Massachusetts today as holds a special election to replace the U.S. Senate Seat vacated when Sen. Edward Kennedy died last year. The seat was thought to be reliably Democratic, but the Republican in the race, Scott Brown, has been taking the lead in pre-election polls. Brown opposes health care reform and has pledged to vote against health care reform bills in Congress, Wall Street Journal.
Somali pirates released a Greek oil tanker after being paid a reported $5 million ransom. At least 3 pirates died after fighting broke out over distribution of the ransom, Bloomberg.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy responded to complaints by some French officials of the U.S. military’s de facto control of the Port-au-Prince airport by praising U.S. efforts in Haiti, BBC News. Looting has become a growing concern in Haiti. CNN reporter Anderson Cooper says some are breaking into stores to steal food that they plan on selling later, CNN. Refugees are leaving Port-au-Prince for the countryside, New York Times. The story of a woman rescued on day 6, PBS Newshour.
Sri Lanka’s government says that tens of thousands of people who have been held in camps since the end of the conflict with Tamil rebels will be released. Sri Lanka had been fighting the rebels since the mid-1970s and made a final push to stop the hostilities earlier this year. Information from Sri Lanka is very limited so it is unknown how many were killed in the most recent fighting, BBC News. Q & A on the conflict, BBC News.
A gas explosion at a Chinese mine has killed 42 people and trapped over 60 underground. China has the most dangerous mining industry in the world, Reuters.
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to a deal that will keep natural gas flowing through this winter. Due to a pricing dispute last winter, Russia cut off gas which flows through Ukrainian pipelines to Europe, Christian Science Monitor.
Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple captured by Somali pirates during a sailing vacation in October, have released a new video saying the pirates are losing patience and will kill them soon if a $7 million ransom is not paid, CNN.
A journalist describes living in Jerusalem’s Old City which is home to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious sites, BBC News.
A woman in Somali has been stoned to death for adultery. The 20 year-old woman had previously been married and was divorced but a strict reading of Sharia law does not allow even a divorced woman to have sex with another man. The woman’s boyfriend was given 100 lashes. Al-Shabab, the hard line Islamic group that controls much of southern Somalia, was responsible for the sentencing, BBC News. More on the broken justice system in Somalia, BBC News.
Somali pirates once again attacked the Maersk Alabama, the U.S. ship that was hijacked last April, but the crew was able to repel the attack, MS-NBC.
The European Union will send 100 troops to train Somali forces in hopes that the forces will be able to stem the violence and restore order. The troops will train in Uganda next year, Reuters.
U.S. President Barack Obama finishes up his tour of Asia with a visit to South Korea, Yonhap. Analysis of President Obama’s visit to China, Associated Press.
The PBD series Frontline has a comprehensive look at the death of Neda Agha Soltan, including interviews with the doctor who tried to save her at the scene of the crime and information about the man who shot Neda. The show also provides a good review of the events of the disputed presidential election in Iran in June. A must watch for anyone who wants a better understanding of the situation. Watch the full program online. A transcript of the show will be available around November 24. Maps and video of the protests since June, BBC News. Frontline’s homepage for news on Iran, Tehran Bureau.
Somali pirates have released a Spanish ship after holding it for 6 weeks. There are 36 crewmembers aboard. The pirates told reporters that they were promised a ransom of $3.5 million but the Spanish government would not confirm that a ransom was paid, BBC News. A report from last May follows the trail of ransoms paid to Somali pirates and finds that only a fraction goes to the pirates themselves, BBC News. Transparency International recently ranked Somalia as the world’s most corrupt country, AFP.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a 3-day summit on Rome on the problem of world hunger. Ban said that 17,000 children die of hunger everyday and more than 1 billion people worldwide are hungry. One success story to come out of the summit is Brazil, which has decreased hunger by 73% in the past 6 years with its “Zero Hunger” program. The program also emphasizes education by giving families food if their children attend school and by feeding children at school, AFP.
New information is out about the motive behind the killing of 4 Iraqi men by 3 U.S. Army sergeants in March 2007. Army interrogation tapes show that the Iraqi men were killed because it was believed that instead of being detained or held in prison, they were would released due to strict Army detention policies. The Iraqis were found in a house with a small weapons cache but there was not enough evidence to hold them in detention for more than a few days. Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Mayo, Sgt. Michael Leahy, and 1st Sgt. John Hatley were convicted of premeditated murder in a military court and are serving their sentences in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, CNN.
As was rumored yesterday, Afghan run-off presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has withdrawn from the November 7 run-off election against incumbent president Hamid Karzai. Abdullah claims that there is no way that a free and fair election can take place, Bloomberg.
More information is now available about last week’s militant attack on a United Nations guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan. The UN says that it took over an hour for security forces to reach the area after the house was attacked, Associated Press.
Somali pirates who kidnapped British tourists Paul and Rachel Chandler have moved the couple onto land. The pirates are demanding a $7 million ransom from the British government, New York Times.
Anthony Sowell, the resident of the Cleveland, Ohio home where the bodies of 6 women were found last week, has been taken into custody. Sowell was released from prison 4 years ago after serving a 15-year sentence for rape. Sowell was a registered sex offender and was required to meet regularly with local police. Police discovered the bodies when they went to Sowell’s home to arrest him for sexual assault. The 6 bodies found in the house were all female and all died violently, CNN. Stories of women who said they were attacked by Sowell, including one who was held captive in his home before escaping, Fox News.
Today is the 40th running of the New York City Marathon. Watch live online at NYCmarathon.org. Many of the runners are running for charity this year. Watch for actor Ed Norton who is running the race with 3 Maasai warriors to raise support for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, maasaimarathon.com.
The remains of possibly six people have been found in the home of a registered sex offender in Cleveland, Ohio. The bodies were found inside 50-year-old Anthony Sowell’s home and in his backyard. Authorities searched the house after obtaining a search warrant in connection with an attack of a woman at his home in September. He is currently at large, WJW-TV.
Somali pirates are asking for a $7 million ransom after kidnapping a British couple vacationing on their yacht near the Somali coast, Reuters.
The Philippines is being hammered by yet another storm, causing thousands of evacuations and worsening flooding that is still affecting the country after previous storms this month. There are currently no reports of damage or causalities. Typhoon Mirinae is expected to hit the capital city of Manila tomorrow, BBC News.
Reports out of Mozambique are suggesting that President Armando E. Guebuza of the Frelimo Party is easily winning the country’s presidential election. Guebuza is promising to help solve the poverty crisis in the country, a heavy undertaking. The official results may not be released until November 12, New York Times.
Hot Topic: Reality Deals a Blow to Paris Bike Program.
11 high ranking security officials and 50 police officers have been arrested in Iraq on suspected involvement in last Sunday’s devastating double bombings in Baghdad. Those arrested include guards at the 15 checkpoints the bombers had to pass to gain entrance to the high security zone where the bombings took place, Reuters.
U.S. President Barack Obama met the returning coffins of 18 service members killed this week in Afghanistan at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last night, Times Online.
Manfred Nowak, the U.N.’s special envoy for torture investigation, was denied entrance into Zimbabwe yesterday despite an invitation from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Control of the country is currently shared by Prime Minister Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe. Nowak was going to Zimbabwe to investigate reports that President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has begun to use violence against members of Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) party, BBC News.
The yacht belonging to Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple on a sailing holiday in the Indian Ocean, has been found. The couple sent out a distress signal before they were picked up by pirates and are now being held on a boat off the coast of Somalia, AFP. Q & A on Somali Piracy, BBC News. The Prime Minister of Somalia met with relatives of the captive couple in Britian, ITN. Transcript of Paul Chandler’s call to ITV news, Telegraph.
Today marks the 8th anniversary of the U.S. and NATO- led mission in Afghanistan. The anniversary comes amid questions about the future of the mission. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan has requested an additional 40,000 troops. The U.S. led the invasion in 2001 after the country refused to turn over al Qaeda leaders suspected of plotting the September 11 attacks. Though much of the al Qaeda network was forced out of the country, violence has spread to areas that were once peaceful. The Taliban mainatins that there is no justification for the invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban said in a statement on the group’s website, “We had and have no plan of harming countries of the world, including those in Europe … our goal is the independence of the country and the building of an Islamic state,” Reuters.
After rescue effort failed, more villages on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been declared mass graves. Last week a 7.6 magnitude earthquake triggered mudslides that buried entire villages. Over 1,000 have been declared dead, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Images of the destruction, the Big Picture.
The 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath, for their study of the ribosome which translates genetic code into proteins. Their research has been instrumental in creating new antibiotics by blocking new creation of proteins in ribosomes so that they cannot survive, BBC News.
Pirates off the coast of Somalia mistakenly fired on a French Navy vessel. After they realized the vessel was not a commercial ship, they tried to flee and 5 pirates were captured, CNN.