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A missing Iranian nuclear scientist has taken refuge in the Iranian interests section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. The scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia a year ago. His whereabouts have been a mystery ever since. In March, ABC News said the scientist had defected to the United States and was helping the CIA, but Iran has claimed that he was kidnapped by the CIA and Saudi intelligence agents. The United States government has never acknowledged Amiri’s existence or admitted to a role in his disappearance.
The Obama administration has issued a new moratorium on deepwater oil drilling to ensure oil companies implement safety measures following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. An earlier version of the ban was imposed in May, but a US district judge with extensive energy industry financial ties struck it down last month.
Officials from BP say the company has successfully attached a new tight-fitting containment cap over the Deepwater Horizon well. The move could stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Testing of the new cap begins today. The company says a cap system like this has never before been deployed at these depths under these conditions.
After facing intense criticism, the Coast Guard has lifted its policy that made it illegal for journalists and photographers to come within sixty-five feet of any response vessels or booms on the water or on beaches in the Gulf of Mexico. Numerous news organizations had argued that being kept at least sixty-five feet away from the booms impeded their ability to cover the spill. Under the revised rules, credentialed journalists will have unfettered access, but members of the general public and uncredentialed media must still abide by the sixty-five-foot rule.
Former US president and UN special envoy Bill Clinton met with Haitian President René Préval in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Monday, marking six months since the massive earthquake devastated the city and much of the Caribbean nation. The earthquake killed 300,000 people and left over one-and-a-half million people homeless. President Clinton acknowledged not enough has been done to rebuild Haiti, but he praised the overall relief efforts.
President Clinton: “To those who say we have not done enough, I think all of us who are working in this area agree: so far the pace of the reconstruction is a little bit ahead of where we were in South Asia after the tsunami six years ago. And yet, Aceh, the hardest-hit area, was far away from the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. Their capital was not destroyed, and their budget was not destroyed. The Indonesian government added $2 billion of its own money to the international commitments. This is a harder job, and therefore, viewed comparatively, I think the Haitian government and the people who are working here have done well the last six months.”
An Israeli military probe into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla has justified the killings of eight Turks and one American citizen on board. The men were killed when Israeli commandos opened fire after raiding the Mavi Marmara in international waters. No Israeli officers were singled out in the report for disciplinary action even though video has emerged that shows Israeli commandos executing a passenger aboard the boat. Retired Israeli Army General Giora Eiland authored the report.
Giora Eiland: “In this inquiry, we found that there were some professional mistakes regarding both the intelligence and the decision-making process in some of the operational mistakes. But also, we did find some of very positive findings, and one of them that should be emphasized is the very professional and courageous way that the Israeli commando behaved on this ship, because they found themselves in a real, immediate danger to their lives.”
IHH, the Turkish group which organized the flotilla, criticized the report’s conclusions, particularly the claim that the Israeli army was justified in using live ammunition.
An Israeli court has sentenced Sheikh Raed Salah to five months in prison for being aboard the Gaza aid flotilla. Salah is an influential leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for the crime of genocide for his alleged role in the killing of civilians in Darfur. The arrest order will be added to the warrant issued last year for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Al-Bashir has so far defied the ICC’s orders and denied all accusations
In Uganda, the death toll from Sunday’s twin bomb blasts has risen to seventy-four. The Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the blasts which targeted people watching the World Cup finals. The bombings mark the first time al-Shabab has struck outside of Somalia. Survivors of the blast included fourteen-year-old Thomas Kramer of Winfield, Pennsylvania.
Thomas Kramer: “At first I thought the explosion was a firework, but — and I thought I was like just like imagining it, because I thought I, like, fell asleep and I was dreaming. But then I, like, realized my leg was bleeding, and there was blood over the floor from me and other people. And me and my mom went into the other room, where we waited to get picked up. But I’m just thankful to be alive, because if I was sitting two seats to the left, I would have lost my life, because our friend Becky — she’s from Uganda — she didn’t make it.”
The Canadian-born Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr has rejected a US plea deal that would have allowed him to return to Canada in five years if he admitted to committing war crimes in Afghanistan. In a handwritten statement, Khadr said he would not take a plea deal because “it will give excuse for the government for torturing and abusing me when I was a child.” Khadr was fifteen years old when US troops imprisoned him in 2002. Khadr has also fired his legal team and threatened to boycott his August 10 trial.
The Senate appears set to pass the final version of the financial reform bill. On Monday, Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts said they would support the legislation. With their support, Democrats now have the sixty votes needed to close debate and move to a final vote.
Four animal rights activists who were charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act won a victory in court Monday when a US district court judge threw out their indictment. Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo were arrested in 2009 for chanting, demonstrating with masks covering their faces, and chalking defamatory slogans on the sidewalk. Judge Ronald Whyte threw out the indictment because government prosecutors had failed to explain clearly what the protesters had done to be charged as terrorists.
In news from Cuba, Fidel Castro appeared on Cuban television Monday giving one of his first interviews since falling ill four years ago. The eighty-three-year-old former president warned the United States not to invade Iran. Castro said that any American attack on Iran would face much more resistance than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Fidel Castro: “Iraq had no weapons. It was a country divided between Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. None of those divisions exist in Iran. That will be tough. The worst thing will be the resistance they encounter. That is guaranteed, unlike in Iraq.”
The bohemian poet, singer and cartoonist Tuli Kupferberg has died at the age of eighty-six. He was a founding member of the political folk-rock band The Fugs.