The Honduran coup regime continues its crackdown on demonstrators calling for the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. On Wednesday, Honduran police fired tear gas at thousands of people in the capital Tegucigalpa for the second straight day. Police also occupied and closed off a teacher’s college where protesters have gathered. At least sixty protesters have been jailed over the last two days. The coup regime has imposed a curfew in the capital after a pro-Zelaya rally on Tuesday drew more than 10,000 people.
In Pakistan, government officials say at least twelve militants have been killed in a military attack on a Taliban hideout in northwest Pakistan. It’s believed to be the largest Pakistani military operation since last week’s reported assassination of Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud by a CIA drone.
In Iraq, at least eighteen Iraqis were killed in nationwide violence on Wednesday. Another thirty-one were wounded.
In Afghanistan, two journalists with the Associated Press have been wounded in a roadside bombing. The two were embedded with the US military. Spanish national Emilio Morenatti, a photographer, had to have one of his feet removed after undergoing surgery.
A US soldier at Fort Hood, Texas is refusing orders to deploy to Afghanistan. Sergeant Travis Bishop is the second servicemember in as many weeks from Fort Hood to face court-martial for resisting the Afghan war. Last week, Specialist Victor Agosto was sentenced to a month in jail for refusing to deploy. Like Agosto, Bishop also served a lengthy tour in Iraq before he was given orders to fight in Afghanistan. Bishop will appear before a military court on Friday.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has reportedly begun voicing criticisms of former President George W. Bush in private conversations with colleagues and associates. The Washington Post reports Cheney has expressed his frustration over his perception that Bush became more receptive to public opinion during their administration’s second term. A participant in one recent gathering said Cheney felt Bush had shunned his advice and had become "shackled by the public reaction." Cheney has held the conversations as he works on his forthcoming memoir.
A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration effort to reverse a Bush administration rule that’s made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams. The administration had asked the court to withdraw the Bush regulation, which came into effect late last year. But on Wednesday, Judge Henry Kennedy said the overhaul should be subjected to public input. In a statement, the Sierra Club called for policy changes at the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, in order "to end the destruction completely and protect Appalachian communities."
An economist who devised the "cap and trade" system for regulating pollution is now voicing doubts about its ability to seriously address global warming. The climate bill passed by the House in June includes a cap-and-trade provision allowing firms to trade emissions permits. The system has been criticized for creating new incentives to pollute through a market for carbon "offsets" that don’t necessarily make up for the damage of the initial emissions. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the economist who came up with cap-and-trade in the 1960s, Thomas Crocker, said, "I’m skeptical that cap-and-trade is the most effective way to go about regulating carbon." Crocker said he favors imposing a firm tax on emissions that would be easier to enforce.
New figures show the number of US homes facing foreclosure rose seven percent last month. According to RealtyTrac, more than 360,000 households received foreclosure-related notices in July. Banks also seized 87,000 homes last month, up from 79,000 in June.
The newest Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was honored with a reception on Wednesday at the White House. Sotomayor was sworn in as the 111th Supreme Court Justice last Saturday, becoming the first Hispanic justice and only the third woman to sit on the high court. President Obama welcomed her historic achievement.
President Obama: "Of course, we’re here not just to celebrate our extraordinary new Supreme Court justice and all those who’ve been a part of her journey to this day. We’re here, as well, to celebrate an extraordinary moment for our nation. And we celebrate the impact Justice Sotomayor has already had on people across America who have been inspired by her exceptional life story."
Justice Sotomayor also spoke, citing her Bronx upbringing.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: "Our Constitution has survived domestic and international tumult, including a civil war, two world wars and the catastrophe of September 11th. It draws together people of all races, faiths and backgrounds from all across this country who carry its words and values in our heart. It is this nation’s faith in a more perfect union that allows a Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx to stand here now."
Later at the White House, Obama honored sixteen people with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The recipients include the civil rights veteran Reverend Joseph Lowery, the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the actor Sidney Poitier, the tennis legend Billie Jean King, the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, former Irish president and UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson, and the late gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.
President Obama: "These extraordinary men and women, these agents of change, remind us that excellence is not beyond our abilities, that hope lies around the corner and that justice can still be won in the forgotten corners of this world. They remind us that we each have it within our powers to fulfill dreams, to advance the dreams of others and to remake the world for our children."
In California, a leading gay rights group says it won’t seek a ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage until 2012. Equality California says it’s determined a three-year wait would bolster its chances for convincing California voters to reverse Proposition 8, a gay marriage ban that passed last year. Other groups, including the Courage Campaign, are still pushing for a Prop 8 repeal vote in 2010.
And in Alabama, the mayor of Birmingham has issued a blanket pardon for thousands of people arrested during the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Many are expected to refuse their pardon notices as a continued protest against the racial segregation they were jailed for opposing.