The escalation plan is expected to receive congressional backing. Peace activists, meanwhile, have declared an “Emergency Anti-Escalation Rally” to oppose the expansion of the Afghan war. The rally will be held in Washington, DC on December 12th.
In Honduras, lawmakers have overwhelmingly rejected the restoration of the ousted president Manuel Zelaya. On Wednesday, the Honduran Congress voted 114 to 14 to ratify its earlier decision to remove Zelaya after he was overthrown in a military coup. Zelaya had agreed to the new vote as part of a deal to end his standoff with the coup regime. The vote threatens to derail the agreement, which also calls for the formation of a unity government for the remainder of Zelaya’s term. The coup regime says it will arrest Zelaya if he leaves the Brazilian embassy, where he’s taken refuge since returning from exile in September.
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, new figures show the Israeli government revoked more residency permits for Palestinians in Jerusalem last year than in any year on record. The Israeli human rights group HaMoked says more than 4,500 Palestinians were stripped of their residency in 2008. The average number of revoked residency permits had previously been around 200 per year.
In Kashmir, around 2,600 bodies have been discovered in unmarked mass graves. Human rights groups say some of the dead could be innocent civilians killed in the twenty-year uprising against the Indian occupation of Kashmir.
The founder of the private military firm Blackwater has confirmed he’s operated as a CIA “asset” in addition to his company’s publicly known work for the US government. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Erik Prince said he’s served a dual role as both a contractor and as an operative for secretive missions. The disclosure follows independent journalist Jeremy Scahill’s report last week that Blackwater is operating in Pakistan on behalf for the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command. Prince says he was selected for several missions in part to give the CIA “unattributable capability.” Prince also says he plans to step down from Blackwater and become a high school teacher.
New figures show unemployment has worsened or remained the same in most metro areas nationwide. The Labor Department says the number of jobs either dropped or remained unchanged in 204 out of 372 urban areas for the month of October. The news comes as President Obama convenes an unemployment summit at the White House later today.
In media news, the Washington Times has announced a massive round of job cuts in order to stay afloat. The newspaper says it will lay off at least 40 percent of its staff, shift to free distribution, and reduce its content.
And the state of Texas is set to execute a man tonight who may be mentally retarded despite a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that bans the execution of mentally retarded prisoners. Test scores have shown the prisoner, Bobby Woods, has an IQ at or below seventy -– the cutoff point for mental retardation. In a recent interview with journalist Renee Feltz, Woods described how he has difficulty reading words with more than four letters.
Bobby Woods: “They had these Western books. A lot of the words ain’t — you know, most of the words ain’t past four. I mean, they got — you know, they have five and six letters, but most of them about four. I can read most of it, but then some I can’t read. I had to read it like maybe two or three times, then I finally understand it.”