In Afghanistan, a UN probe has backed claims of a massive civilian death toll from a US air strike last Thursday. The UN mission in Kabul says investigators found some ninety civilians, including sixty children, were killed in the attack. There are concerns the toll could mount once the rubble is cleared. The slain children were said to be between the ages of three months and sixteen years old. All died while they slept. Another fifteen people were injured. If confirmed, the strike would be the deadliest known US attack on Afghan civilians since the invasion of 2001. The Pentagon says it’s investigating after initially claiming twenty-five militants and five civilians were killed.
Here in Denver, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton headlined the second night of the Democratic National Convention with an appeal to unite behind Senator Barack Obama.
Sen. Hillary Clinton: “My friends, it is time time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can afford sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future, and it is a fight we must win together.”
Despite the call for party unity, aides say tensions remain between the Clinton and Obama camps over their tightly fought race for the Democratic nomination. Clinton staffers reportedly refused to let the Obama campaign approve her final remarks. Clinton aides told the New York Times her remarks were partly tuned to leave the door open for a presidential run in 2012.
The other rousing address of the day came from another former Democratic presidential hopeful, Congress member Dennis Kucinich. In an afternoon speech, Kucinich said the Bush administration invaded Iraq for oil. He also warned of the looming threat of a US attack on Iran.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “Wake up, America! In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neocon artists seized the economy and added $4 trillion of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil, and twice what we paid for healthcare.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s vice-presidential candidate, Senator Joe Biden, praised Obama and his wife Michelle.
Sen. Joe Biden: “I ran against him, man. I thought I should be president, you know? I ran like the devil, but I tell you what, I watched something, and it’s about the forum, and I’ll sit down. These folks get it. They’ve touched. They’ve tapped into. They’ve tapped into a fundamental essence of what the country is, that people, they don’t want you to give them a handout. They want you to give them a chance.”
In Iraq, at least twenty-eight people were killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Diyala province. The attack targeted a crowd of police recruits. Another forty-five people were wounded.
In other Iraq news, two noncommissioned military officers have admitted to shooting dead four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners. In sworn statements, the officers say they acted along with a third to kill the prisoners and move their bodies into a Baghdad canal. Attorneys for the officers say they expect their clients to face murder charges.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has upheld civilian charges against a former soldier accused in the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the killing of her family in 2006. Steven Green faces charges as the accused ringleader in raping and murdering fourteen-year-old Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister. Green had challenged a law that allowed the government to indict him on civilian charges for crimes committed while serving in the military. But on Tuesday, District Judge Thomas Russell rejected Green’s petition and said the case can proceed.
In environmental news, international researchers have found Arctic sea ice has shrunk to the second-lowest level since record-keeping began three decades ago. The International Arctic Research Center says the Arctic ice is now two million square miles below its average size. The disparity is on place to break the 2007 record for lowest sea ice.
In Los Angeles, an African American woman is claiming she was forced out of a federal building for wearing a t-shirt promoting lesbianism. Lapriss Gilbert says a security guard threatened her with arrest and ordered her to leave. Her shirt said “lesbian.com.” The guard worked for Paragon Security, a private company under contract with the Department of Homeland Security.
Honduras has become the latest Latin American country to join ALBA, the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas. ALBA was established as a counterweight to US-led trade agreements in Latin America. Honduran officials say founding member Venezuela has offered to double its foreign aid, dwarfing assistance from US-controlled bodies like the World Bank. The move marks a sign of further rejection of US influence in Latin America. In the 1980s, Honduras was the staging ground for the US-led effort to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Nicaragua is also an ALBA member, along with Cuba, Bolivia and Dominica.
The peace activist Cindy Sheehan may have been put under surveillance here in Denver. In an email to supporters, Sheehan reports she returned to her hotel room to find a man taking apart her phone with a screwdriver. Sheehan says she was told the hotel was having problems with its phones.
Denver police are downplaying the severity of an alleged plot to assassinate Barack Obama. Four men were arrested on Sunday carrying weapons and camouflage. Denver detective Marcus Dudley described what was seized.
Marcus Dudley: “The sergeant discovered inside his truck a bulletproof vest, two rifles, ammunition, walkie-talkies and drugs. One scope was discovered with one of the rifles. The ammunition, the weapons, clearly that would give one great concern.”
Denver police say although the four suspects had discussed killing Obama, they had not planned to put it into action. Police say the accused were methamphetamine addicts who were impaired at the time they discussed Obama.
And a Denver police officer is under scrutiny after he was videotaped assaulting a member of the antiwar group Code Pink at a protest on Tuesday. On the tape, the officer shoves twenty-four-year-old Alicia Forrest with his baton, forcing her to the ground. Moments later, Forrest was seized and arrested by police officers as she tried to explain to reporters what had just happened. Denver’s Internal Affairs Bureau and independent monitor have requested copies of the tape.