By Dialogo October 12, 2011 On October 7, President Barack Obama paid tribute to the sacrifices of the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan since the start of the war ten years ago, and he affirmed in Washington that the United States will put an end to military operations in that country and in Iraq “responsibly.” “Ten years ago today, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, our nation went to war against al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors in Afghanistan,” Obama recalled in a statement, evoking a “decade of sacrifice” that has cost the lives of “nearly 1,800 American patriots.” “Michelle and I join all Americans in saluting the more than half a million men and women who have served bravely in Afghanistan to keep our country safe,” he added. “After a difficult decade, we are responsibly ending today’s wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq),” the president affirmed. Obama also affirmed that the United States is “closer than ever to defeating al Qaeda and its murderous network,” after the elimination of its leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos in Pakistan in early May. “Despite the enormous challenges that remain in Afghanistan, we’ve pushed the Taliban out of its key strongholds, Afghan security forces are growing stronger, and the Afghan people have a new chance to forge their own future,” the president affirmed.
The Ecuadorean Armed Forces captured 19 suspected members of Colombian illegal armed groups (GIA, for its Spanish acronym) in border control operations with their neighboring country during 2012, and destroyed guerrilla camps and drug plantations, the area of the Northern Operational Command, according to reports from December 30. “The detainees are suspected members of illegal armed groups, arrested on the northern border (with Colombia) in military operations carried out in 2012,” the spokesman for the Ecuadorean forces, Colonel Patricio Quelal told AFP. He added that according to the figures from the 48 military and 15,000 support missions for the security of the State in the border areas with Colombia (720 km), the Armed Forces also located and destroyed 19 bases and nine GIA hideouts based in Ecuadorean territory, as well as 173,385 cocaine plants and 3,000 poppy plants. The Armed Forces deployed 36,000 men in the operations, in which they also seized 96 weapons, (including four rifles), ammunition, grenades, missiles, food and medicine. The Command’s work on the border with Colombia has the “aim of maintaining national sovereignty and neutralizing the actions of illegal armed groups that are involved in the illicit trade of weapons, ammunition, explosives and fuel,” added the Military unit in a statement. Quito and Bogotá are promoting their relations after a diplomatic crisis following a Colombian Military attack on a clandestine Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) camp on Ecuadorean territory on May 1, 2008, which resulted in Ecuador breaking off diplomatic relations. During the operation 25 people died among whom was the FARC’s number two, Raúl Reyes, who was also an Ecuadorean national. Diplomatic relations were resumed in November 2010. By Dialogo January 04, 2013
Campaign ActionThe state Supreme Court, as we’ve written before, could also play a major role in the upcoming round of redistricting. In 2018, Michigan voters passed a ballot measure that takes the power to draw new lines out of the hands of the legislature and gives it to a new independent redistricting commission. However, the members of the commission could deadlock, which would require judges to step in and craft new boundaries. And anyone who has a grievance against the new lines could wind up suing in state court.- Advertisement – There’s also the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could overturn its 2015 decision that upheld a similar commission in Arizona. Should that happen, Michigan will need its own supreme court to serve as a backstop and ensure the state’s next set of maps are fairly drawn.Georgia Runoffs● GA-Sen-B: Democrat Raphael Warnock is out with the first of what will be many, many, many TV commercials for the Jan. 5 runoff, and he uses it to satirize the inevitable Republican attack ads that are heading his way. “Raphael Warnock eats pizza with a fork and knife,” says a narrator, “Raphael Warnock once stepped on a crack on the sidewalk. Raphael Warnock even hates puppies.”Warnock then comes in and tells the audience, “Get ready Georgia. The negative ads against us are coming.” He continues by saying of the appointed Republican incumbent, “Kelly Loeffler doesn’t want to talk about why she’s for getting rid of healthcare in the middle of a pandemic, so she’s going to try and scare you with lies about me.” After Warnock concludes that he’s “staying focused on what Washington could do for you,” he reassures the viewer, “Oh by the way, I love puppies.”Called Races- Advertisement – Below we’re recapping a host of lesser-known but important elections that took place Tuesday, as well as a number of races that were called after election night. Quite a few contests remain uncalled, but we’re tracking all of them on our continually updated cheat-sheet, and of course we’ll cover each of them in the Digest once they’re resolved.House● IL-17: Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the DCCC, has defeated Republican challenger Esther Joy King.● MI-11: Freshman Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens has defeated Republican challenger Eric Esshaki.- Advertisement – ● MN-01: Freshman Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn has defeated Democratic challenger Dan Feehan in a rematch of their 2018 race.● MN-02: Freshman Democratic Rep. Angie Craig has defeated Republican challenger Tyler Kistner.● PA-10: GOP Rep. Scott Perry has defeated Democratic challenger Eugene DePasquale.Statewide Office● IN-AG: Former Republican Rep. Todd Rokita held this office for Team Red by defeating Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel 59-41.● MT-AG: Republican Austin Knudsen held this office for his party by beating Democrat Raph Graybill 58-42.● MT Auditor: Republicans kept this office after Troy Downing defeated Democrat Shane Morigeau 55-39.● MT-SoS: Republican Christi Jacobsen beat Democrat Bryce Bennett 60-40 in a hold for his party.● NC-LG: Republican Mark Robinson held this seat for his party by defeating Democrat Yvonne Holley 52-48.● OR-SoS: Democrat Shemia Fagan flipped this office by winning 51-43 against Republican Kim Thatcher.● WA-LG: Rep. Denny Heck defeated a fellow Democrat, state Sen. Marko Liias, 47-33 to win a post that Team Blue has held since the 1996 election. Republican Joshua Freed hoped to secure a plurality of the vote by waging a write-in campaign; ultimately, 20% of the vote went to a write-in candidate.State Supreme Courts● KY Supreme Court: Arch-conservative Bob Conley defeated Democratic state Rep. Chris Harris 56-44 in an officially nonpartisan race that will move the Kentucky Supreme Court to the right. The ideological makeup of the membership of this officially nonpartisan body is somewhat difficult to assess, but Conley is considerably further to the right than incumbent Justice Sam Wright, who narrowly failed to advance out of the June primary.● OH Supreme Court: Each party won one of the two officially nonpartisan races on the ballot, a result that reduces the GOP majority to 4-3. Democrat Jennifer Brunner, a former secretary of state who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2010, ousted Republican incumbent Judi French 55-45. Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy, though, prevailed by the same margin against Democrat John O’Donnell.Legislative● LA State House: Independent state Rep. Joe Marino only took third place in his bid for a judgeship in Jefferson Parish, so there will not be a high-stakes special election for his House seat. Republicans outnumber Democrats 68-35 in the state House, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards needs the support of either Marino or the chamber’s other independent, Roy Daryl Adams, to prevent the GOP from overriding his vetoes. The entire Louisiana legislature will next be up again in 2023.Ballot Measures● CA Ballot: Voters supported Proposition 17, a constitutional amendment to end felony disenfranchisement for citizens on parole, by a 59-41 margin.● MA Ballot: Voters rejected Measure 2, which would have implemented instant-runoff voting for congressional and state elections, by a 55-45 margin.County Government● East Baton Rouge Parish, LA Mayor-President: Democratic incumbent Sharon Weston Broome earned 48% of the vote in the all-party primary, which was just short of the majority she needed to avoid a Dec. 5 runoff. Former state Rep. Steve Carter secured the second spot by beating a fellow Republican 20-13; altogether, Broome and another Democratic candidate won a combined 55% of the vote, while 43% went to one of the four Republicans on the ballot.● Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: Democratic incumbent Paul Penzone won a second term as the top lawman in America’s fourth-largest county by defeating Republican Jerry Sheridan 57-43.● Oakland County, MI Executive: Appointed Democratic incumbent Dave Coulter won a full term by beating former Republican state Sen. Mike Kowall 55-44. Last year, Coulter became the first Democrat to hold this office since it was created in 1974 after the County Board of Commissioners chose him to succeed the late Republican L. Brooks Patterson; Coulter is also the first gay person to lead this large suburban Detroit county.● San Diego County, CA Board of Supervisors: Democrats gained control of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for the first time in over 30 years thanks to Terra Lawson-Remer’s 60-40 victory over Republican incumbent Kristin Gaspar in District 3. Team Blue had already flipped a seat in the March primary, so the body will go from a 4-1 Republican majority to a 3-2 Democratic edge.Mayors● El Paso, TX Mayor: Former Democratic Mayor Oscar Leeser took first place in this officially nonpartisan race with 42%, while Republican incumbent Dee Margo only beat progressive attorney Veronica Carbajal 25-22 for the second runoff spot. Leeser and Margo will face off again on Dec. 12.● Honolulu, HI Mayor: Independent Rick Blangiardi defeated Democrat Keith Amemiya 60-40 in the officially nonpartisan race to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent Kirk Caldwell.● Portland, OR Mayor: Democratic incumbent Ted Wheeler became the first mayor of Portland to win re-election in 20 years by beating urban policy consultant Sarah Iannarone 46-41 in an officially nonpartisan contest. A hefty 13% selected a write-in option, with the vast majority of this bloc likely going to Don’t Shoot Portland founder Teressa Raiford.Prosecutors● Adams and Broomfield Counties, CO District Attorney: Democrat Brian Mason held this post by beating Republican Tim McCormack 56-44.● Honolulu, HI Prosecuting Attorney: Former Judge Steve Alm won this officially nonpartisan office by beating defense attorney Megan Kau 56-44. Alm, who served as U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration, supported reform goals for lower-level offenses, while Kau notably responded “no” when asked if she believed that the state incarcerated too many people.● Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, CO District Attorney: Democrat Alexis King flipped this office by defeating Matthew Durkin 55-45.● Orleans Parish, LA District Attorney: Former Judge Keva Landrum took first place in the all-Democratic contest with 35%, while New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams earned the second spot in the Dec. 5 runoff with 29%. (Disclaimer: Jeff Singer performed work for a consulting firm employed by Jason Williams in 2014.)Williams has adopted more reform stances than Landrum, who served as interim DA from 2007 to 2008. Williams, though, was indicted by federal prosecutors in June for alleged tax fraud, charges he’s pleaded not guilty to. – Advertisement –
Helpline calls have risen in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, but the real extent of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely under-estimated, as survivors are stuck at home and outreach services are interrupted, Etienne said.”With reduced contact to friends and family or barriers in access to services and shelters, we are leaving survivors with nowhere to go,” she warned.Coronavirus cases in the Americas have reached almost 11.5 million and more than 400,000 people have died as a result of the pandemic, the WHO regional director said.The region continues to carry the highest burden of the disease, with 64% of officially reported global deaths despite having 13% of the world’s population. The biggest drivers of the case counts are the United States and Brazil, she said.But there are increasing cases in the Caribbean, and new infections are rising in Peru, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.Topics : Etienne called on governments to expand mental health services and prioritize mental health as part of their response to the pandemic.Many people are stressed by fear of developing the severe illness caused by the novel coronavirus, while doctors, nurses and health workers are working longer hours than ever before and risking their lives in hospitals, she said.Attention must be paid to rising domestic violence, Etienne said.”Ongoing stay-at-home measures, coupled with the social and economic impacts of this virus, are increasing the risks of domestic violence – home is not a safe space for many,” she said. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a mental health crisis in the Americas due to heightened stress and use of drugs and alcohol during six months of lockdowns and stay-at-home measures, the World Health Organization’s regional director said on Tuesday.The pandemic also has brought a related problem in a surge in domestic violence against women, Carissa Etienne said in a virtual briefing from the Pan American Health Organization in Washington.”The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in our region at a scale we’ve never seen before,” she said. “It is urgent that mental health support is considered a critical component of the pandemic response.”