U.S. Military commanders are now saying Iraq will have 125,000 fewer Iraqi security personnel than needed before the scheduled Jan. 30 election. The New York Times reports the Iraqi government has said 270,000 security personnel are needed to secure the country’s 9,000 polling places. But the U.S. is now admitting only 145,000 Iraqis will be trained in time. The situation is particularly bad in Mosul, the country’s third largest city. The Guardian of London is reporting that three-quarters of the city’s police force has either deserted or joined the resistance over the past month. Even the city’s police chief was recently arrested after it was suspected he was assisting the anti-US resistance. A senior US military commander said the US must now find a way to rebuild the police force in the next two months if elections are expected to take place in the city.
Meanwhile for the second day in a row a Sunni cleric from the Association of Muslim Clerics has been assassinated in Iraq. Today a cleric was killed in Baquba, another was killed Monday in Mosul.
The NBC cameraman who captured on tape a Marine shooting dead an injured Iraqi man inside a Fallujah mosque has spoken publicly about the incident for the first time. Kevin Sites said the Iraqi man, who was lying on the ground, made no movement apart from breathing before he was shot dead. Sites has also indicated that U.S. forces may have shot dead two or three other wounded prisoners inside the same mosque.
In Ukraine, between 100,000 and 250,000 people took to the streets today to protest the recent presidential election. The demonstrators occupied all of Freedom Avenue in Kiev and demanded that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko be recognized as the winner of the election. Officially the pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich won but many questions have been raised about the fairness of the elections. Exit polls showed the opposition leader winning by as much as 6 percent. At least four Ukranian cities have refused to recognize the election results. U.S. election observer, Senator Richard Lugar said “It is now apparent that a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities.”
The Israeli government has filed charges against an army captain in the shooting of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl. On October 5 at about 7 a.m., Israel troops opened fire on the girl named Iyman Hams as she was walking near Rafah. Israeli soldiers shot her claiming she was planting a bomb. But her family said she was simply going to school. After she was initially shot, the army captain, who has not been identified, approached her and then shot her as many as 15 more times. Last night the Israeli tv station Channel Two broadcast audio recordings of the incident where the soldier is heard explicitly stating that he had “verified the kill.” The army captain has not however been charged with manslaughter because prosecutors claim they can’t determine who fired the shots that killed the girl.
Meanwhile the Israeli government has launched an investigation into a report by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot that Israeli soldiers have routinely desecrated the bodies of dead Palestinians and took “trophy photos” of the corpses. In one case soldiers posed for pictures with the head of a suicide bomber. In another instance, soldiers bound the body of an unarmed Palestinian to the hood of a jeep.
In Afghanistan the three foreign UN workers who had been taken hostage last month have been freed unharmed after 27 days in captivity.
During a brief visit to Columbia Monday, President Bush vowed to increase the amount of aid Washington provides to Colombia and to continue Plan Columbia. The Washington Post reports Bush’s visit was designed to showcase the benefits of talking tough on terrorism and being an ally of the United States. Colombia already receives more US aid than any nation outside the Middle East despite concerns from human rights groups. Bush’s visit to Colombia resulted in the country staging a massive security operation to protect the president. Some 15,000 Colombian troops were on hand Monday for Bush’s meeting with Columbia’s President Alvaro Uribe.
The Journal of the American Medical Association has begun calling for the formation of an drug safety board independent of the Food and Drug Administration to help detect and monitor the harmful effects of drugs already on the market. The Journal argued that since the FDA is the agency that approves the sale of drugs it is often too hesitant to recall drugs that it has already approved.
In New York a group of protesters and bystanders wrongfully arrested during the Republican National Convention filed a class action lawsuit against the city Monday on behalf of the almost 2,000 people detained during the convention. One of the chief attorneys in the case, Johnathan Moore said “During the Republican Convention, the Mayor and the Police Department suspended the Bill of Rights for those who chose to protest the foreign, military and domestic policies of the United States government.”
And the secretive ways of the Bush administration are continuing. The New York Times is reporting that the White House is refusing to release the middle name of Alberto R. Gonzales, the president’s nominee for attorney general. The White House has said Gonzales prefers simply the middle initial “R.”