November 22, 2005
London’s daily mirror broke an explosive story today: the paper says transcripts of conversations between U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004 show Bush wanted to bomb the headquarter offices of Arab satellite television station Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera’s facilities have been hit by U.S. forces before: In 2001 Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul suffered a direct hit during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; In November 2002, the same office was destroyed by a US missile. In April 2003, an Al Jazeera journalist died when the station’s Baghdad office was struck by a US bomb. In all cases, U.S. officials claimed the destruction was accidental. But the Daily Mirror story casts fresh doubt on those claims. Blair reportedly talked Bush out of the plan to bomb the station’s headquarters in Qatar. Now Blair’s former Defense minister, Peter Kilfoyle, is challenging Downing Street to publish the transcripts of Blair’s conversations with Bush.
At a peace conference sponsored by the Arab League and backed by the United States, leaders of Iraq’s Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni factions agreed to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. From Cairo, Charles Levinson has more:
In Germany, conservative Angela Merkel takes power today as the country’s first female chancellor and its first leader to grow up behind the Iron Curtain. Merkel will lead Germany—which boasts the largest economy in the European Union–at the head of an unlikely governing coalition between the left-wing social Democratic Party and her own conservative Christian Democratic Union. Merkel is expected to pursue a foreign policy more supportive of the United States, but she had to make serious compromises on her domestic agenda to secure election. Cabinet posts are split evenly between the two parties, and one of the only domestic policies they have agreed on is increasing taxes. In a sign of rocky times to come, 50 out of the 448 lawmaker who make up Merkel’s coalition voted against her.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has hinted strongly today that his government is ready to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. From London, Naomi Fowler reports:
Chile’s Supreme Court has upheld the arrest of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who’s wanted in his country on charges ranging from human rights abuses to corruption. Jorge Garretón has more.
In Israel, the outgoing housing Minister has approved the construction of more illegal housing units in the country’s largest West Bank settlement. Manar Jibrin has more:
The Housing Authority of New Orleans is drawing increasing fire for keeping close to 60,000 residents of public and subsidized housing away from their homes. Jenka Soderberg reports from New Orleans:
Jose Padilla Indicted (1:42)
Federal authorities indicted Jose Padilla today, for “providing – and conspiring to provide – material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder individuals who are overseas.” The charges for which Padilla has been indicted are not based on the same charges that have kept him incarcerated as an enemy combatant for the past three years. At a press conference this morning US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responded to a question regarding this discrepancy in charges.
Growing Call for Iraq Withdrawal (3:17)
As we reported in the headlines, Iraq’s 3 major political factions have called for the US to set up a time table for when US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq. As the debate on withdrawal intensifies domestically, some anti-war activists are beginning to question why only three lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted for the resolution calling for withdrawal. Washington Editor Mitch Jeserich asks one major anti-war group about its views on the current debate in Congress and what it plans to do during this political upheaval.
Iraqi Immigrants in Jordan Feeling Unwanted (3:17)
Jordanian Public Sector State Minister, Taysir Samadi, said that Jordan has provided Iraqis with training programs in a range of fields, and that the country has put all its expertise in administrative reform at the Iraqi’s disposal. The announcement was made at a time when Iraqis are feeling unwanted in Jordan after three Iraqi nationals carried out bombings in Amman this month that killed 60 people. FSRN’s Oula Farawati has more
Hissene Habre’s Victims Seek His Extradition to Chad (4:06)
Human rights groups are pressing for the extradition of Chad’s former President Hissene Habre, days before a Senegalese court is to rule on whether to accept to hand him over. Habre has found peaceful refuge in Senegal for the past fifteen years, after a Chadian court charged him with the murder of 40,000 people. The victim’s families, some of whom are Senegalese, see the fate of the man the international press has dubbed “The African Pinochet”, in the hands of the Senegalese court, as some lobby groups are working to counter his extradition. FSRN’s Ndiaga Seck reports from Senegal.
Forest Recovery and Research Act in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina (3:43)
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon has introduced the Forest Recovery and Research Act, which is designed to expedite the recovery of timber from public lands after “devastating events” such as fire, insect infestation, blow-downs or hurricanes. Environmentalists fear the bill will be another strike to public participation in forestry decision, resulting in more clear-cutting, with little chance of review. They also say the bill’s supporters are using the tragedy of Katrina to convince the public the bill needs to be passed quickly in response to an emergency. Leigh Robartes has more.
Louisiana State Legislature Cuts Public Services (2:52)
The Louisiana legislature cut $600 million from the current year’s budget today. Much of these cuts are from health care and education, and critics say that the move sets a precedent for vastly reduced public services. Christian Roselund has more from New Orleans.