In California Stanley Tookie Williams has died after being executed by lethal injection early this morning by the state of California. He was 51 years old. On Monday California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to spare his life and grant him clemency. Williams was a co-founder the Crips street gang. He was jailed after being convicted of four murders in 1979. He later became an advocate against gang violence and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Early this morning over 2,000 people gathered outside San Quentin Prison to protest his execution including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
In Hong Kong the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting has opened up amid mass protests. At the center of the demonstrations have been a group of farmers from South Korea. Members of the group tried to gain access to the WTO meeting by swimming through Victoria Harbor. In the streets, police fired pepper foam to block demonstrators from getting near the ministerial meeting. About 15 activists were able to make it inside during the opening address of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy. The demonstrators unveiled signs reading “The WTO Kills Farmers” and “No to the WTO.” Critics of the World Trade Organization charge the WTO has undermined democracy around the world by promoting the trade agenda of multinational corporations.
In Australia, police are preparing for a possible third night of civil unrest following some of the worst racial violence in the country’s history. On Sunday a mob of 5,000 people rampaged across Cronulla beach near Sydney chanting racist slogans and attacking men and women of Lebanese descent. Some of the attackers had wrapped themselves in the Australian flag and chanted: “No more Lebs.” More than 30 people were injured and 16 were arrested. Racially-motivated attacks were also reported in the western Australian city of Perth.
Last night 11 arrests were also made after a group of men of Middle Eastern descent went back into the town of Cronulla for what police described as revenge. On Thursday Australian state lawmakers plan to hold a special session to consider new laws to allow police to lock down areas and give police greater power to conduct searches and confiscate cars.
In news on Iraq–Wednesday marks the 1,000th day since the U.S. invasion. On Monday President Bush again defended his decision to go to war and said 30,000 Iraqis had died so far in the war. The admission marks one of the few times an administration official has cited a death toll in Iraq. Some outside estimates put the Iraqi civilian death toll over 100,000.
On Monday Bush blamed the Arabic media for the deteriorating image of the United States abroad.
President Bush’s comments come just weeks after it was revealed that the U.S. has been paying the private firm the Lincoln Group to plant articles in the Iraqi press and to pay off sympathetic Iraqi journalists. And Bush’s comments didn’t mark the first time he has criticized the Arabic media. Last month the Daily Mirror of London reported President Bush considered bombing the headquarters of Al Jazeera in 2004.
In Iraq, ABC News and Time Magazine have conducted a nationwide poll of Iraqis ahead of this week’s elections. It found that more than two thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Only 44 percent of the country feels the country is better off now that it was before the war.
In Washington, the Supreme Court announced Monday it would determine whether the Texas state legislature illegally redrew the state’s Congressional district barriers two years ago. The redrawn map resulted in the Republicans gaining an extra four seats in Congress. Critics say the redistricting diluted the voting strength of Latinos and African-Americans in Texas in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Department lawyers initially recommended rejecting Texas’s redistricting plan but were overruled by senior Justice officials.
A group of U.S. activists have begun a vigil near the gates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Members of the group Witness Against Torture walked for five days across Cuba to reach Guantanmo. Military officials rejected their request to meet with any of the 500 or so prisoners who are being held without charges.
And the chief executive of the electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold, Walden O’Dell, has resigned. In 2003 O’Dell made headlines when he wrote that he’s “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”