Serbia has confirmed reports that the fugitive military general, Ratko Mladic, has been arrested more than 15 years after his indictment for genocide. Mladic is wanted for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo. His arrest has long been seen as a precondition for Serbia’s membership in the European Union. Serbian officials say a man believed to be Mladic is in custody and undergoing testing to determine his identity.
Clashes are intensifying in Yemen over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to step down. At least 41 people have been killed and dozens wounded in street battles between Saleh’s opponents and supporters this week. Yemeni officials say at least 28 people were killed overnight in a bombing in the capital, Sana’a. The headquarters of an opposition-linked television station have reportedly been demolished on government orders. The U.S. Department of State has ordered nonessential U.S. diplomats to leave Yemen amidst fears of a looming civil war.
The United States has confirmed for the first time it is supplying bombs and spare parts for the NATO attack on Libya. The Pentagon says it has provided material support for the bombing campaign since NATO formally took over responsibility on April 1. The disclosure comes amidst the heaviest strikes on the Libyan capital of Tripoli since the war on Libya began.
The U.S. military has begun withdrawing a limited number of troops from Pakistan following a request from the Pakistani government. The Pentagon says Pakistan asked for the scaling back of the more than 200-strong U.S. force following the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. It is unknown how many troops are being withdrawn.
Egypt is preparing to permanently unseal the Rafah border crossing with Gaza after years of closure under former president Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s state news agency says the border will be open beginning on Saturday. The new Egyptian military leadership is said to have used the reopening of the border as an incentive in brokering the recent unity deal between the Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas.
Egypt’s decision to unseal the Rafah crossing is a major blow to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. In other news from the region, Israeli cabinet members appeared at a ceremony in East Jerusalem Wednesday to mark the recent completion of a new Jewish settlement on occupied Palestinian land. A few dozen protesters rallied outside to oppose the settlement expansion.
Mossi Raz: “I have heard Mr. Netanyahu yesterday. He said that some settlements are going to be out of the Israeli border. And I call upon the Prime Minister to say that all the settlements will be outside of the Israeli border, and this settlement will be outside of the Israeli border.”
President Obama continues to push his objection to a Palestinian effort for statehood recognition at the United Nations. Speaking in Britain, Obama called the recognition campaign “a mistake.”
President Obama: “The United Nations can achieve a lot of important work. What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we’re going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace. And so, I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route, rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis, is a mistake.”
Obama made the comments in a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who refused to endorse the U.S. objection to the Palestinian effort.
President Obama also delivered an address before both houses of the British parliament. Speaking at the historic Westminster Hall, Obama praised the U.S.-British alliance.
President Obama: “It was the United States and the United Kingdom and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive. And even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just.”
A federal judge has ruled Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner is not mentally competent to stand trial. Loughner is charged with the killing of six people and wounding of others, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting rampage in Tucson in January. Loughner has spent the past five weeks undergoing psychiatric evaluation at a hospital in Missouri.
The Senate has voted to reject the Republican budget plan approved by the House last month. Drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the bill calls for gutting Medicare and Medicaid programs serving the elderly and the poor, while granting tax cuts to top-earning individuals and corporations. Five Republicans joined with Democrats for a vote of 57 to 40. The vote comes a day after Republicans lost a special congressional election in a traditionally right-leaning New York district in what many called a referendum on the budget proposal.
Environmental and public health groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to force the government to stop farmers from adding antibiotics to livestock feed to boost animal growth. The Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s allowance of antibiotics in animals ends up weakening their effectiveness in humans. The suit alleges that “superbugs” are becoming more difficult to treat because the human body is less responsive to the antibiotics they have already consumed through animal products. An estimated 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are consumed by farm animals.
Thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets of Athens to protest a new round of austerity measures. This week Greece’s government unveiled more cuts and privatizations in response to the country’s debt crisis. On Wednesday, a large crowd marched on the Greek parliament.
Protester: “They have mortgaged our future and our present without asking us and with the excuse that there is no other way, while we know very well that there is another way. It’s that simple. They must leave and never come back here.”
Protests have broken out in Georgia against President Mikheil Saakashvili. Crowds have taken to the streets daily since more than 10,000 rallied in the capital, Tbilisi, over the weekend. On Wednesday, riot police were deployed to clear a protest outside of the Georgian parliament. Georgian protesters have dubbed their movement the “silver revolution.”
In Brazil, the murder of an Amazon environmental activist and his wife is being investigated as a possible assassination. José Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva, were shot to death late Monday in a rural area of the Amazonian state of Para. While details remain unclear, local police say the killings bear the signs of a murder for hire. A leader on a rural, sustainable reserve, Claudio Ribeiro da Silva was an outspoken and celebrated critic of illegal logging in the Amazon.
Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has visited Washington state, where he could find himself a congressional candidate should he lose his Ohio seat to redistricting next year. Ohio stands to lose two seats, and rumors have swirled Kucinich will run in Washington, which will add a new seat. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman was also recently in Washington state and had a chance to speak with Kucinich about his plans.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “Ohio has a redistricting. Ohio is losing two seats. My district is quite likely to be one of them. So people have asked me, 'Well, if the Republicans redistrict you, are you just going to quit?' And I said, 'Look, I'm in Congress to speak out for workers’ rights, for human rights, for peace, for the environment. And so, I’d like to continue that work, and if I can’t continue it in the area that I’m representing now, then I’m going to look elsewhere.’”
The media giant CBS is facing criticism after pulling an advertisement calling for a halt to the deportation of Haitian nationals from the United States. The Center for Constitutional Rights had sponsored the ad to be displayed on the CBS Jumbotron overlooking New York City’s Times Square. The ad says in part: “The cholera epidemic in Haiti is killing thousands. Why is the USA still deporting people to Haiti?” CBS says it pulled the ad because it is “too controversial.”