war on terror

Headlines: Pakistan Faces Humanitarian Crisis; Obama Admin Wants To Bring Spy Training Program To Colleges

Democracy Now Headlines: Pakistan Faces Humanitarian Crisis; Obama Admin Wants To Bring Spy Training Program To Colleges

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Iran’s Guardian Council Admits to Vote Irregularities

Iranian authorities have acknowledged some irregularities have been found in Iran’s presidential election results. The influential Guardian Council admitted the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpassed the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas. Authorities said the discrepancies could affect as many as three million votes. According to the official results of the disputed election, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad beat Mir Hossein Mousavi by about 11 million votes.

Mousavi Calls For More Street Protests

Meanwhile Mousavi and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami have defied Iran”s Supreme Leader and urged protesters to continue street demonstrations calling for a new election. Iranian state media reports that between 10 and 19 people were killed during protests on Saturday. Iranian police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters. Iranian state radio reported 457 protesters were arrested. On Sunday Iranian police briefly detained five relatives of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a close ally of Mousavi Reporters Without Borders says Iran is now jailing 30 journalists and cyber-dissidents including Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari who has been held since Sunday.

Iran’s Web Spying Aided By European Firms Siemens and Nokia

The Wall Street Journal reports European telecommunications companies have helped the Iranian government develop one of the world”s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet. The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of the German-based Siemens AG and Nokia, the Finnish cellphone company. Using the technology, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes.

Israel To Allocate $250 Million For West Bank Settlements

In other news, Israeli army radio is reporting Israel plans to allocate 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank despite pressure to halt settlement activity from the Obama administration. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week and rejected calls for a freeze on the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

Avigdor Liberman: “I think and I say again settlements are not an obstacle to achieve peace. We know that even before ’67, before we even established one settlement, the situation was the same.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki challenged Lieberman’s claim.

Riyad Al-Malki: “With the continuation of the settlement activities, it will be impossible to create a viable, contiguous Palestinian state on the ’67 borders. Nobody shares with Israeli Foreign Minister (Avigdor) Lieberman this view that the construction of settlement activities in occupied Palestinian territories has no connection to the peace process or has no influence to the achieving a peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

Shiite Mosque Attacked in Iraq, 73 Die

In Iraq, at least 73 people died Saturday when a suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque near Kirkuk. It was the deadliest attack in Iraq in more than a year. Another 15 people died today in a series of bomb attacks in Baghdad.

Two U.S. Soldiers Die in Rocket Attack On Bagram Air Base

In Afghanistan two US troops were killed Sunday when Bagram Air Base came under a rocket attack. Six other people were injured.

U.S. Admits Afghan Air Strike Killed At least 26 Civilians

Meanwhile, an internal U.S. military investigation into a U.S. airstrike on May 4th has confirmed that U.S. forces killed at least 26 Afghan civilians and possibly as many as 86. The military released the internal report on Friday but withheld making public a video from the attack despite an earlier promise from Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command.

Kidnapped NYT Reporter Escapes From Taliban

In other news from Afghanistan, a New York Times reporter has escaped from the Taliban after being held hostage for seven months. David Rohde was abducted on Nov. 10 but his kidnapping had been kept a secret by the Times and other western media outlets.

Pakistan Faces Humanitarian Crisis

The United Nations has launched an urgent appeal for funds to help the UN respond to the massive humanitarian crisis facing Pakistan. Over 3 million Pakistanis have been displaced in recent weeks due to the Pakistani military”s offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley. Last week the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said the Pakistan displacement crisis is probably the world”s biggest since events in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo in the 90s. Last month the UN appealed for about $540 million from the international community, but only about 35 percent of the funding has been received. The humanitarian crisis in Pakistan is expected to soon worsen as the Pakistani military prepares to expand its offensive against militants by attacking South Waziristan.

Report: One Billion People Go Hungry Every Day

World hunger is projected to reach a record high this year with more than a billion people going hungry every day. This is an increase of some 100 million people over the past year.

Obama Admin Wants To Bring Spy Training Program To Colleges

The Obama administration has proposed offering federal money to colleges and universities to help train students to become spies for the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The Washington Post reports the intelligence officer training program would function much like ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps run by the military with the government subsidizing the cost of school in return for future service. However, unlike ROTC, the students’ participation in the spy training program would likely be kept secret.

ACLU Files Suit Over Communication Management Units

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Prisons challenging the legality of the government”s use of secretive prison units known as Communication Management Units or CMUs. The units are designed to severely restrict prisoner communication with family members, the media and the outside world. Most of the prisoners held in the CMUs have been Muslim men but the units have also held political activists including the environmental activist Daniel McGowan who is being held at a CMU in Marion, Illinois. Daniel McGowan’s attorney Lauren Regan appeared on Democracy Now in April.

Lauren Regan: “The inmates there do call Marion, Illinois, ‘Little Guantanamo.’ Part of the reason that they call it that is because it is a secret facility. They do feel as if they are being hidden, not only from society at large, but from other inmates in the federal system.”

Federal Authorities Approve Gun Sales to People On Terrorist Watch List

The National Rifle Association is opposing a proposed bill that would block gun sales to people on the government”s terrorist watch list. Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey plans to introduce the bill today. A new government study found people on the government’s terrorist watch list have tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years. Federal authorities cleared the purchases 90 percent of the time because they had no legal way to stop them. Under current federal law, people named on the terrorist watch list can be barred from boarding an airplane or getting a visa, but they cannot be stopped from buying a gun.

Poll: 72% Of Americans back Creation of Public Healthcare Plan

A new poll by the New York Times and CBS News has found that 72 percent of Americans support the government creating a public healthcare plan, similar to Medicare, which would compete with private insurance plans. The poll also found the majority of Americans now believe the government would do a better job than private insurance companies in providing medical coverage.

Nestle Recalls Cookie Dough Products Due to E.Coli Scare

The food giant Nestle has recalled all Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products because of e.coli contamination. The Food and Drug Administration said there has been 66 reports of illness across 28 states since March from the contaminated cookie dough.

Bermuda Prime Minister Survives No-Confidence Vote

In Bermuda, Prime Minister Ewart Brown has survived a vote of no-confidence. Brown had been criticized for agreeing in secret with the Obama administration to accept former Guantanamo prisoners.

Obama Jokes About Plight of Uighurs

Bermuda and the Pacific island nation of Palau have both accepted a group of Uighur prisoners who had been held at Guantanamo for seven years even though U.S. officials admitted they were wrongly detained. The Uighers are Chinse Muslims who could not be returned to China out of fear that they would be imprisoned and tortured. Over the weekend President Obama joked about the plight of the Uighurs during the Radio TV Correspondent’s Dinner.

President Obama: “Nick At Nite has a new take on an old classic: ‘Leave It To Uighurs.’ [laughter] I thought was pretty good.”

Obama also joked about the refusal of other countries from accepting prisoners held at Guantanamo.

President Obama: “I have to say as I have travelled to all of these countries, I found firsthand how much people truly have in common with one another, because no matter where I went there is one thing that I heard over and over again from every world leader: no thanks, but have you considered Palau?”

Welsh Activist Denied Entry To U.S.

The Welsh folk singer and language activist Arfon Gwilym has been forced to cancel an appearance at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington after he was denied a visa by U.S. officials. Gwilym is a prominent campaigner for the preservation of the Welsh language. He was denied the visa because he has been arrested several times while campaigning for bilingual road signs in Wales and for a Welsh-language television channel.

Indian Musician Ali Akbar Khan, 87, Dies

And the master Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan has died at the age of 87. Khan played a pivotal role in introducing western audiences to Indian music.

Condi Rice Comes to Town; Press Focuses on her Piano Skills

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Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will be speaking in Grand Rapids on Monday at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids’ annual dinner. As is always the case with these events, they are limited to members of the Economic Club and their guests, with makes it so that ordinary folks generally can’t see what these former government officials say. Moreover, when they are in town to speak about their experiences while in government, citizens deserve a chance to know what is said. Ideally, that is a role that media can play.

But, I doubt we’ll get much serious coverage from The Grand Rapids Press or the other local media in town. In advance of her appearance, The Grand Rapids Press has focused on her piano skills:

She won’t be tickling the ivory, but Economic Club of Grand Rapids officials still are excited to hear from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday. There had been quiet hopes the 1,500-plus attendees would hear a piano performance from Rice, dubbed the world’s most prominent amateur musician by The New York Times in 2006. Club Executive Director Lorna Schultz said she was disappointed, but organizers just couldn’t work it out. Still, the crowd for the club’s 22nd annual dinner will be the fourth largest on record.

You would think that they would focus on her record–particularly as it relates to torture. A group of students at Stanford recently campaigned for Condoleezza Rice–a faculty member–to be prosecuted for war crimes:

As National Security Advisor, Rice authorized waterboarding in July 2002, according to a newly released report of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Less than two months later, she hyped the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Her ominous warning was part of the Bush administration’s campaign to sell the Iraq war, in spite of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency’s assurances that Saddam Hussein did not possess nuclear weapons.

For those who want to learn more about Condoleezza Rice’s record, a profile of her on SourceWatch.org has a good critical overview of her career, particularly with regard to her role in selling the Iraq War. It’s also worth reading recent news articles about her giving specific approval of torture.

Rethink Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties

The footage you are about to see is poignant, heart-wrenching, and often a direct result of U.S. foreign policy. In order to help the refugees whose lives have been shattered by U.S. foreign policy and military attacks, please provide aid through the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. For more on Afghan civilian casualties, watch Director Robert Greenwald on MSNBC’s The Ed Show:

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National Call-In Day to Demand an Exit Plan for Afghanistan

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Fresh off the disappointing passage of more money for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-war group United for Peace and Justice has declared today a national call-in day to Congress to demand an “exit plan” from Afghanistan.

The group writes:

This week, the House passed the war-funding Supplemental bill, providing $79.9 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With this vote, the House has effectively ratified the escalation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It has done this without any indication of an ‘exit plan’ from the Obama administration.

Tackling this problem is Congressman Jim McGovern’s bill HR 2404, which would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress outlining an ‘exit plan’ for U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan no later than December 31, 2009. Congressman McGovern’s bill is gaining support and now has 87 co-sponsors. And we’re urging your support now, too.

Today is National Call-In Day to Congress on the McGovern bill and UFPJ urges you to contact your members of Congress to sign-on as a co-sponsor, if they have not already done so. Once you make your calls, please report them back to us here:

http://www.unitedforpeace.org/form.php?modin=163

The Congressional Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

United for Peace and Justice goes on to assert that while they were disappointed by the passage of the funding bill, peace activists made it extremely difficult for the White House to get the bill passed.

Headlines: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured; CIA Director Initially Backed Torture Truth Commission

Democracy Now Headlines: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured; CIA Director Initially Backed Truth Commission

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Iran; Seven Killed

In Iran, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Tehran Monday to protest last week’s disputed presidential election. Defying an official ban on protests, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi joined the massive crowd, which has been described as the largest anti-government demonstration in Iran since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The protests turned bloody last night when seven people were reportedly killed. Meanwhile, Iran’s powerful Guardian Council says it will order a recount of votes in contested areas of Iran. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in Friday’s poll with 63 percent, compared with 34 percent for Mousavi. On Monday, President Obama said he was “deeply troubled” by the violence but would continue to pursue “tough direct diplomacy” with Iran. Supporters of Mousavi have also been holding protests in Paris, New York, Washington and other cities. Babak Talebi took part in a demonstration Monday in Washington.

Babak Talebi: “We are here to show our solidarity with the people inside Iran who are out on the streets demanding that their voice be heard. And they’re demanding a new election, and we’re demanding that the previous one on Friday not be legitimized through recognition in the mainstream media and international entities. We want to make sure that we all stand with the people in Iran and what their demands are.”

Report: Kennedy Health Bill Would Leave 36 Million Uninsured

A new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that Senator Edward Kennedy’s plan to expand healthcare coverage would cost about $1 trillion over the next ten years and fall far short of providing universal healthcare coverage. According to the CBO, the plan would reduce the number of uninsured by 16 million people, but even if the bill became law, 36 million people would remain uninsured in 2017.

Supreme Court Won’t Review Cuban Five Case

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by five jailed Cuban nationals known as the Cuban Five. The five men were convicted in 2001 for spying on the US military and Cuban exiles in southern Florida. All five are serving time in federal prisons across the country. The men say they weren’t spying on the US, but trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups that have organized attacks on Cuba. The Cuban Five trial was the only judicial proceeding in US history condemned by the UN Human Rights Commission. Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s Parliament, criticized the Supreme Court for refusing to hear the appeal.

Ricardo Alarcon: “Today is a day of shame and of anger. It is a day of shame for those who believe in justice in the North American system. It is a day of anger for many people in all the world that have called upon the US Supreme Court to do something very simple, which is to review the case of the Cuban Five.”

Attorneys for the Cuban Five have argued their trial should have been moved from Miami, the heart of the Cuban American community, because of a biased jury pool.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Border Wall Case

The Supreme Court has also refused to accept a case seeking to stop construction of a wall along the the US-Mexico border. Several Texas border communities had sued the federal government after former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff waived thirty-six federal laws protecting water, air quality, endangered animals and Native American sites in order to build the border wall.

Pelosi Pressures Antiwar Democrats to Back War Funding Bill

On Capitol Hill, the Democratic House leadership is pressuring antiwar Democrats to support a $106 billion supplemental war funding bill. In May, fifty-one antiwar Democrats opposed an earlier version of the bill. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to pressure some of those Democrats to switch their votes to help pass a new version of the bill that also includes increased funding for the International Monetary Fund. California Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey says the White House has threatened to pull support from freshman antiwar Democrats who vote no on the bill. In order to block passage, thirty-nine House Democrats need to join with Republicans opposing the bill.

Pakistan to Expand Offensive Against Taliban

Pakistan is preparing to expand its war against the Taliban by launching a new offensive in South Waziristan, home to Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban leader. This will mark the second front in Pakistan’s war against militants. Over the past six weeks, Pakistan, with US backing, has waged a major attack on the Swat Valley. The fighting has displaced more than two million civilians.

Al Jazeera Employees Detained in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, two Al Jazeera employees have been detained after being told by officials to report to the country’s intelligence headquarters. Meanwhile, General Stanley McChrystal has taken over as the top US commander in Afghanistan.

UK to Conduct Private Inquiry into Iraq War

The British government has announced it will conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq war. But antiwar campaigners are criticizing the government’s decision to conduct the inquiry in private.

Report: CIA Director Initially Backed Truth Commission

CIA Director Leon Panetta has revealed he initially supported the creation of a Truth Commission to investigate the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. Panetta told The New Yorker magazine, quote, “I could see that it would make some sense, frankly, to appoint a high-level commission, with somebody like Sandra Day O’Connor, Lee Hamilton–people like that.” Panetta dropped his support for the Truth Commission after President Obama essentially vetoed the idea in late April.

CIA Officer in El-Masri Rendition Promoted Twice

The New Yorker magazine has also revealed that the CIA has twice promoted an officer responsible for the rendition and detention of an innocent German citizen named Khaled El-Masri. CIA agents kidnapped El-Masri in Macedonia and flew him to Afghanistan, where he was held in a dungeon and tortured. He was jailed for 149 days without charge. The CIA officer refused to release El-Masri even after it was clear that he was not a terror suspect. The officer was never reprimanded.

KSM Says He Gave False Info After Being Tortured

Newly declassified documents reveal that the CIA’s use of torture may have produced false information. Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told US military officials that he made up stories about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts after being tortured.

Carter: Netanyahu Blocking Peace With Palestinians

Former President Jimmy Carter has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of setting up new obstacles to peace with the Palestinians. On Sunday Netanyahu said for the first time he could accept a two-state solution, but only if the new Palestinian state had no army and no control of its airspace and borders. Jimmy Carter spoke during a stop in Jerusalem.

Jimmy Carter: “My opinion is he raised many new obstacles to peace that had not existed under previous prime ministers. He still apparently insists on expansion of existing settlements, he demands that the Palestinians and the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state although 20 percent of the citizens here are not Jews. This is a new demand, President Obama in his speech called for two states and am glad Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted that concept.”

Earlier today Jimmy Carter visited Gaza for the first time since the Israeli invasion.

Jimmy Carter: “It’s very distressing to me, I have to hold back tears when I see the deliberate destruction that has been racked against your people. I come here to the American school which was educating your children, supported by my own country and I see that this been deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16 made in my country and delivered to the Israelis.”

Jimmy Carter is scheduled to meet Hamas leader Ismail Haniya later today.

Campaigners Urge Caterpillar To Halt Bulldozer Sales to Israel

Shareholders of the company Caterpillar have rejected an effort by human rights activists to stop the firm from selling bulldozers to Israel to be used to demolish homes in Gaza and the West Bank. At the company’s annual meeting last week dissident shareholders submitted a resolution calling for a review of Caterpillar sales to militaries with poor human rights records, including Israel. The Israeli activist Matan Cohen of the group Anarchists Against the Wall attended the shareholders meeting.

Matan Cohen: “Caterpillar has been arguing for years that they are not responsible for what their clients are doing with their products and we made a very simple case. As a recent ruling in the United States court, in the state of New York said, if you are willfully blind to what your clients are doing with your products, you are as legally culpable as they are, hence we demanded Caterpillar stopped providing Israel its services, and stop giving them D-9 bull dozers with which Israel has been demolishing, homes constructing the seperation wall, and uprooting olive groves on a day-to-day basis.”

Environmental Justice Attorney Luke Cole, 46, Dies

And the pioneering environmental justice attorney Luke Cole has died at the age of 46. He was the co-founder of the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment. Over the years Cole battled toxic waste facilities, mega-dairies, mining companies and other pollution threats in poor and minority communities in California and Alaska. Cole died last week after a car accident in Uganda.

Headlines: Obama Administration Urges Court to Toss Rendition Lawsuit; Top Minutemen Officials Arrested on Murder Charges

Democracy Now Headlines: Obama Administration Urges Court to Toss Rendition Lawsuit; Top Minutemen Officials Arrested on Murder Charges

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Iran Supreme Leader Calls For Probe Into Disputed Election

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered an investigation into allegations of election fraud in Friday’s presidential vote. Khamenei made the announcement following three days of street protests by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, who has accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of stealing the election. Khamenei’s decision to call for a probe has shocked many in Iran. On Saturday Khamenei had urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad and called the result a “divine assessment.” According to the official election results, Ahmadinejad was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote but Moussavi claims the vote was rigged. Moussavi was planning to hold a major rally in Tehran today but Iranian officials ordered a ban on protests. Opposition websites report that over a 100 prominent opposition members were detained and then released over the weekend. At a rally on Sunday Ahmadinejad spoke before tens of thousands of his supporters.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “In our beloved Iran, democracy is a fundamental principle. First of all, it’s the nation which determines everything. It’s the people who decide. It’s the nation’s will that governs. It’s the nation which selects the rulers in every decision making level of the political system”

UN Approves New North Korean Sanctions

Tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to mount. On Friday, the United Nations Security Council agreed to a new round of sanctions against North Korea. North Korea responded by vowing to step up its nuclear bomb-making program by producing more plutonium and uranium. North Korea also threatened war on any country that dared to stop its ships on the high seas under the new sanctions. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is headed to Washington for summit talks Tuesday with President Barack Obama.

Netanyahu Backs Demilitarized Palestinian State

Palestinian officials have condemned a major policy speech by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying it closed the door to permanent status negotiations. During the speech on Sunday Netanyahu said for the first time he could accept a two-state solution but only if the new Palestinian state had no army, no control of its airspace and borders, and would recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Binyamin Netanyahu: “If we receive this guarantee for demilitarization and the security arrangements required by Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation of the Jewish people, we will be prepared for a true peace agreement (and) to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.”

During the speech Netanyahu also said Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel and that israel would not concede to US demands for a complete halt to all settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: “He is not with the two state solution, he is not going to stop settlements including natural growth so we have attempts to move a peace process which was moving like a turtle in the region, now Netanyahu tonight flipped it on it’s back. It’s really up to President Obama tonight, he has the choice. He can treat Israel like a country above the laws of men, apply double standards and this will be a costly road, or he can have the Israeli government oblige with it’s commitments eminating from the road map. The two state solution with ’67 borders and stopping settlement activities including natural growth. Tonight what Netanyahu told us-there will not be permanent status negotiations.”

Top Sunni Lawmaker Assassinated in Iraq

In Iraq, a top Sunni lawmaker was assassinated on Friday shortly after giving a sermon calling on authorities to investigate the widespread reports of torture in Iraqi prisons. Harith al-Obaidi is the third Iraqi lawmaker to be assassinated since parliament was elected in 2005.

Report: 30 Lawmakers Have Financial Holdings in Health Care Industry

The Washington Post has revealed almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has at least $50,000 invested in a health-care index. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, a senior member of the health committee, has up to $560,000 worth of stock holdings in major health-care companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. The family of Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman held at least $3.2 million in more than 20 health-care companies at the end of last year. On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee plans to hold a key hearing to discuss health care reform. On that 22-member panel, at least eight senators have financial interests in the health-care industry. The hearings will be led by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd whose wife serves on the boards of four health-care companies. She received more than $200,000 in salary and stock from her service last year.

Obama Administration Urges Court to Toss Rendition Lawsuit

The Obama administration is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to allow a Boeing subsidiary to be sued over its roles in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration is urging the court to throw out the case citing the State Secrets Act. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit against Jeppesen International Trip Planning on behalf of five former prisoners. Jeppesen is accused of arranging at least seventy flights since 2001 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. Ben Wizner of the ACLU said: “This is a watershed moment. There’s no mistake any longer … the Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions.”

Judge Rules Jose Padilla Can Sue John Yoo Over Torture

A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled Jose Padilla can sue former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo for coming up with the legal theories that justified his detention and torture. Padilla says he was repeatedly tortured while being held as an enemy combatant. Padilla, who is a U.S. citizen, was held for 43 months without charge in a Navy brig in South Carolina. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said QUOTE “Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct.”

CIA Fires Mitchell, Jessen & Associates

CIA Director Leon Panetta has revealed the agency has fired Mitchell, Jessen & Associates and other contractors connected to interrogations. Mitchell, Jessen & Associates was run by two former military psychologists who helped design the CIA’s torture program. Panetta made the disclosure in an interview with the New Yorker Magazine.

CIA Head Says Cheney Almost Wishing U.S. Be Attacked Again

In the same interview CIA Director Leon Panetta harshly criticized former Vice President Dick Cheney for questioning the Obama administration’s national security policies. Panetta said of Cheney “it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

Peruvian President Alan Garcia Accused of Ethnic Genocide

Peruvian President Alan Garcia is warning that police may have to use a ‘heavier hand’ on indigenous protesters in the Amazon following the recent clashes that left over 60 people dead. Indigenous tribes fear losing control of natural resources after recent presidential decrees opened up investment on extending mining and oil drilling in the jungle. Indigenous activists in Peru are calling for investigations into the violence and the resignations of government officials, including Garcia. On Friday the actress Q’Orianka Kilcher spoke in Lima on behalf of the indigenous protesters.

Q’Orianka Kilcher: “And I hear that Garcia has publicly declared my brothers and sisters of the Amazon to be ‘not first-class citizens.’ I have to say, ‘Shame on you, Alan Garcia because we are all first-class citizens. We are all Peruvians. And I hear that you are criminalizing indigenous protesters by calling them terrorists and savages. Who gave orders to commit ethnic genocide?”

Obama Admin To Spend $350 Million On New National Educational Standards

In education news, the Obama administration has announced plans to spend up to $350 million to help develop national standards for reading and math. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the government’s spending will go for the development of tests that would assess those new standards.

Top Minutemen Officials Arrested on Murder Charges

Two top officials of the anti-immigrant group Minutemen American Defense have been arrested on murder charges in Arizona. Shawna Forde, the group’s executive director, and Jason Bush, the group’s operations director were both charged with two counts of first-degree murder. A third person was also charged. Police say the three broke into a home and a killed a man and his 8-year-old daughter. The Minutemen American Defense organization has sent teams of armed vigilantes to the U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canada border in an attempt to stop undocumented workers. It is a separate organization from Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project.

Domestic Workers Rally in New York

And here in New York, over 200 domestic workers and their supporters rallied outside City Hall Sunday to urge state lawmakers to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Speakers included Nisha Varia of Human Rights Watch.

Nisha Varia: “It’s an issue of having equal legal protections. It’s about having domestic work recognized as work. And the same sort of issues about not being paid for your work, not having time off, and not being respected-we really need to see the government and employers respond to that.”

Afghans Discuss Civilian Casualties and the Ongoing Occupation of their Country

Over the past several months, we’ve regularly posted portions of Brave New Films’ documentary Rethink Afghanistan (see parts 1, 2, and 3). Now, the progressive filmmakers have released four new videos that offer a critical perspective on the Afghanistan War–the perspective of Afghan civilians who bear the brunt of the United States’ military force.

The videos offer a rare glimpse into the opposition to the war amongst Afghan civilians and what they endure on a daily basis. Unfortunately, their perspectives are all too often ignored by the media and in some cases, the anti-war movement.

I think what is said in these videos is striking and it really needs to be heard–and not just by those that support the war, but also its critics. All too often critics of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War have often adopted a paternalistic attitude and have asserted that they can best decide what citizens of either country want. For example, when I was active in organizing against the Iraq War, it wasn’t uncommon to hear “well meaning” liberals go on about how if the U.S. wasn’t in Iraq the Iraqis would all kill each other or how a timeline for withdrawal “is better than nothing.” Aside from racism and privilege embedded in those statements, it wasn’t their choice to make. Sadly, after years of hearing quite clearly from Iraqis that they want the U.S. out of their country–which is what we are now hearing from Afghanistan–there hasn’t really been a concerted push for an immediate end to those wars. That’s something that really needs to change.

At any rate, I’d strongly encourage you to watch all four videos:

Obama’s Choice to Lead Afghanistan War Linked to Detainee Abuse

Over the past few weeks, news that the Obama administration had picked Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal to was met by opposition from anti-war and liberal voices who have criticized McChrystal for his ties to both the abuse of detainees and targeted assassinations.

Last week, McChrystal appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was mainly subjected to softball questions that largely side-stepped the issue of detainee abuse and torture. Among those questioning McChrystal was Michigan Senator Carl Levin. Unfortunately, there was much more discussion about the death of former football player Pat Tillman than detainee abuse.

For those who want to learn a bit more about McChrystal and what his selection means for the continued war in Afghanistan, Democracy Now! put together an excellent segment with Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch and author Tom Engelhardt. The video is available below:

In addition, readers wanting to learn more about the war in Afghanistan would do well to read Engelhardt’s piece, “The Pressure of an Expanding War,” that looks at where the war in Afghanistan is headed.

Headlines: Cheney: Only Alternative to Guantanamo Is To Kill Terror Suspects; Women’s Health Care Services Clinic in Wichita To Reopen Next Week

Democracy Now Headlines: Cheney: Only Alternative to Guantanamo Is To Kill Terror Suspects; Women's Health Care Services Clinic in Wichita To Reopen Next Week

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.<

GM Files For Bankruptcy

Auto giant General Motors filed for Chapter 11 Monday in one of the largest bankruptcy cases in U.S. history. Under the proposed restructuring plan, the US government will invest another $30 billion in GM-in addition to the $19 billion it has already received-and take ownership of 60 percent of the company.

Women’s Health Care Services Clinic in Wichita To Reopen Next Week

In Wichita Kansas, the Women’s Health Care Services clinic remains closed two days after the murder of its founder Doctor George Tiller. Associates of Tiller said the clinic will resume normal operations next week. Tiller was assassinated Sunday by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist with ties to separatist militia groups. Roeder faces a scheduled court hearing today. Tiller had been a target of anti-abortion activists for over two decades. His clinic was bombed in 1985, eight years later he was shot in both arms. On Monday, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, said Tiller reaped what he sowed.

Randall Terry: “Pro-life leaders and the pro-life movement are not responsible for George Tiller’s death. George Tiller was a mass-murderer and, horrifically, he reaped what he sowed.”

Due to the threat posed by anti-abortion activists, Attorney General Eric Holder has dispatched US Marshals to protect women’s health clinics and abortion providers nationwide.

UN Enters Gaza For War Crimes Probe

United Nations human rights investigators have entered Gaza to probe possible war crimes and other violations of international law during Israel”s military assault on Gaza last December. Israel has refused to cooperate with the investigation. The UN team is headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

Richard Goldstone: “On behalf of the four members of the fact-finding mission sent here by the United Nations to do a fact-finding with regard to not only the military campaign in December and January in the past few months, but also to look at any violations of international human rights law, of international humanitarian law.”

Obama: U.S. Must Be More ‘Honest’ With Israel

President Obama has reiterated his call for Israel to freeze the construction of settlements in the West Bank. Obama’s comment came in an interview on National Public Radio in which he also indicated that he would be more willing to criticize Israel than previous administrations have been.

President Obama: “Part of being a good friend is being honest. And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory in the region, is profoundly negative — not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests. And that’s part of a new dialogue that I’d like to see encouraged in the region.”

Kidnapped Pakistani Students Rescued

Pakistani soldiers have rescued scores of students and staff from a military-run college who were abducted by Taliban militants in the northwest of the country on Monday. Pakistani officials said 71 students and nine staff members had been rescued. Meanwhile a court in Pakistan has ordered the release of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of an Islamic charity accused of being a front for a group tied to the Mumbai attacks that killed more than 170 people.

Kim Jong-Il Reportedly Picks Son To Be His Successor

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has reportedly designated his youngest son to be the country’s next ruler. Little is known about his youngest son, who is thought to have been born in 1983 or early 1984.

Jimmy Carter Disagrees With Obama on Releasing Torture Photos

Former President Jimmy Carter said last night that he disagrees with President Obama’s decision to block the release of hundreds of photos of torture committed at US prisons overseas. Carter spoke on CNN.

Jimmy Carter: “[M]ost of his supporters were hoping that he would be much more open in the revelation of what we’ve done in the past. But he’s made a decision with which I really can’t contend that he doesn’t want to resurrect the past, he doesn’t want to punish those who are guilty of perpetrating of what I consider crimes against our own laws and against our own constitution. And the revelation of those pictures might very well inflame further animosity against our country causing some harm to our soldiers, so I don’t agree with him, but I certainly don’t criticize him for making that decision.”

Jimmy Carter also also addressed the possible prosecution of Bush administration officials.

Jimmy Carter: “I think prosecuting is too strong a word, what I would like to see is a complete examination of what did happen, the identification of any perpetrators of crimes against our own laws or against international law and then after all that’s done, decide whether or not there should be any prosecutions. But the revelation of what did happen is what I think I would support.”

Gen. Sanchez Calls For Truth Commission

Meanwhile the former top coalition commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, has called for a truth commission to investigate abusive interrogation practices. Sanchez said: “If we do not find out what happened then we are doomed to repeat it.” Sanchez was in command of Iraq when the infamous abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib. In 2006 a German attorney filed a war crimes suit against Sanchez and other high-ranking offiicials.

Cheney: Only Alternative to Guantanamo Is To Kill Terror Suspects

Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the military prison at Guantanamo saying the U.S. needs a place to hold suspected terrorists. Cheney said the only alternative the Bush administration had to creating Gauntanamo was to kill terror suspects.

Dick Cheney: “If you’re going to be engaged in a world conflict such as we are, such as the global war on terrorism, if you don’t have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them And we don’t operate that way.”

Number of Armed Contractors on Rise in Afghanistan and Iraq

Newly released Pentagon statistics show the number of armed contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan is rapidly rising. The number of military contractors in Afghanistan increased by 29 percent in the second quarter of 2009. The number in Iraq jumped by 23 percent. Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill reports there are now over 240,000 private contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senate Criticized For Voting to Expand Funding of IMF

A coalition of civil society groups, as well as some U.S. lawmakers, are criticizing a recent Senate vote to expand funding for the International Monetary Fund by 108 billion dollars. InterPress Service reports opponents of the funding are concerned about the conditions the IMF usually imposes upon low-income countries when they accept these funds. Typically, the IMF requires recipient countries to reduce their budget deficits and increase interest rates. As a result, countries have been forced to cut essential social programs, like unemployment insurance and other safety-net mechanisms.

Mauricio Funes Sworn In As New President of El Salvador

In El Salvador Mauricio Funes was sworn in as the country’s new president Monday. Funes’ party, the FMLN, is a former guerrilla group that fought El Salvador’s US-backed military government for close to twenty years. Before the start of the inauguration ceremony, Funes visited the shrine of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero at the Cathedral of San Salvador. Romero, the so-called “voice of the voiceless,” was a powerful advocate for the poor and a leading critic of the former military government in El Salvador when he was assassinated while saying mass on March 24, 1980.

Mauricio Funes: “In the midst of the tough economic situation in El Salvador, the least we can do is pay homage publicly to the memory of Monsignor Romero.”?

Baucus to Meet With Single Payer Advocates

After months of protests, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus has agreed to meet with a delegation of leading single payer national health plan advocates on Wednesday. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee and plays a key role in the debate over reforming the health care system. He has repeatedly said a single-payer system is off the table and has iced out single payer advocates from committee hearings.

Protests Set For 200th Execution in Texas Under Governor Perry

Death Penalty opponents in Texas are planning to protest today outside the prison where Terry Lee Hankins is scheduled to be executed. Hankins is set to become the 200th person executed under Texas Governor Rick Perry. No governor has overseen more executions in modern U.S. history. Meanwhile the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the state of Ohio should have another chance to sentence a convicted killer to death, despite a previous factual finding that the man is mentally retarded.

No More Deaths Activist on Trial in Arizona

In Arizona a human rights activist from the group No More Deaths went on trial Monday for leaving plastic jugs of water in a National Wildlife Refuge near the U.S.-Mexico border. The activist, Walt Staton, says the water jugs were left to prevent migrants from dying of dehydration. The U.S. government has accused Staton of “knowingly littering” in the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. The group No More Deaths has worked for years to provide humanitarian aid to migrants. Over the past decade, nearly 2,000 men, women and children died while trying to cross the border into Arizona.

Catholic Priest & Writer Thomas Berry, 1914-2009

And the Catholic priest, historian and writer Thomas Berry has died at the age of 94. The self- described “geologian” founded the Riverdale Center for Religious Research. In 2005 Berry told a reporter: “If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants.”

Headlines: Petraeus Admits U.S. Violated Geneva Conventions; General Motors Declares Bankruptcy

Democracy Now Headlines: Petraeus Admits U.S. Violated Geneva Conventions; General Motors Declares Bankruptcy

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

General Motors Declares Bankruptcy

General Motors is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today in what is expected to be one of the largest and most complex bankruptcy cases ever. The bankruptcy filing caps a remarkable fall for the 100-year-old company which was once the world’s largest car manufacturer. Under the proposed restructuring plan, the U.S. government will invest another $30 billion in GM and take ownership of 60 percent of the company. The Canadian government, a union health trust and current bondholders would own the rest. The restructuring will result in the lost of 21,000 more jobs, the shuttering of at least 12 factories, and the closing of 2,600 car dealers. President Obama is expected to outline the proposed restructuring in a speech today. Administration officials said the government will remove itself from day-to-day operations of GM once a new management team is in place. Congressman Denis Kucinich of Ohio urged the White House not to subsidize GM’s overseas growth at the expense of U.S. workers. In a statement Kucinich said: “We must not allow GM to use U.S. taxpayer dollars to close plants in America in order to open markets for products made in China and other countries.” Residents of Detroit said they were saddened and anxious by the bankruptcy of GM.

Mary Ann Bielaczyc, Detroit area resident: “They are all scared. Their day to day existence is depending on this. I have a brother who is a contract worker for GM and he never knows from one day to the next if he is going to have a job. My next door neighbor’s son works for GM, or used to, found out his job was eliminated. It’s scary.”

In other auto news, a federal judge has cleared a path for Chrysler to get out of bankruptcy by approving a sale of most of the company’s assets to a new entity to be run by the Italian company Fiat.

Anti-Abortion Activist Arrested in Killing of Kansas Doctor

In Kansas, police have arrested a 51-year-old anti-abortion activist in connection to the murder of Doctor George Tiller. Tiller was shot dead Sunday as he attended services at his church in Wichita. The National Abortion Federation says Dr. Tiller is the eighth abortion provider to be assassinated in the United States since 1977. President Obama said he is “shocked and outraged” by Tiller”s killing. US Marshals are now being deployed to protect women’s health clinics and doctors across the nation. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.

Report: Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths Each Year

A new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum estimates global warming is causing more than 300,000 deaths each year. The report is considered to be the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming. The Global Humanitarian Forum is a think tank headed by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general. If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the organization estimates 310 million more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases, 20 million more people will fall into poverty and 75 million extra people will be displaced by climate change.

White House To Create “Cyber Czar” Position

President Obama has announced plans to create a White House-level position of “cyber czar” to coordinate and oversee federal efforts to improve network security and response to cyber attacks.

President Obama: “It’s now clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. It’s also clear that we’re not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country.”

Obama also said that his administration would not dictate cybersecurity standards for private companies and that he was committed to protecting the privacy of Americans.

President Obama: “Our pursuit of cybersecurity will not–I repeat, will not include–monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be–open and free.”

Military Contractors Hired To Wage Cyberwarfare

Meanwhile the New York Times reports the military is now spending billions of dollars hiring defense contractors or so-called hacker soldiers to help wage cyberwarfare. Nearly all of the largest military companies ? including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon ? have received major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies.

Pakistan Forces Retake City of Mingora in Swat Valley

Pakistani forces have retaken the city of Mingora after a bloody clash with Taliban fighters. Mingora is the main city in the Swat Valley. Red Cross officials said Pakistani civilians in the region are in dire need of aid. Houses have no running water, no power and food is scarce. The fighting has forced 3 million people to flee their homes.

Petraeus Admits U.S. Violated Geneva Conventions

The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, admitted in TV interview that the United States has violated the Geneva Conventions. Petraeus made the comment while expressing support for President Obama’s decision to ban certain extreme interrogation techniques, but he did not specifically say which parts of the Geneva Conventions had been violated.

General David Petraeus: “When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it’s important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those.”

Obama Urges Court Not To Release Uighurs Into U.S.

The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to reject a petition filed by 14 Chinese Uighurs held at Guantánamo seeking their release into the United States. The Uighurs are still being held at Guantanamo even though they are no longer consider enemy combatants. In a brief filed on Friday the Obama White House backed the Bush administration’s claim that the court does not have the power to order the Uighurs released into the United States.

White House Sides With Saudi Royal Family in 9/11 Lawsuit

The Obama administration is also urging the Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit filed against the Saudi royal family brought by families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. The lawsuit accuses Saudi Arabia of helping to finance Al Qaeda prior to the attacks that were carried out by 19 men, including 15 Saudis. The Justice Department filed the brief on Friday, less than a week before President Obama is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet King Abdullah.

Obama Defends Sotomayor Nomination In Response to GOP Attacks

In his weekly radio address, President Obama defended his decision Saturday to nominate federal judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court after days of attacks by Republican lawmakers and activists. If confirmed Sotomayor would become the first Latina to serve on the high court.

President Obama: “There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor’s record. But I am confident that these efforts will fail; because Judge Sotomayor’s seventeen-year record on the bench-hundreds of judicial decisions that every American can read for him or herself-speak far louder than any attack; her record makes clear that she is fair, unbiased, and dedicated to the rule of law.”

Limbaugh and Tancredo Accused Sotomayor Of Being Racist

Over the past five days several high-profile Republicans have attacked a 2001 speech by Sonia Sotomayor in which she asserted that as a Latina woman, she would offer wiser judgments than a white male judge in some cases. Last week talk show host Rush Limbaugh accused Sotomayor of being a racist.

Rush Limbaugh: “She brings a form of bigotry or racism to the court… How can a president nominate such a candidate? And how can a party get behind such a candidate? That’s what would be asked if somebody were foolish enough to nominate David Duke or pick somebody even less offensive.”

Former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo compared Sotomayor’s past membership in the Latino advocacy group La Raza to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Tom Tancredo: If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is “All for the race. Nothing for the rest.”

In response, La Raza accused Tancredo of defaming the organization and for making up the organization’s motto.

U.S. and Cuba To Hold Talks

In news from Latin America, the United States and Cuba have agreed to resume direct talks on migration and open discussions on reestablishing direct mail service between the two countries.. Official talks between the two countries were last held in 2003.

7,000 Indigenous Activists Gather in Peru

Some 7,000 indigenous activists gathered in Peru Friday to show support for Amazon tribes who are protesting against a package of laws they say will threaten their native lands. Thousands of Amazon Indians have been on strike for more than a month over a series of presidential decrees that open up natural resource sectors like gas, lumber and oil to private investors. Miguel Palacin helped organize the fourth Continental Summit of Indigenous People.

Miguel Palacin: “The government of Peru is really going against the rights of native people. The indigenous territories are being handed over to mining companies, oil companies and loggers, and today, after a 49-day protest by the indigenous people, there is still no answer. We have an unstable government and from here we will send a message to the world to say that this government disregards the indigenous people.”

Six Killed After Abbas-Backed Forces Raid Hamas Hideout

In the West Bank, six people were killed on Sunday when forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raided a Hamas hideout just days after Abbas met with President Obama. It was the bloodiest internal Palestinian clash in the West Bank since 2007. After the raid, Hamas threatened to call off Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks with Fatah that had been scheduled to resume in Cairo in July.

President Of Ohio State Resigns From Board of Massey Energy

The president of Ohio State University has resigned resigned from the board of directors of Massey Energy after coming under pressure from opponents of mountaintop removal coal mining. Gordon Gee had served on the board of Massey since 2000. Massey Energy is one of the biggest companies using mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

Los Angeles School District Cancels Summer School Programs

In education news, the Los Angeles Unified School District has announced it is canceling most of its summer school programs due to the district’s budget crisis. Almost all summer school classes as well as playground and pool programs are being canceled at the district’s elementary and middle schools. Meanwhile dozens of Los Angeles school teachers are staging a hunger strike to protest budget cuts.

Air France Plane Carrying 288 Missing Off Coast of Brazil

And an Air France plane carrying 228 people from Brazil to France has gone missing over the Atlantic. A search and rescue mission is under way off the coast of Brazil.