In defiance of the United States and Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the United Nations Friday pressing the case for the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: "The support of the countries of the world for our endeavor is a victory for truth, freedom, justice, law and international legitimacy, and it provides tremendous support for the peace option and enhances the chances of success of the negotiations. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, your support for the establishment of the state of Palestine and for its admission to the United Nations as a full member is the greatest contribution to peacemaking in the land of peace and throughout the world."
Mahmoud Abbas told world leaders that a "Palestinian Spring" had been born, similar to the mass demonstrations across the Middle East.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: "The time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees in the homeland and the diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of whom were forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world. At a time when the Arab peoples affirm their quest for democracy, in what is called now the Arab Spring, the time has come also for the Palestinian Spring, the time for independence."
On Saturday, Mahmoud Abbas said he expected the U.N. Security Council to finish debating his nation’s application for full United Nations membership in weeks, not months.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and criticized the Palestinian bid for statehood.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "There’s two pieces to—two sides to the equation. The Palestinians want a state, but they have to give peace in return. What they’re trying to do in the United Nations is to get a state without giving Israel peace or giving Israel peace and security. And I think that’s—that’s wrong. That should not succeed. That should—that should fail. But what should succeed is for them to actually sit down and negotiate with us to get two states for two peoples—a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. That’s what should succeed."
A CIA office in Kabul came under attack Sunday by an Afghan employee of the U.S. government. One American died, and another was wounded. The gunman, who reportedly acted alone, was killed in the incident. The attack marks the third major assault in the Afghan capital in two weeks.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has accused Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, of supporting the Haqqani militant group in the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. On Friday, Mullen told a Senate panel, "The Haqqani network ... acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency." Pakistan called that statement "irresponsible." Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani is Pakistan’s prime minister.
Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, prime minister of Pakistan: "We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war. It will only benefit the enemies of peace. Only terrorists and militants will gain from any fissures and divisions. Pakistan’s credentials and sacrifices in the counterterrorism campaign are impeccable and unquestionable."
While Admiral Mike Mullen’s comments about Pakistan’s support for the Haqqani militant group was front-page news, little attention has been paid to the long ties between the United States and the militant group. The group’s patriarch and founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a legendary Mujahideen commander who worked with the Americans in the 1980s to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. He once visited the White House when Ronald Reagan was president. At the time, the Reagan administration was funneling secret U.S. funds to the Mujahideen via the ISI, Pakistan’s spy agency.
The United States has reportedly launched another series of unmanned drone attacks inside Somalia. The drones hit at least three targets around the southern port city of Kismayo, which is controlled by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab. The attack comes just days after reports emerged that the Obama administration is building a ring of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula from which to target alleged militants in Somalia and Yemen.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned home after spending nearly four months recuperating in Saudi Arabia after an assassination attempt. In his first speech to the country since his return, Saleh made no pledge to step down but called for early elections. The move appeared to do little to appease protesters demanding his immediate departure. Yemeni forces have killed more than 100 people over the past week.
Saudi Arabia’s king has announced women would be given the right to vote and stand in the 2015 elections, but they will not be allowed to vote in next week’s election. The king did not announce any plan to lift other restrictions on women. Fawziyya Abu-Khalid is a Saudi poet and sociologist who teaches at King Saud University.
Fawziyya Abu-Khalid, King Saud University: "I think there is a realization by different groups, including conservative group in Saudi Arabia, that what happened in the past, that they are the only voice in the society, this will not continue, and that they have to admit and to live that there are other voices and there are other views."
In news from Japan, concern is growing over the nation’s food supply after the discovery of radioactive rice. Japanese officials say the contamination level of the rice far exceeded a government-set level for a pre-harvested crop. The rice was found in the city of Nihonmatsu, located 35 miles west of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Newsweek has revealed the Obama administration has secretly sold Israel 55 deep-penetrating bunker buster bombs, which could be used in any future military strike against Iran. The bombs were sold to Israel in 2009 just months after Obama took office. The Israelis first requested the bunker busters in 2005, only to be rebuffed by the Bush administration.
President Obama spoke before the Congressional Black Caucus Sunday and urged black lawmakers to quit complaining and to support his $447 billion jobs bill.
President Barack Obama: "I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC."
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain was the surprising winner of this weekend’s Republican straw ballot in Florida. Cain received 37 percent of the vote. Texas Governor Rick Perry placed a distant second with 15 percent. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney placed third. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll in August, received less than two percent of the vote.
A U.S. soldier has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in a series of so-called "thrill killings" that left three Afghan civilians dead. Andrew Holmes, 21, confessed to firing a heavy machine gun at a boy from 15 feet away, after his co-defendant threw a grenade at him. He also confessed to carrying the severed bone of his victim and smoking hashish. He is the third member of an alleged rogue army unit to admit his role in killings of Afghan civilians.
The Occupy Wall Street protest encampment in New York City has entered its 10th day. For the past nine nights, hundreds of activists have been camping out in a square just blocks from Wall Street. On Saturday, police arrested more than 80 protesters taking part in a peaceful march. Video posted online shows a police office pepper-spraying a group of young women while they were surrounded by a police netting.
A California jury has convicted a group of 10 Muslim college students of criminal charges for disrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the University of California at Irvine campus last year. The students were sentenced to three years of probation, 56 hours of community service and fines. The conviction was widely criticized by civil rights and Islamic groups in California. Shakeel Syed of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California said, "This is clearly an indication that Muslims are permanent foreigners, at least in Orange County." Reporter Nora Barrows-Friedman of the blog, Electronic Intifada, covered the trial.
Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada: "Although the sentences were light, relatively, the defense attorneys and the clients are still going to appeal the verdict. And actually, this is also pretty significant, because they feel that the law under which their clients were prosecuted was unfair and does not allow for dissent in this country, and so they said they would take this all the way to the Supreme Court."
The Indian government deported the American broadcaster David Barsamian on Friday shortly after he flew into New Delhi. Barsamian, who hosts the show "Alternative Radio," said he was deported because of his reporting on Kashmir.
Another Mexican journalist has been found dead. The decapitated body of Maria Elizabeth Macias, an editor of Primera Hora newspaper, was found dead on Saturday next to a handwritten note claiming she was murdered for writing about the Zetas drug cartel on social media websites. Mexico’s Human Rights Commission says eight journalists have been killed in the country this year and 74 since 2000.
Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died on Sunday after a long struggle with cancer. She was 71 years old. In 1977, she spearheaded the struggle against state-backed deforestation in Kenya and founded the Green Belt Movement, which has planted some 45 million trees in the country. She has also been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and democratic development. She won the Right Livelihood Award in 1984. Twenty years later, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. A frequent guest on Democracy Now!, Wangari Maathai last appeared on the show in 2009.
Wangari Maathai: "I would like to say this: if the more than 4,000 scientists who have been working on this issue are wrong, this is one issue that we cannot experiment with. We cannot wait until the seas rise, the rivers dry up, and our people are dying and migrating and running away. We cannot wait to see more fires, such as we are seeing in California, erratic fires. We cannot wait to see the kind of floods that we see in Bangladesh, that we see in West Africa. We are already seeing islands that are literally drowning. So, let us not experiment with our lives and that of our children."