U.S. war commanders have prepared detailed plans for a significant American role in Iraq until at least 2009. According to The New York Times, the plan envisions two phases. The "near-term" goal is to achieve "localized security" in Baghdad and other areas no later than next June. The "intermediate" goal is to establish a broader sense of security on a nationwide basis no later than June 2009. The classified plan was written in part by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
In other news from Iraq, at least 26 people died earlier today when a suicide car bomb exploded outside a children’s hospital in the Shiite town of Hilla. About 70 people were injured in the blast.
In campaign news, the eight Democratic presidential candidates took part in a debate last night at the Citadel Military Academy in South Carolina. Candidates responded to questions posted by voters on the video sharing website YouTube. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich criticized his opponents for refusing to call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: "I introduced a plan four years ago, Anderson, that was a full plan to remove our troops. I’m the only one on this stage — excuse me — who not only voted against this war, but voted against funding the war. It is not credible to say you oppose the war from the start when you voted to fund it 100 percent of the time, 70 percent, 5 percent of the time. Let’s get real about this war. Let’s get those troops home, and let’s take a stand and do it now. Send a message to Congress now. We cannot wait until the next president takes office."
Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel was asked if he would retract his statement that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam died in vain.
Mike Gravel: "It’s a set-up question. Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. You can now, John, go to Hanoi and get a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. That’s what you can do. And now we have most favored nation trade. What did all these people die for? What are they dying for right now in Iraq every single day? Let me tell you: There’s only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; it’s more soldiers dying in vain."
In Washington, 45 protesters calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney were arrested Monday at the U.S. Capitol. The arrests occurred after the demonstrators refused to leave the office and hallway of Congressman John Conyers of Michigan. The arrested included Cindy Sheehan and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern. They were urging Conyers, the chair of the House Judiciary, to introduce articles of impeachment.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is returning to Capitol Hill today to testify about the U.S. attorneys scandal and the politicization of the Justice Department. In a statement released on Monday, Gonzales said he does not intend to step down. Meanwhile, Congressman John Conyers has announced the House Judiciary Committee plans to vote Wednesday on whether to issue contempt citations to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers. Both Bolten and Miers have refused congressional demands for information on their roles in the U.S. attorney dismissals.
A coalition of injured Iraq War veterans have filed a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. The lawsuit claims the VA and former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson have illegally denied disability pay and mental health treatment to thousands of veterans. The suit also alleges the VA worked with the Pentagon to misclassify post-traumatic stress disorder claims in order to avoid paying out benefits.
Much of central and southern England remains under water following the worst flooding in modern British history. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power or drinking water. Massive floods have been reported recently across the globe. In China, monsoon rains have displaced three million people and left more than 150 people dead. In India, hundreds of homes have collapsed after being inundated with floodwaters in the northeastern state of Tripura. In Texas, as many as 300 people were evacuated in San Antonio after 17 inches of rainfall.
Meanwhile, a new study in the journal Nature has confirmed that global warming is already affecting the world’s rainfall patterns. The authors of the study say global warming is bringing more precipitation to northern Europe, Canada and northern Russia but less to swaths of Sub-Saharan Africa, southern India and Southeast Asia.
Pakistani authorities are warning the Bush administration not to carry out attacks inside Pakistan in its hunt for Osama bin Laden. Foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said any attack inside Pakistan would be unacceptable.
Tasnim Aslam: "We do not want our efforts to be undermined by any ill-conceived action from any quarter that is inconsistent with the principles of international law and would be deeply resented in the tribal areas and generally in Pakistan. Such action, as we have already stated, will be irresponsible and dangerous."
On Sunday, White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend refused to rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Taliban is continuing to hold 23 South Korean hostages and a German man. The Taliban is threatening to begin executing the hostages if Seoul and Berlin don’t pull their troops out of Afghanistan. Most of the South Korean hostages are young and mainly female Christian aid workers.
In news from Africa, the Nigerian government has refiled a $6.5 billion lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer for allegedly carrying out fraudulent drug tests on Nigerian children. In 1996, 11 children died in a drug test of the antibiotic Trovan made by Pfizer. According to the lawsuit, other children also suffered injuries including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech. Pfizer has said that it conducted the tests in the full knowledge of the government and in a responsible and ethical way.
In other pharmaceutical news, the manufacturers of the painkiller OxyContin have been ordered to pay a $634 million fine for misleading the public about the drug’s risk of addiction. In 2002, the DEA said the drug played a role in 464 deaths. Three top executives from Purdue Pharma escaped serving any time in jail. Instead they will pay part of the fine and perform 400 hours of community service. Former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani played a central role in negotiating on behalf of OxyContin manufacturers with federal prosecutors.
In news from California, the City Council in Stockton has unanimously voted to undo the privatization of the city’s water utilities. In 2001, Stockton signed a $600 million deal to give the multinational company OMI-Thames control of the city’s water system. It was the largest water privatization deal west of the Mississippi. But for the past seven years local residents and environmental groups have fought for the city to regain control of its water. The campaign was featured in the documentary Thirst. Critics of the 2001 deal said privatizing the water system opened the door to harmful environmental impacts to the surrounding water delta and decreased the public’s say over how the systems were managed.
In news from Latin America, approximately a thousand indigenous Colombians have begun marching toward Bogota to protest the government’s decision to abandon talks with the FARC, the leftist guerrilla movement.
Indigenous leader Roberto Palacio: "Our work is humanitarian, and we say 'yes' to the humanitarian agreement, and we believe that it is a step the Colombian government has to take. If they don’t want to, the Colombian people have to pressure them, because we cannot keep aggravating the process."
In business news, Vice President Cheney’s former company Halliburton has announced its second quarter net income has more than doubled to $1.5 billion. In April, Halliburton sold its stake in KBR, the largest military contractor in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the first minimum wage increase in a decade goes into effect today. The new minimum wage is $5.85 an hour up from $5.15. According to the Economic Policy Institute the change will affect about 13 million workers, or 10 percent of the nation’s workforce. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is still lower than anytime in the last 50 years.
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