President Bush’s revised plan to interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects has received a major setback on Capital Hill. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed an alternative plan affirming Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits inhumane treatment. Four Republicans, including Arizona’s John McCain and committee chair John Warner, joined Democrats in approving the measure. The White House says it will fight the legislation because it would mean the end of the CIA’s program of interrogating detainees. The Senate measure received a boost Thursday from former Secretary of State Colin Powell. In a letter to Senator McCain, Powell said ignoring the Geneva Conventions would endanger US troops and imperil the war on terror. Powell said: “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”
In Europe, Spain has acknowledged its territory may have been used as a stopover for the CIA’s transfer of prisoners known as extraordinary rendition. In testimony before the European parliament, Spanish Foreign Minister Angel Moratinos said dozens of CIA flights have landed on Spanish soil but insisted none contained prisoners.
Moratinos is the first Foreign Minister to testify in front of an ongoing European probe into the secret CIA program.
In Iraq, police say they’ve recovered thirty more bodies around Baghdad. More than one hundred and thirty Iraqis have been killed in the last two days of violence.
In Singapore, a group of activists walked out of a meeting with IMF and World Bank officials earlier today in protest of the barring of twenty-eight colleagues. Singapore has barred the activists during the annual International Monetary Fund–World Bank meetings which began on Wednesday. Also today, a handful of activists staged a protest in the official demonstration zone. They were forced to scan bar-coded identification cards before entering the area. They were outnumbered by surrounding media and security personnel. This one of the protesters.
Meanwhile, World Bank head Paul Wolfowitz also criticized the barring of the activists.
In Mexico, a massive gathering is expected in the capital Saturday for supporters of former Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The conference will address the response to last week’s ruling certifying the electoral victory of conservative candidate Felipe Calderon. Lopez Obrador has proposed establishing an “alternative government.” He spoke in Mexico City Thursday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in a new row with the Bush administration over his scheduled visit to the UN General Assembly next week. Speaking in Havana Thursday, Chavez said US officials were denying visas to members of his security detail and medical staff. But he vowed to still make the trip.
The Bush administration has issued a new warning to Nicaraguan voters against electing Sandinista leader and former President Daniel Ortega. In an interview with the London Financial Times, US Ambassador Paul Trivelli called Ortega “un-democratic” and said his victory would force a “re-evaluation” of US ties to Nicaragua. The US waged a decade-long economic and covert military campaign against the Sandinistas after the overthrow of the US-backed Somoza regime in 1979. Ortega is currently leading polls ahead of November’s vote.
Back in the United States, Republican Congressmember Bob Ney of Ohio is expected to plead guilty today to at least one charge in connection to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Ney said he would not seek re-election this year after the House Ethics Committee announced he was being investigated on bribery charges. A guilty plea would be Ney’s first admission of wrongdoing in the case. He maintained his innocence even after his former chief of staff pleaded guilty in May. Ney is expected to serve some time in jail.
In health news, a new study says nine out of ten Americans who’ve tried to buy their own health insurance have been unable to do so. According to the Commonwealth Fund, one in five uninsured were turned down because of an existing medical condition. Nearly 60 percent went without health insurance because they could not afford the price.
In business news, the technology giant Hewlett-Packard has admitted it secretly obtained the phone records of nine journalists. The disclosure comes on the heels of the company’s acknowledgement it spied on its own board members in an attempt to discover the source of information linked to the media. The journalists worked for CNet, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
In media news, a former lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission has revealed the agency ordered staff members to destroy all copies of a draft study that warned against concentration of media ownership. The lawyer, Adam Candeub, says the destroyed study suggest greater concentration would harm local television news coverage across the country. The report put forward figures showing local ownership adds almost five minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of “on-location” news. Those findings contradicted the FCC’s arguments when it voted to liberalize media ownership rules three years ago. Candeub says FCC commissioners wanted “every last piece” of the report destroyed.
And finally in labor news, the auto giant Ford has announced a new round of job cuts and the closure of two of its plants. The company says it plans to eliminate ten thousand jobs through buyouts of hourly workers.