August 23, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 2
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U.N. to plan possible Somalia mission

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council called Monday on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to begin planning for the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia to bolster a meager African force.

The U.N. authorized the African Union to send an 8,000-strong peacekeeping force to Somalia in February after Ethiopian-backed government troops ousted a fundamentalist Islamic movement that had controlled much of the south. The council on Monday unanimously approved extending the resolution for six months.

Only 1,800 troops from Uganda are on the ground, far fewer than the number needed to bring lasting peace to the country. Troop deployments from other African countries have been delayed because of lack of funding and logistical help.

The resolution, sponsored by Britain, calls on Ban to begin making contingency plans for the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to replace the African force, although it doesn’t provide a timeline for any potential handover.

South Africa’s U.N. ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, said that the African countries on the council — South Africa, Ghana and the Republic of Congo — supported the resolution without “great enthusiasm” because they expected more decisive action.

He said the AU is “doing the job that the U.N. is supposed to be doing,” and in any case doesn’t have the resources to fulfill its mandate.

“When your house is on fire, the neighbors come with the buckets of water. But the neighbors are not the fire engine. The fire engine is the United Nations,” he said.

Conn. Appellate Court nominee’s comments raise questions of racism

HARTFORD, Conn. — A nominee for the state Appellate Court can expect to field questions from lawmakers during his confirmation hearing over comments he made in a courtroom four years ago praising longtime segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hartford Courant that it was “very inappropriate” for any judge to discuss his personal views about current events during court proceedings.

He said committee members will likely ask nominee Judge John R. Downey about race relations and his thoughts leading up to the comments. Downey referred to Thurmond as “a great American” on June 27, 2003, the morning after the South Carolina senator died, as he was opening court for the day. He also praised Thurmond, whom he knew personally, for his transformation from a segregationist to someone who helped to appoint black federal judges and worked to help race relations.

Chris Healy, chairman of the state Republicans, accused Lawlor of taking a “cheap shot” at Downey by implying he is racially insensitive.

“There is nothing in Judge Downey’s comments from the bench to suggest he is not dedicated to the equal application of the law regardless of race, but was merely a reflective appreciation of Senator Thurmond’s service to his country, including Senator Thurmond’s valor in World War II,” Healy said.

Downey declined comment through a Judicial Branch spokesman. He was scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

Rich Harris, a spokesman for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said she believes her nominee to the Appellate Court “is a good and decent man” and that “any questions that the Judiciary Committee has will be resolved at the hearing later this month.”

Downey, 56, has served on the Superior Court since April 2001. He earned a master’s degree in 1975 and law degree in 1977, both from the University of South Carolina, where he met Thurmond.

Miss. Supreme Court upholds dismissal of 1960 conviction of black veteran

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The Mississippi Supreme Court has rejected a white supremacist’s efforts to overturn a judge’s order that threw out the 1960 burglary conviction of now-dead Korean War veteran Clyde Kennard, a black man wrongfully accused of a crime after he attempted to enroll in an all-white Mississippi college in the 1950s.

In 2006, Forrest County Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich acted in response to a petition by Gov. Haley Barbour, several former judges, a university president and others.

While Barbour had said he believes Kennard is innocent, the governor denied a request to pardon the farmer who died of colon cancer shortly after being released from jail in 1963.

Helfrich ruled Kennard was innocent and threw out Kennard’s conviction.

Richard Barrett, a self-professed white supremacist from Hinds County who leads the Nationalist Movement, appealed the decision. Barrett said the judge had no authority to exonerate Kennard.

Justice Jess Dickinson, writing last Thursday for the Supreme Court, said Barrett had no authority to intervene in the case.

“Since the State of Mississippi is the only proper party to bring an appeal, and since the state does not appeal but, indeed, applauds Judge Helfrich’s decision, we have no need to address any of the errors alleged by applicants, who have no standing in this matter,” Dickinson wrote.

Kennard was convicted in 1960 of buying $25 worth of chicken feed he knew to be stolen, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Later, the only witness against Kennard recanted his testimony.

Beginning in 1956, after Kennard served four years in the Army, he repeatedly attempted to enroll at what is now the University of Southern Mississippi. The attempts angered segregationist leaders who were determined to fight integration at the Hattiesburg campus.

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