Pakistan has blocked a key supply route for the US-led NATO force in Afghanistan after a cross-border helicopter attack mistakenly killed three Pakistani troops. The move comes one day after news emerged Pakistan had threatened to stop protecting NATO supply routes to Afghanistan after a series of attacks killed over seventy people. Around 100 NATO vehicles have already been held up today at Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Eighty percent of NATO’s non-lethal supplies in Afghanistan are delivered through Pakistan.
The UN Human Rights Council has voted to endorse the findings of a probe backing the prosecution of Israeli officials for the May 31st attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters. A three-member panel of international jurists accused Israeli forces of “willful killing” and torture in the raid on the Mavi Marmara. Nine activists were killed in the attack, including a US citizen. The vote to endorse the report was 30 to one, with the US the lone country in opposition. US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said the report undermines “the cause of peace.”
Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe: “This incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been resumed, and all parties should help create an environment conducive to progress in these talks. We should all be working to advance the cause of peace. The United States was opposed to Resolution 14.1, and we oppose the current resolution’s recommendation that the General Assembly consider the fact-finding mission report. For these reasons, we call for a vote and will vote against this resolution.”
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing the Pentagon of falsely claiming three Guantánamo Bay prisoners committed suicide in 2006 when they may in fact have been tortured to death. An investigation by Harper’s Magazine earlier this year found evidence the prisoners were suffocated and tortured during questioning at a secret Guantánamo facility known as “Camp No.” On Wednesday, US District Judge Ellen Huvelle rejected a request from two of the prisoners’ families to reopen the case based on new testimony from military officials. Huvelle cited a federal appeals court ruling barring court judgments on matters related to conditions at the Guantánamo prison.
A Guantánamo Bay prisoner meanwhile has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court challenging federal court standards for determining whether prisoners can fight their detentions in court. Lawyers for Fawzi al-Odah say federal courts have made it too easy for the government to jail prisoners indefinitely and too difficult for prisoners to challenge evidence against them. A Kuwaiti national, al-Odah has been jailed at Guantánamo for nine years.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Europe on Wednesday to protest a wave of austerity measures imposed in the name of cutting deficits. Labor groups say over 100,000 people marched on the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels.
On Capitol Hill, the House has voted to penalize China for controlling the value of its currency. The bill would allow new tariffs on Chinese goods in response to China’s alleged manipulation of the yuan to boost its exports. Democratic Congress member Timothy Ryan said the legislation would help protect US jobs.
Timothy Ryan: “This is about taking our country back. You wonder why people are anxious out there? They’ve been working longer, working more, getting paid less. I’d be anxious too. I’d be upset. That’s what we’re feeling in the country. And I think this bill is an opportunity for us to reinvest back in the United States, put people back to work, and have good, middle class jobs here in the United States.”
China has accused the US of protectionism and says the measure could damage economic ties.
In other news from Washington, the House has also voted to approve a measure that would provide up to $7.4 billion to workers sickened during the cleanup at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks. A similar measure is pending in the Senate.
House Democrats, meanwhile, have abandoned an effort to regulate how telecom companies control the flow of traffic on the internet. On Wednesday, House Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman said he is dropping a “net neutrality” bill after failing to attract Republican support. The measure was intended to ensure cable and phone companies grant web users equal access to all websites. In a statement, Waxman urged the Federal Communications Commission to impose its own net neutrality rules. But the FCC’s regulatory authority is in question following an appeals court ruling earlier this year that said the FCC can’t prevent internet service providers from blocking and controlling internet traffic.
The Obama administration has unveiled a new round of sanctions targeting eight Iranian officials accused of human rights abuses in the crackdown on protests following Iran’s disputed elections in June 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the sanctions in Washington.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 permits us to impose financial sanctions and deny US visas to specific Iranian officials where there is credible evidence against them. In doing so today, we declare our solidarity with their victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom.”
The banking giant JPMorgan Chase has suspended some 56,000 foreclosures after admitting some may have been authorized without proper review. A Chase employee testified earlier this year that she and her staffers had approved around 18,000 foreclosure affidavits and other documents without proper vetting on a monthly basis.
At least four youths have taken their lives nationwide this month following incidents of anti-gay bullying and harassment. A New Jersey college student jumped to his death from a bridge last week after two classmates broadcast a videotape of him having sex with another man in his dorm room. The students had recorded Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter without his knowledge. The eighteen-year-old Clementi had just started his freshman year at Rutgers University. In California, thirteen-year-old Sean Walsh died on Tuesday, nine days after a suicide attempt left him on life support. In Texas, thirteen-year-old Asher Brown died last week following months of alleged bullying. Brown’s family says he revealed he was gay shortly before taking his own life. And in Indiana, fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas hung himself earlier this month after also being bullied by classmates.
And the 2010 Right Livelihood Awards have been announced with four recipients. The Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey of Friends of the Earth International has been honored for opposing “the practices of multinational corporations in his country and the environmental devastation they leave behind” and “for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally.” Catholic Bishop Erwin Kraeutler was cited for a “lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples” in Brazil. Kraeutler helped win protections for indigenous rights in Brazil’s constitution and has been a leading opponent of the Belo Monte Dam. Shrikrishna Upadhyay of Nepal was chosen “for demonstrating…the power of community mobilisation to address the multiple causes of poverty even when threatened by political violence and instability.” Upadhyay is the founder of a group that’s helped finance hundreds of water systems, rural roads and schools in Nepal, as well as hand out loans. And the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights has been awarded “for their indomitable spirit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine.” The Right Livelihood Awards are awarded annually and are widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”