The official U.S. military death toll in Afghanistan has passed the 2,000 mark more than 11 years into the war. In the latest attack, a suicide bomber killed 14 people, including three soldiers, in the eastern Khost province earlier today. The bomber reportedly struck a group of patrolling U.S. soldiers. On Sunday, two Americans were killed in yet another shooting carried out by members of the Afghan forces. A NATO deputy commander announced the attack.
Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw: “According to ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] and ANA [Afghan National Army] reporting, after a short conversation took place between ANA and ISAF personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague.”
At least 32 people were killed Sunday in a series of bombings across Iraq. The bombs hit targets including Shiite neighborhoods and an Iraqi police patrol. Nearly 100 people were wounded.
Bahrain’s highest court has upheld the sentences of nine medics convicted last year for treating demonstrators during anti-government protests. The longest sentence went to the former senior medic at Bahrain’s top hospital, who was given five years in prison. The eight others received sentences ranging from one month to three years. The prosecution of the medics and their torture while in custody has been widely criticized. They’ve been free on bail for one year but could soon be remanded to prison.
In Syria, government forces have launched new attacks on eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus. Residents reported heavy shelling in a number of areas overnight. Fierce clashes in the city of Aleppo meanwhile set off a massive fire over the weekend in the city’s historic central market, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Speaking at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it appears the Assad regime may be moving some of its chemical weapons stockpile around the country to safeguard from rebel attacks.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: “There has been some intelligence that that — with regards to some of these sites, that there has been some movement in order to — for the Syrians to better secure what they — the chemicals. And so, while there’s been some limited movement, again, the major sites still remain in place — still remain secure.”
Venezuela is less than a week away from a presidential election pitting President Hugo Chávez against challenger Henrique Capriles. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people turned out for separate rallies led by the rival candidates. Tensions escalated on Saturday when three supporters of Capriles were gunned down in Barinas state after Chávez supporters blocked an opposition motorcade. At a rally, Chávez condemned the attack and vowed an investigation.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez: “We all have to regret very much the deaths of two people yesterday in Barinas state in a clash over there between two groups, one in a caravan and the other on the street, and someone shot and two people died. It is very regrettable. I tell all Venezuelans, it’s not with violence that we face off; it’s with votes, ideas.”
The youngest prisoner and last Western citizen held by the U.S. military at Guantánamo Bay has been transferred to finish his sentence in his native Canada. Omar Khadr was 15 years old when U.S. troops imprisoned him for killing a U.S. soldier during a 2002 attack on his village in Afghanistan. Khadr says U.S. military guards beat him and threatened him with rape after he arrived at Guantánamo that same year. After 10 years at Guantánamo, Khadr faces up to another six years in prison behind bars in Canada but could be eligible for parole as early as next year. On Saturday, Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed Khadr’s transfer.
Vic Toews: “Early this morning, convicted terrorist Omar Khadr was transferred to Canadian authorities at CFB Trenton. I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr’s sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed, and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration. Any decisions related to his future will be determined by an independent Parole Board of Canada in accordance with Canadian law.”
Khadr was the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts allegedly committed as a juvenile. The Canadian government says it accepted him earlier than planned under pressure from the United States.
A Pennsylvania judge has granted a stay of execution to a death row prisoner convicted of murdering his sexual abuser. Terrance “Terry” Williams was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood. Norwood had sexually abused Williams over a number of years up until the night before Williams took revenge by ending Norwood’s life. But on Friday, a state court halted the execution and ordered a new sentencing hearing over evidence prosecutors had withheld evidence of Norwood’s molestation of Williams and other minors. Williams was convicted based on the prosecution’s contention that he had been trying to rob Norwood before the murder, not seeking revenge for sexual abuse. Pennsylvania prosecutors say they plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to grant stays of deportation to undocumented immigrants with same-sex partners. It will mark the first time same-sex couples will be entitled to relief under federal immigration policy. The change, however, won’t alter existing rules barring foreigners in same-sex couples from obtaining green cards or U.S. citizenship.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that bans so-called “conversion” therapy aiming to “reverse” homosexuality in minors. The measure bars anyone under 18 from undergoing efforts to change their sexual orientation. The measure is the first of its kind to pass on the state level.
Brown meanwhile has issued some mixed decisions on bills protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants. On Sunday, Brown vetoed a measure dubbed the “anti-Arizona” bill for protecting individuals in certain cases from federal immigration checks. The legislation called for shielding undocumented immigrants from status checks and deportation unless they were charged or convicted of serious crimes. Brown says he rejected the measure because it could have led to the protection of child abusers or weapons traffickers. But immigration rights groups say those suffering domestic violence and other abuses could now wind up facing deportation as a result of being victimized. In a victory for immigration rights, Brown signed into law a measure authorizing drivers’ licenses for undocumented young immigrants who qualify for the recent federal deferred action program.
President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are preparing for their first presidential debate with just over a month to go before the November election. Obama and Romney will square off in their first of three debates on Wednesday night in Denver. Speaking to supporters in Nevada, Obama said he expects a “serious discussion” with Romney on the issues.
President Obama: “What I’m most concerned about is having a serious discussion about what we need to do to keep the country growing and restore security for hard-working Americans. That’s what people are going to be listening for. That’s the debate that you deserve, because in the coming weeks you’re going to have a big choice to make, Nevada, and it’s not just a choice between two candidates or two political parties, it’s a choice between two different paths for this country.”
Tune into Democracy Now! on Wednesday when we host a special expanded presidential debate, pausing after the questions to Obama and Romney to include equal time responses from presidential candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.
The financial giant Bank of America has announced a $2.43 billion settlement in connection with its misleading of investors while acquiring Merrill Lynch. Bank of America executives allegedly concealed heavy losses at Merrill when it purchased the company for $50 billion in 2008. While shareholders relied on optimistic projections from the bank that the deal would earn money, the losses actually resulted in a $20 billion taxpayer bailout. The settlement is the largest in a securities class action case to result from the U.S. financial crisis. It stands likely to undermine a case brought by the New York attorney general’s office against Bank of America as prosecutors can’t recover losses for shareholders once they settle.
And an abortion rights group has announced plans to reopen the Wichita, Kansas, abortion clinic of the slain doctor and women’s health advocate George Tiller. The 67-year-old Tiller was shot dead by an anti-abortion extremist as he attended church services in 2009. His clinic has remained closed since then. The Trust Women Foundation has announced it’s purchased the clinic and will reopen it as a health center offering abortion and other services. The new clinic will operate under stricter regulations in Kansas that allow abortions only in earlier stages of pregnancy.