Daily Archives: January 25, 2012

Giffords Resigns from Congress

English: Official portrait of United States Re...

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Representative Gabrielle Giffords resigned from Congress today in a House session during which an anti-drug smuggling bill that she championed passed by a 408-0 margin.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz read Rep. Giffords’s resignation letter on the House floor. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called her “an inspiring symbol of inspiration and courage to millions of Americans.”

Rep. Giffords was shot in the head on January 8, 2011, during a rampage that killed six people during an event in Tucson. She still is recovering from her injuries.

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On This Day…

In 1915, the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, inaugurated U.S. transcontinental telephone service.

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Obama Orders Mission Saving American and Dane from Somali Kidnappers

U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia early Wednesday, crept to an outdoor camp, and freed an American woman and Danish man.

President Obama authorized the mission two days earlier. Minutes after his State of the Union address, he was talking with the American’s father, saying his daughter was safe.

“As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts,” Pres. Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

The Danish Refugee Council confirmed that the aid workers, Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, were “on their way to be reunited with their families.”

Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted were working with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council when gunmen kidnapped the two in October.

A pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein told the Associated Press he had spoken to pirates at the scene of the raid and they reported that nine pirates had been killed and three were “taken away.”

A U.S. official confirmed local media reports that the SEALs parachuted into the area, before moving on foot to the target. The raid happened near the Somali town of Adado.

New intelligence emerged last week that Ms. Buchanan’s health was “deteriorating rapidly,” so Pres. Obama directed his security team to develop a rescue plan.

The helicopters and the freed hostages flew to a U.S. military base called Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti after the raid. A key U.S. ally in this region, Djibouti has the only U.S. base in sub-Saharan Africa. It hosts the military’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The Danish Refugee Council had tried to work with Somali elders to win the hostages’ freedom but had found little success.

Both freed hostages are unharmed “and at a safe location.” They “are on their way to be reunited with their families.”

The two aid workers seem to have been kidnapped by criminals and not by Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab.

Their Somali colleague was detained by police on suspicion of being involved in their kidnapping.

Several hostages are still being held in Somalia, including a British tourist, two Spanish doctors seized from Kenya, and an American journalist kidnapped on Saturday.

Via USA Today.

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Kerry Honors Bruins at White House

NHL teams visit the White House after winning the Stanley Cup, but it’s a safe bet that never has a Senator shown up more beaten and broken than the hockey players.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) was part of the ceremony honoring the Boston Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup win, appearing like he had just come from a knock-down, drag-out ruckus.

Sen. Kerry suffered two black eyes and a broken nose during a “friendly game of hockey” over the Christmas break.

When asked by a reporter from the Boston Globe, Sen. Kerry, who plays forward and right wing (oh, the irony), wouldn’t rat out who slammed him with a stick to cause the injuries.

The senior Democrat from Massachusetts is a huge sports fan. He played hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and fencing while attending Yale University in the 1960s.

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Chevron to Appeal $18 Billion Judgment for Destroying Rainforest

Chevron has released statements that they will appeal an Ecuadorian court ruling that they pay $18 billion in damages to the indigenous and rural residents in the Amazonian region that was destroyed in the early 1990s by the company’s negligence.

An activist photographed in February of 2011 shows the remnants of an oil spill from the 1990s. Photo courtesy of CNN.

In a case that entered litigation in 1993, Chevron has fought to eradicate any of their liability for the destruction in the rainforest.  Chevron is making a variety of claims to fight the decision handed down by an Ecuadorian appeals court on January 4.

An appeal is being made to Ecuador’s national court and asserts that plaintiffs fabricated evidence against Chevron and offered judges bribes.  Chevron also claims that a law was retroactively applied to the case.

In the original decision, released over a year ago, Chevron was told that to make a public apology to Ecuador, and if they did not, then the payment required of them would be increased to $18 billion.  To this date, the company has issued no apology.

The case centers around the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest that occurred in the early 1990s, the effects of which are still felt to this day.  Chevron’s operations used substandard products, dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon river, abandoned a thousand waste pits, and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the environment due to pipeline ruptures.

The 30,000 indigenous and rural people continue to be deeply affected.  They drink contaminated water from the river.  They have difficulties subsisting, as wildlife has been almost eradicated, and the land has degraded.

There is also an ongoing health crisis.  Those living in the area suffer from respiratory conditions, skin diseases, reproductive problems, and higher cancer rates than average.

This case might soon be heard on the international level.  The Hague, last February, also began investigations into this case.  A decision by the tribunal is expected soon as to whether they have jurisdiction to hear the case.

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