News in Brief: Afghanistan, in Ninth Year of US-Led War, Faces Taliban, Fraudulent Elections and Casualties, and More

Afghanistan, in Ninth Year of US-Led War, Faces Taliban, Fraudulent Elections, Casualties

Without the consent of their leaders, many officials in the Taliban are taking part in strategic negotiations with the Afghan government that could help end the war there, The New York Times reports. The Taliban officials, many of whom are high-profile, enter the negotiations with great discretion – some are escorted out of hiding by NATO soldiers – as well as skepticism, negotiators familiar with the talks point out.

Many of the Taliban officials are wanted by the US and also are on the UN’s black list, which calls for the freezing of their assets and suspension of travel. But as The Times suggests, “Perhaps the biggest complication lies on the battlefield. As long as the Taliban believe they are winning, they do not seem likely to want to make a deal.” CIA Director Leon E. Panetta seems to agree, saying, “I still have not seen anything that indicates that at this point a serious effort is being made to reconcile.”

In other Afghanistan news, Afghanistan’s preliminary election results have been released, although 23 percent, or 1.3 million ballots, were tossed out due to fraud, the Times also reports.

And according to iCasualties, three more soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, putting the October military death toll at 51.

Clarence Thomas’ Wife Asks Anita Hill for Apology

According to The New York Times, 20 years after she testified in the high-profile confirmation hearing for her former boss, Anita Hill has been asked to apologize by US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Virginia. In a message left on an early October, Saturday morning, Virginia Thomas said, “Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.” She goes on to ask her to pray over the decision.

Hill, needless to say, was shocked and turned over the voicemail to the campus police, thinking it was a prank. “I thought it was certainly inappropriate,” Hill told the Times. Yet, through a publicist, Virginia Thomas’ spokesperson said that she left the message as an “olive branch.” Hill, however, declined the outreach, believing she did nothing wrong and has nothing for which to apologize.

Despite Piercing Review, Immigration Facilities Are Same a Year Later

Last October, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released an “unusually frank review of its immigration detention system,” saying the facilities detain too many people, treat them like prisoners, and provide no alternatives for non-criminal undocumented immigrants. “Though ICE added an oversight office and a tool to help families and attorneys locate their relatives and clients,” according to The Washington Independent, it is still largely the same a year later.

In fact, the Independent reports, in fiscal year 2010, the Department of Homeland Security removed 392,000 undocumented immigrants from their US homes – an increase by 70 percent from 2008. While many were sent back to their home countries, many spend time in these centers too, often for months, without the opportunity to obtain legal counsel. Many often endure bullying by guards as well. “There’s really no reason to be holding such a large population of non-citizens,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of National Immigrant Justice Center.

Ad Urging Hispanics in Nevada Not to Vote Yanked

An ad urging Hispanics across Nevada to stay home on Election Day has been pulled, the AP reports. The ad, placed by Republican-backed Latinos for Reform, said in Spanish, “Don’t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted.” Democrats, as well as some members of the Republican Party, pounced on the ad and specifically US Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who is locked in a tight race with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The ad was assumed to target Reid. “Reid has fiercely courted the Hispanic vote in the contest against Angle, who supports strict immigration policies,” the AP reports, and a dip in Hispanic voters would most certainly give the Senate seat to Angle.