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In a major shakeup, Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, has dismissed Cairo’s two top generals: Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and military Chief of Staff Sami Enan. Tantawi had served as ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s defense minister for two decades and headed the powerful Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Tantawi has not yet indicated whether he accepts the moves. To replace him, Morsi appointed General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, the head of military intelligence. In addition, Morsi quashed the army’s recent constitutional declaration that had curbed the new leader’s powers. Thousands have gathered in Tahrir Square to support the overhaul. In a speech, Morsi said the moves are for “the benefit of this nation.”
The focus of the presidential race turns to Iowa today as both President Obama and Mitt Romney’s new running mate Paul Ryan visit the Hawkeye state. Today marks Ryan’s first day of solo campaigning. Romney selected the seven-term Republican congressman from Wisconsin on Saturday morning.
Mitt Romney: “If they elect Paul Ryan and me, we’re going to do five things that are going to bring back America’s economy. You’re going to see a resurgence in jobs, a resurgence in our competitiveness. You’re going to see us finally get America on track to a balanced budget. We’re going to do what it takes to bring America back.”
Romney’s selection of Ryan is expected to fire up the conservative base of the Republican Party. Ryan has become a Tea Party favorite for pushing a controversial budget and economic vision, marked by deep cutbacks to the social safety net coupled with lower tax rates. Over the years, Ryan has pushed for privatizing Social Security, dismantling Medicare and slashing funding for Medicaid. He has also proposed cutting food stamps for as many as 10 million Americans, cutting funds for programs likes Meals on Wheels and eliminating Pell Grants for more than one million students. On the tax front, Ryan has proposed a plan to slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans while raising taxes on some of the poor. The New York Times reports that by one statistical count, Ryan is the most conservative vice-presidential nominee in more than 100 years.
On Saturday, Ryan joined Romney on the campaign trail in Virginia.
Rep. Paul Ryan: “America is on the wrong track. But Mitt Romney and I will take the right steps in the right time to get us back on the right track. I believe that my record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside of Washington. I’ve worked closely with Republicans as well as Democrats to advance an agenda of economic growth, fiscal discipline and job creation. I’m proud to stand with a man who understands what it takes to foster job creation in our economy.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced the United States and Turkey will study a range of new measures to help the Syrian opposition, including a possible no-fly zone. Clinton’s remarks are the closest Washington has come to suggesting direct military action in Syria to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hillary Clinton: “The planning, what the minister and I agreed to today was to have very intensive operational planning. We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning, and it needs to be across both of our governments. Certainly our two ministries are coordinating much of it, but our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play.”
The United Nations humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, has announced she will travel to Syria and Lebanon this week to discuss ways of increasing aid to civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict.
Adrian Edwards: “UNHCR’s offices in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq are all reporting increases this week in the number of refugees from Syria. Our data, which primarily reflects the number of people who have registered or are in the process of being registered, shows a total population of 146,667 people as of yesterday evening. In several countries we know there to be substantial refugee numbers, but these people have not yet registered.”
It has been another bloody weekend in Afghanistan. Earlier today a bomb attack in northern Afghanistan killed five people, including a district mayor and a local member of the government-run peace council. On Sunday, a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed a district government chief and three of his bodyguards. On Saturday, a member of the Afghan National Police opened fire and killed at least 10 of his colleagues in southwestern Afghanistan. And on Friday, six U.S. troops were killed. Early on Friday, three U.S. Marines were gunned down by a Afghan police commander and his men after accepting an invitation to have dinner. Later on Friday, an Afghan civilian working at a NATO base shot dead three more U.S. soldiers.
Brigadier General Günter Katz of NATO: “Let me clearly say that those incidents do not — clearly do not reflect the overall situation in Afghanistan, where almost 500,000 soldiers and policemen are working together, side by side, enhancing their trust and enhancing their cooperation, in order to, together, fight for a better future of this country and together to pressure the insurgency.”
Sikh worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, held their first official service Sunday since a neo-Nazi attacked the temple killing six people. Hundreds of Sikhs came from across the country to take part in the service. Two days earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke before thousands of people at a memorial service in Oak Creek.
Eric Holder: “Unfortunately for the Sikh community, this sort of violence has become all too common in recent years. In the recent past, too many Sikhs have been targeted and victimized simply because of who they are, how they look and what they believe. It is wrong, it is unacceptable, and it will not be tolerated.”
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, opened on Friday. Over the past two years the mosque site had come under repeated attacks, including arson and vandalism.
A pair of powerful earthquakes in Iran have killed more than 300 people and injured thousands. The two earthquakes struck northeast Iran on Saturday. The Red Crescent said some 1,000 villages in the area were affected.
A group of Mexican activists have crossed into California to begin a month-long peace convoy to call for an end of the U.S.-backed drug war. The Caravan for Peace is organized by Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia. His son was killed by drug traffickers last year.
Javier Sicilia: “We are going to the United States to tell them and to bill them. They owe us peace. Together, we need to construct this peace. It is the time for citizens. As said by one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, if we don’t all work together to create peace, peace, any peace, we will get nothing but war.”
In voting rights news, Democrats are accusing the Republican secretary of state in New Mexico of attempting to purge more than 177,000 voters from the state’s voter rolls. Postcards were recently sent to the voters saying they had to verify their voting status in order to remain active. Voters targeted included the wife of a Democratic state representative, as well as Diane Wood, the voting rights director for Common Cause New Mexico. Wood, who has been an active voter since 1971, criticized the actions of New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran.
Diane Wood: “I’m just shocked that I took my job to fight for other people’s right to get their vote counted, and now I’m having to fight for my own. And I just don’t know why Secretary Duran is doing this to people, trying to take our vote away.”
As the Olympic Games wrapped up on Sunday, a global hunger summit was held in London. The summit was attended by world leaders, as well as several Olympic athletes. British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the meeting.
Prime Minister David Cameron: “The figures are truly shocking. One in three child deaths are linked to malnutrition, and 171 million children are so malnourished by the age of two that they can never physically recover. That is the terrible thing about this, what we would call a 'silent crisis,' because it harms for life.”
President Obama is expected to announce today that the Department of Agriculture intends to buy up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help support farmers suffering from the nation’s worst drought in more than 50 years. The food purchases will go toward “food nutrition assistance” programs, like food banks.
New York City police shot and killed a 51-year-old African-American man in the heart of Times Square on Saturday afternoon. Police fired 12 shots at Darrius Kennedy, who was first confronted by police for smoking marijuana. Police said they fired at him when he refused orders to drop a knife and moved toward them. The shooting occurred in one of the busiest parts of the city and was witnessed by many tourists.
In Occupy news, a judge in Hong Kong has ordered Occupy protesters to abandon their encampment outside the bank headquarters of HSBC by August 27. Activists have been camping at the site since October.
Brigadier General Tammy Smith has become the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military. On Friday, Smith came out when she had her wife pin her star to her uniform during a promotion ceremony.
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