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The Georgia death row prisoner Troy Anthony Davis was killed by lethal injection last night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop his execution. Supporters, ranging in the hundreds gathered outside the prison to the millions watching around the world, had held out hope as the Supreme Court weighed Davis’s last-ditch appeal for a stay of execution. Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of an off-duty white police officer, Mark MacPhail. Since then, seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony, and there is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene. In the death chamber, witnesses reported Davis used his last words to maintain his innocence and wish peace upon his executioners. He was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m. EDT, the cause listed as homicide.
The freed U.S. hikers Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have left Iran after their release from prison. Bauer and Fattal are now in Oman reuniting with family members before heading home to the United States. The two were arrested in 2009 while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border along with Sarah Shourd, who was released last year. Bauer and Fattal spoke briefly to reporters upon landing in Oman.
Josh Fattal: "We’re so happy we are free and so relieved we are free. Our deepest gratitude goes towards His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman for obtaining our release. We’re sincerely grateful to the government of Oman for hosting us and our families."
Shane Bauer: "Two years in prison is too long, and we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and other unjustly imprisoned people in America and Iran."
The Obama administration and congressional leaders are stepping up their campaign to subvert the Palestinian bid for recognition at the United Nations. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee threatened to withdraw U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and potentially close its U.S. office if the bid goes ahead. The move echoes a similar measure making its way through the House of Representatives.
President Obama delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that focused on his rejection of the Palestinian effort for recognition. In his remarks, President Obama claimed to support a Palestinian state, even as he sought to convince international diplomats to reject one.
President Obama: "We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There is no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. It is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and so much effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can deliver a Palestinian state."
President Obama went on to suggest that refusing to recognize Palestinian rights is justified because of Israel’s security needs. But in a glaring omission, Obama made no mention of Palestinian security nor of Israel’s torture and killing of tens of thousands of people in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon.
President Obama: "America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses."
Obama also made no mention of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a retreat from his previous statements that settlement expansion is "illegitimate." Palestinians say they are undeterred and are vowing to continue with their bid for officially recognized statehood.
A new poll shows President Obama’s public stance on Palestinian recognition at the United Nations is more extreme than that of a strong majority of Israeli citizens. A joint Israeli-Palestinian poll shows 69 percent of Israelis think their government should accept U.N. recognition of an independent Palestinian state. The survey also found 83 percent of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories support the bid.
NATO has extended its military campaign in Libya by another three months. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced the move.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: "Today, the NATO council has decided to extend our operation in Libya for now, while keeping the situation under regular review. We are determined to continue our mission for as long as necessary, but also ready to terminate it as soon as possible. This technical rollover is for up to 90 days, but the regular review allows us to end our tasks at any time, and we will do this in close coordination with the United Nations and the Libyan authorities."
Global stock prices have plummeted after the Federal Reserve issued a new warning about the slumping economy and announced limited measures to boost a rebound. On Wednesday, the Fed warned of "continued weakness" in the labor market and "elevated" unemployment, marking "significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets." The Fed also unveiled a $400 billion plan to sell short-term bonds and purchase long-term debt.
A divided federal appeals court has cleared the way for a challenge to the wiretapping authorities approved by Congress in 2008 under then-President George W. Bush. A number of groups, including Amnesty International and American Civil Liberties Union, have challenged the wiretapping powers, calling them unconstitutional. The Obama administration has continued the Bush administration’s effort to dismiss the case. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reached a deadlock of 6-to-6, an outcome that allows for the challenge to proceed before a lower court.
The Islamic cultural center that has come under widespread attack from Republicans and other opponents over the past year has finally opened its doors in downtown New York City. The Park51 Community Center — dubbed by opponents the "Ground Zero Mosque" for its proximity to the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center — officially began operations on Wednesday. The center marked the occasion with a photography exhibition from New York City children who hail from all over the world. The chair of Park51, Sharif El-Gamal, spoke at the center’s opening.
Sharif El-Gamal: "I knew immediately that I wanted this to be the first event that we were going to do at Park51. This event not only represents the diversity of our city, a place that I call home, New York, but this project also represents a little glimpse into the foundation and the bedrock of what this project is all about. We want to serve New York. We want to serve every single child and every single person in New York City. And, you know, this exhibition represents what we stand for: inclusion, community building and diversity."
More than 2,500 nurses and medical workers in southern California are staging a three-day strike to protest benefit cuts sought by the healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente. Nearly 20,000 other Kaiser workers are walking off the job today in a show of solidarity.