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The chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper division has resigned in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Murdoch’s media empire. Rebekah Brooks was editor at the News of the World tabloid when it hacked into the voicemail of murder victims and their survivors. As one of Murdoch’s top confidantes, she had faced intense calls to step down when the scandal broke, but Murdoch and his son James had defended her tenure. Brooks says she will now devote her full attention to cooperating with a police probe and a British parliamentary inquiry. Her resignation comes one day after another former News of the World executive, Neil Wallis, was arrested, becoming at least the ninth person detained in the scandal so far.
Pressure is growing to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s holdings in the United States. The FBI has confirmed it has launched a probe into allegations News Corp. employees tried to bribe police and hack into the voicemails of people killed in the 9/11 attacks.
On Thursday, a crowd of protesters gathered outside Rupert Murdoch’s Central Park home in New York City to urge a congressional investigation into News Corp. Rashad Robinson of the group Color of Change attempted to deliver a petition calling for the firing of analyst Eric Bolling at the Murdoch-owned Fox News for making racist comments.
Rashad Robinson: “Folks are finally willing to stand up to Rupert Murdoch, and at Color of Change and our allies, we say that it’s not just about the wiretapping, but it’s about the agenda, the ugly agenda that is focused on driving Americans apart for far too long.”
The Libyan government is denying reports it has developed a plan to destroy the capital Tripoli should rebels seize control from Col. Muammar Gaddafi. A Russian envoy had said he was told the Gaddafi regime would set off a number of bombs across the city if it falls to rebel forces. Gaddafi spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim denounced the claim.
Moussa Ibrahim: “This is absolutely unfounded. It’s untrue. We would never bombard our cities. We never bombarded any Libyan city, as we have proved to the whole world. We contacted the office of Mr. Margelov, and they told us that they never issued such a statement and that they find it very strange that this has been reported as a statement by Mr. Margelov.”
Kenya is opening a new camp on its border with Somalia to accommodate refugees fleeing the region’s worst drought in decades. The Kenyan government says the camp will take in around 80,000 people within 10 days. An estimated 380,000 people are currently living in nearby camps meant to hold less than one-fourth that amount. The United Nations describes the Somali drought as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world, with more than 11 million people in need of life-saving assistance. A doctor at a Kenyan hospital said he is seeing increased arrivals of children suffering from severe malnutrition.
Doctor: “In the last few weeks, we’ve been seeing increasing cases of children with severe malnutrition. Of these children, most of them come with complications resulting from acute malnutrition. The children that we have seen in the wards, most of them are very sick, and most of them come here with an inability to feed, and we have to feed them through the nasal-gastric tube.”
In Yemen, at least six people have been killed in a U.S. drone attack. The bombing reportedly struck a police station seized by militants.
The Arab League is backing the campaign for recognition of an independent Palestinian state at the United Nations. At a meeting in Qatar, Arab League members agreed to ask the United Nations to accord Palestinians full member status in the General Assembly. Palestinian leaders want the United Nations to recognize an independent state in the Occupied Territories with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Obama administration has vigorously campaigned against the move, and Congress has approved a measure threatening Palestinians with a cutoff of aid if they persist. In Ramallah, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged the United States to end its support for the occupation.
Saeb Erekat: “After the Israeli government has refused the principle of a two-state solution on the basis of 1967, after the Israeli government has refused to halt settlements, I believe it’s time for the American administration, if it truly wants peace, security and democracy in this region, to stop treating Israel like a state above the law, to stop providing the protection for the Israeli actions.”
There are concerns Israel is seeking to provoke Palestinian violence in an attempt to disrupt the statehood bid. This week, a young Palestinian man was shot dead in an Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus. Israel, meanwhile, has carried out a number of strikes on Gaza, while Palestinian militants have fired around a dozen rockets into southern Israel this month.
Former President Bill Clinton’s foundation has pledged to address shoddy and potentially toxic trailers it had sent to Haiti following an exposé in The Nation magazine. In a story covered on Democracy Now!, The Nation reported Clinton Foundation-funded shelters turned out to be a series of trailers beset with problems including mold, shoddy construction and, in one case, worrying levels of formaldehyde. The trailers were built by the same company, Clayton Homes, currently being sued for providing formaldehyde-laced trailers for residents displaced after Hurricane Katrina. The Clinton Foundation says it will now send in a team of experts to address the article’s findings.
The Pentagon has unveiled a new cyber-strategy, declaring the internet an operational theater of war. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn unveiled the plan at the Pentagon
William Lynn: “Just as our military organizes to defend against hostile acts from land, air and sea, we must be prepared to respond to hostile acts in cyberspace. Accordingly, the United States reserves the right, under the laws of armed conflict, to respond to serious cyber-attacks with a proportional and justified military response at the time and place of its choosing.”
U.S. officials announced a new cyber-strategy just as the Pentagon disclosed it suffered a major cyber-attack in March. Some 24,000 Pentagon files were stolen when foreign hackers broke into the computer of a U.S. military contractor. Some of the seized material dealt with what the Pentagon calls its “most sensitive systems,” including “surveillance technologies, satellite communications systems and network security protocols.”
The medical group, Doctors Without Borders, is criticizing the U.S. government for organizing a fake vaccination program in the Pakistani town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding. The plot was used to gain access to bin Laden’s compound and obtain DNA from his family. In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said the program could threaten relief efforts worldwide, saying, “The risk is that vulnerable communities … will understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid. The potential consequence is that even basic healthcare, including vaccination, does not reach those who need it most.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a measure that will mandate inclusion of materials highlighting the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in social science education. Supporters have hailed the FAIR Education Act as a landmark victory for the LGBT rights movement. According to the group, Equality California, studies show inclusion of LGBT education leads to greater student safety and lower rates of bullying.
The Kenyan peace activist, Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, has died from injuries sustained in a recent car accident. Abdi won a Right Livelihood Award for “showing in diverse ethnic and cultural situations how religious and other differences can be reconciled, even after violent conflict, and knitted together through a cooperative process that leads to peace and development.” Democracy Now! spoke to her at a gathering of Right Livelihood winners in Germany last year.
Dekha Ibrahim Abdi: “But many years ago, 1993, we started a peace movement, following the inter-community clashes that started in the northeast of Kenya but spread in the border areas. And much of our work was to start sort of a way in which state and non-state actors can collaborate and build peace together—people from differences, either clan differences, political differences, religious differences, but trying to find ways in which people can share public assets, can share the public space, can work together, but looking at diversity not as a problem, but as a strength.”