Egyptian forces have committed a new mass killing of Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators supporting the ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Dozens of people have been killed in raids on two pro-Morsi encampments in Cairo. Initial reports say between 42 to 94 bodies were counted at one morgue in Rabaa, including those of two babies. Both sides have offered conflicting accounts, with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming an even higher toll of hundreds killed and the Egyptian government giving a toll of 13, including five Egyptian state forces. In a statement, the Egyptian government praised its forces for the "utmost degree of self-restraint" in the face of what it called violence from protesters. But journalists and witnesses on the scene reported what appear to be widespread and indiscriminate shootings, with government snipers firing from rooftops on the crowds. In addition to live fire, Egyptian forces used tear gas, helicopters, armored cars and bulldozers to clear the encampments. The violence marks the third mass killing of Morsi supporters since his ouster by the military over a month ago.
Pro-democracy rallies are being held in Bahrain today in an ongoing challenge to the U.S.-backed monarchy. Ahead of the protests, the Bahraini government sealed off entire neighborhoods and raided dozens of homes while warning activists of "decisive measures." At least one major demonstration was organized near the U.S. embassy, prompting the embassy to announce its temporary closure.
The sentencing hearing for U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning continues today at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning is expected to give a statement for the first time since February when he acknowledged leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, saying he wanted to show the American public the "true costs of war." On Tuesday, Manning’s defense attorney argued the military failed to recognize Manning was suffering from mental health problems that should have triggered his removal from a war zone at the time of the leaks, including a gender identity crisis. The defense’s case could wrap as early as today, and a decision on Manning’s sentence could immediately follow.
Israel has released the first wave of Palestinian prisoners under a U.S.-brokered deal to resume peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. On Tuesday, 26 inmates were returned home to the West Bank and Gaza, about one-quarter of the total set to receive their freedom. Most have been behind bars for over two decades. The peace talks continue in Jerusalem today after their launch in Washington last month. But on the eve of the new sessions and just hours before the prisoners’ release, the Israeli government announced yet another new round of settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. More than 900 settlements homes were approved near the Palestinian town of Beit Jala. This comes on top of the 1,200 settlement units approved on Sunday.
Speaking during a visit to Brazil, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted the ongoing settlement expansion doesn’t threaten the prospects of reaching a peace deal.
Secretary of State John Kerry: "The policy of the United States of America with respect to all settlements is that they are illegitimate, and we oppose settlements taking place at any time, not just the time of the peace process. But, here’s the 'but,' that said, Prime Minster Netanyahu was completely upfront with me and with President Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building that would take place in places that will not affect the peace map."
John Kerry was in Brazil as part of his first trip to South America as secretary of state. On Tuesday, Kerry continued to face questions over Edward Snowden’s revelations that NSA spying has extended to all of Latin America, with Brazil its biggest target.
Secretary of State John Kerry: "I ask the people of Brazil to stay focused on the important realities of our relationship, the bilateral relations between our countries which continue to go stronger and stronger. Brazil and other countries will understand exactly what we’re doing, why and how, and we will work together to make sure that whatever is done is done in a way that respects our friends and our partners. And that is what we’re going to achieve."
Brazil continues to demand an explanation from the White House on U.S. spying in Latin America. On Tuesday, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said the spying threatens to cast "a shadow of distrust" over U.S.-Brazil relations.
The oil giant BP has filed a lawsuit challenging its ban from U.S. government contracts following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Environmental Protection Agency imposed the ban last year, citing BP’s "lack of business integrity." In its lawsuit, BP says the EPA has abused its authority.