At least four children have reportedly been killed in a U.S. military attack in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai disclosed the attack on Tuesday, saying the victims died after getting caught in the middle of a firefight between U.S. forces and Taliban militants while tending to livestock in the eastern Logar province.
In Syria, international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is claiming the Syrian government has agreed to a brief ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Brahimi also says the majority of rebel groups have also pledged to abide by the truce. The Syrian government has yet to confirm whether it will take part, saying a final decision will come on Thursday.
Israel has launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip for the second consecutive day. A Palestinian militant was killed today, one day after three Palestinians died in another Israeli attack. Palestinian fighters have launched rockets across the Gaza border into Israel, seriously wounding two immigrant farmworkers from Thailand.
Thousands of people surrounded the Spanish parliament in Madrid on Tuesday in the latest round of protests against austerity cuts targeting public spending. Spanish labor unions are gearing up for a general strike against the austerity measures set for November 14, the second general strike in Spain this year.
The campaigns of President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney continue to flood a handful of battleground states with less than two weeks to go before the November 6 election. On Tuesday, Obama campaigned in Florida before moving on to Ohio, where he said Romney is unworthy of voters’ trust.
President Obama: “His foreign policy is from the 1980s, before the Cold War was over; his social policies, from the 1950s; and his economic policies are from the 1920s. He knows he can’t sell that, even though those are his positions, so in the closing weeks of the campaign, he’s doing everything he can to hide his true positions and tell us what he thinks you want to hear and then spend most of his time telling you what he thinks is wrong with America. Joe Biden just talked about that, talking about America is in decline. He is terrific at making presentations about stuff he thinks is wrong with America, but he sure can’t give you an answer about what will make it right. And that’s not leadership that you can trust.”
Romney, meanwhile, campaigned in Nevada, telling supporters that Obama’s campaign is losing steam.
Mitt Romney: “Attacks on me are not an agenda. The president — we’ve gone through four debates now. We’ve gone through four debates with the vice — vice-presidential debate and my debates, and we haven’t heard an agenda from the president. And that’s why his campaign is taking on water and our campaign is full speed ahead.”
The four main third-party candidates gathered in Chicago on Tuesday for a debate moderated by talk show host Larry King. The debate followed Democracy Now!’s three previous Expanding the Debate specials, featuring third-party candidates responding to the Obama-Romney debates.
The Republican Senate candidate in Indiana has become the latest member of his party to draw criticism for comments about rape. Defending his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape at a recent debate, Richard Mourdock said that conception by rape is something intended by God.
Richard Mourdock: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Mourdock is currently in a tight race with Democratic challenger, Rep. Joe Donnelly. Mourdock has stood by his remarks, prompting criticism from Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
In other news from Indiana, a federal appeals court has blocked a state effort to deny Medicaid funds to the reproductive services group Planned Parenthood. On Tuesday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Planned Parenthood’s services cannot be cut simply because it also provides abortions. Critics had warned the move would have left thousands of low-income Indiana residents without medical services.
A retired CIA agent who publicly confirmed the torture of al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah has pleaded guilty to leaking classified information. John Kiriakou, who served from 1990 to 2004, is best known for a 2007 ABC News interview detailing how Zubaydah was waterboarded in CIA custody. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou has admitted to a single count of revealing the identity of a covert officer, which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 months. Kiriakou’s conviction marks the latest milestone in the Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers.
Police in Louisiana are claiming an African-American woman badly injured in what she called a racially motivated attack inflicted her wounds herself. Twenty-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt reportedly told police she was set on fire by three men who wrote the initials KKK and a racial slur on her car. She suffered burns on more than half her body and is now hospitalized in critical condition. But police now say Moffitt staged the attack herself and that her DNA was found on the bottle of lighter fluid used to start the fire.
A 19-year-old man of Bangladeshi descent has admitted he was used as an informant by the New York City Police Department to spy on mosques and bait Muslims into saying inflammatory things. Shamiur Rahman says he also spied on the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society. Rahman became an informant after he was arrested multiple times for marijuana. During his time as an informant, he said, he never witnessed any criminal activity or saw anybody do anything wrong.
A federal appeals court has blocked the execution of a severely mentally ill man in Florida. John Ferguson was scheduled to die Tuesday night for a string of killings in the 1970s. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a last-minute stay, accepting lawyers’ argument he is too mentally ill to be put to death. Ferguson is a paranoid schizophrenic who’s claimed he believes he is the “Prince of God.”