The Pakistani military is threatening to review its relationship with the United States following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In a statement, the Pakistani army said it would review “military/intelligence co-operation” with the United States should there be “any similar action violating the sovereignty of Pakistan.” The warning comes as U.S. lawmakers have begun openly questioning the billions in annual aid to Pakistan, in light of bin Laden’s presence there. At a hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said the United States should be prepared to suspend assistance to the Pakistani government.
Sen. Ben Cardin: “We have to be prepared to cut off aid, or at least to suspend aid, if in fact the conditionalities are not being met. And we have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this country. We have to make some tough decisions in our budget. And quite frankly, there is concern as to whether the value is being properly used as it relates to Pakistan. Of course, the bin Laden issue just puts a big spotlight on that.”
The United States has carried out its first known drone attack in Pakistan since the Osama bin Laden raid. At least eight people were killed today in a drone strike targeting a home in Pakistan’s North Waziristan.
More details continue to emerge of Osama bin Laden’s time in Pakistan and the raid that took his life. BBC News is reporting one of bin Laden’s wives said he had lived in Pakistan for at least five years. The Washington Post reports CIA agents monitored bin Laden’s compound from a nearby safe house after the compound was discovered last August. Speaking to the New York Times, U.S. officials say documents and computer files seized from the compound show al-Qaeda had drawn up plans to attack the U.S. rail system, possibly on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this year. The plans were said to be in the preliminary stages, and there is no evidence they were put into effect. The United States also says the seized material points to evidence bin Laden continued to play a role in directing al-Qaeda’s worldwide operations from his hideout.
President Obama visited New York City on Thursday to pay tribute to 9/11 victims in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death. Obama took part in a ceremony at Ground Zero and met with a group of firefighters who lost 15 members on 9/11.
President Obama: “It’s some comfort, I hope, to all of you to know that when those guys took those extraordinary risks going into Pakistan, that they were doing it, in part, because of the sacrifices that were made in this state. They were doing it in the name of your brothers that were lost.”
The United Nations is warning Libya could run out of food within six to eight weeks. World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the food supply is especially threatened in the rebel-held east.
Josette Sheeran: '’For the World Food Programme right now, we're reaching about half a million people in Libya who are already hit and don’t have adequate access to food, but we’re very worried that we could see a breakdown in the whole system in the coming weeks.’’
The NATO coalition fighting Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s forces has agreed to create a fund supporting Libya’s rebel Transitional National Council. At a meeting in Rome, the Contact Group on Libya agreed to loan the rebels around $250 million. The rebels have appealed for up to $3 billion, half of that for basic humanitarian supplies. Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril called the meeting a step toward international recognition of the rebel movement.
Mahmoud Jibril: “Well, when we first came here, you know, there were rumors that about three or four countries are going to announce their recognition today, you know. To be honest with you, just the mere fact that we are staying with them in the same room receiving us, pledging all types of support, this is a recognition in itself.”
Syrian forces have fired on demonstrators taking part in a massive “day of defiance” against President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands of people have reportedly taken to the streets, defying a massive deployment of Syrian forces nationwide. More than 500 Syrians have reportedly been killed and up to 8,000 arrested since protests began in March—at least 1,000 apparently in the last week alone. Around 300 people were reportedly arrested in the Damascus suburb of Saqba on Thursday in house-to-house raids. Syrian troops, meanwhile, have begun withdrawing from the southern city of Daraa after a more-than-a-week-long siege.
Vermont is poised to become the first state to establish a single-payer healthcare system guaranteeing coverage to all residents. On Thursday, lawmakers in Vermont’s State House approved the final version of a universal healthcare bill on a 94-to-49 vote. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says he will sign the bill into law within the next two weeks.
State lawmakers in New Hampshire have approved a measure targeting the collective bargaining of unions. The measure would ban unions from requiring non-members to pay a share of bargaining and administrative costs. Democratic Gov. John Lynch has pledged to veto the bill.
On Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled House has approved a measure that would force the resumption of offshore oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal Virginia. The bill would reinstate offshore drilling auctions frozen in the aftermath of last year’s BP oil spill. The White House wants to complete environmental reviews before allowing the auctions to resume.
The financial giant JPMorgan Chase has been subpoenaed in the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s probe of failed mortgages. The SEC is investigating a number of banks for failing to share refunds obtained for buying mortgage-backed securities.
President Obama marked Cinco de Mayo on Thursday with a gathering at the White House. Speaking to attendees, Obama urged immigrant rights activists to mobilize for immigration reform.
President Obama: “I want to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, to enforce our laws, and also to address the status of millions of undocumented workers. I want to sign the DREAM Act into law. I’m going to need your help. We’ve got to keep doing the hard work of changing minds and changing hearts and changing votes, one at a time. But all of you are going to be out there, and you’re going to have to help make this happen.”
In Mexico, demonstrators have begun a number of marches to protest the spate of nationwide drug violence and the government’s response. Organizer Julian LeBaron helped kick off a march of more than 500 people that will end Sunday in Mexico City.
Julian LeBaron: “We should realize that if we don’t protest and don’t participate, we are taking part in violence. If we stay quiet, we become accomplices. There have already been 40,000 deaths. We came to give our dead a name and dignity so that they don’t become a statistic or collateral damage.”
More than 37,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderón declared a war on drug traffickers in 2006.
A team of international scientists has unveiled a new report warning that rapidly increasing climate change could raise global sea levels up to five feet, three inches by 2100. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme says temperatures in the Arctic are the warmest ever recorded, putting the region’s ice caps and glaciers, as well as the Greenland Ice Sheet, at risk of melting. Study co-author Dorthe Dahl-Jensen of the University of Copenhagen warned the rising sea levels could threaten coastal areas worldwide.
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen: “There is also a risk of very fast sea level changes. We have seen that in the past, and it can happen in the future. And this will really significantly change the risk of flooding in the big towns that are threatened, like Shanghai and New York, and also areas like Miami, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are areas that have to prepare for much bigger risks of flooding in the future. And here we’re talking about frames of 10 years where things can change dramatically and the risk can certainly increase a lot.”
In Arizona, the Tucson Unified School board has postponed a vote on terminating Ethnic and Mexican American Studies as an accredited program. At a board meeting Tuesday night, Tuscon police removed a 69-year-old activist and educator who had asked to read a passage by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York is drawing controversy for blocking an honorary degree to the playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner over Kushner’s support for Palestinian human rights. Kushner was due to receive the degree from CUNY’s John Jay College next month. But at a meeting this week, CUNY trustees voted to shelve the honor after one board member cited Kushner’s critical views of Israeli government policies. Kushner has called on the trustees to apologize. At least one past recipient of an honorary degree from the college has announced plans to return it in solidarity with Kushner.