full” responsibility for the government’s highly criticized response to the crisis.
President Bush said he would support legislation that would give Louisiana a higher share of offshore gas revenues, but did not say how much money he thinks should go to the state. Dozens of ceremonies were held Tuesday from the city’s core to surrounding Parishes. At 9:38 in the morning, Mayor Ray Nagin rang a bell to commemorate the time when the first levee broke one year ago.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is in Israel today where he continues his tour of the Middle East. Appearing with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, Annan repeated his call for an end to Israel’s blockade of Lebanon and said he expects to step up the UN peacekeeping force on the ground.
UNICEF: 12 Lebanese Killed By Unexploded Bombs Since Ceasefire
In other news from the region, UNICEF says twelve Lebanese have been killed by unexploded cluster bombs since the ceasefire was reached earlier this month. The organization says the bombs remain a major threat to civilians, especially children.
Lebanese officials have conducted a new aerial survey of the massive oil spill on Beirut’s coastline. Up to 15,000 tons of oil spilled into the sea following Israel’s bombing of a power plant at the outset of its attack on Lebanon. This is environmental expert Georges Pinier.
Lebanon was able to conduct the new survey only after receiving permission from Israel, which continues an air and sea blockade.
In Britain, three more people have been charged in the alleged plot to blow up US-bound airliners. Fifteen of the twenty-five initial suspects have now been charged in the case.
The Bush administration is facing new accusations its seeking regime change in Venezuela. Documents obtained by the Associated Press show the US Agency for International Development — USAID — has given more than twenty six million dollars to opponents of President Hugo Chavez in the last four years. USAID released copies of more than one hundred contracts with the groups — but hid the names of about half of them. Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said: “This indicates there is a great deal of money, a great deal of concern to oust or neutralise Chávez. The US is waging diplomatic warfare against Venezuela.”
In the Occupied Territories, hundreds of Palestinian workers held protests in both Gaza and the West Bank Tuesday to protest unpaid wages. More than 160,000 Palestinian government employees have gone without salaries following a US and European aid freeze on the Hamas-led government.
In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued a new challenge to President Bush — a televised debate. On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad said he would like to debate Bush about “world affairs” and the ways to solve them. He also defended Iran’s right to nuclear energy.
Ahmadinejad’s comments come ahead of the UN’s deadline Thursday for Iran to suspend nuclear enrichment. The Security Council has threatened sanctions if Tehran fails to comply.
In Iraq, at least forty people are dead following bombing attacks across the country today. At least twenty-four people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Shurja, Baghdad’s largest wholesale market. Another thirty-five people were wounded. In Hillah, an attacker posing as an army recruit set off a bicycle bomb killing 12 people and wounding 28.
Here in the United States, new figures show an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance and a virtually unchanged poverty rate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in eight Americans and almost one in four African Americans lived in _poverty last year. It was the first year the poverty rate did not increase since President Bush took office. Just under sixteen percent of the population, or 46.6 million people, had no health insurance last year, up slightly from two years ago.
This news from the CIA leak case — The New York Times is reporting former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has admitted he was the White Source source who outed former CIA operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak three years ago. This according to a lawyer involved in the case and several of Armitage’s associates.
More trouble for former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair Kenneth Tomlinson — The State Department has concluded Tomlinson committed several ethics violations in his current position chairing the board that overseas most US broadcasts to foreign countries. According to investigators, Tomlinson gave a friend $250,000 in taxpayer funded-contracts, overbilled the government for his time and used federal employees for his personal business. Among that personal business: running a stable of thoroughbred horses he named after leaders from Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai. This is only the latest scandal for the former Reader’s Digest editor and long-time Republican. Tomlinson was forced out of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting last year after it was revealed he improperly tried to promote conservatives in the organization and monitored programs he accused of having a liberal bias.