Monday, June 4, 2007
Nearly 2,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed in May
In Iraq, the number of civilians killed soared last month to the highest level since before the start of the so-called US surge in February. Government records show nearly 2,000 Iraqi civilians died in May. The death toll was nearly 30 percent higher than in April. At least 174 Iraqi soldiers and police officers were also killed in the same period.
14 US Soldiers Killed in Iraq Over Weekend
14 US soldiers have died during the first three days of June. All but one of the soldiers was killed in roadside bombings. The number of US troops killed during the war is now approaching 3,500. May was the third deadliest month of the war for US forces with 127 troop deaths reported.
Turkey Shells Northern Iraq, Sends Tanks To Border
Concern is growing that a new front could open in the Iraq war. Turkish forces shelled a mountainous region of northern Iraq on Sunday and moved tanks to the Iraqi border. Turkey said the target of the shelling was fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party or the PKK.
Iraq Urged to Investigate Killing of Journalists
Reporters Without Borders is calling for the establishment of a special Iraqi police unit to investigate the killings of journalists. Twelve journalists were killed in May making it the deadliest month of the war for media workers.
Edwards Criticizes Obama and Clinton Over Iraq
The Democratic presidential candidates met last night for a debate in New Hampshire. Former senator John Edwards accused senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama of failing to offer strong leadership to end the war.
John Edwards said, "And I said throughout the lead-up to this vote, I said that I was against a funding bill that did not have a timetable for withdrawal, that it was critical for Congress to stand firm, that it had been given a mandate by the American people. And others on this stage, Chris Dodd, spoke up very loudly and clearly. But I want to finish this. But others did not. Others were quiet. They went quietly to the floor of the Senate, cast the right vote. And there is a difference between leadership and legislating."
Both Obama and Clinton rejected the criticism from Edwards.
Senator Barack Obama said, "I think it is important to lead, and I think, John, the fact is, I opposed the Iraq war from the start. So you were about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue."
Senator Hilary Clinton said, "I think it's important particularly to point out this is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war, he started the war, he mismanaged the war, he escalated the war, and he refuses to end the war."
Former senator Mike Gravel said the Democrats are complicit in the Iraq war as well.
Congressman Denis Kucinich said Congress has the power to end the war now by simply cutting off the funding.
After the debate, senator Chris Dodd criticized CNN for giving far more time to senators Obama and Clinton. Obama spoke for 16 minutes. Dodd, Kucinich, Gravel and senator Joe Biden were each given less than nine minutes. Of course. The powers that be don't want those others. They want Hillary Clinton.
General Sanchez: US Can Not Win In Iraq
While the Democrats debated the war, the man who commanded US-led coalition forces during the first year of the war says the US can forget about winning in Iraq. In his first interview since retirement, Army lieutenant general Ricardo Sanchez told Agence France Press, "I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will — not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat." Sanchez is the highest-ranking former military leader yet to suggest the Bush administration has fallen short in Iraq.
US Warship Shells Somalia
A US warship has shelled a village in northern Somalia marking at least the third US strike in Somalia this year. US officials said the target of the attacks was a base run by Islamic militants. The shelling came five months after US-backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia and toppled the Union of Islamic Courts. Somalia's transitional prime minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi has survived an attempt on his life. On Sunday a suicide car bomber crashed into the gates of the prime minister's estate. Ghedi was unhurt in the blast but it killed six of his bodyguards and a local student.
Fighting In Lebanon Extends to Southern Refugee Camp
In Lebanon, fighting between Lebanese troops and Islamic militants has spread to the southern part of the country. For the past two weeks, Lebanese forces have been shelling the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in the North in its fight against the group Fatah al Islam. Local residents said the fighting extended to the southern Palestinian refugee camp Ein al Hilweh on Sunday after the army ignored a deadline set by a local militant group for lifting the siege on Nahr al Bared. Aid groups have warned that refugees inside Nahr al Bared are facing severe shortages of food, water, and medicine.
Amnesty International's Neil Sammond said, "Amnesty International is very concerned about the innocent Palestinians who have been killed, injured, displaced, and subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions during the two weeks of this conflict. Currently, we are particularly concerned about the fate and conditions of thousands of the civilians who remain inside Nahr el Bared now. Among these we have many hundreds of handicapped people, of elderly people, and women and children."
At least 113 people have died since May 20 and about 25,000 Palestinians refugees have fled the Nahr al Bared camp due to worsening humanitarian conditions.
US Identifies Saudi Prisoner Who Committed Suicide at Guantanamo
Military records show that the Saudi man who committed suicide last week at Guantanamo was a veteran of the Saudi army who had trained with US forces. The man, Abdul Rahman Ma'ath Thafir al Amri, had been held at Guantanamo for over five years. US officials say he was first detained in Afghanistan while fighting with the Taliban. The New York Times reports al Amri had been involved in several hunger strikes. His weight dropped from about 150 pounds to only 88 pounds. He is the fourth prisoner at Guantanamo to have committed suicide.
Three Arrested in Plot to Blow Up JFK Airport
In New York, federal and state law enforcement officials say they have disrupted a plot to blow up JFK International Airport. Three men were detained over the weekend in New York and in the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The suspects include a former cargo worker at the airport and a former lawmaker from the South American nation of Guyana. Officials said the men along with a government informant conducted surveillance of the airport but the men never obtained any explosives. It is unclear as to what role the informant played. He was a convicted drug dealer who agreed to infiltrate the group in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Murdoch to Meet with Bancroft Family Over Buying Wall Street Journal
Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to meet today with the Bancroft family to discuss his interest in buying the Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones. The Observer newspaper of London reports some reporters at the Journal may stage a walk-out if Murdoch buys the paper. Murdoch's News Corp. is already one of the world's largest media companies. Its holdings include the TV network Fox, the book publisher Harper Collins, the New York Post, Myspace.com, the Weekly Standard, and scores of other media companies.
He'd turn the Journal into a tabloid, not that it's any good now.
Liberia's Charles Taylor Goes on Trial for War Crimes
The war crimes trial of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor has begun in The Hague for his role in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Taylor has been indicted on 11 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian law.
Stephen Rapp, chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, said, "The event of Charles Taylor coming to trial as well as his arrest, and his transfer to Liberia and on to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2006 was historic, because it represented an effort by the international community, by the countries of West Africa, particularly Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to establish the principle that no one, not even a leader, not even a chief of state, is above the law."
Charles Taylor boycotted the opening of the trial saying he did not believe he would receive a fair trial.
80,000 Protest G8 Meeting in Germany
In Germany, mass protests have already begun ahead of this week's G8 meeting of the world's richest nations. On Saturday, as many as 80,000 demonstrators filled the streets of Rostock. The march was peaceful, but after it ended, bloody clashes broke out between police and some protesters. Demonstrators accused police of using excessive force and provoking the street fights. At least 128 protesters were arrested. Protest organizers said over 500 demonstrators had been injured. Police said over 400 officers were also hurt.
Tim Laumeyer, a spokesperson for the protesters, said, "The people are scared of the police and what will happen now. We had more than 500 injured demonstrators, and there are fears that some police units will do their own thing again or that the police will not stick to their de-escalation tactic. And people are afraid of that. And so, I don't think that we shall be seeing riot scenes to the same extent in the next few days."
Hundreds of activist organizations and NGO's from the around the globe are gathering in Germany for the G8 conference.
Walden Bello, of Focus on the Global South, said, "The G8 must go into history now. We do not need the G8. What we really need are truly international people's organizations to be able to meet the challenges of these times."
Oxfam's Max Lawson criticized how the G8 nations deal with Africa.
Max Lawson said, "What we want to demonstrate is that the G8 are gambling with lives of millions of Africans. Two years ago, they made promises at their summit in Gleneagles in Scotland to increase aid to Africa. Two years later, countries like Germany, Italy, France, they have just not delivered on those promises, and that means they are gambling away lives of millions of women and children, desperately poor in Africa who need this money from rich countries."
President Bush's proposal for a new climate-change strategy that rejects setting mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas emissions has also been criticized ahead of the G8 meeting.
Michael Frein, of the Justice Now Campaign, said, "What Bush is trying to achieve with his initiative is to gain time. He is distracting people by saying, 'You're all invited, and we will then talk about specific issues.' In fact, he is perfectly able to talk about specific issues. There is a United Nations process where just that is being negotiated, and he doesn't want to participate in it."
China Unveils National Plan For Climate Change
China has unveiled its first national plan for climate change. China said it intends to reduce its energy by a fifth before 2010 but that it would not make sacrifices at the expense of economic development. China said it would not commit to any caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. Many analysts believe China could overtake the US this year as the world"s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. China said rich countries were responsible for most of the greenhouse gases produced over the past century and had an "unshirkable responsibility" to do more to tackle the problem.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Military Judge Throws Out Guantanamo Charges
US military judges have dropped all war crimes charges against the only two Guantanamo prisoners facing trial by military tribunal. The judges said they lacked jurisdiction under the strict definition of those eligible for trial under the Military Commissions Act, enacted by Congress last year. The rulings are the latest setback for the Bush administration's efforts to put prisoners at Guantanamo through some form of judicial process. It was forced to rewrite the rules last year after the US Supreme Court deemed the old tribunals illegal. Charges were dropped against Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old. He was accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade and wounding another. Charges were also dropped for Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, who is accused of driving and guarding Osama bin Laden.
Marine colonel Dwight Sullivan, the chief of military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay, said, "This indicated that the commission system cannot proceed. Once again, there's a fundamental impediment to the military commission proceeding. Once again, the military commission system has demonstrated that it's a failure. Once again, we see a demonstration that we can't just set up another system of justice and call it justice."
The American Civil Liberties Union said the decision proves the military commission proceedings are fundamentally flawed. Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU said the Bush administration should try the prisoners in ordinary courts martial or civilian courts.
Jameel Jaffer said, "The judge has said that the tribunal does not have the authority to try Omar Khadr on the grounds on which the court has made that decision are far-reaching and are going to have real consequences not only for Khadr but for other prisoners who have been tried and may be tried in the future."
Despite Monday's rulings, both of the Guantanamo prisoners will remain in custody and in legal limbo at the detention camp.
US & Iraq Control s Only 1/3 of Baghdad
In Iraq, the US military has privately admitted the so-called surge is failing to meet its targets. The New York Times has obtained an internal assessment that shows only one third of the neighborhoods in Baghdad are now under the control of US or Iraqi forces.
US troops are continuing to search for two missing US soldiers in Iraq. On Monday, a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq claimed the soldiers had been killed. The group released a video that included images of the soldiers' military identification tags but no proof that the soldiers were dead.
US-Russia Row over Missile Defense Intensifies
President Bush has arrived in the Czech Republic as tensions mount between Washington and Moscow over the Bush administration's plan to deploy a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to target Russian missiles at Europe if Washington goes ahead with the project.
Vladimir Putin said, "If a new missile defense system will be deployed in Europe, then we need to warn you today that we will come with a response. We have to ensure our security and we are not the initiator of this process."
Putin also accused Washington of altering the strategic balance by unilaterally pulling out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002. Bush said today, Russia has nothing to fear from the missile defense system.
Germany Deploys 16,000 Police Officers for G8
The German government is launching one of its largest security operations ever ahead of the start of the G8 meeting on Wednesday. Germany is deploying 16,000 police officers and 1,100 soldiers to the small resort town of Heiligendamm, the site of the three day summit. Germany has also put up a seven mile wall topped with barbed wire to surround the resort. Global warming is expected to be a key issue at the G8 summit. President Bush's new proposal for a climate-change strategy that rejects setting mandatory caps on greenhouse-gas emissions has been widely criticized.
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper said, "We believe that we should have targets. We agree on what those long term targets should be. I think our long term targets are really close. And we also agree that we should be part of United Nations process. United Nations can have several different tracks, but ultimately, we have to have everybody, all major emitters, committed to being included and being part of an eventual regime that has targets."
Greenpeace has urged the G8 nations to act swiftly against climate change.
Joerg Feddern of Greenpeace said, "The first thing is that the G8 countries give a worldwide sign that they said, yes, binding target 2020 is 30 per cent CO2 emissions less than (compared) to 1990. This is the first thing. The second thing is that Mrs. Merkel said, here in Germany, we wanted a clear, positive sign for the whole world: 40 per cent CO2 reduction until 2020. If this is the result of this G8 summit, then it is successful. If not, it will fail."
Representative Jefferson Indicted On Bribery Charges
In Washington, Democratic congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana has been indicted on federal charges of racketeering, money-laundering and soliciting more than $400,000 in bribes. The charges come nearly two years after federal investigators raided his home and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer. Federal prosecutors say most of the cash came from an FBI informant. If convicted on all counts, Jefferson faces up to 235 years in prison. Two of Jefferson's associates have already struck plea bargains with prosecutors and have been sentenced.
Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan Sentenced to 7 Years
In Oregon, the environmental activist Daniel McGowan has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in a pair of politically motivated arsons in the Pacific Northwest. McGowan is the ninth member of the Earth Liberation Front to be sentenced. The judge ruled one of the arsons was an act of terrorism. The Civil Liberties Defense Center and the National Lawyers Guild have criticized the Bush administration for treating the activists like terrorists since their actions involved only property damage.
55,000 Gather in Hong Kong To Mark Tiananmen Anniversary
In Hong Kong, some 55,000 people gathered on Monday to mark the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are believed to have been killed when Chinese troops were sent into Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, to quash weeks of student-led democracy demonstrations.
Yeung Sum, of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, said, "So I think, the Chinese government has to apologize, has to set up an inquiry to look into the cause. And they also have to give compensation to all those victims concerned. And they have to let those political dissidents who fled away from China to go back to their home town."
In China, human-rights activists say at least six dissidents were detained in recent days ahead of the anniversary.
Imprisoned Chinese Journalist Sues Yahoo.com
An imprisoned Chinese journalist has joined a lawsuit against the Internet company Yahoo. The journalist Shi Tao is serving a 10-year sentence for emailing a government document about the Tiananmen Square massacre to a pro-democracy group in the United States. He was arrested after Yahoo turned over his account information to Chinese authorities. On Monday, the World Association of Newspapers gave Shin Tao its Golden Pen of Freedom Award.
Palestinians and Israel Mark 1967 Six Day War
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets across the West Bank today to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War. A siren was scheduled to sound across the occupied West Bank to mark 40 years since Israel occupied the Palestinian territories. In Hebron, Jewish settlers demonstrated in support of their right to live in the Occupied West Bank. The Six Day War began 40 years ago today. It resulted in a reshaping of the Middle East. Israel seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the war, Amnesty International issued a major report on Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Amnesty accused Israel of blatantly violating international laws and imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian population. Amnesty criticized Israel for constructing a wall through the West Bank. The human-rights group also called on Palestinian militants to stop targeting Israeli civilians.
Fidel Castro Appears in First TV Interview in 10 Months
In Cuba, Fidel Castro has appeared in his first television interview since becoming ill 10 months ago. On Monday, Cuban television showed a clip of Castro talking about his recent meeting with the president of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nong Duc Manh.
Fidel Castro said, "He is a very intelligent person, with a lot of solid experience, with a lot of energy. He came to work, visited places of interest. It was a working visit, truly."
Castro has not appeared in public since July 31 when he handed power to his brother, Raul Castro.
Military Panel Punishes Iraq Vet For Protesting in Uniform
A military panel has recommended that an Iraq war veteran should lose his honorable-discharge status because he wore his uniform during an anti-war protest. Marine corporal Adam Kokesh is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and had taken part in protests in Washington and New York. The military began investigating Kokesh after his photograph appeared in the Washington Post. Kokesh has received support from the nation's largest combat veterans group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. On Friday, the organization urged the military to "exercise a little common sense" and call off its investigation. Gary Kurpius, national commander of the VFW said, "Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same Democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about." Adam Kokesh spoke last month in uniform during a Memorial Day protest in New York.
Kokesh said, "When we say bring our brothers and sisters still in Iraq home now, who are we talking to? The electorate said it last November, but we have yet to see and results. We are the weapons of this democracy ruled by the people, but our democracy has failed us. It is time for the people to end this war."
Senator Craig Thomas, 74, Dies
US senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming has died at the age of 74. In November, the Republican senator announced he had leukemia. He was first elected to the Senate in 1994.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Cheney's Ex-Aide, Libby, Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been sentenced to thirty months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors about his role in the CIA leak case. A jury convicted Libby in March on four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury, and obstructing a probe into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity. Administration officials outed Plame after her husband, former US Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly challenged the Bush administration's case for going to war on Iraq. Libby could still avoid serving his prison sentence if president Bush grants him a pardon. On Tuesday, White House officials said the president is not going to intervene for now.
Iraqi Lawmakers Move to Block Extension of US Occupation
In Baghdad, Iraqi lawmakers have passed a resolution that may force an end to the US military occupation. By an 85 to 59 vote, the Iraqi parliament passed a binding resolution to require the al Maliki government consult lawmakers before extending the US military mandate in Iraq. The move was spearheaded by supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr as well as several Sunni parties. Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar described the vote as an enormous development. Jarrar reports that lawmakers in Baghdad are planning to block the extension of the coalition's mandate when it comes up for renewal in six months.
US Air War in Iraq Intensifies
The Associated Press reports the US air war in Iraq has greatly intensified in recent months. US aircraft dropped more bombs and missiles in the first four and a half months of 2007 than all of last year. At the same time, the number of civilian Iraqi casualties from US airstrikes appears to have risen sharply.
UN: Iraq War Has Caused 4.2 Million Refugees
The United Nations now estimates 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes because of the Iraq war and US occupation. On Tuesday the UN high commissioner for Refugees pleaded for countries to do more to help the refugees.
GOP Candidates Refuse to Rule Out Nuking Iran
In New Hampshire, the Republican presidential candidates met for their third debate last night. Issues discussed included the war in Iraq, immigration, and US-Iranian relations. Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to rule out attacking Iran with nuclear weapons.
Giuliani said, "I think it could be done with conventional weapons, but you shouldn't take any options off the table. And during the debate the other night, the Democrats seemed like they were back in the 1990's. They don't seem to have got beyond the Cold War. Iran is a nuclear threat and not just because they can deliver a nuclear warhead with missiles. They are a threat, because they are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and they can handle and they can hand nuclear material to terrorists."
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney also refused to rule out a nuclear strike against Iran.
Mitt Romney said, "You don't take options off the table. What you do is stand back and say 'what's going on here.' You see, what's happening in Sudan and Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran and all over the world, you see what's happening. And that is, people are testing the United States of America. And what we have to make them understand [is] we're not arrogant. We have resolve and the strength to protect our interests and protect people who love liberty."
During the Republican debate, president Bush was repeatedly criticized. The audience applauded when congressman Tom Tancredo said Bush would never darken the doorstep of his White House.
Senator John McCain expressed his continued support for Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq.
McCain said, "I think this strategy needs a chance to succeed. We haven't given it, barely got the fifth brigade over there, which is part of this strategy. I am convinced that if we fail, they will follow us home and it will be a base for al Qaeda. And we will be facing greater challenges and greater sacrifices."
You do take options off the table. In fact, if you are a Christian, some things are not options. A Christian has no option to use nuclear weapons. A Christian has no option to go to war. A Christian turns the other cheek, no matter how difficult. None of these so-called candidates is a Christian.
Unions Criticize Hillary Clinton for Ties to Union Buster
The presidents of two large labor unions have written to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain about ties between her chief strategist, Mark Penn, and union-busting efforts. In a letter to Clinton, James Hoffa of the Teamsters and Bruce Raynor of Unite Here criticized the anti-union activities of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, which is headed by Penn.
German Police Arrest 57 At G8 Protest
In Germany, police arrested 57 protesters on Tuesday ahead of president Bush"s arrival for the G8 summit. About 400 demonstrators with anti-G8 signs tried to block one of the road exits from Rostock airport shortly before Bush landed. They held banners reading "Bush is a murderer" and shouted "Yankee go home."
Bush Defends Military Defense System
Tensions remain high between president Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin over the Bush administration's plan to station a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. On Tuesday, China joined Russia in denouncing the system. China warned it could result in a new arms race. Bush visited the Czech Republic on Tuesday and defended his plans.
Bush said, "My attitude on missile defense, and this is not just my attitude, this is the truth, is that this is a purely defensive measure, not aimed at Russia but at true threats. And therefore, as the president mentioned, I look forward to having conversations with president Putin, not only at the G8 but up in the United States when he comes over. And my message will be: Vladimir, you know, I call him Vladimir, you shouldn't fear our defense system."
Scientists in Greenland Warn About Melting Glaciers
As the world leaders prepare to discuss solutions to global warming at the G8 meeting, more warnings are coming from the scientific community about climate change. A new United Nations report has determined that Greenland's ice cap is already melting at alarming rates and that the temperatures in polar regions is expected to rise twice as fast as the global average in coming decades.
Koni Steffen, of the University of Colorado-Boulder, said, "Warmer temperatures in spring, warmer temperatures in fall made the melting period in Greenland much longer. Therefore, we see more and more melt-water flowing off the ice sheet into the ocean and decreasing the reflection of the sun, which has a feedback. We call it a positive feed back mechanism. Qnd we have seen that over the last fifteen years there is a steady increase of melt from the ice sheet."
Koni Steffen said the melting ice caps could have dire effects on sea levels.
Steffen said, "If you take, for example, this glacier, Jakobshavn Isbrae, and you take the volume of these icebergs that are breaking off every two to three days, they are breaking off constantly. But let's take the volume two to three days of broken off icebergs, this is enough fresh water for the entire city of New York for one year."
Israel Kills Two Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza
Two more Palestinians have died in a pair of Israeli attacks in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli troops killed an 80-year-old man in a house raid. In Gaza, an Israeli air strike killed one man.
Palestinians and Israeli Activists Condemn 40 Years of Occupation
The killings occurred as Palestinians and Israelis marked the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said, "Even if June (the Six Day War) went down in history as marking the defeat of the Arabs by Israel, our standing up to this defeat, in spite of the hardships, could make up for what we have lost in war. Perhaps we can even erase it from memory with a great achievement, putting an end to the occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, creating our independent state, recovering our Jerusalem, solving the refugee problem in a just and acceptable manner, based on legitimate international resolutions."
In Jerusalem, Israeli peace-activists gathered to protest the existence of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
An Israeli peace-activist said, "We have the right to say that this situation have to be stopped. It means occupation has to be stopped. There is an option of, solution of: Two states solution, withdraw from territories, two capitals in Jerusalem. And we think we have to do everything to stop this terrible situation."
Leahy Calls For Restoration of Habeas Corpus at Guantanamo
On Capitol Hill, senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate judiciary committee, has called on the White House to work with the Democratic-controlled Congress in order to craft a new legal framework for the military tribunals at Guantanamo. Leahy's call came one day after military judges dismissed war crimes charges against two prisoners. Leahy said, "The place to start is by restoring the hallmark of justice known as the great writ of habeas corpus."
Family of Child Held at Guantanamo Speaks Out
In Canada, the family of Omar Khadr said they were overjoyed after learning that charges were dropped against him. Omar Khadr has been held at Guantanamo since he was 15 years old. He was first detained in Afghanistan.
Zaynab Khadr, sister of Omar Khadr, said, "I think they're going to find another way to recharge him, but at least they found the loop, a hole in the loop, and they're trying something else. We're moving on. Maybe not the way we'd like it to move or not as fast as we'd like it to move, but it's moving."
Reporters asked Omar Khadr's sister about how her brother is doing.
Zaynab said, "His letters seem to portray him. He's doing ok, a lot more mature than he used to be. I mean, he was 15! He's telling us to be strong, and he's telling us to hang in there. And he's telling us to have faith. Physically, going to the lawyer and a lot of people who are seeing him as that, well it's having its toll on him. I mean, who wouldn't it have its toll on? He was almost dead when they took him, and it has a heavy toll on a completely perfectly healthy men and he was a child, so…"
Shrinking Number of Women and People of Color Own Radio Stations
A new study on the effects of media consolidation has revealed that women and minorities own a shrinking percentage of the nation's commercial radio stations. According to the group Free Press, women own just 6% of all full-power commercial stations nationwide, and racial or ethnic minorities own just less than 8 percent. The study also found these stations are more likely to broadcast local content and diverse programming than ones owned by white men.
Klansman on Trial for 1964 Killing of Two Black Teenagers
In Jackson Mississippi, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan is on trial for murdering two black teenagers in 1964. James Ford Seale was first arrested shortly after the killings but the charges were thrown out after the FBI turned the case over to local authorities. The Justice Department reopened the case two years ago. On Tuesday, a cousin of Seale named Charles Marcus Edwards testified that he and Seale had abducted and attacked the black teenagers. Edwards said Seale and other Klansmen then drove the teenagers across the Louisiana border. They put duct tape over the mouths of the teenagers and then dumped them into the Mississippi River alive. The victims, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, were both 19 years old. Their bodies were found about two months later, when authorities were conducting an intensive search for slain civil-rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, who disappeared from central Mississippi's Neshoba County on June 21, 1964.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Turkey Denies Anti-Kurd Incursion in Northern Iraq
Turkey is denying reports its sent forces into northern Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels. The Associated Press reported Wednesday Turkish military officials had confirmed limited operations were taking place. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack backed Turkey's denial.
McCormack said, "So what we believe is needed is dialogue, cooperation, action in addressing the PKK threat but not an incursion by the Turkish army into Iraq. We have been able to check along the border, and we haven't seen anything."
US Iraq Toll Approaches 3,500
The US death toll in Iraq is approaching thirty-five hundred. The Pentagon announced the deaths of four US troops Wednesday, bringing the toll to three thousand four hundred and ninety-eight. Twenty-two troops have been killed in the first six days of June.
Iraq Cracks Down on Striking Oil Workers
In other Iraq news, leaders of Iraq's oil workers strike say the Iraqi government has issued warrants for their arrest. More than six hundred workers have walked off the job to oppose the proposed Iraq oil law and demand better wages. Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki said this week he would respond "with an iron fist."
War Czar Nominee Admits Doubting Troop Surge
President Bush's nominee to be the new White House war advisor has admitted he doubted the administration's so-called troop surge in Iraq. Lieutenant general Douglas Lute has told the Senate Armed Services Committee he voiced his concerns during a White House review of Bush's plan to send tens of thousands of more troops to Iraq earlier this year. Lute's confirmation hearing is set to begin today.
Ex-Official: Cheney Blocked Promotion for Domestic Spy Critic
A former senior Justice Department official has revealed vice president Cheney personally blocked the promotion of a government lawyer who had raised objections to the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. In written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, former deputy attorney general James Comey says Cheney's office intervened to prevent the promotion of Patrick Philbin because of Philbin's vocal concerns. Comey also disclosed Cheney told Justice Department officials he disagreed with their objections to the program at a White House meeting in March 2004. The meeting was held one day after administration officials tried to get then-attorney general John Ashcroft to sign off on the program as he lay recovering from major surgery in his hospital bed.
G8 Leaders to Back Down on Climate Goals
In Germany, world leaders at the G8 summit have apparently dropped efforts to convince the Bush administration to agree to mandatory cuts to greenhouse gases. Earlier today, British prime minister Tony Blair said leaders are close to agreeing on a deal that would set what he called a substantial reduction of emissions as "a target." German chancellor Angela Merkel had campaigned for an agreement that would cut emissions to half 1990 levels by the year 2050. But on Wednesday, president Bush repeated his stance he will only agree to targeted "goals."
Bush said, "I also come with a strong desire to work with you on a post-Kyoto agreement about how we can achieve major objectives. One of course is the reduction of greenhouse gases. Another is to become more energy independent, in our case from crude oil, from parts of the world where we have got some friends and sometimes we don't have friends."
EU President: US, Russia Should Move Beyond Cold-War Rhetoric
European Commission president Jose Barroso urged the US and Russia to move beyond the growing dispute over US plans for a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
European Comission president Jose Barroso said, "For me the most important challenge is not this Cold-War rhetoric that I really find quite puzzling and completely out of tune with reality. The real problems of the world are not those coming from this Cold-War rhetoric that is completely inappropriate. The real problems of the world are people dying every day, because they don't have enough food to eat or clean water to drink, the fact that we are having this climate-change threat to our planet."
Report: US Forces Reversal on G8 AIDS Pledge
In other summit news, the Financial Times is reporting the Bush administration has successfully pressured G8 leaders to backtrack on a two-year old pledge to fund universal access to medical care for sufferers of AIDS. World leaders agreed to reach ten million AIDS patients at the Gleneagles summit in 2005. Internal documents now show the G8 will now propose to cut that number by half to around five million. The lowered goal was inserted at the apparent insistence of US negotiators. The move would come just one week after Bush cited AIDS funding as a major priority. A senior G8 official called the proposal "a huge backward step."
Protesters Block Route to G8 Summit
The developments come as tens of thousands of people continue to protest the G8 summit. On Wednesday, activists managed to delay the meeting after a massive blockade of all routes leading to the summit.
Human-Rights Groups Sue US for Info on "Ghost Prisoners"
A coalition of human-rights groups have filed suit against the Bush administration to release information about thirty-nine people it says are being secretly imprisoned. The groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say the individuals are "ghost prisoners" who have disappeared in the so-called "war on terror." The suspects" relatives have also reportedly been detained, including children as young as seven years old.
The people holding these people are devils.
Somali Prisoner Moved to Guantanamo
The Pentagon has announced its transfer of a new prisoner to Guantanamo Bay. Abdullahi Sudi Arale is believed to have come from a secret US detention facility in Somalia. The US says he played a leading role in the Islamic coalition ousted by US-backed Ethiopian forces last year. McClatchy Newspapers reports Arale had been previously unknown and didn't appear on the list of key Somali suspects wanted in connection with previous attacks on US facilities.
Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Man, Injure Wife
In the Occupied Territories, a Palestinian man has been shot dead and his wife seriously injured in an Israeli raid on their home in the town of Hebron. According to his children, sixty-seven year old Isaq al Jabari confronted the troops after they burst into his home in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Israeli troops shot him in the jaw and then fired on his sixty-year old wife. Both were unarmed. Several Palestinian civilians have been killed or injured in Israeli raids on the Occupied Territories this week. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights says two fourteen-year old children were killed in northern Gaza after they flew their kites near an Israeli military post.
If this is true, then those troops are going to hell unless they sufficiently repent and atone. How much of that would be required, God alone knows. Who has given these fascists the authority to shoot old, unarmed men and women and boys flying kites? Only Satan would do that. Those troops take their orders from Satan. They are Satanic followers and worshippers.
Palestinians Call for Release of Kidnapped BBC Reporter
Palestinian officials are repeating calls for the release of the kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. Johnston has been held by unknown assailants in Gaza for nearly two months.
Palestinian information minister Mustafa Barghouti said, "We feel happy that he is in good health and in good shape, and we still demand that he would be immediately freed and released without any conditions. The best help that can be done for the Palestinian people is to release him immediately. His work in support of the Palestinian people should encourage those who are kidnapping him illegally to release him immediately and let him go back to his work, to his family in a safe manner."
Female Afghan Journalist Slain
In Afghanistan, an Afghan journalist has been killed in her home in Parwan province. Zakia Zaki had recently faced threats from local warlords to shut down her radio station or be killed.
Habiba Zaki, Zakia Zaki's sister, said, "She was a hard working woman. She was an intellectual fighting for freedom and peace. She was killed, because she was working hard to express the voice of women, to bring up the voice of freedom and peace. That is why she was killed, and she is martyred."
Zakia Zaki is the second female Afghan journalist to be murdered in the last week. News anchor Sanga Amach was killed by unknown gunmen Friday in Kabul.
Melting Bolivian Glacier Brings Dire Warnings
In Bolivia, scientists are warning of a major long-term catastrophe if the melting of a major glacier continues apace. The Chacaltaya mountain glacier provides the main water source for hundreds of thousands of people. Experts say it could melt away within a year. Edson Ramirez of UNSECO said the glacier is being harmed by human-driven climate change.
Ramirez said, "Without a doubt, global warming is one of the principal factors that is provoking the melting of these glaciers. It is something that is not just having a local impact, as could be thought in the case of Chacaltaya, but we are observing its impact in all of the different glaciers we are monitoring. For example, there are around 10 glaciers, and in all of them it has been observed that since the 1980's, they have been melting much more significantly. The proportion (of glacier melt) has tripled."
Mass WWII Jewish Grave Discovered in Ukraine
In Ukraine, workers have discovered a mass grave believed to contain thousands of Jews killed during the Second World War. The grave was found near a village that Nazis had converted into a Jewish ghetto. Experts believe hundreds of mass grave sites in Ukraine have yet to be found.
Report: Saudi Prince Received Millions for Brokering UK Arm Deal
BBC News is reporting Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan secretly received hundreds of millions of dollars from a major British arms dealer for negotiating a contract with the Saudi Arabian government. BAE Systems is said to have sent up to two hundred forty million dollars per year to prince Bandar's Washington bank account while he was Saudi ambassador to the US.
Senate Imposes New Restrictions in Immigration Bill
The bi-partisan immigration bill survived another round of challenges in the Senate Wednesday with new restrictions on undocumented workers. Senators defeated amendments that would have disqualified hundreds of thousands of workers from obtaining visas. But senators also rejected measures that would have granted visas to hundreds of thousands of relatives of US citizens and green-card holders. The Senate also voted to end a proposed guest-worker program after five years, just days after it voted to cut the size of the program in half. Senators also adopted amendments that would make English the national and "common" language of the US; deny immigrant workers tax credits; and block Social Security benefits to workers who stay past their visa date. A final Senate vote could come tomorrow.
Friday, June 8, 2007
G8 Agrees to "Consider" Emission Caps Following US Resistance
World leaders at the G8 summit in Germany have reached an agreement on global warming that agrees only to "consider" cuts to emissions of greenhouse gases. Germany had led calls for a mandatory fifty-percent cut by 2050 under a global UN accord. The Bush administration has rejected any specific cuts. It says it will only accept targets and goals for reducing emissions. The deal calls for member nations to negotiate a new agreement but doesn't bind them to the outcome. British prime minister Tony Blair hailed the accord.
Blair said, "This is an agreement in which we want all the major countries to be involved, including America, China, India, and others, in other words, the developed and the developing world. So the possibility is here, therefore, for the first time of getting a global deal on climate change with substantial cuts in emissions, and everyone in the deal, which is the only way that we are going to get the radical action on the climate that we need. I think this is a major, major step forward."
Environmentalists Criticize G8 Deal
Environmental groups had a different take.
Greenpeace climate expert Tobias Muenchmeyer said, "There is no breakthrough, and there is no compromise. There are results now on the table which show that G8 has, the group of the eight biggest economies has, failed to live up to responsibilities when it comes to climate change. There is no consensus on reductions on 50 percent CO2 emissions by 2050, since the US is not willing to accept this."
German Police Chase Greenpeace Boats Near G8 Zone
As the deal was reached, Greenpeace caused a stir when it led German police boats on a high-speed chase through the Baltic Sea. Three Greenpeace inflatable speed boats penetrated the security zone in the waters off the Heiligendamm meeting site. The activists unfurled a banner reading 'G8 — Act Now." The chase came to an end when a massive police ship rammed two Greenpeace boats, sending crew members into the water. Three activists were injured and taken to the hospital. Greenpeace didn't stop there — earlier today the group tried to send a hot-air balloon over the summit with the word 'FAILED' written across its "G8 - Act Now" slogan. Police helicopters forced the balloon to land before it could reach the G8 meeting site. Thousands of people continue their protests on the summit's last day.
An unidentified protester said, "We want to try to arrive to the fence, and our objective is to cross the road and don't let pass all the personnel who have to work here. We think that this (pointing to Heiligendamm) is a criminal organization, and we have to fight it."
Groups: G8 Aid Deal Falls Far Short of Global Needs
The environmental agreement was followed by a deal on aid funding today also criticized by development and advocacy groups. The G8 committed to spend sixty billion dollars over five years on funding programs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. But several groups say the pledge falls short of required needs and exists mostly of funds that have already been announced. Steve Cockburn of the Stop ADIS Campaign said, "While lives will be saved with more money for AIDS, this represents a cap on ambition that will ultimately cost millions more lives."
Bush Holds Last Official Meeting with Blair
The G8 summit marks President Bush's last official meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair before Blair steps down later this month. Bush reflected on the encounter.
Bush said, "This is the last meeting I will have with him as prime minister. It's a nostalgic moment for me. I'm sorry it's come to be, but that's what happens in life. People move on. As Tony said, we talked about a global climate change. I told him in Washington, and I recommitted myself today, that the US will be actively involved if not taking the lead in a post-Kyoto framework or agreement."
Bush missed today's morning session of the G8 meetings because of what White House officials said was a stomach ailment.
Putin Proposes European Missile Shield in Azerbaijan
In other G8 news, Russian president Vladimir Putin has made a surprise counterproposal in the standoff over US plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe. On Thursday, Putin said the US and Russia should station a radar in Azerbaijan for a missile shield that would cover all of Europe. Putin has been fiercely critical of US plans to host sites in the Czech Republic and Poland. Some analysts described Putin's offer as a bluff to deter the existing US proposals.
80 Killed in Iraq Violence as US Toll Passes 3,500
In Iraq, at least eighty people have been killed in violence over the last day. Earlier today, fourteen people were killed when attackers struck the house of the police chief in Baqouba. Twenty-five people were killed when suicide bombers hit a Shiite mosque and a police station in Kirkuk. At least sixteen were killed in a car bombing in the southern Iraqi town of Qurnah. The violence comes one day after the Pentagon announced the US military death toll in Iraq has now passed the thirty-five hundred mark.
War Czar Pick Explains Doubts on Troop Surge
Bush's "war czar" nominee lieutenant general Douglas Lute explained reports he had doubted the administration's plans for a so-called troop surge in Iraq.
Lieutenant general Douglas Lute said, "I expressed concerns in the policy development phase, as you mentioned in your opening remarks, that this not be simply a one- dimensional surge — that is, a military only. We have taken steps on other dimensions inside the US government. And the Iraqi government has taken some steps to demonstrate that it understands that it must surge, if you will, alongside of us. I'd assess at this point that the Iraqi participation in the surge has been uneven so far. And I think we're in the early days. And time will tell."
Lute went on to testify that national security advisor Stephen Hadley would no longer play a major role in advising on Iraq and Afghanistan.
CIA Kidnapping Trial Begins in Italy
In Italy, the trial begins today for twenty-six Americans and five Italians accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003. Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, was taken to US bases in Italy and Germany before being sent to Egypt. There he says he was tortured during a four-year imprisonment. All twenty-six Americans are being tried in absentia. The case marks the first criminal trial over the CIA's extraordinary-rendition program. Proceedings are set to begin just hours after President Bush arrives in Italy on a state visit.
Investigator: Poland, Romania Hosted CIA Prisons
The trial comes as a top European investigator has concluded the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005. In a report today, Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty says prisoners were held at the prisons with the full cooperation of leaders of the countries involved. Marty says top suspects Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were imprisoned at a site in Poland. Marty has previously accused fourteen European countries of collaborating with the CIA in its kidnapping and imprisonment of prisoners in the so-called war on terror.
Pakistani Journalists, Activists Protest Media Curbs
In Pakistan, thousands of people held rallies against new restrictions on local media and the suspension of a leading judge. President Pervez Musharraf imposed measures this week that make it easier for government forces to shut down broadcasters.
Mazhar Abbas of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists said, "Our fight is for the rights of workers, our fight is for the protection of journalists, and our fight is for our right to know. We have always fought these wars, and our struggle will continue."
Chilean Prosecutor Recommends Fujimori Extradition
In Chile, a top prosecutor has recommended that former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori be extradited to Peru. Fujimori faces several corruption and human rights charges stemming from his decade as president in the 1990's. The charges include the killing of political opponents, illegal phone tapping, and bribery.
Families of Colombian Paramilitary Victims Sue US Banana Giant Chiquita
Relatives of victims of a right-wing paramilitary group in Colombia have filed suit against the US banana giant Chiquita Brands. Earlier this year, Chiquita admitted it had paid off the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia which is considered a terrorist organization by the US government. Chiquita said it had fallen victim to an extortion racket that threatened its employees. Colombian prosecutors have also accused Chiquita of providing arms that were then used to push leftist rebels out of an area in northern Colombia where Chiquita had its banana plantations. The suit was filed on behalf of one-hundred forty-four people killed by Colombian paramilitary groups. Lead attorney Terry Collingsworth says the suit could mark the biggest terrorism case in history. He said, "Putting Chiquita on trial for hundreds, or even thousands, of murders could put them out of business."
GOP'r Charged in Abramoff Scandal
Another top Republican operative has been charged in the ongoing fallout from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Italia Federici of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy has been charged with tax evasion and obstructing a Senate inquiry. Prosecutors say Federici lied about her role as a go-between between Abramoff and former deputy interior secretary J. Steven Griles.
House Votes to Reverse Stem-Cell Restrictions
The House has voted to give final approval on a measure that undoes President Bush's restrictions on fetal stem-cell research. The final vote won't be enough to override a promised veto from the White House.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "I can't help but think that even those opposed to this legislation today, would want their family members, their child with diabetes, their husband with Parkinson's, their father with Alzheimer's, their mother with breast cancer, to have the benefit of stem-cell research."
Bid to Restore Habeas Corpus Advances in Senate
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would restore habeas corpus to prisoners at Guantanano Bay. On Thursday, the committee voted eleven to eight to advance a measure that would let prisoners challenge their detentions in federal court.
Immigration Bill in Doubt Following Senate Deadlock
The fate of the bi-partisan immigration bill is in doubt today after a major setback in the Senate. On Thursday senators rejected a motion to end debate and put the bill to a final vote. The move followed dozens of amendments that included cutting the size of a guest-worker provision in half and designating English as the national language of the United States. The deadlock drew criticism from all sides of the immigration debate. Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza, said, "[It's] utterly unacceptable for the Senate to fail to address the issue of immigration reform. The country demands and deserves a solution for our broken immigration system."