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The government of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi has accused NATO forces of killing 85 civilians in an air strike. On Tuesday, Libyan state television aired images of the bodies of three children allegedly killed in the bombing of a series of farmhouses east of the capital Tripoli. The Gaddafi regime says the dead included 33 children. A local resident said he lost his daughter.
Resident: “They were innocent people—men, women and children. They all died. My two-year-old daughter and entire families here from other areas, they came all the way here to escape the bombings and the air strikes. Twenty families are dead, children and women, all of them innocent people.”
The Gaddafi regime has declared three days of mourning in response. A Gaddafi regime spokesperson condemned the attack.
Moussa Ibrahim: “For no reason whatsoever, except to open the way forward for the armed gangs of Misurata to move from the south to occupy Zlitan under the protection, the funding and the support of NATO, 85 civilians were massacred, while the world, including the international media, is watching.”
The regime’s claims have not been independently verified, and NATO has said no evidence of civilian deaths has surfaced.
At least 23 people have been killed in a U.S. drone attack in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. Pakistani officials say the victims were suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.
At least 40 civilians were reportedly killed in Syria on Tuesday amidst increasing international pressure over President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on opposition protests. Syrian human rights groups say 26 people were killed north of Hama, while another 17 were killed in Deir ez-Zor. The violence came as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on Assad to end the crackdown in a face-to-face meeting in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Davutoglu said he urged Assad to stop attacking civilians.
Ahmet Davutoglu: “We had the opportunity to share very clearly and in a transparent way with Mr. Assad the steps that can be taken to avoid the army coming face to face with the people and to avoid further tensions, like what happened in Hama.”
The Obama administration, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing to explicitly demand Assad’s departure and impose new sanctions on his regime. A formal announcement is expected this week.
Rioting has spread to a number of British towns following three days of unrest in the capital London. At least four people have died since Monday, one person shot to death and three others struck by a car. More than 1,000 people have been arrested. British authorities have flooded the streets of London with 16,000 police officers, the largest police presence in the city’s history. British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled Parliament from its summer recess to address the unrest. Touring a damaged neighborhood, London Mayor Boris Johnson rejected attempts to link the riots to poverty and racism.
Boris Johnson: “It’s time we stop hearing all this, you know, nonsense about how there are deep sociological justifications for wanton criminality and destruction of people’s property. Whatever people’s grievances may be, it does not justify smashing up someone’s shop, wrecking their livelihood, and kicking them out of a job. That is not the way to behave. That’s not the way to have an economic recovery in this city.”
Meanwhile, a police inquiry has found that Mark Duggan, the 29-year-old black man whose killing triggered the riots, did not fire on police officers before they shot him to death.
The government of Somalia has offered open amnesty to members of the militant group al-Shabab following the organization’s recent withdrawal from the capital city of Mogadishu. Al-Shabab pulled out of its positions in the city Saturday, although some units remain active in the capital. While African Union officials have celebrated the militants’ exit, the fighters claim the decision is simply a shift a tactics. Al-Shabab’s presence has hampered efforts to reach large parts of Somalia, where a catastrophic famine has placed half the population at risk of starvation. The United Nations is in the midst of its first airlift to Mogadishu in five years as it tries to reach those in need. A United Nations Refugee Agency spokesperson said the scale of the operation is massive.
Bruno Geddo: “We have now been able to give out 20,000 emergency packs. We are going to give out another 35,000 between now and the end of August. All in all, we aim at assisting 330,000 between July and August.”
The Federal Reserve has promised to keep interest rates low for the next two years in an effort to bolster the struggling economy. The announcement helped fuel a dramatic stock market rally on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average making its largest increase in two years.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has appointed three Democrats to the new congressional “super-committee” tasked with proposing at least $1.5 trillion in cuts under the deal raising the federal debt ceiling. Reid says he has selected Sen. Patty Murray of Washington to co-chair, and two other Democratic senators, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts, to become members. Baucus received notoriety in 2009 as one of the leading Democratic opponents of a public option under healthcare reform. Baucus also voted for then-President George W. Bush’s controversial tax cut package favoring the wealthy in 2001. The three other congressional leaders—House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi—have yet to announce their picks.
President Obama visited Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Tuesday to honor the remains of 30 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan over the weekend. Obama met with over 250 relatives of the soldiers. The attack was the deadliest against U.S. forces of the 10-year Afghan war. The Pentagon has not released the names of the dead troops, and media were severely restricted from covering Tuesday’s return ceremony.
In Wisconsin, Republicans have retained control of the State Senate following a series of recall elections. Democrats needed to win three of the six Republican seats up for grabs, but four incumbents prevailed. Democrats did manage to recall Republican State Sen. Dan Kapanke by voting in former Democratic State Rep. Jennifer Shilling. Democrat Jessica King also defeated Republican Sen. Randy Hopper. Two Democratic incumbents face recall votes next week, but even if the Democrats win those elections, they will still be the minority in the State Senate. Tuesday’s elections were seen as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort strip collective bargaining rights from state employees.
An AWOL U.S. Army soldier has been indicted on weapons charges over an alleged plot to attack military personnel based at Fort Hood, Texas. Police allegedly found bomb-making materials in Naser Jason Abdo’s motel room last month after seeking to arrest him on separate charges. Abdo has reportedly told investigators he planned on setting off a bomb at a restaurant popular with soldiers. Abdo had previously sought conscientious objector status over his refusal to deploy to Afghanistan, saying he could not fight fellow Muslims.
The Obama administration is under criticism for its handling of the case of a married binational gay couple in San Francisco who stand to be split apart by deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has denied immigration benefits to Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, an Australian national, who were married in Massachusetts seven years ago. The decision cited the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which the Obama administration had previously backed off from and vowed to no longer defend in court. Makk has been ordered to return to Australia. He is the primary caregiver for his husband, an AIDS patient with severe health problems. In a statement, Immigration Equality said, “We are appealing to the Obama administration … to put into action what they’ve said repeatedly they can do. [They] have said again and again that they can exercise discretion in individual cases, but they have not done so for a single gay or lesbian couple yet.”
A new report by Canada’s environmental agency finds extracting oil from the Alberta tar sands will more than offset emission reductions in other areas. According to the peer-reviewed report from Environment Canada, greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands are expected to triple to 92 million metric tons by 2020, up from 30 million metric tons in 2005. Canada’s current conservative government has abandoned more ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, now aiming for a 17 percent decrease by 2020. According to the Environment Canada report, current measures will fall well short of the more modest target.
The United States is the primary recipient of oil produced from the Canadian tar sands deposits. A coalition of activists are organizing a two-week protest at the White House later this month to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sand oil to Texas refineries.
Doctors Without Borders’ operation in Bahrain has been shut down after state authorities raided the organization’s office. According to Bahraini activists, a young man injured by police while protesting a week ago sought treatment with the international medical group. The next day, more than a dozen police vehicles raided the organization’s office, confiscated furniture, medicine and patient files and arrested the group’s local driver. The Bahraini government has repeatedly targeted medical workers in its efforts to suppress the nation’s opposition movement. The crackdown in Bahrain has received little criticism from the U.S. government, which views the tiny Gulf nation as a strategic ally and is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.