The United Nations is warning the number of people needing food aid in the hunger crisis gripping the Horn of Africa stands to sharply rise over the coming months. Aeneas Chuma, the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Kenya, said more than a million additional Kenyans will need aid by September.
Aeneas Chuma: “The food beneficiary population is expected to increase from the current 2.4 million, and the mid-season Kenya Food Security Steering Group assessment, conducted in May, indicates that up to 3.5 million people will need food assistance in the coming months.”
Around 11.6 million people are going hungry in the Horn of Africa region, which includes parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Areas of southern Somalia are enduring a famine, with one in 10 children at risk of starving to death. In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, a recently displaced resident described her family’s ordeal.
Mumino Moallim: “I fled from drought, and I do not have anything to eat, because my children are sleeping on the ground from hunger and disease. We get only one meal from the feeding center near our camp, and it is not enough for our children and us.”
Capitol Hill budget talks remain at an impasse as Republicans and Democrats push competing bills to raise the federal debt ceiling. House Republicans have now delayed a vote on their measure after a congressional study found it would save far less than the $1.2 trillion publicly claimed. The Congressional Budget Office says the plan would save $850 billion over the next decade, which would fall short of House Speaker John Boehner’s vow to match any debt-ceiling hike to an equal number in budget cuts. On Tuesday, Boehner continued to blame Democrats for the standoff, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sounded a more conciliatory tone.
House Speaker John Boehner: “I think I made it pretty clear last night, the President’s looking for a blank check. We have a bill that is a reasonable approach, negotiated with the Senate leadership, that really is commonsense. There’s more cuts in spending than you have an increase in the debt limit.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “We’re going to have to get back together and get a solution here. We cannot get a perfect solution, from my point of view, controlling only the House of Representatives, so I’m prepared to accept something less than perfect, because perfect is not achievable.”
Democrats have vowed to defeat Boehner’s proposal. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Republican bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney: “The Speaker’s proposal cannot pass the Senate, will not pass the Senate, will not reach the President’s desk. I mean, this is the problem we have, is that we need Congress to produce something that is a compromise and that therefore can get support from Democrats and Republicans in both houses and reach the President’s desk and meet the President’s approval.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “The Senate plan is the only real compromise we have in Congress today, and it’s the best shot we have to avoiding an economic crisis a week from today. The rating agency S&P said that our plan would avoid a downgrading of our credit rating, and, conversely, Speaker Boehner’s plan would cause a downgrading.”
The environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been sentenced to two years in prison for a bold action that prevented a mass sell-off of public wilderness in 2008. DeChristopher was convicted of interfering with a public auction when he disrupted the Bush administration’s last-minute move to auction off oil and gas exploitation rights in Utah. DeChristopher posed as a bidder and won drilling lease rights to 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from oil and gas extraction. On Tuesday, DeChristopher was fined $10,000 and immediately taken into custody to begin serving his 24-month sentence. Twenty-six people were arrested protesting the sentencing outside the courthouse. Speaking in court, DeChristopher reportedly said, “You can put me in prison, but it will not deter my future of civil disobedience, and it won’t deter others who are willing to fight to defend a livable future.”
The Gaddafi regime is demanding NATO halt its bombing campaign as a precondition for talks to end Libya’s five-month-old conflict. Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi made the demand shortly after meeting with a U.N. delegation.
Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi: “The most important thing is that this aggression needs to stop immediately. After that, the Libyan people can make their own decisions. Other than that, we can’t have a dialogue. We can’t solve any problem in Libya, if we can’t move forward. But all this depends on one condition: ceasefire. As long as the NATO bombardment continues, no discussion and no debate is possible.”
The Obama administration and the Israeli government are continuing a vocal campaign to quash the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations. Palestinians are seeking a vote in September that would recognize an independent Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. Speaking before the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, as well as deputy U.S. envoy Rosemary DiCarlo, offered matching positions.
Ron Prosor: “First, let me state clearly, unilateral actions will not bring peace to our region. Like a false idol, the Palestinian initiatives at the United Nations may be superficially attractive to some, yet they distract from the true path to peace.”
Rosemary DiCarlo: “Let there be no doubt, symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September will not create an independent Palestinian state. The United States will not support unilateral campaigns at the United Nations in September or any other time.”
Both the House and Senate have threatened to cut off aid if Palestinians continue with their statehood bid. Also addressing the Security Council, Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour said Israel’s refusal to end the occupation remains the lone obstacle to peace.
Riyad Mansour: “We have fulfilled our responsibilities and are ready to govern ourselves. The only remaining obstacle is Israelis’ 44-year military occupation. Our people have legitimate rights, needs and demands, and it is our duty to listen and to act responsibly to advance their just cause. We cannot keep waiting for Israel to negotiate in good faith, an almost impossible matter so long as the occupier continues to be absolved of its obligations under international law and as long as might is permitted to trump right.”
In the Occupied Territories, witnesses say Israeli troops have raided a popular theater for Palestinian children in the West Bank town of Jenin. Israeli troops reportedly broke windows and arrested the theater’s director, as well as a member of its board. The Freedom Theater has helped Palestinian youths deal with the hardships of life under Israeli occupation by expressing themselves through the arts. The theater’s founder, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was killed in April by masked gunmen.
Twelve people have been arrested outside the White House protesting the record number of immigrants deported since President Obama took office. The demonstrators were among a crowd of 2,500 marking the more than one million people deported under Obama’s watch. Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois was among those detained. In a statement, Gutierrez said, “The President says Republicans are blocking immigration reform, and he’s right, but it doesn’t get him off the hook.”