Clashes are continuing across Yemen in the growing conflict over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to step down. At least 15 people were reportedly killed in overnight clashes in the capital city of Sana’a. Dozens have been killed since Monday, when artillery explosions and machine-gun fire shattered a tenuous ceasefire that lasted less than 48 hours.
The oil minister for Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan government has defected, citing the “daily spilling of blood.” Speaking in Italy, Shokri Ghanem expressed support for the Libyan rebels opposing Gaddafi.
Shokri Ghanem: “With this situation, which is unbearable, one cannot continue working, and therefore I left the country and I decided also to leave my job and to join the choice of the Libyan youth to create a modern constitutional state, respecting human rights and building for a better future for all Libyans.”
House Republicans have postponed a vote on a measure to end the U.S. role in the bombing of Libya over fears the resolution would pass. The proposal from Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio cites the Obama administration’s apparent violation of the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires congressional approval for military action after 60 days. In a statement, Kucinich said, “I am disappointed that the President and leadership feel the need to buy even more time to shore up support for the war in Libya. It’s not surprising that some are now wondering if a preliminary vote count…came out in favor of defending the Constitution.”
The Obama administration is downplaying the latest plea from Afghan President Hamid Karzai for NATO to stop attacking Afghan homes. Karzai criticized the U.S.-led NATO forces after 12 children and two women were killed in a bombing on Sunday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said only that the United States will continue to do everything it can—to express regret.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to express our deep regret when a terrible incident occurs and civilians are injured or killed. And I would only underscore that that stands in stark contrast to the indiscriminate killing, the suicide bombing, the IED, the improvised explosive devices, that are used by the insurgents without regard for any human life.”
Dozens have been killed in Pakistan after some 200 Afghan militants crossed the border and attacked a military checkpoint. At least 27 troops and 35 militants died in the day-long battle. The violence came just one day after a top Pakistani general announced plans to stage a sweeping military operation against insurgents in the region.
In Bahrain, government forces have attacked protesters just hours after lifting a near three-month martial law. Human rights activists say rubber bullets, stun grenades, shotguns and tear gas were used in the crackdown on protesters in 20 villages. In the capital, Manama, large groups of police officers descended on locations where demonstrators had called for protests. The Obama administration has been largely silent on the Bahraini government’s efforts to crush the protest movement. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally and home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
An Egyptian court has announced ousted president Hosni Mubarak will stand trial in early August on charges of corruption and the killing of protesters. Mubarak’s sons will be tried on charges of corruption at the same time. The case marks the first time in modern history that an Arab leader has been toppled and tried by his own people.
The Obama administration has announced it will again sit out of a U.N. conference on racism following its initial boycott of 2009. The United Nations is hosting the World Conference Against Racism in September to mark 10 years since the process that began in Durban, South Africa. In 2001, Bush administration diplomats walked out of the Durban conference after delegates proposed a resolution likening Zionism to racism.
New York State has filed a lawsuit alleging federal regulators failed to conduct a complete environmental impact study before authorizing the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to contaminating water supplies through the release of methane gas and other chemicals. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is demanding a new environmental impact study before any fracking is carried out.
New York State has suspended involvement in the controversial federal immigration enforcement policy that requires local police to forward fingerprints of every person they arrest to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The program, called Secure Communities, allows federal immigration officials to pursue deportation against those found to be undocumented or a non-citizen with a criminal record. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says state officials will investigate the program to determine whether it has undermined law enforcement and harmed immigrant communities as critics have alleged. New York is the second state to opt out after Illinois became the first last month.
In Arizona, activists have submitted an official petition for the recall of Republican State Senate President Russell Pearce, best known for sponsoring the state’s notorious anti-immigrant law. Pearce’s opponents have collected more than 18,300 signatures, more than double the required amount.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law a measure that requires prospective welfare recipients to pay for and undergo drug testing. Applicants who test positive for drug use will be barred from receiving government assistance for one year or until they complete a drug abuse program. Those who pass the test will be reimbursed for the cost. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said, “This law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn…to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse.”
Palestinians have marked the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine people and left dozens wounded. In Gaza, Palestinian residents boarded boats and carried the Palestinian and Turkish flags in honor of the Turkish ship raided by Israeli commandos. Palestinian solidarity activists are preparing a new aid flotilla sailing to Gaza for later this month.
A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency finds Japan underestimated the danger of tsunamis and failed to adequately prepare backup systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. The IAEA echoed a widely held criticism that collusion between the nuclear industry and regulators resulted in a lack of oversight and inadequate safety levels at the now-stricken plant. The report comes as Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a no-confidence vote in the Japanese parliament.
Honduras has been readmitted to the Organization of American States nearly two years after its suspension in the wake of the ouster of then-President Manuel Zelaya. Ecuador was the lone nation to vote against the decision, citing continued human rights violations and impunity. Zelaya’s return to Honduras over the weekend had long been a key condition for readmission.
Seven tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts Wednesday, leaving at least four people dead and destroying multiple buildings. The tornado outbreak was the worst the state has seen since 1953, leaving an estimated 50,000 residents without power.