Cholera Death Toll Surpasses 900 in Haiti

The death toll from Haiti’s cholera outbreak has soared past 900 after more than three weeks. Haiti’s health ministry says some 14,600 people have been treated for symptoms in six of Haiti’s 10 provinces. The United Nations has appealed for some $160 million in new aid amidst warnings some 270,000 Haitians could fall ill in the coming years. Dr. Phuoc Lee of the group Partners in Health said clinics will be challenged to treat patients if the disease spreads.

Dr. Phuoc Lee: "We’re still seeing many patients, dozens of new patients every day. We still have dozens of patients who are very, very ill, but luckily, with the collaboration between the ministry, our Cuban colleagues and also Partners in Health, Zanmi Lasante, we have adequate staffing to care of the patients currently. Of course, we don’t know if there is going to be a surge in numbers, but right now, for the last few days, we’ve had staffing that’s been adequate to take care of the large numbers of patients that we see."

Karzai Calls for Reduced U.S. Military Operations in Afghanistan

The Obama administration is locked in a new public dispute with Afghan President Hamid Karzai following Karzai’s latest criticism of the U.S.-led occupation. In an interview with the Washington Post, Karzai urged the United States to "reduce military operations" and end what he called "terrible" night raids on Afghan homes. Karzai added, "The raids are a problem always … They have to go away." Karzai says the United States should shift from a military focus to civilian efforts in order to reduce its "intrusiveness" into daily Afghan life. U.S. officials said the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, expressed "astonishment and disappointment" with Karzai’s remarks, which he said could make U.S. plans "untenable." The row over Karzai’s comments comes just as the Obama administration prepares to announce it’s extending a conditional deadline for withdrawing troops by three years to 2014. The New York Times reports the plan will be modeled after Iraq, with Afghan forces receiving nominal control in some areas within the next two years. As with the 2011 date, the 2014 deadline won’t be binding and could be extended. In other Afghan war news, at least seven NATO troops were killed in attacks on Sunday, the deadliest day for the U.S.-led occupation force in a month.

Aung San Suu Kyi Freed in Burma

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed after her latest confinement under house arrest expired. Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the last 21 years in detention. On Sunday, one day after release, she addressed thousands of supporters with a call to intensify Burma’s pro-democracy struggle. Speaking to reporters after her speech, Suu Kyi stressed the importance of a grassroots movement.

Aung San Suu Kyi: "I’m a little wary of the expression 'moral authority.' I hope that what I do for this country is not based simply on moral authority. I like to think that I’m part of a movement, part of an effective movement."

U.S. Offers Israel Military Upgrade, Peace Veto for Limited Settlement Freeze

Israel’s cabinet is preparing to vote on a package of U.S. incentives to extend a West Bank settlement freeze and revive peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. The Obama administration has offered to give Israel 20 advanced F-35 warplanes worth around $3 billion and veto U.N. resolutions seeking Middle East peace. The veto pledge could be seen as a tacit endorsement of Israel’s rejection of the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, which has been regularly backed in U.N. votes. Israel would only have to suspend settlement construction for 90 days, and the freeze wouldn’t apply to occupied East Jerusalem. The deal would also lead to a new bilateral security pact to strengthen U.S.-Israeli ties. The United States has also assured Israel it would not seek another extension after the freeze expires. Israel rejected a similar proposal last month but is now said to be seriously considering the new offer. Israeli cabinet member Avishay Braverman called the deal a boon for Israel.

Avishay Braverman: "Somehow this week the Prime Minister will have to approve it [the U.S. offer], whatever form it takes, because this is such a great offer, security-wise. But for the sake of the interest of Israel, I would say to the Prime Minister, 'Extend the freeze even for four, five months.'"

The Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate with Israel so long as settlement building continues. PA spokesperson Ghassan Khatib said Palestinians fear the incentive deal would further undermine Palestinian rights.

Ghassan Khatib: "We hope that the American efforts to convince Israel to stop this expansion of settlements in order to resume negotiations will work and succeed. However, we also hope that these guarantees will be compatible with the international legality and does not violate or infringe on any of the Palestinian rights guaranteed in the international legality."

White House Drops Plans to Close Gitmo

The Washington Post is reporting the Obama administration has effectively abandoned plans to close the Guantánamo Bay prison. Administration officials said they do not expect to secure congressional funding to close the prison and transfer remaining prisoners to the United States. One official said, "Gitmo is going to remain open for the foreseeable future." The White House also says it expects Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to remain jailed without trial indefinitely.

Supreme Court Won’t Intervene on "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell"

The Supreme Court has refused to stop enforcement of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law barring openly gay men and women from the armed forces. On Friday, the Court declined to intervene while a lower court considers a challenge that the ban is unconstitutional. Justice Elena Kagan also recused herself from the case, raising the likelihood of a four-to-four tie should the Court ever take it up. Kagan has previously criticized the ban and helped formulate the Obama administration’s response to it during her stint as Solicitor General.

Cindy McCain Criticizes DADT

The news comes as Cindy McCain, the wife of Senator John McCain (R-AZ), has broken with her husband to criticize the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy." In a television advertisement against the bullying of gay and lesbian youth, Cindy McCain said the military ban has fueled homophobic attacks.

Cindy McCain: "Our political and religious leaders tell LGBT youth that they have no future.They can’t serve our country openly. Our government treats the LGBT community like second-class citizens."

Senator McCain has led the Republican effort to prevent the repeal of the military ban. On Sunday, he insisted his wife supports his call for the military to conduct another review before seeking a repeal.

Dems Reach House Leadership Deal

Democratic leaders have reached a deal to avert a leadership fight after Republicans take control of the House next year. Under a deal brokered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) will fill a new position of assistant leader under minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Pelosi will stay on as minority leader.

Admin Pledges $4B in Nuke Spending for START

The Washington Post is reporting the Obama administration is offering to spend more than $4 billion on the nuclear complex to advance an arms reduction treaty with Russia. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, calls for the United States and Russia to cut their deployed arsenals to 1,550 nuclear warheads and 700 missile silos and bombers each. Republicans have stalled the proposal in a bid to seek more nuclear funding. The $4 billion would come on top of the $10 billion the administration has already offered to upgrade nuclear facilities over the next decade.

Arizona Voters Approve Medical Marijuana

Arizona voters have narrowly approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana. After nearly two weeks, final tallying shows a measure to allow marijuana use for people with chronic or debilitating diseases passed by just over 4,300 votes. Arizona is the 15th state to approve medical marijuana.

Report: U.S. Provided "Safe Haven" to Nazis After WWII

New details have been revealed on the U.S. government’s collaborations with German Nazis following the Second World War. A newly disclosed Justice Department report says the U.S. knowingly provided a "safe haven" to an unknown number of Nazi officials. The Nazi collaborators included Otto Von Bolschwing, who helped plot the extermination of German Jewry and ended up working with the CIA. In a series of memos, the CIA debated what to do if Von Bolschwing’s past was revealed.

Study: Media Under-Reported Climate Science During UN Copenhagen Summit

And a new media study argues climate science was significantly under-reported in the media’s coverage of the U.N. Copenhagen environmental summit last year. According to Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, less than 10 percent of articles written about the Copehnagen conference focused on climate science. Much of the coverage instead focused on the so-called controversy surrounding the stolen emails from a British university that were hyped by global warming deniers. The study comes ahead of a follow-up summit in Mexico beginning later this month.


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