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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has for the first time publicly called for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The Bush administration has been secretly negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq that would allow the US to keep permanent military bases in Iraq. But al-Maliki said Iraq only wants to sign a short-term agreement that includes a withdrawal timetable. Al-Maliki said, “The goal is to end the presence of foreign troops.” In Washington, the Bush administration rebuffed Maliki’s request. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman criticized timelines as “artificial.” State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack questioned whether Maliki might have been misquoted.
At the G8 summit, world leaders announced earlier today they would work toward cutting carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050. The Canadian government described the deal as major progress, but environmental campaigners slammed the world’s wealthiest nations for not doing more to fight global warming. Oxfam said the G8 climate agreement threatened the world’s poor. Oxfam spokesperson Antonio Hill said, “Rather than a breakthrough, the G8’s announcement on 2050 is another stalling tactic that does nothing to lower the risk faced by millions of poor people right now.” On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described climate change as one of the major issues facing the world.
Ban Ki-moon: “The world faces three simultaneous crises: a food crisis, a climate crisis and a development crisis. The three crises are deeply interconnected and need to be addressed as such.”
The Pentagon has ruled out eliminating cluster bombs from its stockpile of weapons but has vowed to eventually reduce the danger of unexploded munitions in the deadly explosives. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has signed a memo requiring that the US build so-called safer cluster bombs — but the rule won’t go into effect until 2018. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said the Pentagon’s move is a step back. In 2001 a defense policy issued by then-Defense Secretary William Cohen called for a similar reduction in submunitions from cluster bombs by 2005. Leahy said, “Now the Bush administration’s 'new' policy is to wait another ten years.” In May, more than 100 countries agreed to ban cluster bombs. But the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan have refused to agree to the ban.
The website Narco News has revealed a US private security company is connected to a controversial Mexican police training video that showed officers practicing techniques critics say amount to torture. Two employees of the Florida-based company Risks Incorporated are seen in the video. One of the employees of Risks Incorporated, Jerry Wilson, is seen dragging a Mexican agent through his own vomit. Another employee of Risks Incorporated in the video is identified as Gerardo Arrechea, a Cuban Mexican who has ties to the anti-Castro militant group Commandos F4.
In news from Africa, former British military officer Simon Mann has been sentenced to thirty-four years in prison for plotting to topple the oil-rich government of Equatorial Guinea. During the trial, Mann said that Spain, South Africa and the United States all knew about the coup plot and approved it. Mann also implicated Mark Thatcher, the son of Britain’s former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, in the plot.
An Army medic who became famous for being photographed in 2003 carrying an Iraqi child to safety has died at the age of thirty-one after overdosing on a computer cleaner aerosol. Army Specialist Joseph Dwyer had been struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome. After he returned from Iraq, his marriage fell apart, and he spiraled into substance abuse and depression. In 2005, he shot up his El Paso, Texas apartment and held police at bay for three hours with a 9-mm handgun, believing Iraqis were trying to get in. The March 2003 photo of Dwyer was published around the world and has been described as one of the most iconic images of the US invasion. His mother Maureen Dwyer said, “He loved the picture, don’t get me wrong, but he just couldn’t get over the war. He wasn’t Joseph anymore. Joseph never came home.”
A US photographer has accused the US military of censorship after the Marines kicked him out of its embed program for publishing a photo of a Marine who died in a suicide bombing in Fallujah. The photographer, Zoriah Miller, said, “I just feel this war has become so sanitized that it was important to show.” The military claimed the publication of the photo violated embed rules. The Marines also claimed that Miller had “provided the enemy with specific information on the effectiveness of the attack.”
A group of scientists, conservationists and politicians from Europe and its twenty-eight overseas territories have begun a five-day biodiversity meeting on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. Most of Europe’s overseas territories are islands that have unusually high concentration of unique and endangered species. Russell Mittermeier of the International Union for Conservation of Nature urged the European nations to protect the biodiversity of these islands.
Russell Mittermeier: “France is one of the ten countries in the world with the highest number of endangered species, mainly due to what has happened in its overseas territories. And once again, the risk of these numbers increasing in the European overseas territories is likely to increase with the growing threat of climate change.”
In other environmental news, a new US government report has revealed that half of US coral reefs are in poor or fair condition and are threatened by climate change and human activities like sports fishing, shipping and the release of untreated sewage. Reefs in the Caribbean, in particular, are under severe assault.
And in campaign news, Denver police arrested a sixty-year-old librarian Monday on trespassing charges after she tried to enter a John McCain rally in a city-owned building holding a sign that read “McCain = Bush.” Carol Kreck was removed from the event by four city police officers.
Carol Kreck: “The ticket was for trespassing. He said if I came back into the plaza, I would be arrested and taken to jail. [The sign] says 'McCain = Bush'. Now, in a Republican [event], why is that offensive? Why would Republicans who voted for Bush find it offensive that a sign says 'Bush = McCain' or 'McCain = Bush'?”
Carol Kreck was arrested at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. A spokesperson at the center said the venue is a city-owned rental property, but she claimed the building is not legally defined as public property. Denver is the site of the Democratic National Convention in August.
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