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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has won his fourth presidential election, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles. Chávez took 54 percent of the vote to Capriles’ 45 percent in a race widely seen as Chávez’s strongest challenge since his first victory in 1998. At a victory rally outside the presidential palace, Chávez reached out to the political opposition and called for unity among Venezuelans.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez: “I send my words of recognition to all of those who voted against us. I send out a special recognition for your democratic talent, for your participation, for the civic demonstration that you have given today despite not agreeing with the Bolivarian proposition. I invite you to dialogue, to debate and to the joint work for a Bolivarian Venezuela.”
In his concession speech later in the night, Capriles urged Chávez to recognize the voices of those who voted against him.
Henrique Capriles: “I hope a political movement that has been in power for 14 years understands that almost half the country does not agree with it. I ask those who remain in power for respect, consideration and recognition of almost half the country.”
Thousands of people marched in Pakistan over the weekend to protest the ongoing U.S. drone strikes. On Sunday, the Pakistani government blocked the march from entering the tribal area of South Waziristan, a frequent target of drone attacks. Addressing the march, Pakistani political leader Imran Khan said the drone strikes are fostering hatred of the United States.
Imran Khan: “These drone attacks are a violation of international law. These drone attacks are a violation of the human rights of the Pakistani people. Do we all condemn them? We want to send a message to America: the more drones attacks you carry out, the more the people will grow to hate you and raise their arms against you. Our tribal people will not be scared off with drone attacks.”
More than 30 U.S. citizens with the group CODEPINK traveled to Pakistan to take part in the march and meet with drone strike victims.
Tighe Barry: “The illegal, immoral, brutal attacks on the innocent people of Waziristan in the FATA region of Pakistan must end now. These are illegal drone strikes carried out by CIA. CIA is a civilian organization using military equipment. This is a war crime.”
Linda Wenning: “They [drone attacks] are illegal. They’re against international law. They invade the sovereignty of Pakistan. And they’re not productive.”
In a U.S. protest held in solidarity with the anti-drone march in Pakistan, 10 people were arrested on Friday at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in New York. Members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars stood in front of the base’s gate, holding signs and blocking entry. Shortly before he was arrested, protester Jack Gilroy said demonstrators hoped to hold up the piloting of the drones that takes place at the base, perhaps sparing the lives of civilians overseas.
Jack Gilroy: “We’re hoping that by being here, maybe we’re going to hold up one of these pilots for an hour or two. And that perhaps may be, idealistically, saving a family from being destroyed in Pakistan or somewhere else.”
New job figures released Friday show the nation’s unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8 percent, the lowest point since President Obama took office. Employers added 114,000 workers in September, and revised figures showed employment gains in previous months were higher than previously thought. The number marked a boost to President Obama’s re-election bid in the aftermath of his widely criticized debate performance last week. Addressing supporters at the University of Virginia, Obama said the country “has come too far to turn back.”
President Obama: “More people are getting jobs. Now every month reminds us that we’ve still got too many of our friends and neighbors who are looking for work. And there are too many middle-class families that are still struggling to pay the bills. They were struggling long before the crisis hit. But today’s news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It’s a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.”
Also campaigning in Virginia, Republican challenger Mitt Romney downplayed the new figures.
Mitt Romney: “This can’t go on. I’ll tell you this, when I’m president of the United States — when I’m president of the United States, that unemployment rate is going to come down, not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we’re creating more jobs. I will create jobs and get America working again.”
President Obama’s re-election campaign has announced it took in a record $181 million in September, its largest monthly total to date. The vast majority came from donations of $250 or less. At a fundraiser in Los Angeles on Sunday, President Obama mocked Romney for vowing to cut funding to PBS.
President Obama: “When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending, he said he’d go after public television. So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry, somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird, cracking down on him. Elmo has made a run for the border. Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s bringing the hammer down on Sesame Street.”
Five alleged backers of al-Qaeda have been extradited to the United States from Britain after long-running legal battles. Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four others arrived on Saturday after the European Court of Human Rights rejected their appeals. Al-Masri spent years in prison in Britain on a conviction of inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder. A federal grand jury indicted him in 2004 on allegations of supporting al-Qaeda and aiding a fatal kidnapping in Yemen. His lawyers had appealed his extradition to the United States by citing European statutes barring inhumane and degrading treatment. Two others were arrested after the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in North Africa and had fought extradition since. The other two have been indicted on charges of supplying material to Islamic militants in Chechnya and to the Taliban. One of those two, Babar Ahmad, is a British citizen. His supporters had waged a long campaign criticizing the U.S.-Britain extradition treaty and calling for him to be tried on British soil.
Violence is raging in cities across Syria as rebel fighters clash with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian activists say Assad’s forces have stepped up attacks in Homs, which has seen heavy fighting over the course of a four-month siege. Aerial and ground attacks have also been reported in Aleppo, while a bombing at the police headquarters in Damascus has left one officer dead.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Spain on Sunday in the latest national protest against government-imposed austerity. Union leaders have warned of a potential general strike should the Spanish government continue to slash public spending.
Thousands of people have rallied in Guatemala over the killings of six indigenous protesters who were shot dead last week. The victims were taking part in a road blockade to oppose living costs and educational policies when government forces opened fire. Another 34 people were wounded.
Thousands of workers staged a one-day strike on Friday at the Foxconn factory in China known for poorly treating workers who help make Apple products such as the iPhone. The group China Labor Watch says up to 4,000 Foxconn workers walked off the job in protest of new employee demands including working through a holiday that began last week. Foxconn initially denied that a strike was taking place but later said that the dispute had been resolved.
Workers at a Wal-Mart supply warehouse in Elwood, Illinois, are returning to work after a three-week strike. The workers walked off the job last month amidst allegations of sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions, unpaid wages and retaliation against organizers. Managers reportedly fired several leaders and threatened others after they delivered a petition. The workers say they have won pledges to end workplace retaliation and will be given their full wages for the time they were on strike. The strike in Illinois was followed by similar actions at Wal-Mart supply warehouses in California and Florida by workers demanding fairer workplace conditions.
A Buffalo man has won the right to sue the manufacturer, distributor and dealer of the pistol used to shoot him nearly a decade ago. Daniel Williams was a high school basketball star when he was shot and badly wounded in 2003. On Friday, a New York state court ruled Williams can take legal action against the Ohio-based weapons manufacturer Beemiller and distributor MKS Supply for knowingly selling weapons to irresponsible dealers. The dealer who purchased the guns in Williams’ case is a convicted felon who was barred from buying weapons. In a statement, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said: “This important ruling states that gun companies who choose to supply the criminal gun market are not above the law. When the gun industry place profits over people, they should and must be held accountable to the innocent victims.”
An unarmed 22-year-old Hispanic-American man has been shot dead by New York City police. Noel Polanco was driving on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens when police approached him at a traffic stop. Police say Polanco was shot after reaching for something in his vehicle, but a witness says his hands remained on the steering wheel the entire time. Polanco was an Army National Guardsmen who had hoped to one day join the police force. He was traveling with an off-duty police officer when he was killed. On Sunday, dozens of people rallied outside NYPD headquarters to protest the shooting of another person of color, Mohamed Bah, who was shot dead inside his Harlem apartment last month after reportedly lunging at police with a knife.
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