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At least 57 people have been killed and more than 170 wounded in a string of bombings across Iraq that mainly targeted Shia pilgrims. At least 22 died in a double car bombing in the southern city of Hilla, while around 30 were killed in a number of attacks around the capital Baghdad. It was the deadliest day of violence Iraq has seen since 68 people were killed on January 5.
A U.S. drone strike in southeastern Yemen has reportedly killed nine suspected al-Qaeda militants. The attack occurred in the Yemeni town of Azzan, where hundreds of fighters were said to have fled before the Yemeni army recaptured southern strongholds earlier this week. Intense fighting between the army and militants was also reported in an area east of the recaptured towns.
A top U.N. official is warning the uprising in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war amid worsening violence in several key areas. Hervé Ladsous, the U.N. under-secretary general for peacekeeping operations, is the first senior U.N. official to brand Syria’s conflict as a civil war. Syrian activists report 51 civilians as well as 12 soldiers were killed in clashes on Tuesday.
More reports are emerging that both the Syrian military and opposition rebels are receiving heavy arms from outside the country. On Tuesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending helicopters to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hillary Clinton: “We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry, everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That’s patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
A new U.N. report meanwhile says that Syrian children are being subjected to torture, sexual violence, and being used as human shields in the fighting. U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy unveiled the report’s findings.
Radhika Coomaraswamy: “We have seen children. They’ve described to my technical team of being beaten, of being scarred by cigarette burns and whipped with electrical cables. Cases of sexual torture were also recorded against these children. So the torture of children in detention is something quite horrific. In addition, we have evidence of children being used as human shields. In the Ayn l’Arouz village, for example, children from that village described how in a bus that was carrying military personnel, the children were put up against the window so as to protect the bus from being attacked.”
A new report shows 18 former and current directors of the Federal Reserve worked for financial companies that collectively received more than $4 trillion in the Fed-overseen Wall Street bailout. In a statement, independent Senator Bernie Sanders, whose office released the report, said: “At a time when small businesses could not get affordable loans to create jobs, the Fed was providing trillions in secret loans to some of the largest banks and corporations in America that were well represented on the boards of the Federal Reserve Banks. These conflicts must end.”
The Fed director whose company took in the most government aid was Jamie Dimon of the banking giant JPMorgan Chase. The Wall Street Journal meanwhile has revealed a number of top JPMorgan Chase executives were alerted two years ago to the practices of the London-based traders whose risky bets recently cost the bank more than $2 billion. The executives were aware of the traders’ practices as early as 2010, when a single foreign exchange options trade led to a loss of $300 million in a matter of days.
The news comes as Jamie Dimon is set to testify before the Senate Banking Committee today on JPMorgan’s risky trades. Dimon has been a key critic of reform proposals to restore the separation between banks and commercial trading. In prepared testimony released ahead of his appearance, Dimon says: “We will not make light of these losses, but they should be put into perspective. We will lose some of our shareholders’ money – and for that we feel terrible – but no client, customer or taxpayer money was impacted in this incident.”
The State Department has confirmed President Obama will skip the Rio+20 sustainable development summit in Brazil next week. It’s the third consecutive global environmental conference that Obama will miss after he avoided the last two U.N. climate talks in South Africa and Mexico. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson will lead the U.S. delegation.
Police and private security guards have raided a protest encampment at the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, to break up a nearly two-week resistance effort by dozens of residents and activists. The company Aqua America has bought the property to withdraw up to three million gallons of water per day for use in the gas drilling process known as fracking. Residents learned of the sale after reading about it in the newspaper. Many claimed the payments offered are not enough for them to relocate from the mobile home park, where some have lived for decades. A group of volunteers and residents calling themselves “Occupy Well Street” blockaded access roads and covered the park in hand-painted signs, successfully delaying construction. On Tuesday, activists complied with requests by residents that they disperse rather than risk arrest. Some residents still remain in their homes, and negotiations with the company continue.
In Arizona, a former aide to the retired Democratic Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords has won a special election for her vacated seat. Ron Barber defeated his Republican challenger with 53 percent of the vote. Giffords stepped down in January, one year after nearly losing her life in the Tucson shooting spree that left six people dead. After the results were announced, Barber was joined by Giffords onstage at a victory rally in Tucson.
Ron Barber: “I’d never dreamt I’d be standing here thanking you for your support and your work to elect me to Congress. But as you know, life takes unexpected turns, and here we are. Here we are, thanks to you.”
In media news, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has announced the firings of nearly one-third of its staff. The newspaper, which is New Orleans’ largest daily, says 202 employees will lose their jobs effective September 30. As part of a cost-cutting measure, the paper will also reduce its schedule to three issues per week.
The wife of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying about her family’s finances at her husband’s bond hearing. Prosecutors say Shellie Zimmerman secretly moved tens of thousands of dollars into her bank account in the days before she and her husband claimed they were broke in seeking a low bond.
The dismembered bodies of at least 14 people have been discovered in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The victims’ body parts were found stuffed into bags inside a pickup truck. It was the latest in a series of similar killings inside Mexico believed to be tied to the drug war.
Thousands of people rallied in the Russian capital of Moscow on Tuesday in a major show of protest against President Vladimir Putin. It was the largest display of opposition to Putin since he returned to the Russian presidency last month. The rally came days after Putin signed into law harsher penalties for unlawful assembly at protests. Following the rally, Russian police raided the homes of three top opposition activists, seizing computers and other possessions.
Israel has rounded up scores of mostly African immigrants in a coordinated sweep to begin deportations. Around 240 people have been detained in recent days, and another 300 have reportedly agreed to be deported voluntarily. The roundup has sparked allegations of racism for targeting mainly people of African descent. At a rally in Tel Aviv, African migrant Guy Joseph said immigrants are facing a crackdown inside Israel.
Guy Joseph: “We are demonstrating to fight for the refugees’ rights, because like last — two weeks ago, like Israelis, they started attacking the refugees in the street. And we are against the violence. The violence is enough that has been happening to us in our homeland, and we are looking for the safest place that we can get our rights.”
In addition to the roundup, Israel has drawn criticism for a recent law that allows for the detention of migrants without charge for up to three years. In a statement, Human Rights Watch said the measure “punishes refugees in violation of international law.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Justice Department has begun an anti-trust investigation into whether cable companies are improperly hindering competition from online video sites. Officials have reportedly spoken to video providers including Netflix and Hulu, as well as questioning cable companies about issues including data caps, which limit the amount each person can download.
Leaders of the largest group of U.S. Catholic nuns met with Vatican officials in Rome on Tuesday in a standoff over the nuns’ political stances. The Vatican drew controversy after reprimanding the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for promoting “radical feminist themes,” “issues of social justice,” and challenging church teachings on homosexuality and male-only priesthood. Sister Pat Farrell, the head of the nuns’ group, said Tuesday’s meeting was constructive.
Pat Farrell: “We’re grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue. And now we will — the next step will be, again, we go to our members to decide how to proceed from here.”
Reporter: “How was the atmosphere during the meeting?”
Pat Farrell: “We had open dialogue.”
Reporter: “Are will you have another meeting here in Rome?”
Pat Farrell: “We’re going to take this one step at a time.”
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