Protests have erupted across Egypt following the sentencing of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other former regime officials. On Saturday, an Egyptian court gave Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, life in prison for failing to stop the killing of unarmed demonstrators during the protests that ended Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule. However, the court dismissed corruption charges against Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, on technical grounds. The court also acquitted six former police chiefs for their roles during the uprising when 840 protesters were killed and more than 6,000 injured. No one was found guilty of actually ordering the killing of protesters. The verdicts sparked demonstrations across the country, with tens of thousands rallying in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in other cities.
At least 27 people have been killed in three consecutive days of U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan. More than half of the victims — 15 people — were killed earlier today when U.S. missiles hit a village in North Waziristan. The attacks bring to at least seven the number of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan over the past two weeks. U.S. and Pakistani officials say militants were targeted, but it is unclear if any civilians were killed.
A plane crash in the Nigerian city of Lagos has killed all 153 people on board, as well as at least 10 people on the ground. The plane crashed into a building in a densely populated neighborhood and exploded into flames. The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are found in the wreckage.
The ailing U.S. economy received more grim news on Friday with the release of figures showing just 69,000 jobs were added during May – the fewest total in a year. The official unemployment rate also increased to 8.2 percent, up from 8.1 percent in April. Speaking in Minnesota, President Obama called on Republican lawmakers to approve funding for public sector jobs.
President Obama: “The American people expect their leaders to work hard no matter what year it is. The economy still isn’t where it needs to be. There are steps that could make a difference right now, steps that can also serve as a buffer in case the situation in Europe gets any worse. So right now, Congress should pass a bill to help states prevent more layoffs, so we can put thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers back on the job.”
Wisconsin voters are preparing to head to the polls for Tuesday’s historic recall election targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Two new polls show Walker with a slim lead of between 3 to 6 percent over his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall effort was launched over Walker’s campaign to strip public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights and reduce their benefits. The election is turning out to be the most expensive in Wisconsin’s history, with more than $63 million spent. Walker has raised more than 65 percent of his $30.5 million war chest from out-of-state donors.
All 67 of Florida’s election supervisors have suspended a controversial effort to remove thousands of registered voters from the rolls. Florida launched the effort last month using an outdated driver’s license database to ostensibly identify non-citizens registered to vote. But large numbers of U.S. citizens have been caught up in the purge, primarily Latino, Democratic and independent-minded voters. On Thursday, the Department of Justice stepped in to demand Florida cease its voter purge, saying the process had not been cleared under the Voting Rights Act. Although Florida Gov. Rick Scott failed to respond, the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections announced on Friday it would halt the effort in response to the Justice Department’s orders.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has rejected responsibility for the recent massacre of 108 people in Houla and blamed outside forces for the ongoing violence inside his country. In a lengthy address to Syrian lawmakers on Sunday, Assad called the Houla killings “abominable” and said not even monsters could have carried them out. Assad also cast the crisis in Syria as a foreign conspiracy, calling it “an external war carried out by internal elements.” Assad’s comments come as international envoy Kofi Annan continues to warn of an all-out civil war in Syria amid renewed calls for the implementation of his ceasefire plan. Speaking at a news conference in Stockholm, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States wants Russia to stop backing the Assad regime.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We all have to intensify our efforts to achieve a political transition, and Russia has to be at the table helping that to occur. The Syrian people want and deserve change, and that should, insofar as possible, come about through peaceful means, and it must be a change that represents the rights and dignity of all Syrians. Assad’s departure does not have to be a precondition, but it should be an outcome, so that the people of Syria have a chance to express themselves.”
On Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Syrian government for the Houla massacre and ordered an international probe. Russia voted along with China and Cuba in opposition.
In other Syria news, the BBC has apologized after mistakenly running a nine-year-old photograph of body bags in Iraq next to a story on the recent massacre of more than 100 people in the Syrian village of Houla. The photographer of the original picture criticized the BBC for publishing the photograph without properly checking its veracity.
At least 18 people have been killed in a car bombing in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attack targeted a key office for Iraq’s Shiite Muslims. More than 50 people were wounded.
George Zimmerman, the shooter of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has returned to a Florida jail after the judge overseeing his trial revoked bail. Zimmerman was ordered back behind bars on Friday when Judge Kenneth Lester ruled Zimmerman had misled the court on the state of his finances and of his passport. Zimmerman surrendered to police on Sunday. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family, said the ruling added new damage to Zimmerman’s credibility.
Benjamin Crump: “Remember, it is only George Zimmerman’s testimony that says Trayvon Martin attacked him. All the other objective evidence suggests that George Zimmerman pursued and confronted Trayvon Martin. Therefore, that’s why this is such an important ruling today. The credibility is the issue, and we think it is the most important ruling so far in this entire case.”
Harvard University law professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren has wrapped up the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts to challenge Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Warren defeated a primary challenger on Saturday by an overwhelming margin for the chance to face off against Brown this November. Warren most recently served in the Obama administration, where she helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Firefighters in New Mexico say they are beginning to make progress in a record-breaking wildfire that is nearly three weeks old. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire has now burned more than 241,000 acres in the Gila National Forest. Officials say the fire is now 17 percent contained with gains reported by the hour.
New drug-related violence in Mexico claimed the lives of at least 18 people over the weekend. At least seven people were killed in the beach town of Acapulco on Saturday, followed by another 11 deaths in a shooting at a drug rehabilitation center in the northwestern city of Torreón on Sunday.
Massive protests continued in Quebec over the weekend following the breakdown of talks between government officials and student leaders. The two sides remain at an impasse over a proposed tuition increase that has prompted a major student strike. After the latest round of negotiations collapsed, student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said the student strike has grown into a movement for social change.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois: “The objective was to send a message to Mr. Charest that at this moment it’s not only a student strike, it’s also a popular struggle. We see a lot of people going in the streets every night in Montreal, and now all over Quebec.”
As the strike grows, organizers of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal have canceled the auto event’s opening day, citing “security” concerns.
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