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Street clashes broke out in Pakistan earlier today. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the third consecutive day of protests over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Over 70,000 people rallied in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Another 1500 people turned out for a rally in eastern city of Lahore. The Associated Press is reporting protesters burned a KFC restaurant and several movie theaters. At least three people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy.
In other news, Harry Whittington has suffered a heart attack. Doctors say it was likely related to the birdshot Whittington has lodged in his heart. Whittington is the Austin lawyer and Republican fundraiser Vice President Dick Cheney shot during a hunting trip on Saturday. Doctors expect Whittington to remain in the hospital for at least one more week.
Cheney is again being accused of withholding information on Whittington’s condition. Over the weekend, the White House waited at least 19 hours before announcing the shooting. Today, the New York Times is reporting Cheney was informed of Whittington’s heart condition when he arrived at the White House Tuesday morning. But according to senior administration officials, Cheney did not pass the information on to President Bush’s aides, including White House Press secretary Scott McLellan. At a press conference later in the day, McLellan did not mention Whittington’s heart problems and even joked he was wearing an orange tie so he could be clearly visible in front of Cheney.
Haiti’s interim government has announced it will review election results after hundreds, perhaps thousands, of burnt ballots were found smoldering in a state garbage dump. Haiti is holding its first elections since the overthrow of President Jean Bertrand Aristide nearly two years ago.
Public unrest has grown amid allegations authorities are attempting to prevent the victory of front-runner and former Aristide ally Rene Preval. After initial returns gave him over 60% percent of the vote, Preval’s share has fallen below the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. Preval called for an investigation Tuesday, saying: "We are convinced that either massive fraud or gross errors stain the (electoral) process." Preval also issued an appeal to his supporters, saying: "We tell the Haitian people to continue to demonstrate in a legal and intelligent way and without aggravating the people, without destroying private property, respecting everyone, letting children go to school and letting people go to work because politically we can reinforce our national and international support." An unidentified Preval supporter told Reuters: "We ask all the world to stop hiding the truth from the Haitian people. In Haiti, the people voted and the vote of the bourgeoisie should not be listened to. The vote of the masses must be listened to. The vote of difference and not of influence–this is what the international community should listen to."
In Iraq, more than 1,000 people rallied in Basra Tuesday over a recent video showing British soldiers beating Iraqi youths. The video is believed be from the aftermath of a protest in the city of Amarah in early 2004. Hundreds of people attended the rally to demand employment. On the video, four young protesters are pulled off of a street and into a British army compound where they are punched, kicked and hit with batons. An off-camera voice can also be heard praising the attacks. On Tuesday, the chief of the Basra police force said Iraqi security forces would cease joint patrols with the British military in the province in protest. Meanwhile, the British government says it has arrested three people so far in connection to the beatings.
Also Tuesday, Saddam Hussein and three co-defendants announced a hunger strike to protest the chief judge presiding over their trial. Saddam Hussein said he had not eaten in three days.
Meanwhile, the Australian public broadcaster SBS says it has obtained previously unpublished photographs of prisoners abused by US forces at Abu Ghraib. The pictures show a man with his throat slit, another with massive head injuries and a third covered in what appears to be feces. SBS reported: "The extent of the abuse shown in the photos suggests that the torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib in 2004 is much worse than is currently understood."
In Israel, the son of ailing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been sentenced to nine months in prison on corruption charges stemming from the financing of his father’s leadership campaign. A judge said he may delay Omri Sharon’s jail term to give him more time to be with his father. Ariel Sharon remains hospitalized after suffering a massive stroke last month.
Meanwhile, in the Occupied Territories, Israeli soldiers shot dead a mentally ill Palestinian man near the West Bank town of Jenin. Twenty-year-old Mujahid Smadi was shot after approaching the soldiers during a raid to capture wanted members of Islamic Jihad. Witnesses said he was carrying a toy gun and told the soldiers to leave his hometown.
In Lebanon, a crowd of up to 800,000 people gathered in downtown Beirut Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Hariri and 22 other people were killed in a Beirut car bombing on February 14, 2005. His death has inflamed tensions between Lebanon and Syria, which has been accused of involvement in his murder.
Back in the United States, one of the men left injured in an attack on a Massachusetts gay bar has filed a complaint alleging paramedics gave him poor treatment because of his sexual orientation. Robert Perry was hit in the head and shot in the back when 18-year-old Jacob Robida attacked him and two others earlier this month. Robida later killed himself during a police chase. In his complaint, Perry says paramedics delayed taking him to a hospital, were physically and verbally abusive, and shared private medical information without his permission. Perry, who himself directs an ambulance service in Boston, said he had never seen an ambulance crew acting "so cruel and hate-filled."
In other news, the Washington Post is reporting the US government has collected over 325,000 names for a list of suspects accused of international terrorism. The figure marks a four-fold increase from when it was created three years ago. The list is maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. Government officials said only a small fraction of the suspects are US citizens. They would not disclose how many are linked to Bush administration’s domestic eavesdropping program.
And just outside of Washington, DC, five women with the anti-war group the Raging Grannies were arrested Tuesday at a protest outside a military recruitment office. The women were arrested after announcing they intended to enlist. They chanted: "if someone must die in Iraq, let it be the old." They were later released without charge. The protest was one of several held across the country Tuesday, including in Florida, California, and New York.
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