Mexico has seen one of the worst single atrocities in its long-running drug war with the discovery of at least 49 mutilated bodies near the northern city of Monterrey. Mexican police say the victims’ remains were stuffed into bags and dumped on a highway. The killings are believed to be a part of a string of drug gang murders across Mexico. Last week, 18 people were found decapitated and mutilated in the city of Guadalajara.
At least 11 people have been killed in a pair of apparent U.S. drone attacks in southern Yemen. Yemeni officials said the victims were alleged al-Qaeda militants. The attack would mark at least the second U.S. drone strike in the past week following the killing of a suspect wanted in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, is currently in Yemen for talks with the Yemeni government.
The Obama administration is proceeding with military sales to Bahrain despite the ruling monarchy’s ongoing repression of pro-democracy protests. On Friday, the State Department announced it will allow a multi-million-dollar weapons shipment to the Bahraini government, citing “national security interests.” The announcement came just days after the Bahraini government vowed “tougher action” in its crackdown on protesters. As the United States confirmed the weapons sale, thousands of Bahrainis marched near the capital Manama to call for the release of political prisoners.
Protester: “Of course, our demands in Bahrain, demands of all the people, are the demands of everybody for years: democracy, change of regime, the release of prisoners. These are the demands by everyone else in the world. We want the same things.”
In response to the announcement of more weapon sales to Bahrain, the group Human Rights First issued this statement: “The U.S. can be in no doubt about the reality of the repression in Bahrain. Where is the progress that warrants the reward of arms?”
Representatives of Palestinian prisoners have reportedly reached a tentative agreement with Israel that could end a massive hunger strike by some 2,000 people behind bars. Al Jazeera reports a draft deal mediated in Egypt would see Israel change its administrative detention policies to no longer hold Palestinian prisoners without charge. The deal will reportedly be presented to the prisoners today for a vote. Over the weekend, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza continued to hold demonstrations of support for the prisoners. On Sunday, Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack and an unidentified Palestinian protester rallied near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Jonathan Pollack: “We’re here today to support the prisoners in their hunger strike and to say that it cannot be that life in settlements, in these police stations that are right behind us, will continue as usual while thousands of Palestinian prisoners are striking, are hunger-striking, are dying of hunger for their most basic rights.”
Protester: “Two thousand Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike for 30 days. Where is the media? When [Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, all the world stood by him. We are protesting for prisoners.”
Three executives at the financial giant JPMorgan Chase have resigned over risky derivatives trading that cost the bank at least $2 billion. The ousted executives include Ina Drew, the head of risk management at JPMorgan and the bank’s chief investment officer. The loss has renewed calls for tougher regulation of Wall Street, with critics saying JPMorgan would have avoided the loss under regulations that it successfully opposed. JPMorgan was among a number of large banks to lobby against the Volcker Rule, which would prevent banks from certain kinds of risky trading. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon says he expects increased scrutiny from regulators.
Jamie Dimon: “We’ve had audit, legal, risk, compliance, some of our best people look into at all of that. We know we were sloppy. We know we were stupid. We know there was bad judgment. We don’t know if any of that is true yet. Of course regulators should look at something like this, that’s their job. So, you know, we are totally open kimono with regulators, and they will come to their own conclusions. But we intend to fix it, learn from it, and be a better company when it’s done.”
At least 100,000 people marched in Spain over the weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of the protest movement that arose in response to crippling austerity measures and economic stagnation. The so-called “Indignados” movement swept Spain a year ago and helped inspire similar protests across the globe, including the Occupy movement in the United States. On Saturday, Spanish protesters celebrated the one-year mark with rallies in 80 cities.
Jose Maria: “Everyone looks aside. When there is a crisis, people are the hurt ones. They don’t do anything about it. They have an 80,000-euro salary a year. What do you expect them to do? They can have a nice dinner, and we pay for it. The people always pay for the crisis, and we are fed up.”
Greece appears headed toward a new round of elections with the ongoing failure of rival political parties to form a government coalition. The impasse centers on an international bailout that offers Greece billions in loans in return for harsh austerity measures gutting the public sector. At a rally on Sunday, the head of Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left party, Alexis Tsipras, renewed his vow to refuse any coalition that agrees to the bailout terms.
Alexis Tsipras: “We will take our responsibilities, and the biggest responsibility we have to the people is for the people not to lose their hope. The biggest responsibility we have is not to appear that we are backtracking on what we said before the elections and what we do after the elections. And we won’t.”
In Germany, voters have handed a defeat to the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel in what is being called a rebuke of Merkel’s Europe-wide austerity agenda. The results from Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, show Merkel’s opponents, the center-left Social Democrats and the Greens, have won enough to form a majority coalition in the state legislature. Germany’s federal elections are due next year.
The former editor of the News of the World newspaper has acknowledged close ties to top British politicians in testimony on the hacking scandal that has engulfed the media empire of Rupert Murdoch. Speaking before an ongoing British inquiry, Rebekah Brooks admitted to receiving messages of support from British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair after revelations of phone hacking at her newspaper forced her to resign.
Robert Jay: “Did you receive messages of commiseration or support from politicians?”
Rebekah Brooks: “I received some indirect messages from Number 10, Number 11, Home Office, Foreign Office.”
Robert Jay: “So you’re talking about secretaries of state, prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer, obviously, aren’t you, Mrs. Brooks?”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke at Virginia’s Liberty University on Saturday in a bid to court the evangelical Christian vote. Delivering a commencement address that focused heavily on his campaign, Romney renewed his opposition to same-sex marriage in the face of President Obama’s public support for it last week.
Mitt Romney: “Culture — what you believe, what you value, how you live — matters. Now, as fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate from time to time. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
An online gun retailer has sparked outrage over the sale of a shooting target based on the likeness of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot dead in Florida earlier this year. The site, GunBroker.com, carried an advertisement from a Florida man offering a paper silhouette depicting a hooded man holding skittles and iced tea — the same items Martin was holding when self-appointment neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shot him dead. The unidentified seller says he sold out of the targets in two days. They are no longer being listed online.
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, issued a Mother’s Day appeal this weekend for a nationwide review of “Stand Your Ground,” the purported “self-defense” law that critics say enabled the killing of her son.
Sybrina Fulton: “Just like me, 30,000 mothers lost their children this year to senseless gun violence. Nobody can bring our children back. But it would bring us comfort if we can help spare other mothers the pain that we will feel on Mother’s Day and every day for the rest of our lives. I’m asking you to join Florida by calling upon the governor of your state to reexamine similar 'stand your ground' laws throughout the nation to keep our families safe.”
Since losing her son, Fulton has tirelessly campaigned for justice in his case and for the tightening of gun control laws in the United States. It was revealed this weekend that a large number of Fulton’s colleagues at Miami-Dade County have collectively donated their vacation days to give Fulton eight months of paid vacation, worth over $40,000 in days off of work.
In news from Florida, a 31-year-old mother of three has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing what she maintains was a warning shot at her abusive husband. Marissa Alexander has maintained she was defending herself when she fired a gun into a wall near her husband, who had allegedly had a history of physical abuse. Alexander, who is African American, had turned down a plea bargain that would have seen her jailed for three years. On Friday, she was sentenced to two decades behind bars under a Florida law known as 10-20-life that carries a mandatory minimum for certain gun crimes regardless of the circumstance.
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