Myanmar's Generals Agree to Admit More Foreign Aid Workers
In a dramatic policy reversal, the military government in Myanmar has finally agreed to allow all foreign aid workers to enter the country and assist with the response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Cyclone Nargis, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this morning. "This agreement can produce results. And the implementation will be the key," Ban said during a news conference in Yangon, the country's second-largest city. "I believe they will honor their promise." Since the cyclone hit on May 2, the government has all but prevented foreign aid workers from gaining access to most victims and distributing badly needed supplies and food. The government on Friday did not immediately confirm the U.N. announcement, but Ban told reporters that the leaders have agreed to allow "unhindered access to affected areas." At least 78,000 people have been confirmed dead because of the cyclone. An additional 56,000 are missing, and humanitarian agencies warn that 2.5 million more are at high risk of starvation, malnutrition, or disease.
Health Records for Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain's recent medical records were released, and the 1,173 pages of documents, spanning the past eight years of his life, show that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who is 71, is in very good health for a man his age. McCain, who has had three occurrences of melanoma skin cancer in the past (1993, 2000, and 2002), is currently cancer free, though he does get precancerous lesions removed frequently as a precautionary measure. His heart is also in good condition, the records show. "I think physiologically he is considerably younger than his chronologic age based on his cardiovascular fitness," John Eckstein, McCain's physician, said Thursday.
A Court Ruling Favors Polygamy Sect
More than 400 children who were removed in April from the compound of a radical Texas polygamist sect may soon return home. A Texas court of appeals ruled yesterday that the state had no justification for taking the children away from their parents, because it had failed, during recent legal hearings, to show that any of the children were in "immediate danger" prior to their removal from the compound. A district court judge now has 10 days to release the children from state custody, although the state could halt the release by appealing the decision to the Texas Supreme Court. The district judge, Barbara Walther, originally ordered the children's removal after authorities reported receiving a phone call from a still-unidentified underage girl alleging physical and sexual abuse by an adult male sect member. Additionally, the state's Child Protective Services agency has argued in court that at least five girls in the group, ages 15 and 16, had been forced into marriage with older men and had become pregnant.
A Warning on GOP Vulnerabilities
The Republican Party brand is "in the trash can." Its message: "stale." The political climate for GOP House lawmakers: "the worst since Watergate." House Republican Tom Davis of Virginia hammered out this bleak assessment on a rainy Sunday, May 11, from his home in Vienna, a Washington suburb. In a 20-page memo, he warned the GOP was "heading for losses bordering on another 20 seats in the House" in November. Davis, in his memo, cited President George W. Bush's sustained low approval ratings and a public preference for Democratic control of Congress. He noted that Democrats are winning at fundraising, too. Davis included prescriptive actions for turning around Republican hopes in the fall. He urged Bush to send an emergency energy package to Congress "and dare them to act." Davis also implored his party to develop messages and to test and challenge Democrats on issues such as immigration and American competitiveness.
Billions of Dollars Spent Without Adequate Records in Iraq
An internal audit of some $8 billion paid to U.S. and Iraqi contractors found that nearly every transaction failed to comply with federal laws or regulations aimed at preventing fraud, in some cases lacking even basic invoices explaining how the money was spent. Of the money paid during a five-year period—from 2001 through 2006—$7.8 billion in payments skirted billing rules with some violations egregious enough to invite potential fraud, warned the Defense Department's inspector general.