The Obama administration has accused Iranian government agents of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the United States. One of the alleged agents is a member of Iran’s special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force. U.S. Department of Justice officials say the men tried to hire a purported member of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination with a bomb attack while the ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, dined at his favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder unveiled the indictments against two suspects charged in a New York federal court.
Attorney General Eric Holder: “The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, was sponsored, and was directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law, including a convention that explicitly protects diplomats from being harmed. In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions. Arbabsiar and Shakuri are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges.”
The Iranian government has rejected the allegations, calling them a “childish, amateur game.”
The Senate has rejected President Obama’s $447 billion job-creation package. The combination of tax cuts and new government spending failed by a 50-49 vote, short of the 60 needed to avoid a Republican filibuster. Two Democrats, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana, joined Republicans in opposition. Speaking on MSNBC, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Republicans for blocking the bill.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “When we have an economy today which is in as bad a shape as any time since the Great Depression, it is literally beyond my comprehension how we could not get one Republican vote in order to put millions of people back to work. In my view, we’ve got to go a lot further, to be honest with you, than the President proposed. I would put a lot more money into infrastructure, into energy, and I think we can create a whole lot of jobs doing that.”
The vote comes just after a new congressional study found the jobs bill could be fully paid for by a proposed new tax on millionaires. The White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say they will now seek to have the bill’s provisions voted on separately.
In New York City, some 500 supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement marched through the neighborhoods of some of the city’s wealthiest residents on Tuesday. The march was organized by 99 New York, a new coalition of groups formed around the growing movement. The demonstrators sought to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend a surcharge tax on the state’s wealthiest residents. Demonstrators stopped by the homes of several New York City billionaires, including John Paulson, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, conservative billionaire David Koch, Emigrant Savings Bank chairman Howard Milstein, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Protester 1: “It’s the scene of the crime. Like, Wall Street’s here. This is where our money is. I’m from Michigan. This is where our money is. People lost their homes in the banking and mortgage crisis, and it went here. Like people here, I mean just in this neighborhood, there are unbelievably rich people here, and, you know, it’s just really sad to think about people back home and know how they’re suffering and how people here are making out like bandits.”
Protester 2: “I mean, enough is enough. The rich get away with everything. They pay no taxes. We pay a higher percentage in taxes, and we don’t have jobs. There’s no jobs. There’s 24 million Americans out of work. That’s insane. Twenty-four million, me being one of them. And I don’t see a way out of it, except something like this. It’s not going to change unless this happens.”
Six supporters of the “Occupy” movement in Washington, D.C., were arrested in the Senate’s Hart Office Building Tuesday for chanting loudly and unfurling banners calling for the end of overseas wars and for increased taxes on the rich. Blocks away from the Capitol, demonstrators at Freedom Plaza said they’ve obtained permits to remain for another four months.
Dr. Margaret Flowers: “We met with the Park Service, and they offered us a four-month extension on the permit. We brought that back to the general assembly. People were very excited that we were being offered that amount of time and immediately started getting down to work of how do we create the infrastructure that we would like to see in here.”
In Chicago, 21 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested for trespassing in two separate incidents. According to local authorities, 16 people were taken into custody for protesting at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago where the annual conference of the Mortgage Bankers Association was underway. Five more people — women ranging in ages from 55 to 80 — were arrested for taking garbage from a foreclosed home owned by Bank of America and dumping it at one of the bank’s branches.
Video footage has emerged of the mass arrests at an Occupy Boston protest on Monday night. More than 100 people were detained after police raided an encampment in the early morning hours. The video shows police grabbing members of the group Veterans for Peace who say, “We are veterans of the United States of America.”
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Philadelphia prosecutors of a lower court ruling that declared the death sentence of Pennsylvania prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal unconstitutional. Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther and journalist. For decades, he has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his 1982 conviction of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. The ruling means Mumia will be automatically sentenced to life in prison unless prosecutors attempt to seek the death penalty in front of a new jury.
Republican presidential candidates gathered in New Hampshire Tuesday night for a debate focused on the economy. Two of the front runners, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, touted their respective plans, with Romney citing his opposition to taxes on the wealthy and Perry stressing his support for domestic energy production.
Mitt Romney: “We can’t demand more from tax revenue from people, because that kills jobs and hurts working families. We have got to help the middle class in this country. The only way that will come together is if you have people on both sides of the aisle who will listen to a leader who has the experience of leading. And that’s what America is looking for and desperately longing for.”
Gov. Rick Perry: “As president, particularly with the plan that I’m going to be laying out over the next three days—and I’m not going to lay it out all for you tonight. You know, Mitt’s had six years to be working on a plan; I’ve been in this for about eight weeks. But clearly, we’re going to be focused on, initially, the energy industry in this country and making America again independent and clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from.”
Former pizza executive Herman Cain, meanwhile, touted his plan for a nine percent flat tax rate.
Herman Cain: “9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well studied and well developed. It starts with, unlike your proposals, throwing out the current tax code. Continuing to pivot off the current tax code is not going to boost this economy. This is why we developed 9-9-9. Nine percent corporate business flat tax, nine percent personal income flat tax, and a nine percent national sales tax. And it will pass, Senator, because the American people want it to pass.”
Ahead of the Republican presidential debate last night, Mitt Romney’s campaign received a boost with an endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie threw his support behind Romney just days after declining to enter the race.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “He brings that great private sector experience, and he brings the experience as governor of Massachusetts knowing how government works—not a legislator trying to figure out how to use executive power, but an executive who’s used executive power, will use it to make American lives better. That’s why I’m endorsing Mitt Romney for president of the United States.”
Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas have confirmed a deal that will free over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Shalit has been held in Gaza since June 2006. The 1,027 Palestinians to be freed are among the more than 7,000 imprisoned inside Israel, many without charge. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, praised the deal at a celebratory rally.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader: “Young people, brothers, we have to begin from now to put in place all the arrangements necessary to welcome the liberated heroes who are coming back to their land, to their families. And we have to begin all the necessary arrangements that would suit this historical moment, the moment of a big victory.”
Interim government forces in Libya claim to have penetrated the loyalist stronghold of Sirte. Forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi reportedly have a large stockpile of weapons and ammunition and have vowed to fiercely defend the deposed leader’s hometown. The fighting has raised concerns over civilian casualties. In a statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the city’s main hospital was party destroyed, calling the situation there “very chaotic and distressing.” In Belgium, a NATO spokesperson called on the National Transitional Council to show restraint during the push to seize the town.
Oana Lungescu: “As fighting is coming to an end in many areas, it must do so in a way that respects the calls from the international community and the National Transitional Council to show restraint and avoid reprisals and revenge. We expect the new Libya to be founded on reconciliation and human rights, on democracy and the rule of law. And the National Transitional Council has a great responsibility for a smooth and peaceful transition to democracy.”
In Iraq, a series of bombings in the capital city of Baghdad has left at least 25 people dead and 83 others wounded. The attacks targeted police facilities and patrols throughout Baghdad. The coordinated assaults were the worst the country has seen in nearly two months.