Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Jeffords, Guantanamo on the Hudson, Betty's latest

For news on Ecuador, we skip the Times' littlest Judy Miller and head to the Independent.

Andrew Gumbel's "Ecuador's parliament removes president after popular uprising:"

Ecuador's embattled president Lucio Gutierrez was unexpectedly thrown out of office yesterday after a week-long popular uprising in Quito and other cities in which he was accused of attempting to cling to power through dictatorial means.
An extraordinary session of Ecuador's parliament, which convened amid the shouted slogans of tens of thousands of protesters in the streets outside, voted 60-0 to remove him. Almost as soon as the vote was complete, a helicopter carrying Mr Gutierrez and his wife, took off from the roof of the presidential palace, the Palacio Corondolet, and headed to Quito's international airport.
Rumours swirled that Mr Gutierrez had requested political asylum in Panama, the established bolthole of many a disgraced Ecuadorian politician, but any hopes he might have had of leaving the country were stymied by a throng of demonstrators who poured on to the runway at Mariscal Sucre airport and prevented his plane from taking off.

While at the Independent, we'll note Elizabeth Nash's "Exiled leader of Equatorial Guinea coup plot goes missing:"

But Spanish press reports quoted a government source yesterday as saying that reports they had received "lead us increasingly to the conviction that he has been killed."
Mr Moto has political asylum in Spain where he leads a self-styled government in exile. He is a fierce opponent of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who accuses Mr Moto of being behind a coup attempt in the oil-rich west African country in March last year.
The plot was foiled when a former SAS captain, Simon Mann, and a group of mercenaries were arrested in Zimbabwe as they waited to collect arms. Mr Mann is serving a four-year jail term, while a court in Equatorial Guinea has sentenced 19 people, including Mr Moto, to jail over the coup plot.
Mark Thatcher, the son of the former prime minister, was fined after pleading guilty to help finance the coup. Mr Moto's wife, Margarita Eki, made a statement to Spanish police yesterday denouncing the possible disappearance of her husband, from whom she had heard nothing for several days.
The Spanish government, who keeps Mr Moto under close supervision, has had no news of him for more than a month, El Pais reported yesterday. The newspaper said: "He travelled to Croatia in early March, returned to Spain and went again to Croatia on 19 March on a business trip, possibly to meet entrepreneurs from his country."

Lastly, we'll note Patrick Cockburn's "Bodies of 50 'Shia hostages' found in the Tigris:"

Shia officials claimed at the weekend that a total of 50 Shia had been taken hostage by Sunnis in the farming town of Madain on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The militants allegedly threatened to kill them unless Shias in Madain, where they comprise half of the population, left the town.
The Iraqi security forces surrounded Madain but, on entering, found no hostages or evidence they had ever been held or that there were any gunmen present. Shia officials then said that bodies had been found in the Tigris south of Madain, but residents and police in the area said they had not seen the bodies.
Mr Talabani, one of the two main Kurdish leaders, has a reputation for making explosive off-the-cuff remarks without considering the consequences. The most fanatical Sunni Arab groups have denied that any Shia were killed, saying it was a hoax by the government.
Such is the level of violence in Iraq that even the massacre of 50 people is difficult to establish. Official information is unreliable and journalists cannot enter many areas for fear of being kidnapped or murdered. Another mass killing, the details of which are better established, took place yesterday 140 miles north-west of Baghdad in a sports stadium in Haditha on the Euphrates. The bodies of 19 men were found lying in front of a bloodstained wall.
Residents believe the dead were off-duty policemen, wearing civilian clothes, abducted as they went home for the holiday commemorating the birth of the Prophet Mohamed today. There were no identity documents with the bodies but, in that area, they are more likely to be Sunni than Shia.

For news on Jefford's announced retirement from the Senate, we'll direct you to Folding Star's A Winding Road:

It was widely expected that the Senator would be running for re-election in 2006. His aides had indicated that he was gearing up for the election and he'd already begun raising money for the campaign. Not only was it expected he'd run, it was expected that he'd have an easy victory, as leading Democrats and Republicans in the state backed away from mounting a serious challenge against him.
[. . .]
His decision not to run for a fourth term- for which he cited the health of his wife, who has cancer, as well as his own health- opens the race in Vermont completely and there's already much speculation about who will run.
[. . .]
But there's a very good chance that Jeffords' retirement could open the door to the election of a truly progressive Senator, a much needed voice to help shake up the Senate. Congressman Bernie Sanders, the only Independent serving in the House of Representatives, had previously said that if Jeffords did not run for re-election, he'd seek the seat himself and he said today that his plans hadn't changed.
Sanders is a strong Progressive, a vocal opponent of the Iraq war and a supporter of universal health care. He's a co-founder of the Progressive Caucus in the House, and has been re-elected as Vermont's sole Congressman with growing margins of victory against both Republican and Democratic candidates time and again since 1990, gaining 68% of the vote in 2004.

From IMC, we'll note "Post-RNC Fallout:"

However, the Times has yet to investigate the questions raised on NYC IMC about Pier 57, or "Guantanamo on the Hudson", primary city detention center during the RNC. Documents obtained by imcistas show both the City's use of Pier 57 violated its written lease agreement and that the Hudson River Park Trust, controlling authority for the Pier, was aware that the pier contained asbestos, lead and fire hazards. Arrestees posting to the NYC IMC newswire have claimed to be suffering from chemical burns and other ailments as a result of their detention at Pier 57.

And note that Betty has a new entry at her blog Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. How hard it is to write like Friedman? Bettina finds out it's not really that hard.

E-mail address for this site is