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HeadlinesSeptember 23, 2011

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Saleh Returns to Yemen amid Increased Violence

Sep 23, 2011

New fighting has erupted in Yemen following the surprise return of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh had been in Saudi Arabia since June receiving medical treatment following an assassination attempt. A major rally is being held in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a today in protest of his return. Violence had already seen a resurgence in Yemen this week, with nearly 100 people killed since Sunday.

U.S. Accuses Pakistan Spy Agency of Hand in Embassy Attack

Sep 23, 2011

The United States is accusing Pakistan’s spy agency of playing a direct role in aiding the militants who attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul last week. The chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, made the charge in Senate testimony.

Adm. Mike Mullen: “The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Internal Services Intelligence agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy. We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28th attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller, but effective, operations. In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.”

Mullen’s comments were the first to directly link the Pakistani government with an attack on the United States and marked the most serious allegation leveled from Washington against Pakistan after more than a decade of cooperation following the 9/11 attacks. Interior Minister Rehman Malik denied Mullen’s charge.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik: “No, of course, the Pakistan nation and we will not allow the boots on our ground. Our forces are quite capable of handling these terrorists. And the world has witnessed the way our army had taken action in Swat and Balakot. If you say that it is ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence directorate) involved in that attack, I categorically deny. I categorically deny. We have no any such policy to attack or to aid attack through Pakistani forces or through any Pakistani assessment.”

Palestinians Bring Statehood Bid to the United Nations

Sep 23, 2011

The Palestinian Authority is expected to officially submit its request for statehood recognition at the United Nations today in defiance of U.S. and Israeli threats. The Obama administration has lobbied against the move, and U.S. lawmakers have threatened to cut off funding. Palestinian officials Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath said U.S. insistence on dead-end negotiations has forced the PA to take its bid before the United Nations.

Saeb Erekat: “Mr. Netanyahu’s maneuvers are public relations. So, enough. To say, 'Come and meet, and let's talk, and let’s negotiate,’ over what? You have to say it. Mr. Netanyahu has to say it: 'I accept to stop all settlement activities as my obligation, and I accept the two states on 1967.' And we don’t see any contradiction at that moment between resuming negotiations and seeking Palestinian admittance in the U.N.”

Dr. Nabil Shaath: “Friday will be a day of jubilation in Palestine. The President Abbas will give his speech, he will send his request for membership to the Security Council, and he will leave that evening. And so, it’s a happy day.”

U.S. Leads Walkout on Ahmadinejad Speech at United Nations

Sep 23, 2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a walkout of U.S. and other Western delegations during a speech Thursday before the U.N. General Assembly. In his remarks, Ahmadinejad criticized U.S. foreign policy and called for reforming the U.N. Security Council to reduce Western dominance. For the third straight year, Ahmadinejad sent delegates to the exits after questioning the Nazi Holocaust and suggesting the United States was behind the 9/11 attacks.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “By using their imperialistic media network, which is under the influence of colonialism, they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11th event with sanctions and military action. Who used the mysterious September 11 incident as a pretext to attack Afghanistan and Iraq, killing, injuring and displacing millions in two countries, with the ultimate goal of bringing into its domination the Middle East and its oil resources?”

GOP Candidates Debate in Orlando; Audience Boos Gay Soldier

Sep 23, 2011

Republican presidential candidates squared off in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday night in their latest televised debate. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama, linking him to European “socialist democrats.”

Mitt Romney: “Let me tell you this. What President Obama is is a big-spending liberal, and he takes his political inspiration from Europe and from the socialist democrats in Europe. Guess what? Europe isn’t working in Europe. It’s not going to work here. I believe in America. I believe in the opportunity and in the freedom that is American opportunity and freedom. I believe in free enterprise and capitalism.”

During the debate, audience members booed a gay U.S. soldier who asked a question about this week’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Rick Santorum answered the soldier’s question with a vow to reinstate the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers.

Stephen Hill: “In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was, because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. Under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that have been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”

Rick Santorum: “I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.”

Spending Dispute Threatens U.S. Government Shutdown

Sep 23, 2011

Washington is facing another potential government shutdown in a new partisan dispute over federal spending. The Republican-controlled House has approved a short-term funding measure that would link disaster relief to cutting funds for energy-efficient cars. Senate Democrats have vowed to reject the bill. If the dispute is not resolved, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund will run out of money next week, and the entire government would have to shut down on October 1.

Study: Nearly 1 in 4 Children Under 6 Live in Poverty in the United States

Sep 23, 2011

A new study reveals the number of children living in poverty in the United States has climbed to 15.7 million, an increase of 2.6 million since the beginning of the recession in 2007. According to researchers from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, nearly one in four children under the age of six now live in poverty.

California Police Officers Charged in Beating Death of Homeless Man

Sep 23, 2011

Two police officers in southern California have been charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man. Over the course of nearly 10 minutes, the victim, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, was tackled, hit with a baton, pinned down, punched repeatedly in the ribs, kneed in the head, tasered four times, and then struck in the face with the taser itself eight times. Prosecutors say the officers continued the assault even after Thomas stopped struggling and a pool of blood formed around him. Officer Manuel Ramos has been charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter and could face life in prison. A second officer, Jay Cicinelli, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and using excessive force; he faces a maximum sentence of four years. The remaining three officers involved in the killing have not been charged.

Tacoma Teachers Vote to End 10-Day Strike

Sep 23, 2011

Teachers in Tacoma, Washington, have voted to ratify an agreement ending a 10-day strike. Teachers had remained off the job throughout the week in defiance of a back-to-work order from the governor. The new pact rules out state-proposed salary cuts and contains a compromise on job security. Tacoma schools are reopening today.

Drug Violence Spreads to New Areas of Mexico

Sep 23, 2011

Drug violence is spreading to new areas of Mexico. Earlier this week, 35 corpses were dumped on a street in the port city of Vera Cruz, which had previously been considered a haven from the cartel wars that have killed over 40,000 people since 2006. The bodies, which included 12 women and two minors, were dumped semi-nude and bound during rush hour.

“Stingray” Cell Phone Tracking Faces Court Challenge

Sep 23, 2011

A U.S. district court has begun hearing arguments in a case with major implications for the government’s secret tracking of cell phones. Daniel David Rigmaiden, who faces fraud charges, wants the government to disclose its use of “stingrays,” a device used to track mobile phones even when they are not being used to make a phone call. Rigmaiden’s attorneys say the stingrays have violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Over 1,000 Protest Troy Davis Execution in NYC

Sep 23, 2011

More than 1,000 people gathered in New York City yesterday for a so-called “Day of Outrage” to commemorate the execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis. Organized through Facebook, the rally began at Union Square, where demonstrators denounced the perceived failures of the justice system. Lee Wengraf is a board member with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

Lee Wengraf: “The struggle for Troy Davis has not just struck a chord, it has taken the lid off of the outrage that people feel about the depths of racism that surrounds the death penalty, the prison system, all the criminal justice, police brutality. And I think it’s that kind of energy and outrage that has kept Troy Davis, first of all, that kept him alive as long as it did and brought us so close to potentially winning this, that Troy Davis was someone that the whole world was watching over these past few days, and because of the way that people raised their voices and shouted out and said this must not stand, this is a legal lynching.”

The rally gave way to an impromptu march through the streets of Manhattan, gaining numbers along the way. The police responded with a heavy hand, lashing out at members of the press and arresting a number of people. The crowd eventually made its way to Zuccotti Park, otherwise known as “Liberty Plaza,” where hundreds have gathered over the last week as part of the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign. The combined demonstration marched to Wall Street, where another arrest was made. In the process, police officers pulled a young woman who was taking pictures over a barricade and threw her to the ground, where her head struck the concrete.

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