The Washington Post is reporting new details about the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden. According to the paper, the CIA flew a sophisticated new stealth drone aircraft deep into Pakistani airspace dozens of times to monitor bin Laden’s compound in recent months. Designed to evade radar detection, the aircraft was able to fly well beyond the boundaries that Pakistan has long imposed on other U.S. drones that routinely carry out strikes near the border with Afghanistan. The Post reports the new stealth drone was also equipped to eavesdrop on Pakistani electronic transmissions. The disclosure of the secret flights is expected to add new strain to U.S.-Pakistani relations.
In other news from Pakistan, at least 17 people have died after a group of some 100 militants attacked a security checkpoint near the Pakistani city of Peshawar. The attack sparked a three-hour gun battle.
In Afghanistan, at least 12 people have been killed and 70 wounded in violent protests following a deadly overnight raid by NATO forces in northern Afghanistan. Local police and residents accused NATO and Afghan troops of killing four civilians, including two women. NATO said all of the dead were armed insurgents.
Al Jazeera has confirmed the release of its journalist, Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained 19 days ago in Syria and hadn’t been seen since. She landed in Qatar earlier today on a flight from Iran. An Al Jazeera spokesman said, “I’m delighted to let you know that Dorothy Parvaz has been released and is safe and well and back with us in Doha.” Parvaz is an Iranian-born journalist who also holds U.S. and Canadian citizenship. Foreign journalists have been largely barred from entering Syria during the country’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. In the latest news from Syria, there are reports that security forces have killed at least 27 civilians in a three-day tank-backed attack on the border town of Tel Kelakh.
Meanwhile, the repression of journalists in the region continues. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports Bahrain, a close U.S. ally, has detained five journalists over the past week. Four of the journalists were photographers who had taken pictures of civil unrest in Bahrain and of the government’s violent response.
In Yemen, reports are emerging that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition have agreed to sign a new deal for a transition of power. An earlier plan required Saleh to resign within 30 days of signing, but it is unclear if that condition is also part of this modified agreement. On Tuesday, Yemenis marked 100 days of protest against the government.
Mohammad Al-Rythan, Yemeni protester: “After 100 days, we are more determined, more determined to overthrow the regime. We are not leaving the square until the regime is ousted.”
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been reportedly placed on suicide watch in his New York City jail cell. Strauss-Kahn is being held without bail on charges of attempted rape, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid on Saturday.
More details have emerged about the victim in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case. She has been described as a 32-year-old Muslim from the West African nation of Guinea who sought asylum in the United States. Her attorney is Jeffrey Shapiro.
Jeffrey Shapiro, attorney for alleged victim: “She’s a 32-year-old woman who comes from Guinea, who came to the United States approximately seven years ago with her daughter. The daughter is now 15 years old. She’s a single mother. She’s the sole support of herself and her daughter. She’s alone in this country. She was not allowed much of an education in her home country, came here, you know, under difficult circumstances, but managed to develop a trade in becoming a housekeeper, was very grateful to have that job, worked at this particular hotel for approximately three years, and was very happy for the fact that she lived in this country and she could provide a life for herself and her daughter.”
Over 800 homeowners, clergy and workers protested outside JPMorgan Chase’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday. The demonstrators called on the banking giant to stop dodging its corporate taxes and to stop foreclosing on over 100,000 Ohio families each year.
Protester 1: “CEO Jamie Dimon made made $21 million in 2010. And not only that, he received $19 million in bonuses.”
Protester 2: “Chase not only foreclosed on the property anyway, they walked away from the property, and leaving me receiving notices from the city if I don’t maintain the property that Chase had taken from me.”
Some of the protesters gained access to the JPMorgan meeting site by setting up a makeshift bridge to cross a small moat. Several elderly demonstrators were maced by police during the protest.
In news from Capitol Hill, the Democratic-led Senate failed to pass a bill Tuesday to cut billions in tax breaks for the largest oil companies. Democrats needed 60 votes to move the measure forward but only secured 52 votes.
The state of Pennsylvania has fined Chesapeake Energy over $1 million for contaminating the drinking water of 16 families near natural gas wells. Chesapeake was also cited for a fire at a well site that left three workers injured. The water contamination was the result of faulty cement and casing surrounding gas wells, allowing methane to seep into the water supply.
Queen Elizabeth II has become the first British monarch in a century to visit Ireland. On Tuesday she laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, which honors all those who fought against the British for Irish independence. Today she plans to visit Croke Park, where British troops killed 14 civilians in 1920. The Queen’s trip has led to the largest security operation in Ireland’s history. On Monday, a homemade pipe bomb was found on a Dublin-bound bus. A number of republican dissidents were pre-emptively arrested ahead of the Queen’s arrival. Eamon Gilmore is Ireland’s foreign minister.
Irish Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore: “This is a hugely important day in the relationships between Ireland and Britain. It is a day where we are, in many ways, I think, coming to terms with the very complex history, which has characterized relations between Ireland and Britain.”
Guatemalan police claim to have killed two members of a violent Mexican drug cartel believed to be responsible for a mass killing that left 27 people dead over the weekend. Guatemalan authorities say a third member of the cartel, known as Los Zetas, was arrested. Meanwhile, Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom has declared a state of siege in the northern region of the country that will last until at least Tuesday as authorities search for more suspects. Police have been granted the right to conduct night raids and carry out arrests and searches without warrants and also curtail rights of expression and assembly.
In medical news, a San Francisco man has reportedly become the first person ever to be cured of AIDS. Doctors say 45-year-old Timothy Ray Brown’s HIV was eradicated after he received a bone marrow transplant from a person that had a rare HIV immunity. The transplant was intended to combat a resurgence of leukemia, which Brown has been cured of as well. Doctors are unsure why the treatment was so successful, but they will begin clinical trials next year.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has personally apologized to Republican Congressman Paul Ryan for criticizing his plan to privatize Medicare. On Sunday Gingrich described Ryan’s plan as a “radical change.”
Newt Gingrich: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.”
Over the past three days, Newt Gingrich has backtracked from his criticism and says he now supports Ryan’s budget plan. Gingrich is also facing questions this week over a report that he and his wife owed the high-end jeweler Tiffany and Company between $250,00 and $500,000 five years ago. It is unclear if the debt was ever repaid. Meanwhile, Gingrich was the target of an unusual protest last night. A gay rights activist attempted to dump a box of rainbow confetti on Gingrich’s head during an event in Minnesota.
Gay rights activist: “Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics! It’s dividing our country, and it’s not fixing our economy. Do it like a man!”
And in Tacoma, Washington, school officials have acknowledged Secret Service agents recently interrogated a seventh grader during school without notifying the boy’s mother. Thirteen-year-old Vito LaPinta was questioned after he wrote a Facebook message expressing concern that suicide bombers would target President Obama following the death of Osama bin Laden. The boy described what happened in an interview with TV channel Q13 in Seattle.
Vito LaPinta, seventh grader: “A man walked in in a suit and glasses, and he said that he was part of the Secret Service. And he told me it was because of a post that I made, and it indicated as a threat towards the President.”
Vito’s mother, Timi Robertson, expressed outrage over the incident.
Timi Robertson, LaPinta’s mother: “I just about lost it. My son, my 13 year-old son, who’s a minor, who’s supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom at school, is being interrogated, without my knowledge or consent, privately by the Secret Service.”
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