The United Nations Security Council warned Zimbabwe last night that a free and fair election is impossible following opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s withdrawal from the race. The Security Council unanimously condemned what it described as Zimbabwe’s “campaign of violence.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to postpone Friday’s run-off vote.
Ban Ki-moon: “Conditions do not exist for free and fair elections right now in Zimbabwe. There has been too much violence, too much intimidation. A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy.”
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party said the election would go ahead despite Tsvangirai’s withdrawal. On Monday, Tsvangirai sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare because of concerns he would be assassinated. Tsvangirai won the first round of elections in March, but withdrew from the run-off saying he could not ask people to die voting for him. The Guardian newspaper reports forces aligned with Mugabe have raided the headquarters of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and hauled away scores of people.
NASA’s top climate scientist James Hansen warned Monday that the world has long passed the dangerous level for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that the earth is nearing a tipping point. Hansen said, “We’re toast if we don’t get on a very different path. This is the last chance.” He also called for the government to block the construction of new coal-fired plants. During an interview on NPR, Hansen called for the chief executives of oil companies to be tried for their role in spreading disinformation on climate change.
James Hansen: “The CEOs of these large energy companies are guilty of crimes against humanity if they continue to dispute what is understood scientifically and to fund contrarians and if they push us past tipping points that end up destroying many species on the planet and having a huge impact on humanity itself.”
It was twenty years ago this week when James Hansen first appeared before Congress to warn that global warming had already started. The year of Hansen’s original testimony, 1988, was the world’s hottest year on record. Since then, fourteen years have been hotter.
In campaign news, John McCain’s chief political strategist has apologized after telling a magazine that another terrorist attack on US soil would benefit McCain’s candidacy. Charles Black told Fortune magazine, “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him.” During the same interview Black said the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had helped McCain.
The New York Times reports the major TV networks have drastically cut back on their coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during their weeknight newscasts. So far this year, the three evening network newscasts have shown a total of 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage. That’s about two minutes of Iraq coverage per network per week. Just forty-six minutes have been spent by the three networks covering the war in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in news from Iraq, a local Iraqi council member from the town of Salman Pak shot and killed two US soldiers on Monday. Four others were injured. The shooting occurred outside a municipal council meeting.
A coalition of human rights groups has accused the US government of withholding money intended to provide clean drinking water to Haiti as leverage to push for regime change in the country. In 1998, the Inter-American Development Bank approved $54 million to help the Haitian government revamp the country’s water and sanitation systems. Ten years later, the water projects have yet to be started, because the US government aggressively attempted to block the disbursement of the loans. According to the report, the US government derailed the projects in 2001 at a time when it was pushing for the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s democratically elected president. Aristide was eventually overthrown in 2004 in a US-backed coup.
In medical news, the US Conference of Mayors has unanimously approved a resolution supporting a single-payer national health insurance system.
And the Los Angeles activist and educator Don White has died at the age of seventy-one. He was the local director of CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador; a founder of the Southern California Fair Trade Network; a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild; and a member of the local board of Pacifica station KPFK.