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HeadlinesMay 25, 2011

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Mubarak to Face Trial in Egypt for Protester Deaths

May 25, 2011

Egypt’s top prosecutor has announced ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, will stand trial on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising against his three-decade rule. Mubarak faces charges that include “pre-meditated murder,” which could carry the death penalty. Mubarak is accused of having collaborated with his former interior minister and some police authorities in orchestrating the murder of civilians involved in the peaceful protests that swept through Egypt earlier this year. In addition to his alleged role in the killing of protesters, Mubarak has also been charged with misusing power, deliberately wasting public funds, and unlawfully making private financial gains. Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, were also referred to the public court on the same charges.

NATO Continues Strikes on Tripoli; U.S. Bolsters Rebel Ties

May 25, 2011

NATO forces are continuing an intensified bombing campaign on the Libyan capital of Tripoli. For the second day in a row, Western warplanes struck areas in and around the city. The Libyan government says the air strikes have killed 19 people. South African President Jacob Zuma has announced he will visit Tripoli next week for talks with Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi. The United States, meanwhile, has bolstered ties with Libyan rebels, offering the National Transitional Council a representative office in Washington. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman announced the move after meeting rebel leaders in Benghazi.

Jeffrey Feltman: “As we have said many times, and as President Obama emphasized in his oral message from yesterday, in attacking, threatening and brutally suppressing the Libyan people, Col. Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to rule. He cannot regain control of Libya, and he must step down immediately.”

Congress Applauds Netanyahu for Rejecting 1967 Borders

May 25, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before Congress Tuesday to press his rejection of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Netanyahu repeated his stance that Israel will retain the large settlement blocs that carve up the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “In any real peace agreement, in any peace agreement that ends the conflict, some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders. Now the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We’ll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.”

Netanyahu’s speech drew 29 standing ovations from the bipartisan audience, surpassing the 25 standing ovations President Obama received during his 2011 State of the Union address. While lawmakers applauded, a Jewish peace activist was arrested after rising to protest Netanyahu’s speech. In the West Bank, Palestinian aide Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu’s comments prove he has no interest in real peace.

Saeb Erekat: “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech proved tonight, with no doubt, that we, as Palestinians, as Arabs, we don’t have a partner for peace in Israel. This was a statement of public relations. This was a statement of someone who wants to dictate the results of negotiations before they begin. He dictated that Jerusalem will be undivided, that refugees cannot return, that his army would remain on the borders, that his settlements will be expanded and kept, that he wants Palestine to be demilitarized. And he wants us to call Israel with another name than the name it’s registered at the U.N.”

Tornado Toll Hits 123 in Missouri

May 25, 2011

The death toll from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, over the weekend continues to rise, with 123 people reportedly killed and an estimated 750 injured. Rescue workers are searching through the wreckage of some 2,000 buildings in an effort to find survivors. It was the single deadliest twister to touch down in the United States since 1947, with winds reaching 200 miles per hour. Similar weather wreaked havoc in nearby states on Tuesday. A series of tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, killing five people and injuring at least 60 others outside Oklahoma City. Meanwhile in Kansas, two people were killed by extreme weather, and two more were reported dead in Arkansas. On a visit to Britain, President Obama paid tribute to the victims.

President Obama: “Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are suffering at this moment. And all we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover.”

U.K. Peace Activists Protest Obama Visit

May 25, 2011

President Obama is in Britain on the second stop of a four-nation European visit. On Tuesday, a crowd of peace activists held a rally outside the gates of Buckingham Palace as Obama visited the royal family.

Protester: “The reality is he is pursuing George Bush’s wars. There’s more troops in Afghanistan now than there was when he got elected. There’s still 50,000 troops in Iraq. There’s attacks on Pakistan. And now, of course, he’s been part of a third attack on a Muslim country in 10 years: the bombing of Libya. And we oppose all of these things, and we believe that the American foreign policy isn’t changing and has to change.”

21 Die in Yemen Clashes

May 25, 2011

Violent clashes are intensifying in Yemen as longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh refuses to step down. At least 21 people were killed on Tuesday when Saleh’s forces clashed with the guards of a prominent anti-government tribal leader in the capital, Sana’a. Yemen has been locked in unrest for four months, with anti-government demonstrators calling for an end to Saleh’s 33 years in office.

Human Rights Groups: Over 1,100 Killed in Syria Crackdown

May 25, 2011

Two Syrian human rights groups claim to have documented the names of more than 1,100 civilians killed in the nine-week crackdown on anti-government protesters. In addition to the dead, some 10,000 people have reportedly been arrested.

Muhammad Ali Calls for Hikers’ Release in Iran

May 25, 2011

The boxing legend Muhammad Ali joined the families of the jailed U.S. hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, to appeal for their release from Iran. Bauer and Fattal, along with Sarah Shourd, were arrested in June 2009 while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd was freed last year. Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali, read a statement on his behalf.

Lonnie Ali: “We ask for their release, their compassionate release, and the mercy that they showed to Sarah, to show the same to Josh and to Shane, because they too are citizens of the world. If they will look at them as the world looked at Muhammad when he was a young man, in the same fashion, wanting to experience the world, experience people.”

Bauer and Fattal were due to be tried on espionage charges this month, but their trial was unexpectedly delayed. The pair’s mothers, Cindy Hickey and Laura Fattal, also spoke.

Cindy Hickey: “It is now 662 days since Shane and Josh were detained by Iranian forces. This is far too long. Shane and Josh are innocent. They have suffered long enough. Our families have also suffered.”

Laura Fattal: “Josh and Shane have committed no crime. We believe they are being punished simply because of their nationality. Their isolation is extreme.”

U.S. Sanctions Oil Firms for Iran Dealings

May 25, 2011

The Obama administration has unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company and six other global firms involved in trade with Iran. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg unveiled the sanctions in Washington.

James Steinberg: “This administration, which is the first to impose sanctions on firms under the Iran Sanctions Act, has been working aggressively to prevent Iran from developing its energy sector. Iran uses revenues from its energy sector to fund its nuclear program as well as to mask procurement of dual-use items. Today’s actions adds further pressure on Iran to comply with its international obligations.”

Japan Urged to Widen Evacuation Zone

May 25, 2011

A nuclear watchdog is urging Japan to widen the evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety says around 70,000 people remain in a northwestern area it calls “the most contaminated territory outside the evacuation zone.”

Reporter Subpoenaed for Whistleblower Trial of CIA Officer

May 25, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a new subpoena to a New York Times reporter to reveal his sources for a 2006 book on the CIA. The reporter, James Risen, has been ordered to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors believe Sterling gave Risen information for a chapter on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. In a motion filed this week, prosecutors argued Risen is not exempted from testifying about confidential sources in a criminal proceeding and that he must provide information “like any other citizen.” A federal judge threw out a similar subpoena leveled at Risen last year.

Study: Lawmakers Outperform on Stock Investments

May 25, 2011

A new study says Congress members routinely outperform the stock market in their personal investments. Researchers poured over some 16,000 stock transactions by around 300 lawmakers from 1985 through 2001, finding what they called “significant positive abnormal returns” of around six percent per year. The report speculates the lawmakers’ gains could stem from their ability to trade on non-public information and to vote in favor of their economic interests.

Democrat Scores Upset Victory in N.Y. Congressional Race

May 25, 2011

Democrats have scored a major upset with a special election victory in a traditionally Republican New York district. On Tuesday, Democratic nominee Kathy Hochul was elected to Congress in a win that seemed impossible just two months ago. The election was widely viewed as a referendum on the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare. Hochul addressed a group of supporters to celebrate her win.

Kathy Hochul: “The people I met in the diners, the small businesses, on the farms, the people in this room—I will represent you with my heart and soul, and thank you so much for this extreme privilege.”

Hochul is replacing former Republican Rep. Christopher Lee, who resigned this year following the disclosure he attempted to arrange an extramarital affair online.

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