In France, curfews and emergency measures have been put in place in an effort to stop a two-week uprising led by immigrant and Muslim youths that began in the Paris suburbs. The civil unrest has now spread to over 300 towns and cities in France and even across the border to Brussels and Berlin. Last night Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin appeared on national television to announce that emergency powers would be invoked under a 50-year-old law. The curfew law was first used in Algeria in an unsuccessful attempt to quell an insurrection at a time when the North African country was a French colony. Suburban youths quoted in the Le Parisien newspaper claimed the emergency measures “won’t change anything”. One youth said “This isn’t going to solve things. More repression means more destruction… more cops is just provocation.” Earlier today police announced that nearly 1,200 cars were burnt overnight and 330 arrests were made.
In Panama on Monday, President Bush responded to increasing criticism over the mistreatment of detainees overseas. “We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding,” Bush said. “We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that end in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.”
But President Bush refused to directly answer whether he would allow the Red Cross to have access to prisoners held by the CIA or whether he agreed with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is preparing to vote as earlier as today on creating an independent commission to investigate prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will decide whether the Bush administration can use military tribunals to try detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. In July a three-judge federal appeals court upheld that a tribunal made up entirely of military officials could try and sentence Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemini man accused of being Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver. On Monday Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from the case since he was one of the appeals court judges who previously ruled on the case.
The Pentagon filed war crimes charges against five more detainees at Guantanamo. Those charged include Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held by the US since he was 15 years old. Khadr’s attorney Muneer Ahmad protested Monday’s decision saying “Through torture, abuse, and three years of illegal detention, this government has robbed Omar of his youth… The fact that this Administration has seen fit to designate a child for trial by military commission is abhorrent.” The Bush administration has refused to provide assurances that they will not seek the death penalty against him. Khadr was detained in Afghanistan allegedly after throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.
The Pentagon has issued a new directive on the interrogation of prisoners held by US soldiers. According to the New York Times the new directive prohibits 'acts of physical or mental torture.” But the Times reports the Bush administration still hasn't decide whether to ban “cruel” and “humiliating” punishment. The new directive does not apply to CIA interrogators.
The military announced Monday five U.S. soldiers had been charged with punching and kicking detainees in Iraq. The beatings occurred two months ago.
In Iraq, a major U.S.-led air and ground offensive along the Syrian border has entered its fourth day. U.S. warplanes have been firing Hellfire missiles and dropping 500 pound bombs. The U.S. military has said it has killed 36 in the assault and claimed they were all insurgents.
In Baghdad, four US troops died Monday in a suicide car bombing. It was deadliest suicide attack against U.S. forces in four months. In Mosul an Iraqi newspaper journalist was shot and killed at an Internet cafe. And in Washington, the Pentagon announced it would likely keep at least 92,000 troops in Iraq through 2008.
The Iranian government is claiming it has found the wreckage of two U.S. spy planes inside its borders. The planes reportedly crashed during the summer. Iran disclosed the find at the United Nations on Monday where it accused the United States of breaking international law and violating its sovereignty. Earlier this year Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker reported that the Pentagon has begun secretly sending forces in to Iran to identify possible future military targets.
The Wall Street Journal reports 17 months have passed since the Bush administration announced a full criminal inquiry into allegations that Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran. The FBI hasn’t even interviewed Chalabi or any U.S. official connected to the matter. Chalabi is arriving in Washington today for his first official visit in two years. He is planning on speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday and will be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow.
In Australia, police have arrested 15 people including a prominent Islamic cleric. They are accused of preparing to stage a “catastrophic act of terrorism” but few details on the plot were released. The arrests came in a dramatic fashion. More than 450 heavily-armed officers backed by helicopters raided 20 homes across Sydney and Melbourne. One of the suspects was shot in the head. Police said he had refused orders to stop.
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California’s largest churches it could lose its tax-exempt status because a priest gave a sermon criticizing the Iraq war two days before last year’s presidential election. The IRS has sent the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena a warning that the federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections. The IRS has issued warnings to other non-profits, including the NAACP, for issuing statements deemed critical of the president.
In news from Latin America — Alberto Fujimori, the former president of Peru, has been arrested in Chile. Peruvian officials said they are preparing to request his extradition to Peru, where he’s wanted on 21 criminal charges alleging human rights violations and corruption. Fujimori has lived in Japan since his resignation in 2000.
And today is election day in many parts of the country. Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will be electing a new governor. In New York City, the mayoral race has pitted Mayor Michael Bloomberg against Fernando Ferrer. All three races have seen record amounts spent on the campaign. In New York, Bloomberg has shattered campaign finance records in a non-presidential-race by spending up to $100 million on his re-election–ten times what Ferrer has spent. In New Jersey gubernatorial candidates U.S. Senator Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester have spent a combined $70 million making it the priciest campaign in state history. And in Virginia Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine have spent a record $40 million. Voters will also be electing mayors in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, San Diego, Seattle and other cities. And in California, voters will decide the fate of several ballot initiatives backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The initiatives deal with teacher tenure, union dues, budget cuts and the state legislature’s power to draw political boundaries.
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