Six NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan in the latest deadly attack on the U.S.-led occupation. Five of the soldiers died in a single roadside bombing. The attack comes one day after the U.S. military claimed to have killed the Afghan militants responsible for shooting down a U.S. helicopter, killing 30 U.S. soldiers, as well as eight Afghans. Speaking from a base in Kabul, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, announced the air strike.
Gen. John Allen: “At approximately midnight on 8 August, coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter, which we assessed was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] round. This action was a continuation of the original mission to dismantle the Taliban network in the Sayed Abad district of the Wardak province. This does not ease our loss, but we must and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemy.”
Amnesty International is calling on NATO to investigate claims some 85 Libyan civilians were killed in a bombing Monday night. The regime of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi says the victims were assembled in a series of farmhouses near the capital Tripoli and that 33 children were among the dead. Independent journalists have reported seeing up to 30 body bags at the scene, including four that contained women and children. On Wednesday, a local doctor criticized NATO for the attack.
Hassan Moussa: “This is not humanitarian. We are used to look to the West and Europe as ideal examples, but what we are seeing now is the extreme of inhumanity. They are not humans. What makes me say this is the people behind me. Look at them.”
The Syrian government continues a crackdown on opposition protesters amidst growing international pressure. At least 16 people have reportedly been killed in the town of Homs. Syrian troops also took control of the restive city Deir ez-Zor on Wednesday following four days of attacks. Syrian forces also reportedly raided two towns near the border with Turkey — just one day after the Turkish foreign minister called for an end to attacks on Syrian civilians. The embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, has admitted his forces “made some mistakes” in its response to the uprising. Assad spoke in a private meeting with a delegation of U.N. Security Council members from Brazil, India and South Africa. At the United Nations, Syrian envoy Bashar Jaafari caused a stir after comparing the situation in Syria to the riots in Britain.
Syrian Envoy Bashar Jaafari: “It’s very indicative and informative to hear the prime minister of England describing the riots and the rioters in England by using the term 'gangs,' while they don’t allow us to use the same term for the armed groups and the terrorist groups in my country. This is hypocrisy. This is arrogance.”
President Obama is expected to publicly call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down in the coming days. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States is watching the violence in Syria “with horror.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “The growing chorus of criticism aimed at President Assad for his heinous actions is not an accident. It is because we are all watching, with horror, what he is doing to his own people. And we are working with our international partners to ensure that pressure continues to be placed and is ramped up on President Assad, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Republicans have announced their six appointments for the new congressional “super committee” tasked with proposing at least $1.5 trillion in cuts to the deficit. Joining the panel from the House will be Congress Members Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both from Michigan. Joining from the Senate, Senators Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. All six have publicly opposed raising taxes on the wealthy. In a statement, the group Common Cause said panel members should choose between staying on the committee or maintaining their roles in top leadership and fundraising positions for their respective parties. Hensarling chairs the House Republican Conference, while Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip. The panel’s Democratic co-chair, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, is chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
President Obama met with top officials at the White House on Wednesday to address the nation’s struggling economy. The meeting included Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, White House Chief-of-Staff Bill Daley, and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama has made a number of calls in recent days to foreign leaders to discuss slumping markets at home and abroad.
White House Spokesperson Jay Carney: “The President has, as you know, spoken in recent days with a number of European leaders, with Chancellor Merkel, with President Sarkozy, Prime Minister Berlusconi, Prime Minister Zapatero. He has also, this morning, spoken with Prime Minister Cameron and is in regular consultation with European leaders on these matters. Secretary Geithner is in regular consultation with his counterparts in Europe. So, we obviously are monitoring these events very closely, and we continue to believe that the Europeans have the capacity to deal with this problem.”
Top U.N. officials are pleading for more international aid to address the famine in the Horn of Africa. Speaking to the Security Council, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, called on donors to boost funding.
Augustine Mahiga: “I strongly urge you, members of the Council, to appeal to your own governments and to the international community to generously support the humanitarian relief operation currently underway in Somalia. We need approximately, U.S. dollars, $1 billion for Somalia, channeled through our consolidated appeal process to avert a further worsening of this emergency. So far, we have received less than 50 percent of this sum.”
Catherine Bragg, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Emergency Relief Operations, said children continue to be those most at risk.
Catherine Bragg: “Children are the most affected by the crisis, and an estimated 1.25 million children across southern Somalia are in urgent need of life-saving assistance. Tens of thousands of children have already died, and many more will die in the coming days unless aid is provided to them.”
The Associated Press has revealed the United States is helping fund a private company to train African Union soldiers for the fight against al-Qaeda-linked militants in the capital city of Mogadishu. Contractors with the Washington-based company, Bancroft Global Development, frequently accompany African troops as advisers in their efforts to combat the Islamist group al-Shabab. According to U.S. and U.N. officials, the Mogadishu team is made up of approximately 40 former South African, French and Scandinavian soldiers. The company also shares intelligence information with the FBI, including the DNA of suicide bombers. Bancroft is paid millions of dollars for its services by the governments of Uganda and Burundi, who are then reimbursed by the U.S. State Department.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will address Britain’s parliament today on the nation’s ongoing unrest. The legislative body has been recalled from summer recess to hold an emergency debate following four days of rioting. Cameron is expected to face questions about the cause of the riots and whether he will revisit the issue of budget cuts that critics say have overstretched British police. Police officers have begun raiding homes in search of rioting suspects, executing more than 100 warrants. The London Police said it would keep its unprecedented force of 16,000 officers in the street for at least one more night. Authorities say more than 1,200 people have been arrested so far, the majority in London. Police, meanwhile, have launched a murder investigation after three young men of Pakistani descent were killed in the city of Birmingham Tuesday night when a car crashed into a group of residents attempting to protect a local business. The father of one of the victims said he witnessed his son’s death.
Tarik Jahan: “I heard the thud and ran around, and I seen three people on the ground. And my instinct was to help the three people. I didn’t know who they were, who had been injured. I helped the first man, and somebody from behind told me that my son was lying dead behind me, so I started CPR on my own son. My face was covered in blood. My hands were covered in blood. Why? Why? The guy who killed him drove directly into the crowd and killed three innocent guys. Why? What was the point of doing that? I don’t understand. We’re here defending the community of all the problems that are going on in the country.”
The riots began last Saturday night in the North London section of Tottenham following a vigil for Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man shot dead by police. On Wednesday, a number of suspects accused of taking part in the rioting were arraigned in a London court. One of the suspects said he was arrested because of his ethnicity.
Unidentified: “There was no riot in Lewisham where I was, but I was a black teenager. I’m sorry for being a black teenager.”
In the United States, federal officials have acknowledged knowing about the dangerous bacteria found in turkey produced by the food giant Cargill well before this month’s massive recall. In one of the largest meat recalls in U.S. history, Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey after at least one person died from Salmonella, and another 76 people fell ill from turkey products traced to Cargill’s processing plant in Springdale, Arkansas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it discovered a dangerous form of Salmonella in Cargill’s turkey at least once last year and four times this year, but did not push for a recall until the outbreak occurred. The USDA cited agency rules that do not hold Salmonella as a dangerous contaminant in meat, unless that meat results in illness or death.
New York City has reached an agreement with the cable giants Cable Vision and Time Warner that includes a major expansion of community media. The deal doubles the number of public, educational and government access channels, bringing community media programming to high-definition and video-on-demand formats. The cable giants will fund WiFi service in 32 city parks, develop more than 40 public computing centers, and furnish free internet in public libraries.