[JURIST] Ayman Nour [Wikipedia profile], the main rival to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile; Wikipedia profile] in Wednesday's multi-party election, said Saturday that the vote-counting process which resulted in Mubarak's officially-declared victory [JURIST report] Friday with a certified 88.6% of the vote was fraudulent, and that 10-15% of the votes for Mubarak were themselves frauds. The official Presidental Election Commission [BBC backgrounder] has insisted, however, that the vote was fair. Some 150 demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo Saturday to protest the poll [Aljazeera report]. Even though the ruling of the election commission on the vote count is deemed final, Nour said his party will continue to dispute the result in the courts and also will fight for parlimentary seats in upcoming November legislative elections. Reuters has more.
[JURIST] The US government has so far held back from making any guarantee to illegal immigrants caught up in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] that they will be able to seek help from federal agencies without fear of arrest on immigration grounds. After the September 11 terror attacks, federal authorities made it clear that illegals who had been victimized or who had lost family or friends could seek help freely. A spokesperson for the US Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that "[n]o one should be afraid to accept our offers to provide safety", food and medical support, but would go no farther, although DHS officials have also said on Spanish language TV that "we are not going to ask you who you are or what you are because our priority is to save lives." Mexican President Vicente Fox says the US has agreed not to prosecute and deport Mexican nationals [AP report] found to be without documentation during the recovery process, but this has not been confirmed by US sources and it's not clear if all federal departments will comply. Estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center set the number of illegal immigrants in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama at between 20,000 and 35,000. AP has more.
[JURIST] Kuwaiti Justice Minister Ahmad Baqer said Saturday that Kuwait has prepared its own indictment against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] for crimes against the emirate during the 1990-1991 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and that that indictment "calls for Saddam's death." Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and occupied it for seven months until the a US-led coalition forced it out in the first Gulf War [Wikipedia backgrounder]. Saddam already faces the death penalty in Iraq for the 1982 massacre of Shiite villagers in a trial set for October 19 [JURIST report]. Baqer said he is seeking "judicial cooperation" between Iraq and Kuwait [Reuters report] with respect to the crimes that are attributed to Hussein. Earlier this week Iran, disatisfied with the Iraqi trial process for the ousted dictator, said it too was preparing its own indictment [JURIST report]. AFP has more.
[JURIST] The Washington Post reported Saturday that a group of former aides and other Republicans are quietly boosting the Supreme Court nomination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive; official profile] by shoring up his reputation among conservatives. Former Gonzales deputy David Leith said supporters do not want to "see a good man who has been a very solid conservative besmirched by fear and rumor." Republicans are divided about whether or not Gonzales is conservative enough to keep the US Supreme Court [official website] to the political right in the face of the two now-available vacancies following Justice Sandra Day O Connor's retiremenet and the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist [JURIST report]. As a Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales agreed with a court majority to let a 17-year-old girl to obtain an abortion without parental notification. Gonzales has also clashed with conservatives on the issue of affirmative action in connection with use of race in admissions at the University of Michigan [JURIST symposium]. Kay Daly, president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary [advocacy website], expects the President to keep his promise to appoint a conservative justice like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia [Oyez biographies], and noted "there are others who fit that mold more closely" than Gonzales. The Washington Post has more.
[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile], now on a visit to the United States, insisted Friday at a Washington press conference that if the draft Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] is not adopted in a referendum next month there would be no civil war in Iraq. Talabani's comments came on the same day that lawmakers in Iraq said that an amended version of the draft Iraqi constitution was ready for final approval [JURIST report]. Talabani said that if the referendum failed, there would simply be a new national assembly elected to draft another constitution, but he called critics who opposed the charter's proposed federation "narrow-minded Arab nationalists who don't understand the spirit of the new era." Listen to complete recorded audio of the press conference from the Voice of America or read the full transcript [PDF]. VOA has more.
[JURIST] The head of UK security service MI5 [official website] has warned that civil liberties might need to be "eroded" in order to protect the British people from terrorism after the "shock" of the London bombings [JURIST news archive]. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller [official profile], MI5's director general, made her remarks in a speech [MI5 text] delivered Setember 1 at The Hague on the 60th anniversary of the Dutch security service and recently posted on the MI5 website. Manningham-Buller's words echo those of British Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official website] speaking earlier this week [JURIST report] to his European counterparts. Ex-MI5 agent David Shayler [Guardian special report] is being quoted in the press as disagreeing that civil liberties should be put on the back burner and arguing that liberties lost would make terrorists into "martyrs." BBC News has more.
[JURIST] President George W. Bush has issued an executive order [White House press release] allowing federal contractors working to rebuild areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] to pay lower wages, effectively suspending regulations under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act [US Department of Labor text; DOL backgrounder] requiring contractors to pay workers the minimum of prevailing wages [US DOL wage determinations] for federally-funded construction projects that are in excess of $2,000. The President is authorized to suspend the Act's provisions "[i]n the event of a national emergency." The order, signed Thursday, has drawn praise from conservative quarters [Heritage Foundation research memo] for speeding reconstruction, but has at the same time been castigated by Democrats and labor leaders. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) [official profile] called the move a "colossal mistake" and urged the President to rescind the order, accusing him of cutting the wages of those that are "desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities." Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA-Dem) [official profile] was also critical and flagged the potential for "shabby" workmanship. The head of the AFL-CIO [advocacy website] called the order "short-sighted" and said Congress must not "allow the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to depress living standards even further." Read the full AFL-CIO press release. The wage provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act have been suspended three other times: once by President Franklin Roosevelt, once by President Nixon, and most recently by President George H.W. Bush after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Reuters has more.
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