The 15-member Caribbean Community of Caricom has called for an independent investigation into the charge that Haitian president Jean Betrand Aristide was kidnapped by US forces. Jamaican Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman P.J. Patterson said, '’Several of us were in touch with [Aristide] … until very late Saturday night. Nothing that was said to us indicated that the president was contemplating a resignation.'’ Meanwhile the armed gangs led by Guy Phillipe have reportedly agreed to lay down their arms following requests from the US. One day after he said he was Haiit’s military commander, Phillipe announced that he was disarming his fighters and returning to Cap Haitien. According to the Miami Herald, the international force in Haiti now totals about 850 U.S. soldiers, 500 French police and troops, and about 60 Canadians. The force is expected to grow to up to 5,000 members in coming weeks. Meanwhile Interim President Boniface Alexandre moved into the National Palace and announced on radio that he would serve for only three months.
In campaign news, the race between John Kerry and Georgia Bush began in earnest yesterday after Kerry’s chief opponent Senator John Edwards dropped out of the race. Edwards praised Kerry was a man of QUOTE “great strength and great courage.” Meanwhile President Bush began a two-day fundraising spree through California where he hopes to raise $5 million. Political analysts estimate that President Bush’s campaign currently has about $100 million more than Kerry. The Bush campaign announced yesterday the launch of what may be the most expensive advertising campaign in presidential history. Three of the four new ads feature images of the smoldering and charred shell of the World Trade Center still standing. The International Association of Firefighters–which supports Mr. Kerry–criticized the ads saying “Bush is calling on the biggest disaster in our country’s history, and indeed in the history of the fire service, to win sympathy for his campaign.” Bush also spoke last night at a $25,000 a plate fundraiser for Republican National Committee dinner at the home of A. Jerrold Perenchio. The Washington Post reports the dinner raised $3.5 million for the RNC. Perenchio is a billionaire sports promoter and chairman of the Spanish-language media giant Univision. Last year the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission gave him a near-monopoly over the Spanish-language media by approving the merger between Univision and the Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.
In New York, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced Wednesday the state’s law forbids the issuing of same sex marriage licenses but it does require the state to recognize same sex marriages performed elsewhere. Gay rights organizations said Spitzer’s ruling was monumental. David Buckel, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, said “New York State became the first state in the nation to clarify that same-sex marriages performed out of state will be respected here.” Meanwhile the mayor of the New York town of Nyack announced his town would go ahead and become the state’s second to begin solemnizing marriages between same sex couples. The mayor of New Paltz, Jason West, was charged earlier this week on 19 counts of violating the state’s marriage laws. And in Oregon, more than 200 same sex couples received marriage licenses on Wednesday on the first day that Multnomah County recognized same sex marriage.
In news from China, Wang Youcai, A longtime Chinese human rights activist who helped organize the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests was released from prison today. In 1998 he had been sentenced to 11 years in prison after he helped start the China Democracy Project.
A German court has ordered the retrial of a Moroccan man who was convicted last year of aiding the Hamburg cell of the 9/11 hijackers. The case had marked the only conviction connected to the 9/11 attacks. The retrial was ordered after the man’s attorneys accused the US of refusing to allow the testimony of a member of Al Qaida in US custody.
Jose Padilla was allowed to meet with his attorneys for the first time since he was declared an enemy combatant nearly two years ago for allegedly plotting to set off a dirty bomb. Padilla, who is a US citizen, has not been charged with a crime and has been barred from seeing any evidence against him. His attorneys said they could not talk about his case because the conversation was being monitored and recorded by Naval officials.
The world’s second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned yesterday that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threatened to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its own making. The company estimated that the estimate costs of such disasters will double in the next 10 years.
The Guardian of London is reporting that Pakistan yesterday offered to share military assistance, including “nuclear power” with Nigeria. The news comes just a month after the mastermind behind Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, AQ Khan, admitted publicly that he had run a black market in nuclear weapons materials to Iran, Libya and North Korea.