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The death toll from an outbreak of listeria in the United States has reached at least 13 people. The Centers for Disease Control says 72 infections have been reported in 18 states. The outbreak is linked to tainted cantaloupes from the Denver-based company, Jensen Farms. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, says the outbreak reinforces the need for regulations to bar pathogens from produce. Melons are said to have caused 36 outbreaks of food-borne disease since 1990.
A new study shows undocumented immigrants are reporting higher numbers of abuses by U.S. border patrol guards along the border with Mexico. The “Culture of Cruelty” study from the Arizona humanitarian group No More Deaths cites 30,000 cases of human rights abuses in short-term immigration detention between 2008 and 2011. The allegations range from border agents denying food and water to detainees, deliberately separating families, and forcing immigrants to sign removal orders. The report concludes the border guards’ alleged abuses meet the international definition of torture.
Newly released documents show the FBI is permitted to keep people on its “terrorism watch list” even if they have been cleared of terrorism-related crimes. The New York Times reports cleared individuals can remain on the list if the FBI harbors a “reasonable suspicion” they could be linked to terrorism. Civil rights advocates argue the finding undermines the legally protected assumption an individual is innocent until proven guilty. The Bureau’s database includes roughly 420,000 names, including approximately 8,000 Americans.
Senior officials within Libya’s interim government believe Col. Muammar Gaddafi is hiding out in the southern region of the country, possibly near the Algerian border. On Tuesday, Libya’s revolutionary forces delivered $16 million to the remote southern city of Sabha in an effort to flush out encamped Gaddafi loyalists. Pro-Gaddafi forces also still hold the towns of Bani Walid and Sirte. The White House, meanwhile, has extended a program to secure and destroy Libya’s stockpile of surface-to-air missiles. Libya possessed approximately 20,000 of the missiles before the uprising began in February. In Belgium, a NATO spokesperson said Libya’s National Transitional Council has taken control of securing Gaddafi’s chemical stockpile.
Roland Lavoie: “The NTC is now controlling facilities containing Libya’s remaining stockpile of chemical and nuclear-related agents. We are confident that allies and international organization that are in contact with the NTC are working to ensure that Libyans’ governing authorities can take full control of any proliferation, sensitive material that is left, and that they start planning for their safe disposal.”
Hundreds of people rallied in several towns in Pakistan on Tuesday to protest recent U.S. criticism of the Pakistani government. Last week, the nation’s top military chief, Admiral Mike Mullen, accused Pakistani intelligence of backing the Haqqani militant group that’s believed to have carried out the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul. A protest leader said the United States will face violence if it carries out more unilateral military action inside Pakistan.
Sirajul Haq: “We are announcing that we will turn the tribal areas and every inch of Pakistan into a graveyard for America. Hear this from us.”
A Bahrain court has upheld the sentences of 21 activists for their involvement in the nation’s popular uprising. The prisoners include eight prominent political figures sentenced to life on charges of trying to overthrow the Gulf nation’s Sunni rulers. The ruling comes just after the Obama administration announced plans to sell $53 million worth of military equipment to Bahrain, including armored vehicles as well as bunker buster and wire-guided missiles. Bahrain is a key U.S. government ally and home to the Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Republican lawmakers have launched a new probe as part of what critics call a targeted effort to ultimately shut down the group Planned Parenthood. Florida Republican Cliff Stearns, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, has ordered Planned Parenthood to hand over more than a decade’s worth of documents as part of an investigation into whether the group has used tax dollars to fund abortions. Planned Parenthood offers a number of reproductive and women’s health services at its hundreds of clinics nationwide; federal law bans taxpayer funds from funding abortions. Stearns wants the group to hand over internal audits, state audits, and an accounting of how the group separates its abortion-related services. In a statement, Planned Parenthood said: “This is about harassment and intimidation of America’s leading provider and advocate of women’s health care… This is about a pattern of politically motivated attacks designed to eliminate Planned Parenthood once and for all.”
A Danish drug company is protesting the planned use of one its anesthetics in an execution set for tonight in Florida. In a letter to Florida Governor Rick Scott, the company Lundbeck says it is “adamant” in its opposition to use of the drug pentobarbital in the execution of Cuban national Manuel Valle. Doctors and experts have warned pentobarbital is untested and could cause extreme suffering on death row prisoners as they are killed.
Postal workers held rallies across the country on Tuesday to back legislation that would repeal a benefit-funding mandate they say lies behind the Postal Service’s financial woes. A 2006 law has forced the USPS to become the only agency required to fund 75 years of retiree health benefits over just a 10-year span. The American Postal Workers Union says the requirement accounts for 100 percent of the service’s $20 billion in losses over the previous four years, without which the service would have turned a profit. A Democratic-backed measure before Congress would undo the mandate. Republicans meanwhile are trying to push a bill that would establish an unelected board to overhaul the USPS and likely force mass layoffs. The postal workers’ union says protests were organized Tuesday in every congressional district.
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