In Iraq, a suicide bomber killed at least 20 policemen and wounded more than 100 others when he blew up a car on a crowded sports field in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. Witnesses said the bomber was dressed as a policeman and drove onto the field where more some 160 police were exercising. Meanwhile, coordinated morning attacks in Baghdad claimed the lives of five other Iraqi policemen. This came one day after a suicide bomber strapped with explosives killed nearly two-dozen people at a busy Baghdad restaurant frequented by Iraqi police. The bombing topped a series of bloody attacks Sunday that killed at least 37 Iraqis nationwide, including 12 members of the U.S.-trained security forces. The restaurant was less than 400 yards away from the main pedestrian entrance to the U.S.-protected Green Zone. More than 85 people have been killed in attacks over the past 48 hours.
The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that up to 60% of the estimated 12,000 prisoners being held in Iraq face intimidation, beatings or torture that leads to broken bones and sometimes death. The paper quotes officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights as well as international human rights groups and defense attorneys in the country. Saad Sultan who is head of a board overseeing the treatment of prisoners at the Human Rights Ministry told the paper “There are beatings, punching, electric shocks to the body, including sensitive areas, hanging prisoners upside down and beating them and dragging them on the ground.” He added that police and security forces attached to the Interior Ministry are responsible for most abuses.
The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the British Foreign Ministry’s Legal office ruled that the sharp increase in the US and British no-fly zone bombings of Iraq in the year leading up to the official invasion was illegal under international law. The paper says the advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later the US and Britain began “spikes of activity” designed to degrade Iraq’s defensive capabilities and in an effort to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the US a pretext for war. The Foreign Office said that the bombings were “not consistent with” UN law, despite US claims that they were. In the so-called Downing Street memo, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon is quoted as saying in July 2002 that the US had already begun spikes in bombing.
In Iran, electoral authorities today ordered a partial recount in the country’s inconclusive presidential election after reformists accused military organizations of rigging the vote in favor of a hardline candidate. The recount comes just four days ahead of an expected second round run-off between the top two candidates in Friday’s poll — former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran. We’ll have more on this in a moment.
This news from Lebanon. An anti-Syrian alliance led by the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri appears to have swept the final round of Lebanon’s legislative elections, securing a majority in the new parliament. Saad Hariri’s coalition appeared to have won at least 65 of parliament’s 128 seats. With a majority, Hariri’s alliance would be expected to try to remove current Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud. He is viewed as pro-Syrian.
With al Qaeda leaders continuing to issue defiant statements and many of the major figures identified by Washington still at large, the Bush administration appears now to be laying blame for this on international law. In an interview with Time magazine, CIA Director Porter Goss said he has a “excellent” idea where Osama bin Laden is hiding. In his first interview since becoming head of the CIA last year, Goss said “dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you’re dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.” Goss added, “We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.” Goss did not say where he believed bin Laden was hiding.
Oil prices have hit a new record high, soaring to a whopping $59 a barrel. The price has risen $5 a barrel over the past week.
Sudan has dropped charges against two aid workers accused of spreading false information in a report alleging widespread rape in the Darfur region. A spokesperson for Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said the Sudanese Justice Ministry issued a notice on Sunday.
One of the world’s most wanted war crimes suspects may be on the verge of being arrested or handing himself in. For weeks, there has been a buzz in the Serbian press that General Ratko Mladic’s days of freedom were numbered. Now, The Times of London is reporting that he has struck a deal for $5 million in so-called “compensation” for his family if he gives himself up to the Hague War Crimes Tribunal before the 10th anniversary next month of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia — which he is held responsible for leading.
Former President Bill Clinton has joined the growing chorus of voices attacking the US prison camp at Guantanamo. In an interview with the Financial Times, Clinton called for the camp to “be closed down or cleaned up”. Clinton told the paper “If we get a reputation for abusing people it puts our own soldiers much more at risk and second, if you rough up somebody bad enough, they’ll eventually tell you whatever you want to hear to get you to stop doing it.”
Meanwhile, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain spoke out on Guantanamo as well on an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. Arguing that “even Adolf Eichmann got a trial,'’ McCain called on the Bush administration to create a system of fast and fair trials for those imprisoned there. He said that the detainees “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” despite what McCain called a fear that, if you release them, they'll go back and fight against the US. McCain said, “Balance that against what it’s doing to our reputation throughout the world and whether it’s enhancing recruiting for people to join al-Qaeda and do bad things to the United States of America.’’
Meanwhile, as speculation abounds over the future of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Senator McCain was asked about his views on the future of the court. Host Tim Russert asked McCain about his comment during the Republican presidential primary in 1999 that if McCain was elected president, his role model for his first justice named to the Supreme Court would be Justice Antonin Scalia.
White men coming out of prison get more than double the number of job offers that African American ex-convicts receive, and about the same number as African American men with no previous prison record. This according to a new study by two Princeton professors that sent white, black and latino men posing as ex-convicts to apply for thousands of job interviews in New York City. The study found that for every ten black men without criminal convictions who receive a job offer or callback, only three with convictions got positive responses. This compares to seven out of ten white men. Nationwide, one in three black men with only a high school diploma will go to prison before turning forty.
Nobel laureate and Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi turned 60-years-old on Sunday. Protests were held around the world calling for her release from house arrest, which she has been under for almost ten of the past sixteen years.
Author and historian James Weinstein has died after a long bout with brain cancer. He was the founder of In These Times magazine. Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — the Independent member of Congress who is a democratic socialist — told the AP, “Jim Weinstein was one of the intellectual leaders of the American progressive movement.”
One of the leading disability rights activists, Frieda Zames, died last week at the age of 72. She was a past president of Disabled in Action of New York. At her death, she was a vice president of the organization. With her sister, Zames wrote the book “The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation.”
And, yesterday was Juneteenth Day, the day marking news of the emancipation of slaves reaching Texas in 1865. While its roots are in Texas, Juneteenth Day has become a national commemoration.
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