The U.S. has declared that Russia, France and Germany and other countries that didn’t back the invasion of Iraq will be barred from competing for nearly $19 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts. A memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the ban was “necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States.” Wolfowitz goes on to write in the memo “Limiting competition for prime contracts will encourage the expansion of international cooperation in Iraq and in future efforts”
The U.S. military has now admitted it has killed a total of 15 Afghan children during a series of recent raids in eastern Afghanistan. On Saturday the military announced the deaths of nine children in the province of Ghazni. But now the military says it also mistakenly killed six children in the nearby city of Gardez. The deaths came as part of a massive new air assault dubbed “Operation Avalanche.” The BBC reports the US were attempting to assassinate a suspected militant, Mullah Jilani, who the US believed was staying in the compound where the six children died. The killings come in the same week that the New Yorker magazine and Guardian newspaper are reporting that the U.S. has set up top secret assassination squads to kill in Iraq and Afghanistan. The BBC reports that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the aggressive pursuit of wanted men in Afghanistan, saying the Pentagon is equally happy to capture or kill them.
In San Francisco Democrat Gavin Newsom has narrowly beaten Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez in the city’s mayoral race. Newsom received about 53 percent of the vote, Gonzalez received 47 percent. The Democrat Newson spent eight times as much on the campaign. If Gonzalez had won he would have become the nation’s highest-ranking Green Party member. At 36 Newsom becomes San Francisco’s youngest mayor in more than a century. He will succeed Willie Brown next month.
President Bush strongly warned Taiwan Tuesday to drop plans for an upcoming referendum that would call on China to withdraw missiles aimed at the island. Some view the vote as a move toward independence. China has threatened military action if the referendum is passed. Bush’s warning came after a 40-minute meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Washington. A Washington Post editorial today criticized Bush’s approach. It reads “Yesterday President Bush essentially placed the United States on the side of the dictators who promise war, rather than the democrats whose threat is a ballot box… he demonstrated again how malleable is his commitment to the defense of freedom as a guiding principle of U.S. policy.”
In Baghdad Tuesday hundreds of Iraqis gathered to protest the recent death of a Shia cleric who was crushed to death by a US tank. The U.S. said the killing of the cleric Abd al-Razzaq al-Lami was accidental but Iraqis are calling for the U.S. officer driving the tank to be put on trial. Witnesses said the tank reportedly crushed the cleric and his car and then kept driving, leaving his body on the ground.
The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council Tuesday approved creating a new court to try former members of Saddam Hussein’s former government for war crimes. Some international human rights organizations criticized the move saying that the Iraqi court like the Yugoslavian and Rwandan war crimes court should be conducted under the eye of the United Nations and the international community.
Former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey has been named the newest member of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. Kerrey replaces Max Cleland who stepped down in order to serve on the Export-Import Bank. As a Senator Kerrey served as the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. He now serves as the president of the New School. Last year thousands of students at the New School protested Kerrey’s decision to join the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq which was formed to advocate invading Iraq. In 2001 it was revealed that Kerrey took part in a massacre of women and children in Vietnam.
In Saudi Arabia, Al Jazeera is reporting that 36 Saudis have been sentenced to 55 days in prison for taking part in a demonstration that was held during the country’s first ever human rights conference.
In the Liberian capital of Monrovia, at least nine people have been killed in the most violent clashes since UN peacekeepers arrived in August. *
*Bush Reduces AIDS Request By $2.5 Billion
The Wall Street Journal reports that President Bush is asking Congress for only $2.5 billion to give the Millennium Challenge Account to fight AIDS. This is half of the amount he promised to spend.
The city of Boston has announced it will become the nation’s second city to break federal law and begin going to Canada to buy prescription drugs for its employees. The state of New Hampshire announced similar plans. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said “It’s illegal but it’s about time we forced the issue.”
Newly elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he is no longer planning to hire a private investigator to examine the 16 reports that the governor had sexually assaulted women. This breaks a promise the governor made before the election. Meanwhile one of the 16 women who came forth with charges against Schwarzenegger is now suing him for libel. The woman, Rhonda Miller said his campaign staff falsely suggested that she was a convicted prostitute. Miller says that in 1991 Schwarzenegger lifted up her shirt, took a photograph of her breasts and groped her on the set of Terminator 2 and that he later groped her again during the filming of the film True Lies.
Ex-Ill. Senator Paul Simon Dies at 75
And former Illinois Senator Paul Simon has died at the age of 75 after having heart surgery
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