The New York Times is reporting a long-negotiated deal over a new Iraqi oil law has apparently collapsed. The breakdown reportedly centers around a disagreement between Cabinet members in Baghdad and Kurdish government officials in the north. Iraqi Kurds have already reached a series of deals with foreign oil companies in their oil-rich province. The apparent collapse comes amidst a new White House effort to convince lawmakers U.S. goals in Iraq are being achieved. Pushing through a new oil law has been high on the list.
A Sudanese journalist jailed for more than five years at Guantánamo Bay is reportedly close to taking his own life. Sami al-Hajj is 250 days into a hunger strike protesting his imprisonment without charge or trial. Doctors who’ve examined him say it appears he’s given up his fight to live. Al-Hajj was working as a cameraman for the Arabic TV network Al Jazeera when he was detained in a Pakistani town on the border with Afghanistan in December 2001. He was transferred to U.S. custody and flown to Bagram Air Base. Six months later, he was flown to Guantánamo Bay. He was been imprisoned there without charge ever since.
The Bush administration has announced it plans to make a new push for U.N. Security Council sanctions over Iran’s nuclear activities. The White House says it will gather the five permanent Security Council members for a meeting next week. Iran has refused U.S. demands to suspend uranium enrichment as a precondition for talks. In an interview with British television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has no need for a nuclear bomb: "We do not need a bomb. We are against bomb actually. There are many reasons that we are against it. In our belief we are against bombs. From political point of view, it is not useful, we think."
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 166 people have died in an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
World Health Organization spokesperson Gregory Hartl: "At WHO we have received reports of 372 cases of illness and 166 deaths coming from Western Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now, five of these cases have been confirmed as Ebola, and obviously then this is extremely important that it’s Ebola, but there’s also other things which we think are going on there."
Ebola has no known cure. The death rate can be as high as 90 percent.
The World Conservation Union has added nearly 200 species to its list of those facing extinction. In its annual report, the group says more than 16,300 species are now in danger of dying out.
World Conservation Union species deputy Christopher Vie: "The main threat is the destruction of their habitat — for example, the forests being destroyed, coral reef destruction. The second menace is the evasive species, over-exploitation, fishing. Fish are disappearing from our oceans because we over-fish them. To this, you have to add climate change factors, which will have more insidious consequences."
The report comes as a prominent British think tank is warning global warming could have effects akin to nuclear war. In a new study, the International Institute for Strategic Studies says global warming could be on pace "to hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great human suffering and leading to regional strife."
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced he’s stepping down. Abe had suggested he would resign if he failed to win support for extending Japan’s contingent in the U.S.-led force in Afghanistan.
Japanese opposition leader Mizuho Fukushima: "From the beginning to the end, Mr. Abe has been indifferent to the general public’s lives. And the way he announced his resignation showed just that. He didn’t fully explain why he is resigning. I have to say, it’s very irresponsible of him to leave his job halfway through like this."
A deported immigrant rights activist and her eight-year-old son led parallel rallies for immigrant rights Wednesday in Washington and Tijuana. Elvira Arellano was deported to Mexico last month following a year of refuge inside a Chicago church. On Wednesday, Arellano led dozens through Tijuana’s streets calling for an end to the U.S. government crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
Elvira Arellano: "The call that I made to be in Washington, D.C., on September 12 was important. I was deported, and this was where I was deported. Hundreds of families are separated here every day."
Meanwhile, in Washington, Arellano’s son Saul led a chanting crowd of more than 150 people through the Capitol building. Saul Arellano joined with a group of other children to carry a banner reading: "Born in the USA. Don’t take our moms and dads away."
A union representing workers at six meatpacking plants has filed suit against immigration officials over raids that led to more than 1,000 arrests last year. The suit accuses the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of roughly handling more than 12,000 workers of the meatpacking company Swift. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union says workers not accused of any crime were handcuffed for hours and denied access to phones, legal counsel, bathrooms and their families. The suit seeks financial damages and an end to the raids.
And the Bush administration is facing major opposition to two potential nominees for key government posts. Senate Intelligence Committee members have asked the White House to withdraw its choice of John Rizzo for CIA general counsel. Concerns have been raised over Rizzo’s stance on the torture of prisoners. Rizzo told a Senate hearing in June he supported the infamous 2002 Justice Department memo that said torture would not occur unless a prisoner experiences pain serious enough to cause organ failure or death. This week a coalition of human rights groups called for rejecting Rizzo’s nomination. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights and three other groups wrote: "When Mr. Rizzo failed to object to legal arguments that defended torture, he failed to protect his clients — the president, his CIA colleagues and the American people." Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are also warning President Bush not to nominate rumored frontrunner Ted Olson for attorney general. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed Olson would not pass confirmation hearings. Olson represented Bush in the legal battle over the 2000 presidential elections.