||Last Updated: Nov 30th, 2012 - 17:16:08
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Hugo Chávez Wins Re-election in Venezuela with 54% of Vote
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."
On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Soldier Suicides and Violence
This month marks the 11th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Since the war began on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11th attacks, at least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died. Some 2.4 million U.S. soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the psychological toll of the wars is mounting. Last year, the Veterans Administration treated almost 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and soldier suicides reached an all-time high this year. In Colorado Springs, the commanders at Fort Carson have come under scrutiny for its handling of mental health concerns, with a 2010 joint NPR-ProPublica investigation finding that as many as 40 percent of Fort Carson soldiers had mild brain injuries missed by Army health screenings. Meanwhile, in 2009 the Colorado Springs Gazette published a startling series called "Casualties of War," written by our guest, investigative reporter Dave Philipps. His book, "Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home," shows how a wave of violence swept across Colorado Springs when the 506th Infantry Regiment, known as "the Band of Brothers," returned home from their first tour in Iraq. For some of the unit’s soldiers, the killing did not end when they returned home. The Gazette reported, since 2006, 10 infantry soldiers have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter; others have committed other violent crimes. Some of the veterans have committed suicide. In a one-year period, from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008, the murder rate for members of the Army unit was 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs.
Unarmed National Guardsman Shot Dead by NYPD
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.
NY Shooting Victim Allowed to Sue Gun Maker, Distributor
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."
Illinois Wal-Mart Supply Workers Win Pledges, Back Pay
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.
Chipotle Signs Fair Food Agreement with Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Fast-food chain Chipotle has reached a deal with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers who pick tomatoes used in its products. Chipotle had previously refused to sign a contract affirming its commitment to the coalition’s Fair Food Program, which 10 other companies, including McDonald’s and Burger King, have already joined. Thursday’s agreement comes a day after coalition member Gerardo Reyes-Chavez appeared on Democracy Now! in Denver to discuss its efforts to pressure Chipotle.
Russell Tribunal: U.S. Crucial in Israeli Violations in Occupied Territories
A civilian tribunal formed to examine Israeli violations of international law in the Occupied Territories presented its findings to a U.N. panel on Monday after a weekend of testimony in New York City. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was created in 2009 to bring attention to the responsibility other states bear for Israel’s violations of international law. Presenting their summary, two of the tribunal’s jurists, human rights attorney Michael Mansfield and scholar, activist Angela Davis, said Israeli violations are impossible without U.S. government backing.
|Angela Davis is among the jurists on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
Michael Mansfield: "The Tribunal finds that Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism would not be possible without the U.S.’s economic, military, and diplomatic support."
Angela Davis: "The Russell Tribunal session here in New York will give us the opportunity to further persuade the people who believe in justice, and equality, and peace here in this country that they should join the campaign for solidarity with Palestinian people and Palestinian freedom."
The U.S. Election
Romney Gains in National Poll After 1st Debate
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has overtaken President Obama in a new national poll in the aftermath of their first debate last week. The Pew Research Center has Romney leading Obama by four points among likely voters after trailing him by 8 percent last month. The two are tied among registered voters at 46 percent, Obama’s lowest mark in the Pew poll in over a year. On Monday, Romney delivered a speech attacking President Obama’s foreign policy at the Virginia Military Institute.
Mitt Romney: "I know the President hopes for a safer, freer and a more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity."
Obama Chides Romney on Foreign Policy, Debate
On the campaign trail in San Francisco, President Obama said Mitt Romney is wrong to have opposed the winding down of the Iraq War.
President Obama: "Governor Romney — he has a different view. He said it was tragic to end the war in Iraq. In a speech today, he doubled-down on that belief. He said ending the war was a mistake. I disagree. Bringing our troops home was the right thing to do. And every brave American who wears the uniform of this country should know that as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world’s ever known, and when our troops take off their uniforms, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us."
During his remarks Obama also addressed his debate performance in Denver last week, saying supporters had criticized him for being "too nice."
President Obama: "After the debate, I had a bunch of folks come up to me: ’Don’t be so polite. Don’t be so nice.’ (crowd cheers). But I want everybody to understand something: What was being presented wasn’t leadership. That’s salesmanship."
Obama Slams Romney for Backtracking on Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
On the campaign trail, President Obama slammed Republican challenger Mitt Romney during appearances in the battleground states of Colorado and Wisconsin. Some had criticized Obama’s appearance in the first presidential debate Wednesday night, saying he appeared lackluster compared to a more aggressive Romney. Obama hit back against his opponent during a rally in Denver, accusing Romney of backtracking over tax cuts for the wealthy.
President Obama: "When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that."
Romney: "47 Percent" Remark Was "Completely Wrong"
Mitt Romney tried to capitalize on his high marks from the debate as he campaigned in the swing state of Virginia. Some critics noted Obama had failed to ask Romney about his famous "47 percent" comment that nearly half of Americans believe they are victims entitled to government support. During a Fox News appearance Thursday night, Sean Hannity asked Romney how he would have responded if Obama had brought it up.
Mitt Romney: "Well, clearly, in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands, of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent, and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent."
More International News
Police Kill Miner in South Africa Amid Ongoing Labor Strikes
Police in South Africa have shot and killed another striking miner amidst continuing labor unrest. The worker was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet and died after police moved to disperse protesters gathering near a Rustenburg platinum mine. The killing comes less than two months after police shot dead 34 striking miners at the Marikana platinum mine in the country’s bloodiest security clash since the end of apartheid. The strikes spread outside the mining industry this week as striking Toyota workers forced a plant in Durban to close for four days. The Toyota workers were expected to return to work today after winning a pay raise.
Report: U.S. Has Dismissed Iran’s Plan to End Nuclear Standoff
Reports have emerged Iran has been attempting to gather support for a plan to end its stalemate with the United States and its allies over the country’s alleged nuclear program. Iranian officials have outlined a nine-step plan whereby Iran would end work at one of two uranium enrichment sites in exchange for the easing of sanctions that are devastating its economy. U.S. officials, however, have dismissed the plans as untenable. Protests have erupted this week in Iran amidst a worsening financial crisis that saw the collapse of its currency.
6 Indigenous Protesters Shot Dead in Guatemala
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.
4,000 Foxconn Workers Stage 1-Day Strike in China
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.
U.S. Peace Activists Join Anti-Drone March in Pakistan
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."
10 Arrested Protesting Drones at New York Military Base
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."
Clashes Erupt as Iranians Protest Collapse of Currency
Scores of Iranians rallied in Tehran on Wednesday to protest the collapse of the country’s currency. The rial has hit an all-time low amidst a worsening financial crisis brought upon by Western sanctions, falling 40 percent against the dollar in just one week. Iranian forces reportedly clashed with the demonstrators and fired gas to disperse them. In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Iranian government only has itself to blame for its economic problems.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "I think the Iranian government deserves responsibility for what is going on inside Iran, and that is who should be held accountable, and they have made their own government decisions having nothing to do with the sanctions that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside the country and of course the sanctions have had an impact as well, but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner."
U.S. Citizen Opens Fire, Kills Hotel Worker in Israel
A U.S. citizen opened fire at a hotel in Israel Friday, killing an employee before being shot dead by police. The shooter had reportedly been working at the hotel in the resort city of Eilat as part of a program that brings Americans to Israel, but was recently fired from his job.
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