The U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, has announced his resignation after failing to bring an end to more than a year of violence. On Thursday, Annan said both sides, particularly the Syrian government, had failed to respect his ceasefire plan.
Kofi Annan: “The increasing militarization on the ground and the clear lack of unity in the Security Council have fundamentally changed the circumstances for the effective exercise of my role. Yet the bloodshed continues, most of all because of Syrian government’s intransigence and continuing refusal to implement the six-point plan, and also because of the escalating military campaign of the opposition, all of which is compounded by the disunity of the international community.”
Annan’s resignation will take effect at the end of the month. His departure comes amidst fierce clashes in Aleppo, where rebels say they now control more than half of the city.
The United Nations says North Korea has requested urgent food aid following the major floods that hit the country last month. North Korea says it needs assistance in areas where at least 119 people died and tens of thousands were made homeless. The flood devastated infrastructure and crops, compounding North Korea’s existing problems with a shortage of food.
On the campaign trail, President Obama continued a swing through battleground states Thursday with a stop in Florida. Speaking to supporters in Orlando, Obama said Republicans’ backing of tax cuts favoring the wealthy is “trickle down fairy dust.”
President Obama: “Look, Orlando, we know better. They have tried to sell us this trickle-down tax-cut fairy dust before. And guess what? It didn’t work then. It will not work now. It’s not a plan to create jobs. It is not a plan to reduce the deficit. It is not a plan to build our middle class. It is not a plan to move our economy forward. It takes us backwards to a place we don’t need to be.”
Republican candidate Mitt Romney was in Colorado. In an apparent effort to confront the Obama campaign’s focus on his links to shipping U.S. jobs overseas, Romney suggested his familiarity with outsourcing makes him well poised to return jobs to the United States.
Mitt Romney: “I understand how businesses decide to grow, when they decide to shrink, why they decide to go overseas, how they decide to come back here. I understand what it takes to get America working again. I understand that it’s small businesses that create jobs in America, that people create jobs, not government, and I’m going to get America working again.”
The U.S. government’s lone site for handling and processing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut down after anti-nuclear activists infiltrated the premises. Three activists — including an 82-year old nun — reportedly cut through fences to paint slogans and throw blood on the wall of the Y12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Y12 facility processes uranium for new hydrogen bombs. Calling themselves the “Transform Now Plowshares,” the three activists appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge in Knoxville on Thursday. The facility will remain shut down at least until next week. U.S. officials have maintained no nuclear materials were jeopardized, but experts have marveled at how a small group could have infiltrated the high-risk site. One former congressional investigator and security consultant called the breach the “worst we’ve ever seen.”
The Senate has defeated a revised version of the Obama administration-backed Cybersecurity Act, failing to reach the 60 votes needed for passage. The measure would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to conduct cybersecurity risk assessments of critical infrastructure and carry out responses. The bill had been updated to reflect a number of privacy concerns after President Obama threatened a veto earlier this year. The new provisions called for annual disclosures of the information collected by government agencies and would grant U.S. citizens to sue the government in the case of violations.
The Obama administration has confirmed it will oppose any proposal to hand regulatory control of the internet to the United Nations. Proposals have circulated to bring the internet under U.N. auspices at a conference of the International Telecommunications Regulations in Dubai later this year. But in a new position paper, the United States said it would reject U.N. authority and continue with its current system of oversight by the Department of Commerce.
The psychiatrist who treated Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes has reportedly disclosed she had warned officials at Holmes’ school, the University of Colorado, about his alarming behavior more than a month before the massacre. Doctor Lynne Fenton says her warnings went unheeded and that no action was taken because Holmes was in the process of dropping out of school.
The mother of an African-American man who died while handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle in Arkansas is demanding justice for her son. Twenty-one-year-old Chavis Carter was detained on Saturday after allegedly being found with marijuana. Police say he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, at which point he accidentally shot himself in the back of the head while reaching for a gun. In an interview, Carter’s mother, Teresa Carter, cast doubt on the police’s claims.
Teresa Carter: “I think they killed him. I mean, my son wasn’t suicidal. They searched him twice. I mean, I just want to know what really happened.”
Carter’s mother says the police’s account is further questionable because he was shot through the right temple despite being left-handed. Shortly before his death, Carter had phoned his girlfriend to tell her he would contact her from jail.