Syrian troops continue to bombard the city of Aleppo in a bid to reclaim areas held by rebel forces. There have been reports of Syrian helicopters backed by fighter jets firing from above, forcing hundreds of residents to flee. An Aleppo resident said Syrian forces had fired indiscriminately, killing civilians.
Resident: “Two brothers and their uncles were killed. Another uncle is between life and death. What is the fault of this village to be hit with these shells? Ten shells on daily basis, and this village does not have any sign of armed groups. We are targeted only because we called for freedom.”
Speaking in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is inevitable and that he still has time to begin a political transition.
Hillary Clinton: “We do believe that it is not too late for the Assad regime to commence with planning for a transition, to find a way that ends the violence by beginning the kind of serious discussions that have not occurred to date.”
New research shows the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melted over the course of four days this month to an extent not seen in more than three decades of monitoring. According to NASA, from July 8 to July 12, the thawed area jumped from 40 percent to 97 percent, meaning nearly the entire ice sheet surface had thawed. While about half the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melts on average each summer, scientists have called this month’s thaw “extraordinary.” The unprecedented thaw comes after a chunk of ice twice the size of Manhattan detached from Greenland’s Petermann Glacier earlier this month.
Protests continued for a fourth day in Anaheim, California, on Tuesday after police there fatally shot two Latino men over the weekend. Riot police fired bean bags and pepper balls at protesters gathered outside City Hall as council members inside voted unanimously to ask the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate the shootings. Protesters and police continued to clash late into the evening. Five people were arrested, and at least one was injured after being shot in the head with a pepper ball. [NOTE: Later reports said 24 people were arrested and several wounded.] The protests in Anaheim erupted after police shot and killed unarmed 24-year-old Manuel Diaz on Saturday after he reportedly ran away from a group of officers who confronted him. The following day, Joel Acevedo was shot dead by police, who claimed he was suspected in a car robbery.
Local weapons dealers and government officials are reporting a spike in gun sales in Colorado in the aftermath of last week’s shooting rampage in Aurora. The number of potential gun owners seeking background checks increased 43 percent over the weekend from the week before. On Tuesday, Christian Bale, the star of “The Dark Knight Rises” — the film that was screening when the attack occurred — visited survivors and their families at a local hospital.
A former top-ranking clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to up to six years in prison for covering up child sexual abuse by Philadelphia priests. Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty of hiding the molestation by transferring predatory priests to unsuspecting congregations. He is the highest-ranking U.S. church official to be convicted of covering up child abuse to date.
The Justice Department has unveiled an agreement with the City of New Orleans to reform the city’s beleaguered police department. Known as a consent decree, the deal imposes hundreds of new policies overseeing police actions including the use of force, searches, seizures, arrests and interrogations. New Orleans police officers have been linked to a number of cases of unlawful force and even covering up their crimes, including the shooting deaths of two people on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A Justice Department probe last year found corruption and dysfunction in nearly every area of the New Orleans police force.
On the campaign trail, Republican candidate Mitt Romney addressed a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno. Romney used the address to criticize the Obama administration’s record on security leaks and foreign policy.
Mitt Romney: “The president’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in 70 years, exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify, compromised our national security secrets. And in dealings with other nations, he has given trust where it is not earned, insult where it was not deserved, and apology where it is not due.”
Romney departs today for a foreign trip Britain, Poland and Israel.
The first court-martial for eight U.S. soldiers charged in the death of Army Private Danny Chen has begun at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg. A 19-year-old Chinese American, Chen allegedly took his own life just weeks after he was deployed to Afghanistan last October. His family says Chen had been abused by comrades on an almost daily basis, including racist hazing, with soldiers throwing rocks at him, calling him ethnic slurs and forcing him to do push-ups or hang upside down with his mouth full of water. All eight accused soldiers were Chen’s superiors in rank. The first soldier to stand trial, Sergeant Adam Michael Holcomb, is one of five soldiers whose multiple charges include the most serious offense of causing Chen’s death through negligence. On Tuesday, the military court heard testimony from Chen’s mother, Su Zhen Chen, who called him “the best son in the world.”
Four undocumented residents of Arizona were arrested on Tuesday after publicly revealing their immigration status outside the discrimination trial of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Plaintiffs represented by civil rights groups are accusing Arpaio of violating the rights of Latinos by systematically targeting them for traffic stops and detention. As the case continued inside the courtroom, the four unfurled a banner reading “No Papers, No Fear,” before being arrested. In a statement, the group said: “Today, we confront publicly what we risk every day, being arrested by the police, and separated from our families, only because we are undocumented. We’re confronting fear itself. We are undocumented and unafraid.”
United Nations forces have fired on rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo after new fighting between the rebels and government-backed troops. Backed by neighboring Rwanda, the rebels have clashed with loyalist forces since April, causing some 260,000 people to flee their homes.
Ghana has sworn in Vice President John Dramani Mahama as its new head of state after the sudden death of President John Atta Mills. The 68-year-old Mills died unexpectedly on Tuesday after complaining of chest pains. He had only recently returned from a trip to the United States for medical tests.
The New York Times has revealed the United States is expanding its controversial drug war to Africa. The United States has begun training an elite group of anti-drug police in Ghana and is planning similar units in other countries in a bid to combat Latin American cartels allegedly smuggling cocaine into Europe. A top Drug Enforcement Administration official said Africa is seen as “the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues.” The West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative will reportedly bring a model used in Central America and Mexico to 15 African countries. Despite facing widespread criticism for being costly and largely ineffective, the U.S.-led war on drugs has also seen an earlier expansion in Central America. Most recently, DEA agents have come under scrutiny for being involved in at least three fatal shootings in Honduras.
The online whistleblower WikiLeaks has announced it has hired the trailblazing Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón to head the legal team representing the website and its founder, Julian Assange. Garzón and Assange recently met at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Assange has sought political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden. Garzón is known for taking on international human rights cases, with actions including ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, indicting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and probing the abuse of U.S. prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.