The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration is considering sending elite hunter-killer teams into Yemen to assassinate militants believed to be connected to al-Qaeda.
One plan being considered would see US special forces units from the Joint Special Operations Command being sent into Yemen under CIA control, which would give the US greater leeway to strike without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government. The White House is considering adding armed CIA drones to the arsenal against militants in Yemen. The talks on widening the US role in Yemen come days after the discovery of a plot to ship two bombs hidden in computer printers from Yemen to synagogues in Chicago. On Friday, President Obama linked the plot to al-Qaeda.
President Obama:”Although we are still pursuing all the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens and our friends and allies.”
US officials have identified a Saudi man connected to al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch as a main suspect in the plot. On Sunday, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the bombs may have been designed to explode mid-air.
John Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation: “We’re looking at the potential that they would have been detonated en route to those synagogues aboard the aircraft as well as at the destinations. But at this point we, I think, would agree with the British that it looks as though they were designed to be detonated in flight.”
Brazil has elected its first female president. Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Workers Party easily won Sunday’s election in a runoff against José Serra. Rousseff is a close ally of Brazil’s outgoing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was barred by the constitution from running for a third term. Rousseff is a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured for three years during Brazil’s dictatorship in the 1970s. She held a victory rally on Sunday.
Dilma Rousseff: “It’s an immense joy to be here today. I received from millions of male and female Brazilians the most important mission of my life. This fact, beyond my person, it’s a demonstration of the democratic development of our country, because for the first time a woman will rule Brazil.”
In India, as many 100 right-wing protesters from the BJP party stormed the home of the writer Arundhati Roy on Sunday to condemn her calls for Kashmir independence. The protesters broke onto the grounds of her home and vandalized property. Roy, who was not home at the time, condemned the protesters as well as the local media, which filmed the attack on her home. She accused some Indian TV channels and newspapers of inciting mob anger against her because of her stance on Kashmir. Indian politicians from the BJP party have been calling on authorities to arrest Arundhati Roy on sedition charges for stating that Kashmir is not an integral part of India.
Candidates have begun their final full day of campaigning before tomorrow’s midterm election. Polls suggest Republicans will win enough seats to retake control of the House, while Democrats are expected to narrowly hold on to the Senate. On Sunday, President Obama campaigned in Ohio, where several Democrats are in tight races, including the state’s governor, Ted Strickland. President Obama spoke before 8,000 people in Cleveland.
President Obama: “The only way to fight that kind of politics, the only way to match the millions of dollars of negative ads that have been pouring down using these phony front groups, millions of dollars of ads, the only way to fight that is millions of voices who are ready to finish what we started in 2008. We’ve got to get Cleveland out to vote. We’ve got to get everybody in Ohio out to vote.”
One of the most closely watched Senate races on Tuesday is in Nevada, where Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle is attempting to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. On Sunday, Reid held a rally in Las Vegas.
Sen. Harry Reid: “There are three important issues on my mind and on your mind: jobs, jobs and more jobs. The single most important part of my job is to create jobs.”
Sharron Angle has blamed much of Nevada’s economic woes on Harry Reid.
Sharron Angle: “We have the answers — we, as Americans — to what’s gone wrong in our economy. And they’re simple as cut back on the spending.”
In Kentucky, a volunteer for Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he was videotaped stomping on the head of a woman outside last week’s Senate debate. Tim Profitt was the coordinator for Paul’s campaign in central Kentucky. The victim of the attack was Lauren Valle of the group MoveOn.org. She suffered a concussion and multiple sprains from the assault. Lauren Valle appeared last week on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Lauren Valle: “And at that point, they pursued me around the car, chased me around the car, and what you see in the video is when I’m in the front of the car. And that`s when I’m pulled down. And then my head is stomped on.”
Keith Olbermann: “So, you were not mistaken for some sort of threat to Mr. Paul’s safety? Before the tape rolls, they know who you are and what you’re trying to do?”
Lauren Valle: “Yeah, it was premeditated. My partner Alex, who was with me, heard them behind us say, ’We’re here to do crowd control, and some — we might have to take someone out.’”
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has launched an investigation after the owner of a McDonald’s restaurant in Canton, Ohio warned workers that they won’t receive any raises if Democrats win on Tuesday. When workers at the McDonald’s received their paycheck, they also received a note from the restaurant’s owner listing the Republican candidates to vote for. The McDonald’s owner wrote, “If the right people are elected we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above our present levels. If others are elected we will not.”
Total campaign spending for Tuesday’s election is predicted to hit $4 billion, a record for a midterm election. Much of the money is being spent on buying airtime on television. The Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates TV political spending will reach $3 billion, surpassing the 2008 presidential race. It is estimated that political advertising revenue will account for more than 11 percent of total revenue at local broadcast stations this year.
In Iraq, fifty-two hostages and police officers were killed on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held by militants. Another sixty-seven people were wounded in the rescue effort. The attackers seized the church during a mass ceremony on Sunday. Officials said the gunmen threatened to kill the 120 hostages unless al-Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt were freed. A prominent Christian Iraq lawmaker denounced how the Iraqi security forces handled the crisis. Iraqi parliamentarian Younadam Kana said, “Because of their lack of professionalism and the hasty action taken by security forces in freeing the hostages, many innocent people were killed.”
Delegates to a landmark United Nations meeting on biodiversity have agreed to a moratorium on geoengineering experiments to deliberately alter the earth to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement means that governments of the 193 countries that are signatories to the UN Biodiversity Convention must ensure that no geoengineering projects take place until risks to the environment as well as social, cultural and economic impacts have been properly assessed. The prohibition, however, does not apply to the United States, which has yet to ratify the convention. In a recent appearance on Democracy Now!, the Indian scientist and activist Vandana Shiva warned about the dangers of geoengineering.
Vandana Shiva: “These shortcuts that are attempted from places of power — and I would add, places of ignorance — of the ecological web of life, are then creating the war solution, because geoengineering becomes war on a planetary scale, with ignorance and blind spots, instead of taking the real path, which is helping communities adapt and become resilient.”
Two former US Marines have been arrested in Ohio for threatening to blow up the Veterans Affairs hospital in Dayton. One day after the Marines made the threat, a neighbor of one of the men found an unloaded rocket launcher in a garbage bin near his house.
A new study in the British medical journal Lancet has determined alcohol is a more dangerous drug than both crack and heroin when the combined harms to the user and to others are assessed. The scientists rated alcohol the most harmful overall and almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco. The World Health Organization estimates that risks linked to alcohol cause 2.5 million deaths a year from heart and liver disease, road accidents, suicides and cancer. The scientists assessed damage according to nine criteria on harm to the user and seven criteria on harm to others. Drugs were then scored out of 100, with 100 given to the most harmful drug and zero indicating no harm at all. The scientists found alcohol was most harmful, with a score of 72, followed by heroin with 55 and crack with 54. Marijuana was given a score of 20.