In Iraq, the body of American peace activist Tom Fox has been found in Baghdad, over three months after he was kidnapped along with three other members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams. The whereabouts of the other three hostages remains unknown. The 54-year-old Fox opposed the U.S. invasion and occupation and had traveled to Iraq to help jailed Iraqis get in touch with their families. In his final email to friends, Fox explained why he was in Iraq. He wrote “We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God’s children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.”
In Europe, the top news today remains the death of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. He was found dead on Saturday in his prison cell in the Hague where he was on trial for war crimes. Questions remain over how Milosevic died. An initial autopsy showed he suffered a heart attack. But earlier today a Dutch toxicologist said unprescribed drugs have been found in his body that may have neutralized his treatment for his heart condition. Milosevic wrote a letter just a day before his death alleging he was being poisoned. The United Nations tribunal has dismissed the poisoning speculation. We’ll have more on Milosevic’s death and legacy later in the show.
In Chile, former political exile and political prisoner Michele Bachelet has been inaugurated as the country’s first female president. Bachelet, who is a single mother of three, pledged a “parity government,” with equal numbers of men and women in key jobs. So far she has named 10 women and 10 men to her Cabinet. Her inauguration came on the 32nd anniversary of the death of her father who died in prison after he was arrested for treason by the Pinochet regime following the U.S.-supported 1973 coup that brought down President Salvador Allende. Last week Bachelet named one of her father’s cellmates, Raul Vergara Meneses, to serve as deputy defense minister for the air force. In the 1980s, while in exile in Nicaragua, Meneses served as commander in the Sandinista air force. Bachelet on Sunday vowed to unite the country. “There were times in our history that we were divided against each other–we looked at each other with suspicion. In these sixteen years of democracy, we have worked together to limit the effects of a divided society, of a society that separated us,” Bachelet said. “This is the moment in which we feel united.” As an agnostic, Bachelet was not actually sworn in as president but she promised to uphold the nation’s laws.
In Iraq, Sunday marked one of the bloodiest days in the country in weeks. At least 80 people were killed and nearly 250 wounded. The deadliest attack occurred in the Shiite section of Baghdad known as Sadr City where six coordinated car bombs killed about 50 people.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Amjad Hameed, a senior editor of the state-owned Al-Iraqiya tv network died after gunmen ambushed his car and shot him in the head.
In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as “untermenschen”–the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing “dozens of illegal acts” in Iraq.
On Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is introducing a resolution today to censure President Bush for deliberately breaking the law by ordering the National Security Agency to conduct domestic surveillance without legally required court warrants. Feingold’s resolution also accuses the president of misinforming the public about the program’s existence and legality. Feingold announced his plan on Sunday on ABC’s This Week. “It’s an unusual step. It’s a big step, but what the President did by consciously and intentionally violating the constitutional laws of this country with this illegal wiretapping has to be answered,” Feingold said. “There can be debate about whether the law should be changed. There can be debate about how best to fight terrorism. We all believe that there should be wiretapping in appropriate cases. But the idea that the President can just make up a law in violation of his oath of office has to be answered.” Minutes after Senator Feingold spoke, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist appeared on the same program and said he hoped that the leadership in Iran was not listening because of the terrible signal Feingold’s message sent to the world about President Bush.
Meanwhile Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine has proposed legislation that could result in the arrest and jailing of journalists who disclose information about the government’s surveillance program. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the bill which could be introduced as soon as this week. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said “The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact.”
In Spain, charges have been dropped against three U.S. soldiers accused of shooting dead Spanish television cameraman Jose Couso in Baghdad nearly three years ago. In October, Spain’s national court issued international arrest warrants for the three soldiers but on Friday the same court dropped the charges.
In news on the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib — a senior staffer to a Republican congressman has revealed that he was formally reprimanded by the Army for his role in what happened at the Iraqi prison. According to Salon.com Christopher Brinson was directly in charge of Charles Graner and others who were later prosecuted for abuse at Abu Ghraib. Brinson now serves as deputy chief of staff for Alabama Republican Congressman Mike Rogers.
Meanwhile an Army dog handler at Abu Ghraib is going to trial today on charges he abused detainees by using unmuzzled dog to harass, threaten and assault detainees. Human rights attorneys hope the trial of Michael Smith will shed light on the role the military leadership played in ordering abuse at the prison.
In news from Guantanamo Bay, human rights lawyers will be asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today to suspend the military tribunal of a Canadian citizen who has been held at the military prison since he was 15 years old. Lawyers said Omar Khadr is the first person in modern world history to face a military commission for alleged crimes committed as a child.
In news on Iran, the Boston Globe is reporting the State Department has recently opened a special Office of Iranian Affairs in Washington and a miniature embassy-in-exile in Dubai to help “defeat” the Iranian regime. The new office in the United Arab Emirates was set up to reach out to Iranian exiles and to help funnel money and support to dissident and antigovernment activists inside and outside of Iran. The State Department is also opening Iran-specific posts in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku and in Istanbul, Frankfurt and London–all cities with sizable populations of Iranian exiles.
In Afghanistan, four people died in Kabul on Sunday in a suicide car bomb targeting the head of the country’s newly elected Senate. The official, Sighatullah Mujaddedi, escaped the blast with minor burns. After the attack, Mujaddedi blamed the Pakistani intelligence ISI of carrying out the assassination attempt. Also in Afghanistan, four U.S. soldiers died Sunday after a bomb hit their armoured vehicle.
In news from Washington, Interior Secretary Gale Norton has announced she is resigning after five years at her post. Norton’s resignation comes shortly after her department was linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
And a former top advisor to President Bush has been arrested for shoplifting after stealing $5,000 from Target and other stores in a retail theft scheme. Claude Allen had been working as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy up until his unexpected resignation last month. At the time the White House said he was resigning in order to spend more time with his family. Allen, who was a former aide of Senator Jesse Helms, was seen as a rising star within the conservative movement. He now faces up to 15 years in jail for felony theft.
The Independent of London is reporting Donald Rumsfeld has made over $5 million in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu. Tamiflu is one of the few drugs believed effective in treating avian bird flu. A new financial disclosure report shows Rumsfeld holds up to $25 million worth of shares in the company Gilead Sciences. The Pentagon has defended Rumsfeld’s holdings stating that he has no relationship with the Gilead Sciences beyond his investments in the company.
At the University of Miami, striking janitors are entering their second week on the picket line in an effort to secure a living wage and better health care. The striking workers are all employees of the Boston-based Unicco Services. The workers–who are mostly Haitian and Cuban immigrants–earn on average about $7 an hour without health care benefits. While the janitors are officially employed by Unicco, University of Miami President Donna Shalala has also been criticized for her lack of role in the dispute. Shalala, served as President Clinton’s secretary for Health and Human Services. In 2001, she lamented about her failure in providing “health insurance for everybody.”
In environmental news, up to 267,000 gallons of crude oil has leaked from a pipeline in northern Alaska. Officials say it is the largest oil spill ever in Alaska’s North Slope.
The Campus Antiwar Network is calling on supporters to phone New York’s Pace University today in order to request charges be dropped against two student activists. The students, Brian Kelly and Lauren Giaccone, say the university is threatening to expel them for distributing flyers and for protesting without a permit. The charges were filed after the two students called Bill Clinton a “war criminal” during his speech at the school last week. After being removed from the speech, the students said they were detained, searched and questioned by law enforcement and Secret Service agents.
And Iraqi war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado as well as Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, have begun a 241-mile march for peace from Tijuana, Mexico to San Francisco. The march is inspired by Gandhi’s 1930 Salt March protesting British imperialism. Historian Howard Zinn said, “This is one of the most significant actions taken yet to dramatize the movement against the war — especially because it calls attention to the Latino population, the loss of Latino life in the war, and the unrecognized Latino opposition to the war.”
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