Republicans yesterday won the gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi. In Kentucky Congressman Ernie Fletcher became the first Republican to win the state in 32 years. In Mississippi Haley Barbour, the powerful Washington lobbyist and former head of the Republican National Committee, beat the Democrat incumbent. Republicans now control all of the governorships in the Deep South. Voters in Philadelphia re-elected Jon Street as mayor. In New York, a move backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end partisan primaries in city races was rejected.
The Pentagon has quietly begun recruiting volunteers to serve on community draft boards in case a military draft is resumed. There are approximately 2,000 draft boards across the country but the boards have been largely left dormant for the past 30 years since the end of the Vietnam War. The Pentagon recently posted a message on the “Defend America” website seeking new volunteers.
The Associated Press is reporting that Turkey’s decision not to send 10,000 troops to Iraq will make it “virtually certain” that the U.S. will have to send thousands of new reservists to Iraq early next year. No new countries have contributed troops to Iraq following the passage of the new United Nations Iraq resolution.
In Iraq, the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad came under a heavy mortar attack yesterday. Three large explosions were heard outside the compound. Four people were reportedly injured. The U.S. military headquarters in Mosul also came under attack. And in Basra an Iraqi judge was assassinated. This came a day after another judge was kidnapped and killed in Najaf.
And a new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that only one in seven Americans agree with the White House that Iraq poses the “most important” front in the country’s fight in the war on terror.
The mother of one of the 15 U.S. soldiers killed on Sunday when Iraqis downed a U.S. helicopter has publicly questioned why U.S. troops are still in Iraq. After hearing that her 22-year-old son Specialist Darius Jennings had died, Harriet Johnson said, “I really don’t understand why they’re over there. There saying they don’t want us over there and they will continue to kill American soldiers. … Why don’t someone take heed and bring them from over there.”
A Canadian citizen who was detained by U.S. officials last year during a stopover in a New York airport, said he was repeatedly tortured after the U.S. secretly deported him to Syria. In Syria, Arar said he was repeatedly beaten and tortured and kept in a cell three feet wide. During a press conference yesterday he said, “I was willing to confess to anything to stop the torture.” He added, “I am not a terrorist. I am not a member of al Qaeda. I have never been to Afghanistan.” The U.S. says Arar’s name appeared on lists of suspected terrorists. But officials have never said why Arar was sent to Syria instead of Canada where is a citizen and he has lived for the past 15 years.
Also yesterday the Supreme Court yesterday ordered Solicitor General Theodore Olson to defend the Bush administration’s post-9/11 policy to conduct secret court proceedings. The Court’s request came in a case involving an Algerian immigrant who was detained in Florida in October 2001. The government attempted to make every part of the man’s case secret including the existence of the case. The man’s name became known only because of a court clerical error.
The BBC is reporting that a Pakistani cleric who spent a year detained at Guantanamo Bay yesterday sued the U.S. and Pakistani governments $10 million. His lawyers claimed he was mentally and physically tortured and kept in a cage that was meant for animals.
A state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka a day after President Chandrika Kumaratunga sacked three ministers, suspended parliament and deployed troops on to the streets. The move came while Sri Lankan Prime Minister was out of the country. He was scheduled to meet with President Bush today.
The United Nations General Assembly voted 179 to 3 yesterday to condemn the four-decade old U.S. trade embargo of Cuba. The United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands voted against the measure
A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy has found that the unemployment rate of young African-Americans now stands at nearly 18 percent. The overall rate of unemployment of people between 18 and 30 years old is just over 9 percent.
In business news, the CEO of Health South, one of the country’s largest health services company, was indicted yesterday on 85 counts. Prosecutors charge the CEO, Richard Scrushy, helped commit $2.7 billion in fraud. The Washington Post reports Scrushy used the money to buy a Lamborghini, a 92-foot yacht as well as paintings by Picasso and Renoir. He is believed to be the first top executive to be charged under the nation’s new corporate governance law.
The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the $87 billion Iraq spending bill passed this week by the Senate includes a one-line provision that will give Miami and surrounding towns in Florida $8.5 million in federal aid to help pay for security measurements during the upcoming Free Trade Area of the Americas trade meeting. Up to 100,000 protesters are expected to attend the meetings that begin on Nov. 17.