Officials: Saddam Hussein Execution Imminent

US and Iraqi officials have announced Saddam Hussein will likely be executed sometime this weekend. Hussein’s lawyers have been told to gather his personal effects. Hussein’s half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, is also expected to be killed. Hussein lost an appeal this week of his conviction for his role in the deaths of more than one hundred Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982. On Thursday, voices including the Vatican, the European Union and Human Rights Watch condemned the death sentence. Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch said: "The true test of respect for human rights comes when the human rights of someone who has violated in unspeakable ways the human rights of many millions of people comes into play." Human Rights Watch and other organizations say Hussein was denied a fair trial.

60 Killed in Iraq Violence; US December Toll Reaches 90

In other Iraq news, at least sixty people were killed in violence around Iraq Thursday. Dozens of bodies were again recovered from the streets of Baghdad. The US military announced the deaths of another five US troops, bringing this month’s US toll to ninety — second only to one-hundred and five servicemembers who died in October.

Bush: More Time Needed on Iraq Plan

Meanwhile, President Bush emerged from a meeting on Iraq with top officials at his Crawford estate Thursday with a familiar message. The president said he needs more time to work out a plan.

President Bush: "I’ve got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan. Obviously, we’ll continue to work with the Iraqi government. The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that’s willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding. We want to help them succeed, and so we’ll continue to consult with the Iraqis."

Sheehan Arrested Outside Bush Meeting

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were all in attendance. The President also received some uninvited guests. Peace mom Cindy Sheehan and four other anti-war activists were arrested at a barricade on the president’s ranch. Sheehan said she wanted to display a "peace surge" as the White House moves towards a "troop surge" in Iraq. Sheehan’s son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004.

Somali Government in Control of Capital

In Somalia, forces backing the Somali government are in control of the capitol Mogadishu today after the retreat of fighters with the Council of Islamic Courts. The Islamic Courts fled without the firing of a single shot. Pro-government forces include militias linked to local warlords and troops sent by the Ethiopian government. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan repeated calls for the withdrawal of Ethiopian soldiers.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan: "… I would also appeal to neighbouring countries to stay out of the crisis in Somalia, and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia."

Reporter: " Are you calling for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops like the African Union?"

Kofi Annan: "I’ve already spoken to the President of Ethiopia about that, and it is essential that neighbouring governments stay out of this."

Group: Israeli Killings of Palestinians Triple in 2006

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, new figures released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem show Israeli forces killed six-hundred and sixty Palestinians this year. B’Tselem says that’s three times more than in 2005. The figure includes one hundred and forty-one children. Nearly half of the total dead were not involved in hostile acts.

FDA: Cloned Food Safe for Consumption

Here in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded milk and meat from cloned animals is safe to eat and can be sold on the US market. The ruling will face a public comment period before it’s up for final approval. Consumer and animal-rights groups are already planning a public challenge.

Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer of Federation of America: "It will be sneaked into the market place and we at consumer Federation of America think people should object to that."

AT&T Agrees to Net Neutrality

In other news, the telecom giant AT&T has agreed to adhere to net neutrality. Net neutrality is the concept that everyone, everywhere, should have free, universal and non-discriminatory access to the Internet. AT&T made the pledge as part of its efforts to win FCC approval for its merger with Bell South.

Bush Admin Lists Polar Bear as Endangered Species

Facing a possible court battle over its lack of action on global warming, the Bush administration has agreed to declare the polar bear an endangered species. The move comes after environmental groups threatened to sue the White House for failing to protect the bears. The bears’ arctic habitat has seen declining ice coverage by the year — a decline environmentalist blame on global warming. Despite acknowledging the conditions in the bears’ habitats, the White House indicated no plans to curb Alaska oil drilling or impose new limits on emissions of greenhouse-gas.

Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies: "It’s in law now. They have to account for the voice of the bear and the impact on the polar bear of any actions that are taken. So they have to account for increases in global warming pollution that might be caused by a federal project or a by an energy development project. We don’t know how they’re going to handle this yet, but by law, they should have to account for the inevitable impact of global warming, to global warming, of anything that the government does."

7 New Orleans Police Officers Charged in Fatal Shootings

In New Orleans, seven police officers have been indicted over a shooting incident that left two people dead in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The victims — forty-year old Ronald Madison and nineteen-year old James Brissette — were crossing the Danziger Bridge when they came between a gun battle between a group of armed assailants and seven police officers. Madison — who was mentally handicapped — was shot seven times, including five in his back. Police initially claimed Madison was armed. His brother, Lance Madison, denies the police account. Four of the officers have been charged with murder. Announcing the charges Thursday, District Attorney Eddie Jordan said: "We cannot allow our police officers to shoot and kill our citizens without justification like rabid dogs."

Edwards Announces Candidacy, Calls for Troop Withdrawal

In political news, former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards announced Thursday he is entering the race for the 2008 presidency. Edwards opened his campaign in the lower Ninth Ward district of New Orleans — one of the neighborhoods worst affected by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards called for steps to fight global warming and end poverty in the United States. He also spoke out against talk of increasing the number of US troops in Iraq.

John Edwards: "And it is a mistake, I want to be absolutely clear about this, it is a mistake for America to escalate it’s role in Iraq. It is a mistake to surge troops into Iraq, it sends exactly the wrong signal to the Iraqis and the rest of the world about what our intentions are there."

Edwards voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq but now says that was a mistake.

Goodyear Union Workers End Strike

In labor news, union workers at sixteen plants of the tiremaker Goodyear have approved a new contract that will end their more than two-month strike. Some 15,000 United Steelworkers members in the US and Canada walked off the job in October seeking greater job security and continued healthcare after retirement.

Thousands Visit Apollo Theatre for James Brown Viewing

And finally, here in New York, thousands of people passed through Harlem’s Apollo Theatre Thursday for one last look at the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Brown died Monday at the age of seventy-three. Brown’s golden casket was carried through Harlem by horse-drawn carriage and displayed for public viewing on the Apollo stage. Spectators braved five-hour waits to get a final glimpse at the man who revolutionized popular music.


Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.