Three journalists are among the latest victims of the Syrian government’s ongoing assault on the city of Homs. U.S. citizen Marie Colvin of the British Sunday Times and French photographer Rémi Ochlik were killed after the building they were in came under heavy shelling. Rami al-Sayed, a Syrian citizen journalist covering the uprising, was also killed in Homs. Overall, an estimated 60 people were killed on Tuesday amid fears of a humanitarian crisis for residents.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States is open to considering arming Syrian rebels to fight the Assad regime.
Victoria Nuland: “Our focus now is on trying to pressure the regime into a political solution and on aiding the people of Syria, both in presenting a viable political alternative and in a humanitarian way. And I’ve also said repeatedly, and I say it again today, that we don’t think contributing to the further militarization of Syria is a good idea. But you are not wrong that we are reminding that we have not taken anything off the table.”
Outrage is growing in Afghanistan over the burning of copies of the Koran by foreign troops at the Bagram military airbase. Earlier today, demonstrators stormed through Kabul, leading to a violent confrontation with Afghan troops. At least four people were killed and dozens wounded. The protests came after more than 2,000 Afghans rallied outside Bagram on Tuesday. The top NATO general in Afghanistan, General John Allen, apologized for the burning and said a probe is underway.
Gen. John Allen: “We’ve been dying alongside the Afghans for a long time, because we believe in them, we believe in their country, we want to have every opportunity to give them a bright future. So these are isolated incidents, and my apology to the Afghans has to be accompanied by my certainty to them, my assurance to them, that these kinds of incidents, when they do occur, we will move quickly to correct them, we will move quickly to hold people accountable.”
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear what could mark a major challenge to affirmative action. The case was brought by a white student who says she was rejected from the University of Texas because of her ethnicity. The challenge could lead to the reversal of an earlier decision that allowed public colleges and universities to consider race in order to improve diversity. The 2003 ruling banned the use of point systems but allowed for less direct methods of affirmative action.
The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday limiting the circumstances in which prisoners need to be read their rights prior to interrogation. The case hinged on an inmate who confessed to a sex crime after being questioned for five to seven hours by armed deputies without being read his Miranda rights. The prisoner, Randall Fields, was being held for disorderly conduct in a Michigan jail and was told he could return to his cell. In a 6-to-3 vote, the majority, led by Justice Samuel Alito, said Fields was not considered to be in custody at the time.
A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a case brought by the families of two late Guantánamo Bay prisoners. The military has claimed the prisoners—Yasser Al-Zahrani, Salah Al-Salami and another prisoner—committed suicide at Guantánamo in 2006. But the prisoners’ families had filed suit alleging they died after being subjected to torture. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel upheld the suit’s dismissal, ruling that federal courts do not have the authority to preside over cases related to the treatment of Guantánamo Bay prisoners.
The late foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid was remembered at a memorial service in Beirut on Tuesday just days after his death at the age of 43. Shadid died of an apparent asthma attack while covering the conflict in Syria. Tyler Hicks, Shadid’s colleague at the New York Times and the last person to see him alive, recounted a moment from one of their final nights together in Syria.
Tyler Hicks: “I took my cameras, and we walked down the street around the corner to where Anthony was. As is custom, I took off my boots, went into this room, and it was the most amazing scene. All the fighters that we had been with that day were sitting in that big carpeted room, all of them smoking cigarettes. The whole room was full of smoke. One of them was playing a traditional instrument. There was singing and dancing, having this amazing party. And just across the room, sitting among them, right in the middle, was Anthony. And I just looked at him, and he said, 'Tyler, can you believe this? Look at this,' with the biggest smile on his face.”
Also speaking at Shadid’s memorial service was Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times.
Jill Abramson: '’He wrote something that is incredibly moving and true. He wrote: ’No one really knows the script for days like these, and neither did we.' I think that’s true of all of us here this evening. Yesterday, his mother Randa said that Anthony had given her her happiest and proudest moments in life and also the saddest one. A buddy talked about Anthony’s restless spirit and how he loved to run and that it was impossible to imagine that he was gone.’’
President Obama is preparing to unveil a proposal to overhaul the nation’s corporate tax code. Obama will propose lowering corporate taxes to 28 percent, down from 35 percent. But the White House says the plan will offset the loss in revenue by eliminating a number of reductions and loopholes worth tens of billions of dollars each year. The plan also calls for a new minimum tax on profits earned abroad.
A New York judge has ruled towns have a right to ban the controversial natural gas drilling process known as fracking. On Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey upheld a ban by the Ithaca suburb of Dryden, saying the town’s government could prohibit fracking as part of its authority to regulate local land use. The decision could prove key to municipalities seeking to prevent fracking as the industry eyes natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale, a massive rock formation that stretches through parts of New York and other states.
President Obama hosted some of the world’s most well-known musicians last night for an event honoring the blues at the White House. The concert was held as part of a series of events marking Black History Month. Obama called the performance a perk of the job as president.
President Obama: “Some nights, when you want to go out and just take a walk, clear your head, or jump into a car just to take a drive, you can’t do it. Secret Service won’t let you. And that’s frustrating. But then there are other nights where B.B. King and Mick Jagger come over to your house to play for a concert, so I guess things even out a little bit.”
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