Japan’s largest nuclear power plant remains shut down for a second day following an earthquake that killed nine people and left 13,000 homeless. The earthquake caused about 300 gallons of radioactive water to spill into the sea. Japanese officials are also investigating whether a second radioactive leak occurred at the plant. One hundred barrels containing nuclear waste tipped over in the earthquake. Government officials said the 6.8-magnitude earthquake was bigger than the seismic level that the reactors were designed to withstand. But officials claimed the leak did not pose a danger to the public. Jan Beranek of Greenpeace International said, “This fire and radioactive leakage reminds us yet again of the serious threats posed by nuclear power.”
In Georgia, the execution of Troy Davis has been put off for at least 90 days. Davis was scheduled to be executed tonight, but the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles granted him a 90-day stay. In 1991 Davis was convicted of murdering a white police officer, but since then many questions have been raised about his case. The murder weapon was never found. There’s no DNA evidence or other physical evidence. Seven of the nine non-police witnesses said they were coerced by police and have since recanted their testimony.
In media news, Rupert Murdoch’s New Corp. has reached a tentative agreement to purchase Dow Jones & Company and The Wall Street Journal. On Monday, negotiators from News Corp. and Dow Jones agreed to a $5 billion deal, but it must still be approved by the full Dow Jones board and the company’s controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family.
In news from Iraq, the U.S. military has acknowledged it is considering sending more troops to fight in the war. Marine Gen. Peter Pace said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff is weighing a range of possible new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup. The U.S. currently has about 160,000 troops in Iraq. Another 180,000 civilian contractors work in Iraq for the United States.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has threatened to keep the Senate in session around the clock today in response to Republican efforts to block Iraq withdrawal legislation. Reid said: “If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it.”
The debate in the Senate comes as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has backtracked from a statement he made over the weekend that Iraqi forces could handle the country’s security any time the U.S. military chooses to leave. Maliki told NBC News on Monday that Iraq’s security forces have more work to do.
Nouri al-Maliki: “I hope this year will be the end of the building of our forces so they are prepared to take control of security. … This needs the cooperation of everyone involved, both us and the coalition forces.”
Gen. Peter Pace recently said that the number of Iraqi battalions who can operate wholly independently of the U.S. forces has fallen in the past year from 10 to only six. Meanwhile, Iraq’s former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi warned on Monday the violence in Iraq may get even worse.
Ayad Allawi: “The current situation is very bad. The country is slipping into more chaos or sectarianism and more divisions within the country. The bloodshed is becoming appalling and unacceptable, and frankly, I cannot see the political process continuing as is now because the country is on the verge of a big disaster. ”
The Reuters news agency is calling for a thorough and objective investigation into the U.S. military action last week that left two of its Iraqi staff members dead. Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh were killed on Thursday in what witnesses said was a U.S. helicopter attack. The U.S. claims they were killed in a firefight. Reuters announced on Monday that it had recovered two cameras that were being used by Noor-Eldeen. Photos on the cameras show no evidence of the firefight described by the U.S. military. Reuters editor-in-chief David Schlesinger said: “Our preliminary investigation raises real questions about whether there was fighting at the time the two men were killed.”
In the Iraqi port city of Basra, hundreds of oil industry workers demonstrated on Monday to protest a draft oil law that would open up Iraq’s oil reserves to foreign companies. Protest organizers accused the United States of trying to control Iraq’s wealth. They issued a statement that read: “If this is endorsed by the parliament it would abolish sovereignty and hand over the wealth of this generation and the generations to come as a gift to the occupier.”
President Bush announced Monday the U.S. would give the Palestinian Authority $190 million in new aid, and he outlined plans for an international summit on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
President Bush: “So I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region.”
President Bush appears set on excluding Hamas from the meeting even though Hamas won the most recent election in the Palestinian territories. The president’s speech came hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hamas officials criticized the Abbas-Olmert meeting.
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar: “This meeting is not the first, nor is it the last, and it aims to give the illusion that there is progress in the peace process. The U.S. and the Israeli side have nothing to give the Palestinians. It is merely an attempt to sway Palestinians’ public opinion, which says there is no good in holding talks with these people. They will fool the Arab and Islamic world by releasing 250 (Palestinian) prisoners.”
In news from Africa, Ethiopia’s high court has sentenced 35 opposition leaders, journalists and human rights activists to life imprisonment for their involvement in protests following the disputed 2005 election. International human rights groups criticized the trial as an attempt to silence the critics of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
In the Mexican city of Oaxaca, at least 50 people have been injured and 60 detained after police violently blocked a march led by local teachers and members of APPO, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca. There are reports that one protester died. The Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights accused police of “brutally beating” the demonstrators and roughing up several journalists.
New government statistics show the number of immigrants detained in the United States has nearly tripled since 2001. Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained 283,000 people, or about 775 a day. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, members of the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera held a rally on Monday to protest Lou Dobbs’ dominance of the immigration debate. Lou Dobbs hosts a nightly show on CNN and has been an outspoken critic of the immigrant rights movement. At the demonstration, protesters all wore masks of Lou Dobbs.
In Jena, Louisiana, two men have been arrested after they ran over a church sign at a black church. Jena is the town where six black teenagers were charged last year with attempted murder for engaging in a schoolyard fight after the students found three nooses hanging from a tree at the school. Last week the NAACP held a meeting at the Antioch Baptist Church to discuss the case of the Jena 6 and the racial atmosphere in the town. Hours later, police say John Sanderson and Jerry Bufkin ran over a sign at the church. The men have been charged with criminal damage to property. The church’s pastor called the actions a hate crime.
And in Washington, Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has announced he will not resign even though he admitted making telephone calls to an alleged prostitution ring in Washington. Vitter said the incident was “a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.” Vitter is a first-term senator who also serves as Southern regional chair for Republican Rudolph Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Vitter became a congressman in 1999, replacing Republican Bob Livingston who resigned after an adultery scandal. At the time, Vitter praised Livingston’s decision, and he called on President Bill Clinton to do the same because of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Vitter said: “I think Livingston’s stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess.”