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U.N. atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday the International Atomic Energy Agency has no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons. During an interview on CNN, ElBaradei urged the Bush administration to back away from its bellicose statements about Iran.
Mohamed ElBaradei: “I very much have concern about confrontation, building confrontation, Wolf, because that would lead absolutely to a disaster. I see no military solution. The only durable solution is through negotiation and inspection. … My fear, that if we continue to escalate from both sides, that we will end up into a precipice, we will end up into an abyss. As I said, the Middle East right now is in a total mess, to say the least. And we cannot add fuel to the fire.”
Earlier this month, President Bush warned that World War III could begin if Iran obtains the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. But on Sunday Mohamed ElBaradei said the U.N. has no evidence that Iran is running a nuclear weapons program.
Mohamed ElBaradei: “But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No. So there is a concern, but there is also time to clarify these concerns.”
The Turkish military says it has killed 20 Kurdish guerrillas in the province of Tunceli in southeast Turkey where around 8,000 Turkish troops are fighting Kurdish militants. Meanwhile, along the Iraq border, Turkey has massed up to 100,000 troops, backed by tanks, artillery, warplanes and helicopters. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan refused to rule out a Turkish invasion of Iraq.
Ali Babacan: “We can use or continue to use diplomatic means, or resort to military means. All of these are on the table, so to speak.”
Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told The Independent of London, “If they invade there will be war.” Barzani said he is increasingly convinced that the Turkish objective was not defeating the outlawed PKK but seizing the region of Iraqi Kurdistan, which has achieved near-independence since 2003.
In other news from Iraq, at least 27 people died earlier today in a suicide bomb attack on a police station in the city of Baquba. Most of the victims were police recruits.
Meanwhile, 11 pro-U.S. tribal leaders have been kidnapped. The Sunni and Shiite sheikhs were seized at gunpoint after meeting in Baghdad to discuss plans on how to work with U.S. troops to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Here in this country, tens of thousands of people marched against the war on Saturday in a series of protests in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and other cities. United for Peace and Justice estimated over 100,000 people took part in the nationwide protests.
Cheryl Wertz of Peace Action New York State: “This is an illegal occupation by the U.S. military, and it’s something that we need to stop. The folks that came out here today are coming out here in the pouring rain in order to make a really strong statement to the president and to Congress that we need to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, we need to stop U.S. troops from going into Iran, and we need to support our troops by bringing them home.”
A protest was also held in Jonesborough, Tennessee, the home of Aerojet Ordnance — the country’s largest producer of depleted uranium weapons.
The nation’s largest lawyers association is calling for a nationwide moratorium on the death penalty. The American Bar Association’s call comes after the organization conducted a three-year study of capital punishment. According to the Chicago Tribune, the ABA’s study found “significant racial disparities” in the imposition of the death penalty, inadequate indigent defense programs and failures in crime laboratories.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has admitted it held a fake news briefing last week where agency staffers posed as reporters. FEMA conducted the briefing during the height of the California wildfires, and it was aired live on Fox News, MSNBC and other television stations. One FEMA staffer, John Philbin, who posed as a reporter during the fake press conference, has since left the agency to become head of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
In news from India, about 25,000 protesters have arrived in Delhi after marching 200 miles to demand the redistribution of land to the poor and landless. The protesters began marching on October 2, the birthday of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. March organizers said 40 percent of Indians are now landless and 23 percent of them are in abject poverty. Many of the marchers are farmers who have been forced from their land to make way for government-backed economic projects.
In other news from India, the Observer newspaper of Britain has revealed that child workers as young as 10 years old are being forced to work in textile sweatshops in India to produce clothes sold by Gap Kids. Children described to the paper working long hours without pay, as well as threats and beatings. Gap has said it will investigate the allegations.
In news from Africa, two days of talks aimed at finding peace in Darfur have ended without a deal. According to U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson, the peace talks in Libya faltered in part because key rebel leaders refused to take part.
U.N. envoy Jan Eliasson: “The train has left the station for the road to peace. Question is: How many passengers will get on the train? And they are ready to — we are ready to receive them. But we hope, and we — for us, this is an absolutely crucial issues. We want this peace process to be irreversible. We have just finished a plenary session. Tomorrow we go into serious discussions. In the meantime, we keep contact with those who want to get on the peace process, to take part in the peace process, and we are in contact and in communication with them already.”
African Union special envoy Salim Salim said an agreement needs to be reached soon to avoid more bloodshed.
Salim Salim: “We are under pressure to have an agreement because of the situation on the ground. We have seen the suffering on the ground. We have seen the expectation of the people on the ground. We have seen the problem relating to insecurity. And therefore, when you are in Darfur, the first thing people tell you: security, security, security. And clearly, therefore, the establishment or the rapid deployment of UNAMID will certainly help, will certainly help a lot in reducing the incidences of insecurity in the place.”
In Argentina, first lady Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appears set to become Argentina’s first elected female president. With three-quarters of votes counted, Kirchner had almost double the votes of her nearest challenger. Kirchner will take office on December 10, replacing her husband Néstor Kirchner.
In Haiti, another supporter of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been abducted. Maryse Narcisse disappeared on Saturday after she was taken by armed men in front of her house. Narcisse serves as a director of the Aristide Foundation and is a member of the Lavalas Party. Another Lavalas activist, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, has been missing since August 12.
The Georgia Supreme Court has ordered the release of a young African-American man who was serving a 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 years old. Genarlow Wilson was freed from prison on Friday. Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote that Wilson’s 10-year prison term without the possibility of probation or parole appears to be “grossly disproportionate to his crime.” On Sunday, Wilson told reporters that he hopes now to pursue a college degree in sociology or business. Wilson said, “It feels real good to be free.”
In Oaxaca, Mexico, thousands of teachers and activists marched on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the murder of American journalist Brad Will. Demonstrators marched form the state government building to the Zócalo, where they left floral arrangements in memory of the deceased journalist. The protest was organized by APPO, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca. Marcelino Coache of APPO said the Mexican government used Will’s death as an excuse to send in federal troops last year to crush the popular uprising.
Marcelino Coache: “Brad Will’s death was very tragic because he’s a journalist who conveyed information to the international media, and that was valuable for the movement. However, the death of a foreign journalist was fundamental for the state government, so that they could involve the federal police.”
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Mexican President Felipe Calderón to investigate Brad Will’s murder. No one has been charged with the killing even though local newspapers published photographs identifying the gunmen as local police officials dressed in civilian clothes.
And here in New York, a U.S. soldier involved in the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq said he is not to blame for the agent’s death. Last week, an Italian court dismissed the absentia trial of Mario Lozano for the killing of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari. Lozano allegedly shot Calipari as he escorted the then-newly freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the airport. In an interview with Reuters news agency, Lozano directly blamed Giuliana Sgrena, the kidnapped journalist, for what happened. Sgrena was in Iraq reporting for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto when she was kidnapped. Lozano criticized Sgrena for going to Iraq and reporting on the war.
Mario Lozano: “You know, she went out there. She wanted to mingle with the terrorists and all that. And then she gets caught. Now we have to send — now we have to send good men to go after this one person that knows that she put herself in the situation. You know, she knows that if she’s going to go talk to terrorists, she knows there’s a 99 percent chance she will get caught. So, why did she do that for? It’s beyond my — you know, I don’t understand. So it’s her fault that this is happening, not my fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not America’s fault. It’s not the Italian government’s fault. It’s Sgrena’s fault.”