Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has placed two southern provinces under emergency rule after gunmen abducted and killed forty-six people on Monday. The gunmen attacked a group of people as they traveled to file nomination papers for a candidate to contest the governorship in elections next May. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least twelve journalists were among those killed. The group said, “Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day.”
On Monday night, President Barack Obama met with his national security team to finalize plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan. Obama is expected to announce his decision next Tuesday, but the McClatchy Newspapers is reporting the President has already decided to send 34,000 additional US troops over the next year to Afghanistan.
President Obama is facing increasing criticism from senior congressional Democrats over the war’s cost. David Obey, the chair of House Appropriations Committee, has introduced a bill to impose a war surtax. Congressman Obey discussed the proposed tax on ABC News.
Rep. David Obey: “On the merits, I think it’s a mistake to deepen our involvement. But if we are going to do that, then at least we ought to pay for it, because if we don’t, if we don’t pay for it, then the costs of the Afghan war will wipe out every other initiative that we have to try to rebuild our own economy. That’s what happened with the Vietnam War, which wiped out the Great Society. That’s what happened with the Korean War that wiped out Harry Truman’s Square Deal. That’s what happened with the end of the progressive movement back before the ’20s when we went into World War I. In each case, the costs of those wars shut off our ability to afford anything else.”
Israel and Hamas appear close to reaching a deal to exchange Gilad Shalit, a captured Israeli soldier, for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti, one of the most popular leaders in the West Bank. Hamas has held Shalit since June 2006. Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison. He is seen as a possible heir to the current Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
In climate change news, a team of researchers is predicting that rising temperatures in Africa will lead to more civil wars over the next twenty years. The researchers’ study is said to provide the first quantitative evidence linking climate change and the risk of civil conflict.
David Lobell, assistant professor at the Woods Institute at Stanford: “What we found was, surprisingly, that there is not only a clear effect, but a very strong effect, in the incidence of civil war in Africa and the state of the climate system. And looking forward from that, we can say that for a degree increase, which is something we expect over the next few decades, you could expect roughly a 50 percent increase in the occurrence of civil war in Africa. Sort of a rough calculation is that about 400,000 people additional would die because of the climate change increase in civil war conflict.”
The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In other climate news, over 130 Australians were arrested Monday at a sit-in outside Australia’s Parliament. The protesters called on the Australian government to commit to a 40 percent emissions reduction in 2000 levels by 2020.
An official inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war has begun. The five-member inquiry team is expected to spend the next eighteen months examining the reasons for Britain’s involvement in the 2003 US-led invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq.
John Chilcot, chair of the Iraq War Inquiry: “We are completely determined to write the story fully and frankly on the basis of all the evidence we can get. And it’s worth emphasizing we have complete access to the entirety of the government’s records, from top to bottom, throughout the nine years. And we already have seen more than enough to know nothing is being held back, because it can’t be. If there was a gap, we’d know it and find it.”
The District of Columbia has agreed to pay nearly $14 million to settle a class action suit brought by protesters arrested during a protest outside the IMF/World Bank meeting in 2000. The Partnership for Civil Justice said the settlement marks the largest amount ever paid in the US to compensate protesters who were wrongfully arrested. The class action suit was brought on behalf of nearly 700 people arrested at the protest. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said, “It sends a message to every city and every law enforcement officer that there is going to be a steep price to pay for violating protesters’ First Amendment rights.”
In economic news, President Barack Obama said Monday that his top priority was to tackle the nation’s unemployment rate, which recently topped ten percent. The President spoke after holding a cabinet meeting.
President Obama: “Our economy is growing again for the first time in more than a year, and we know that economic growth is a prerequisite for job growth. But having said that, what I emphasize today is we cannot sit back and be satisfied, given the extraordinarily high unemployment levels that we’ve seen. We have only taken the first step in curing our economy and making sure that it is moving on the right track. And I will not rest until businesses are investing again and businesses are hiring again and people have work again.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled more than 2.1 million cribs following four reports of infant suffocations. The agency also said there have been 110 incidents of drop-sides detaching from the cribs. Some of the cribs recalled have been on the market for sixteen years. Earlier today, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission conceded it has not been “acting as quickly as it should” on crib safety problems. The cribs were made by Stork Craft Manufacturing and were sold at major retailers including BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sears and Wal-Mart stores and online through Target and Costco.
New FBI statistics show the number of hate crimes against African Americans jumped sharply in 2008 amid President Obama’s presidential campaign. The number of attacks on blacks increased eight percent last year to nearly 2,900. Hate crimes based on religion increased nine percent. Two-thirds of the attacks were against Jews. Meanwhile, the number of victims of bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation increased by 11 percent.
In California, a sixty-six-year-old man was jailed on Monday after being accused of illegally housing homeless people on his ranch in San Luis Obispo. For the past eight years, Dan de Vaul has run a sober-living center for about thirty homeless people on his seventy-two-acre ranch. In September, a jury convicted him of two misdemeanor violations of building and safety codes at his ranch. De Vaul was offered probation, but he refused the terms. De Vaul said, “I’m proud to go to jail for housing the homeless.”
In Oakland, a BART transit officer has been captured on videotape pulling a drunk man off a train and then slamming his head into a large window, shattering the glass. After his head was slammed into the window, Michael Joseph Gibson was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and public intoxication. An attorney for Gibson said he plans to sue the BART transit agency over the incident. According to his family, Gibson has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Earlier this year, a BART police officer was caught on videotape fatally shooting an unarmed African American man named Oscar Grant on a train platform on New Year’s Day.
Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs has acknowledged he is considering a run for the White House in 2012. Dobbs addressed the issue in a radio interview on Fred Thompson’s show.
Fred Thompson: “Lou, one way to have a voice — you’ve already had a big one, but another way to have a voice is in public service. Have you given any thought to perhaps running for president?”
Lou Dobbs: “I’m talking — yes is the answer. And I’m going to be talking some more with some folks who want me to listen to them in the next few weeks. You know, I — so I just don’t even what to tell you in terms of where I’m leaning, because right now I’m fortunate to have a number of wonderful options. I do know this: I’m going to have the best advice. I may make a terrible decision, but I’m going to have great advice.”
Lou Dobbs resigned from CNN earlier this month. A coalition of Latino groups recently led a campaign for his removal from CNN over his alleged anti-Latino bias in covering immigration reform.
And the leaders of the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise have won this year’s Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. At a White House ceremony last night, President Obama praised the group’s defiance of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
Magodonga Mahlangu: “We deserve to have a roof over our heads. We deserve to have food in our stomachs, our children in schools, and the nation working. We deserve to live in dignity and free from fear. And it is our right to have our voices heard and respected. That is why I joined WOZA, simply for those reasons. While Mugabe boasts of having degrees in violence, I and 75,000 strong WOZA members who stand beside me have degrees in nonviolence. Our aim is to uphold universality and nonviolence for a better life for ourselves and for our children.”