A U.S. soldier was killed this morning south of Baghdad becoming the 15th U.S. soldier to die in the last eight days, the deadliest period since President Bush announced major combat to be over. Most of the soldiers have died since the U.S. assassinated the two sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay. Five troops were killed on Saturday alone.
Today’s killing came as the U.S. intensified its hunt for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press reports the military has been raiding farmhouses near Tikrit and claim they came within 24 hours of capturing him.
But the search has not been without mistakes. The New York Times reports that a U.S. special ops team accidentally shot and killed up to five Iraqi civilians on Sunday.
In Karbala, hundreds protested Sunday against the U.S. at the Imam al-Hussein Shrine. They charged U.S. forces had shot a 51-year-old restaurant worker at the shrine, Iraq’s second-holiest site for Shi’ite Muslims.
Meanwhile the U.S. military has charged four of its soldiers with punching, kicking and breaking the bones of Iraqi prisoners of war. The four officers, all from a Pennsylvania-based Army Reserve unit, are the first known U.S. troops to face such charges in Iraq. Last month human rights group Amnesty International issued a study that had found the U.S. was violating international law by subjecting Iraqi prisoners to “cruel, inhuman or degrading’’ conditions.
At the International Criminal Court in the Hague, a group of attorneys from Greece are expected to file a lawsuit today against British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other top British officials for their role in the Iraq invasion, which the lawyers say was illegal under international law.
General Richard Myers, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Delhi today to pressure the Indian government to provide troops to the Iraq occupation. India has so far refused such requests saying they must be made by the United Nations not the United States.
Meanwhile in Japan, lawmakers voted Friday to send troops to Iraq despite protests. Opposition parties charged the deployment of troops violates the country?s pacifist constitution that was drafted after World War II.
On Friday three Roman Catholic nuns were sentenced to up to almost three and a half years in prison for damaging property at a nuclear missile silo in Colorado last fall. The nuns, 55-year-old Carol Gilbert, 68-year-old Jackie Hudson and 66-year-old Ardeth Platte broke into the missile site. They walked up a Minuteman III silo, swung hammers at the weapons and painted a cross on the structure using their own blood. They talked about turning swords into plowshares. [ See archived Democracy Now! coverage]
A day after the sentencing, hundreds of people took part in vigils and protests spread across at the 49 Colorado missile sites and at three missile sites in Nebraska. At one base, protester drove up carrying signs that read “Citizen Weapons Inspector.” A plane also flew over another site carrying a sign reading, ’’We found the weapons of mass destruction here in Colorado.”
President Bush Friday ordered three U.S. warships to the coast of war-torn Liberia but he warned the U.S. troops would only be deployed to support an African-led force being assembled by Ecowas or the Economic Community of West African States.
A new Justice Department report finds that the U.S. prison population jumped by almost four percent last year meaning an increase of about 700 inmates every week. The total U.S. prison and jail population is just over 2 million. One out of every 143 residents is behind bars. African American men between the ages of 20 and 39 accounted for about a third of all sentenced inmates.
The Justice Policy Institute warned against the rapid increase which comes at a time that crime is decreasing and state budget deficits are soaring. A director at the Institute said, “As legislators are struggling to fund education, health care and stave off spending cuts, many are continuing to choose to pay for an expensive justice system that damages communities and does not produce safe, healthy neighborhoods.”
The NAACP has called for an investigation into the possible lynching of a 32-year-old African American in the small agricultural Florida town of Belle Glade.
The family of Feraris “Ray” Golden found his body in May dangling from a tree outside his grandmother?s home. They said he was found with his hands tied behind his back. Police though concluded that Golden had killed himself and said his hands were by his side. At the time of his death, Golden was dating a white policeman’s daughter.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a lynching hasn?t been documented in over 20 years in the United States.
This news from Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced the release of up to 500 Palestinian prisoners including over 200 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Israel also announced it is dismantling several checkpoints in the West Bank. The Los Angeles Times reports 10 checkpoints have been dismantled but the Washington Post puts the tally only at three.
Also this weekend, President Bush, during a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, strongly criticized Israel for illegally constructing a wall through the West Bank
Today in the West Bank Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a group protesting the construction of the so-called security wall. _ Haaretz_ reports that five pro-Palestinian activists were injured, three of whom were internationals. One American was struck in the leg at close range and was hospitalized.
Meanwhile the _ Guardian_ of London reports today that Israeli troops have been targeting Palestinian children. On Friday, a four-year-old Palestinian boy became the most recent victim when he was shot dead.
A former senior aide of President Richard Nixon has come forward to say it was Nixon himself who personally ordered the 1972 Watergate break-in of the Democratic party headquarters.
Until now it had been long assumed that Nixon helped the cover-up of the break-in but did not order it to happen.
The aide, Jeb Magruder, said he overheard Nixon talking about the break-in plan on the phone with Attorney General John Mitchell on March 30 1972.
On Sunday a leading Republican, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama called on the Bush administration to release the classified 28 pages of the Congressional 9/11 report.
The _ New York Times=_ reports that the classified pages show that Saudi Arabia funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the Sept.11 attacks and raises new concerns about the hijackers.