At least five people have been killed in a U.S. drone strike inside Pakistan. A pair of missiles reportedly struck a village in the region of North Waziristan. It is unclear if any civilians were killed.
A new study is backing claims that the United States has killed far more civilians in its Pakistan drone strikes than publicly acknowledged. Researchers at New York University and Stanford University say the drone strikes “terrorize men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.” The study also concludes that most of the militants killed in the strikes have been low-level targets whose deaths have failed to make the United States any safer. Just 2 percent of drone attack victims are said to be top militant leaders.
Rebels in Syria have carried out a new bombing targeting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the capital of Damascus. Earlier today a bomb struck a school building occupied by state forces, wounding at least seven people. It was one of the boldest attacks in the Assad regime’s stronghold since a suicide bomber killed Assad’s brother-in-law and defense minister in July. In his first briefing to the U.N. Security Council, U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he sees no signs of progress toward negotiations.
Lakhdar Brahimi: “The situation is indeed extremely difficult. You know, there is a stalemate. There is no prospect for today or tomorrow to move forward. But I also told the council that, paradoxically, now that I have found out a little bit more about what is happening in the country and the region, I think that we will find an opening in the not-too-distant future. I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward.”
Two U.S. marines will be court-martialed for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Afghans and posing for pictures with the bodies. Staff Sergeants Joseph Chamblin and Edward Deptola are the first to face criminal charges after a video was released in January showing four marines in full uniform urinating on the bodies of suspected Taliban fighters. Lighter administrative penalties were announced against three other marines last month.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has opened up a new attack on President Obama’s foreign policy just over a week before the two hold their first debate. Campaigning on Monday in Colorado, Romney criticized Obama for referring to the latest Middle East unrest as “bumps in the road.” Romney also vowed a foreign policy that he said would “shape” Middle East politics, not just react to it.
Mitt Romney: “'Bumps in the road'? We had an ambassador assassinated. We had a Muslim Brotherhood member elected to the presidency of Egypt. Twenty thousand people have been killed in Syria. We have tumult in Pakistan. And of course Iran is that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. This is time for a president who will shape events in the Middle East, not just be merciful or be at mercy of the events in the Middle East. I will get America on track to have the kind of leadership we need so we can shape the future of this part of the world and keep America strong.”
In an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama made what could be his most public rejection of the Israeli government to date. Asked about unrelenting Israeli pressure for a military attack on Iran, Obama suggested that such talk is “noise” that he ignores.
Steve Kroft: “You’re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”
President Obama: “When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people, and I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.”
A new study is warning a wave of restrictive voting laws could deny more than 10 million Hispanics the right to vote this November. The Advancement Project says 23 states have passed laws that could affect the Latino-American vote, potentially deciding the outcome of the entire election. The laws include voter purges in 16 states ostensibly targeting people suspected of not being citizens and photo identification laws in nine states, all of which carry heavy burdens of documentation and identification that many people do not have the time or money to meet. The laws could be pivotal for votes in the swing states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida, where President Obama enjoys a vast majority of support from Latinos over Mitt Romney.
A federal appeals court has reversed its own decision finding the Army Corps of Engineers partially liable for the flooding that devastated New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. In March, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a 2009 ruling that “monumental negligence” by the Army Corps of Engineers led to the severe flooding that ravaged New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm. The ruling marked the first time the government had been held responsible for any of the flooding that devastated New Orleans and could have paved the way for legal action on behalf of thousands of residents. But on Monday, the Court of Appeals changed course, ruling that the government is immune from liability.
A group of environmental activists in northeast Texas say they have scaled 80-foot trees and are vowing to remain in an effort to block tree-clearing equipment that is making way for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. On Monday, the eight protesters held a banner reading, “You Shall Not Pass,” and said they will remain in the way until the controversial pipeline is stopped for good. The action is the latest in a series of protests by pipeline opponents who say the project will poison local communities and damage the climate through increased greenhouse gases. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries. President Obama has delayed a final decision on the pipeline until after the November election.
An undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who only recently learned he was a survivor of a 1982 massacre has been granted political asylum in the United States. Oscar Ramírez Castañeda was just three years old when a U.S.-backed death squad killed some 250 civilians in the Guatemalan village of Dos Erres. While Ramirez’s mother and eight siblings all died, he survived the slaughter when a commanding officer abducted him and went on to raise him as one of his own. Now a father of four living near Boston, Ramírez learned of his real past just last year. He has since been reunited with his biological father, who survived the attack because he was traveling when the massacre occurred.
The European Court of Human Rights has given final approval to the extradition of Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States. Al-Masri has spent years in prison in Britain on a conviction of inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder. A federal grand jury indicted him in 2004 on allegations of supporting al-Qaeda and aiding a fatal kidnapping in Yemen. His lawyers had appealed his extradition to the United States by citing European statutes barring inhumane and degrading treatment.
Leaders from across the globe are gathering in New York City for today’s opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Visitors include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will make his last address to the assembly before his term expires next year. At a United Nations forum on Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the United States is committed to upholding the rule of law worldwide.
Attorney General Eric Holder: “In recent days, we have been reminded in the most painful and tragic of ways of just how vital the rule of law is to enduring freedom, opportunity, justice and to peace. I’m here not only to pledge the United States’ commitment to these principles, but also our support for the United Nations’ robust efforts to strengthen the rule of law worldwide.”
Dozens of people rallied in Saudi Arabia on Monday in two separate protests urging the U.S.-backed monarchy to release their jailed relatives. A number of protesters were detained after being confined to a desert area and kept without food or water for a day.
An anti-Islam advertisement referring to Muslims as savages has been posted in 10 subway stations around New York City. The ad reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.” The ad was sponsored by the pro-Israel group American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is also known for opposing the creation of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. On Monday, Cyrus McGoldrick of the Council on American-Islamic Relations visited a New York subway station where the ads were being displayed.
Cyrus McGoldrick: “Of course I have mixed feelings about it. You know, it’s disgusting. It’s despicable. I have to laugh, as well. You know, the use of the word 'savage' is just so like classically colonialist and everything, that she [American Freedom Defense Initiative head Pamela Geller] really does a lot more harm to her cause than good. Really, us being out here, just being, you know, public and proud of our faith and our people and our city, we’re trying to unify rather than divide, to replace ignorance with information, because the war is not between the civilized and the savage, the war is between ignorance and understanding, it’s between beauty and ugliness. And we’re trying to be on the right side of that.”
The New York City Transit Authority had attempted to block the ad, but a federal judge deemed it protected speech. The ads come amidst mass global protests over a U.S.-made anti-Islam film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad.
New evidence has emerged in the case of a Pennsylvania death row prisoner convicted of murdering his sexual abuser. Terrance “Terry” Williams is scheduled to be executed next week for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood. Norwood had sexually abused Williams over a number of years up until the night before Williams took revenge by ending Norwood’s life. Williams had been convicted of third-degree murder in a separate killing because the victim had also sexually abused him. But in the Norwood case, Williams had been sentenced to death because prosecutors had alleged he was committing a robbery that went wrong. In a new evidentiary hearing, Andrea Foulkes, the prosecutor who oversaw the case against Williams three decades ago, was confronted with her own notes showing the mother of another of Norwood’s abuse victims had told her that Norwood molested her son. For years, Foulkes has rejected the argument that Williams had a motive of seeking revenge against Norwood for sexual abuse.