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HeadlinesMay 23, 2012

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Egypt Holds Landmark Presidential Elections

May 23, 2012

Egypt is holding its first presidential elections since the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak last year. As many as 50 million voters are eligible to vote, and a massive turnout is expected. Analysts say no candidate is expected to win a majority, and a runoff election is scheduled for June 16 and June 17.

IAEA, Iran Approach Deal Ahead of Baghdad Talks

May 23, 2012

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Tuesday Iran is expected to sign an agreement allowing for inspections of facilities suspected of being used to make nuclear weapons. The announcement from International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano comes as six global powers, including the United States, are beginning talks today with Iran in Bahghad. It is the second meeting since diplomacy with Iran resumed last month after more than a year. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Iran is running out of time to resolve the nuclear impasse.

Jay Carney: “Iran faces a choice. The regime faces a choice. They can meet their international obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or continue to fail to fulfill their obligations and face significant and harsh consequences — the kinds, the likes of which we’ve already seen through the unprecedented and comprehensive sanctions regime that has been leveled against Iran.”

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 4 in Pakistan

May 23, 2012

At least four people have been killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwestern Pakistan. U.S. officials say the attack targeted militants. It is unclear if any civilians were killed. It was at least the third U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan since Pakistani lawmakers called for an end to the attacks in March. It also comes as U.S. and Pakistani officials continue talks over the unresolved NATO attack that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year. The United States has refused Pakistani calls to apologize in return for the reopening of NATO supply routes into neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani Doctor Who Aided CIA in Bin Laden Search Sentenced to 30 Years

May 23, 2012

In news from Pakistan, a doctor who ran a fake vaccination campaign to help the CIA locate Osama bin Laden has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, set up the vaccination effort in an attempt to get DNA from the bin Laden family.

Tens of Thousands Protest Education Cuts in Spain

May 23, 2012

In Spain, massive protests were held Tuesday as teachers went on strike and took to the streets to protest sweeping government cuts to education. Tens of thousands of teachers and students marched in Madrid, Barcelona and across the country. This is a geology student named Ernesto.

Ernesto: “They tell us our fees don’t cover the costs, but I would say we are paying (the costs). We are paying them with taxes. The politicians don’t pay our fees with their money, their wages. It’s money they are stealing from the people.”

The Spanish government has ordered the country’s 17 autonomous regions to cut $4 billion from education this year as part of a plan to trim the deficit. Unions say the cuts will put 100,000 substitute teachers out of work. Spain’s autonomous regions are also expected to raise fees for state universities.

Estimated 400,000 Protest on Quebec Student Strike’s 100th Day

May 23, 2012

Tens of thousands filled the streets of Montreal on Tuesday in the largest protest to date in Quebec’s student strike. The protests have swelled in recent days after the Quebec provincial government approved an emergency law requiring demonstrators to inform police of any protest route involving 50 or more people. Tuesday’s protest fell on the strike’s 100th day, and organizers say up to 400,000 people took part. Solidarity demonstrations were held across Canada as well as in New York, with supporters donning the red felt square that has come to symbolize the Quebec student strike.

Former U.S.-Backed Guatemalan Dictator Faces 2nd Genocide Trial

May 23, 2012

Former Guatemalan military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt is facing a second trial on genocide charges for ordering a 1982 massacre that left 201 people dead. A Guatemalan judge has ruled Ríos Montt can be prosecuted over the Dos Erres massacre, one of the most notorious of the Guatemalan junta’s crimes. Ríos Montt is already facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in a separate case for ordering the killings of at least 1,700 Maya indigenous people during his 17-month rule. Appearing in court Tuesday, Ríos Montt defended his actions.

Efraín Ríos Montt: “I was the politician in charge of the state, working to create a nationalistic spirit that was completely different than the implication of the armed forces against subversion that was trying to take force, that’s all. So I would like to call attention to the fact that I was simply trying to follow the law.”

Ríos Montt seized power in 1982 in a military coup and has been accused of overseeing the murders of 17,000 political opponents and dissidents.

Bomb Plot Targeting Uribe Foiled in Argentina

May 23, 2012

In Argentina, police say they have defused two bombs that had been hidden in a Buenos Aires theater ahead of a scheduled appearance by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. The bombs were hidden inside the theater’s ceilings and were reportedly timed to detonate when Uribe would have been present.

CBO: U.S. Could Face Recession in 2013

May 23, 2012

Congressional researchers are warning the United States faces a likely recession next year. On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the economy will contract 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013 if scheduled spending cuts and tax hikes take effect. According to the CBO, the so-called “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts coupled with the need to cut $1.2 trillion in spending under last year’s debt deal will force the downturn.

Regulators Confirm Probes of JPMorgan Chase over $3 Billion Loss

May 23, 2012

U.S. regulators have confirmed probes of the financial giant JPMorgan Chase over the firm’s $3 billion loss in risky derivatives. Speaking before a Senate hearing, Gary Gensler of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said a preliminary investigation of JPMorgan’s credit default swaps is underway. Meanwhile, the chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, said her agency will probe whether JPMorgan had hurt its shareholders.

Mary Schapiro: “Our best information is that the trading activities in question took place in the bank in London and perhaps in other affiliates, but not in the broker dealer that is directly supervised by the SEC. Although the Commission does not discuss investigations publicly, I can say that in circumstances of this nature, where the activity does not appear to have occurred in one of our regulated entities, the SEC would be primarily interested in and focused on the appropriateness and completeness of the entity’s financial reporting and other public disclosures.”

Morgan Stanley Faces Questions over Facebook Offering

May 23, 2012

The financial giant Morgan Stanley is facing criticism following reports it failed to warn investors in Facebook’s public offering that the tech giant’s financial prospects were lower than expected. Despite high predictions for earnings, Facebook shares have plummeted in the days since the company went public in the second largest offering of its kind in U.S. history. On Tuesday, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin subpoenaed the bank over its conversations with investors, while Wall Street’s internal watchdog, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is also launching a probe. The Securities and Exchange Commission also said Tuesday that the agency would also examine issues related to Facebook’s offering.

Senate Panel Votes to Extend Gov’t Surveillance Powers

May 23, 2012

A Senate panel has voted to extend a controversial provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that is set to expire at the end of the year. The Obama administration has sought to renew its expanded authority to monitor phone calls and emails inside the United States if one person involved is abroad and the targets are foreigners believed to be outside the country. The vote by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence comes shortly after news the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a group of activists, journalists and lawyers represented by the American Civil Liberties Union have the legal right to challenge the U.S. government’s surveillance practices, which they say could pick up their communications with clients and sources overseas.

Court Upholds $3.4 Billion Settlement over Native American Land Trusts

May 23, 2012

A federal appeals court has upheld a settlement in a disputed class action lawsuit over federal mismanagement of Native American land trusts dating back to the 19th century. Under the deal, the Interior Department would pay $3.4 billion to settle claims by more than 300,000 Native Americans for unpaid royalties on seized lands. The settlement is a fraction of the estimated $176 billion Native Americans have maintained they are owed. Kimberly Craven, a class member in the case, had brought the court challenge, claiming the settlement was insufficient. But on Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Craven’s effort and upheld the agreement.

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