After months of campaigning, advertising and record-breaking election spending, candidates across the country made a last-minute push Monday before millions of voters head to the polls in today’s elections. Republicans are widely expected to win enough seats to retake control of the House, while Democrats are expected to narrowly hold on to the Senate. In Nevada, First Lady Michelle Obama campaigned for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
First Lady Michelle Obama: “This election is about all that we have left to do in the months and years ahead. But my husband, he can’t do this alone. He needs leaders like Harry Reid to help him. And we all need folks like you to make that happen.”
Polls show Reid is trailing Republican opponent Sharron Angle in a tight race. Meanwhile, in Ohio, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner told supporters Republicans will try to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law.
House Minority Leader John Boehner: “I’m here tonight to say thank you for everything that you’ve done, all the doors you’ve knocked on, all the calls that you’ve made, and to ask you to spend the next twenty-four hours doing everything you can to turn out every voter that you can vote. Working together, we can cut government, we can create jobs in America, we can repeal Obama-care, and we can fix the United States Congress. It’s all in our pledge to America.”
A federal appeals court has extended its freeze on a ruling that briefly overturned the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law barring openly gay men and women from the armed forces. On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban will remain in effect indefinitely while the Obama administration challenges the earlier ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. Though it claims to oppose the ban, the White House has pushed for its reinstatement because it wants the Pentagon to first complete an internal review.
A Canadian citizen held by the US since he was a teenager could be returning to Canada as early as next year. On Monday, Omar Khadr was ordered to serve a maximum of eight more years of a forty-year sentence after pleading guilty to war crimes charges last week. But as part of the plea deal, the US government agreed to allow Khadr’s transfer to a Canadian prison. Once in Canada, Khadr could be eligible for release within three years under the country’s sentencing rules. Khadr was fifteen years old when US troops imprisoned him in Afghanistan in 2002. He says US military guards beat him and threatened him with rape after he arrived at Guantánamo that same year. His trial was set to be the first under the Obama administration’s revised military commissions system and the first war crimes tribunal anywhere since World War II to prosecute someone for acts allegedly committed as a juvenile.
In Yemen, a US-born Muslim cleric targeted for assassination by the CIA has been put on trial in absentia. The case marks the Yemeni government’s first legal action against Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama administration has authorized the CIA to capture or kill him over alleged ties to the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and the shooting at Fort Hood.
Iran has delayed the trial of the two jailed Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal just one week before they were to appear in court. Bauer and Fattal were arrested in July 2009 after hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. A third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was freed in September and is now back in the United States. Iranian officials say they’ve postponed the trial because Shourd has not been summoned to appear in court. The Iranian government has suggested it would release Bauer and Fattal in exchange for Iranians jailed in the United States. On Monday, Iranian state television aired an interview with an Iranian woman jailed in the United States. The prisoner, Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan, said she had been tortured.
Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan: “It’s awful. I was mistreated horribly. The United States government invited me for governmental business to America. From the airport, they put me in handcuffs, they took me to the prison, and they started to torture me in every possible way, more especially, you know, mentally, to become a spy and work for them to turn in my ex-husband.”
Haiti is bracing for a major storm expected to hit later this week. Hurricane Tomas could cause devastating flooding and increase the spread of the recent cholera outbreak. Sophie Chavanel of the Red Cross said government officials and aid groups are scrambling to prepare for the storm.
Sophie Chavanel: “We’re really concerned this could be a direct hit, Hurricane Tomas could be a direct hit on Haiti. And historically, we know that Haiti is extremely vulnerable to hurricanes. Even heavy rain can make a lot of damage here in Haiti. So this is a great concern for the Red Cross right now.”
A Ugandan judge has ordered a newspaper to stop publishing the names and photographs of Ugandans it claims are gay and lesbian alongside calls to report them to police and even put them to death. Last month, the magazine, Rolling Stone, ran an article on what it called Uganda’s “top” 100 gays and lesbians, alongside a yellow banner that read “Hang Them.” A similar article appeared again on Sunday. Uganda’s Rolling Stone is not affiliated with the US magazine by the same name. Outside the courtroom, Pepe Julian Onziema of the group Sexual Minorities Uganda spoke out about the case.
Pepe Julian Onziema: “What the paper has done is incited violence against us, and we haven’t felt protected by the government here, so we are trying to call on the courts of law to emphasize and put in action the protection and promotion of human rights in this country, regardless of who you are, race, color, sexual orientation, identity.”
Ugandan human rights activists say at least four gays and lesbians have been attacked since the first list was published.
In Mexico, new figures show last month was the deadliest on record in the border town of Ciudad Juárez. At least 352 people were killed in October, more than were killed in each of the entire years from 2003 through 2007. Ciudad Juárez has been one of the most devastated cities of Mexico’s drug war, with over 6,000 deaths in the last four years.
The oil giant BP has posted its first profit since the April 20th oil spill set off one of the worst environmental disasters in US history. Earlier today, BP reported a third-quarter profit of $1.79 billion. The news comes as the Interior Department is under criticism for hiring a Norwegian firm that certified the safety measures aboard the Deepwater Horizon to now inspect the device that failed to prevent the spill. The firm, DNV, has received a $1.3 million contract to study the blowout preventer aboard the rig. DNV certified the Deepwater Horizon’s safety procedures and its blowout preventer in 2007 and 2009.
And in Texas, opening statements have begun in the corruption trial of Republican politician Tom DeLay. The former House Majority Leader is accused of money laundering and conspiracy in connection with campaign donations during the 2002 election. Prosecutors say DeLay and two associates illegally funneled nearly $200,000 in corporate money to help Republican candidates win their races. DeLay was forced out as House Majority Leader in 2005 and retired from Congress the following year.