President Obama is meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today amidst rising tensions around U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The meeting comes as Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some drone killings may amount to war crimes. In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians. On the eve of his meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister Sharif said the drone strikes violate international law and Pakistan’s “territorial integrity.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: “The use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country. This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship, as well. I would therefore stress the need for an end to drone attacks.”
Secretary of State John Kerry met with foreign counterparts in London on Tuesday ahead of a planned Syria peace conference next month in Geneva. Syria’s main political opposition has yet to agree on whether it plans to attend. Speaking to reporters, Kerry renewed calls for a negotiated solution to the Syrian conflict.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “The people who suffer the most are the Syrian people themselves, who are being driven from their homes and killed in the most wanton violence and who are having an increasingly profound impact on surrounding countries that are seeing their lives affected as a consequence of the outflow of refugees. This war will not come to an end on the battlefield. I believe, and I think most people believe, it will come to an end through a negotiated settlement.”
In Syria, the head of the U.N. team tasked with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile says the mission is continuing on schedule. Sigrid Kaag of the U.N.-OPCW spoke to reporters in Damascus.
Sigrid Kaag: “We’ve had very good meetings with the Syrian government at most senior level. There is continuous strong cooperation, which the secretary-general and the director-general of OPCW have also confirmed in recent statements. And we build on this because we have one shared goal, which is elimination of the program, which is of benefit to all, and particularly the Syrian people.”
A wave of suicide and gun attacks in Iraq’s Anbar province has killed around 25 state forces and three civilians. Escalating violence in Iraq has killed more than 520 people this month and more than 5,200 since January.
In Australia, thousands of people have been ordered to leave their homes outside of Sydney amidst the area’s worst bushfires in decades. More than 200 homes have been destroyed in New South Wales state since last week, and today’s conditions are expected to reach their worst to date. Speaking to CNN this week, the U.N.’s top climate official, Christiana Figueres, said heat waves causing bushfires are linked to global warming.
Christiana Figueres: “Now, the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization, has not established the direct link between this wildfire and climate change yet. But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe and Australia, that there these will continue, that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.”
In response, Australia’s new prime minister, Tony Abbott, dismissed Figueres’ comments, saying: “Fire is part of the Australian experience … these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life.”
Mexico says it has won a pledge from President Obama to investigate the National Security Agency’s apparent spying on its government. Leaks from Edward Snowden reported by Der Spiegel suggest the NSA hacked the email accounts of then-President Felipe Calderón in 2010 and of current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto before he was elected. On Tuesday, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade said Obama has promised an investigation and has assured Peña Nieto that he did not authorize the spying.
The White House has acknowledged two key components of the new healthcare insurance exchanges will take longer to repair than previously disclosed. On Tuesday, a senior official said the administration is not sure when low-income Americans will be able to enroll in Medicaid online. The White House also acknowledged that online enrollment for Spanish speakers is still inactive. Amidst growing criticism of glitches in the health exchange rollout, the White House said Tuesday it would bring in Jeffrey Zients, a former acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, to oversee the process.
A federal appeals court has ruled the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause in order to track vehicles with GPS. It is the first time an appeals court has weighed in on the issue since the Supreme Court ruled that police monitoring through attaching a GPS to a suspect’s vehicle marks a constitutionally protected search. In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said the decision “ensures that the police cannot use powerful tracking technology without court supervision and a good reason to believe it will turn up evidence of wrongdoing.”
A new survey of executive pay shows that for the first time ever, the nation’s 10-highest paid CEOs earned more than $100 million last year. The highest paid was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who earned more than $2.2 billion.
An expert panel is warning that regulators and agricultural producers have failed to slow the use of antibiotics in livestock. A landmark study from the Pew Charitable Trust in 2008 called on producers to stop adding antibiotics to livestock feed in order to boost animal growth. But a 14-member panel convened by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future says an “appalling lack of progress” has been made in the five years since that report. Scientists have warned that the allowance of antibiotics in animals ends up weakening their effectiveness in humans. An estimated 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are consumed by farm animals.
An Arab-American community activist has been arrested in Chicago on charges of immigration fraud. Rasmieh Odeh is accused of concealing her detention in an Israeli prison 40 years ago on bombing charges. Odeh works as an associate director at the Arab American Action Network, a Chicago-area group that works on behalf of new immigrants and campaigns against anti-Arab discrimination. In a statement, the activist group Committee to Stop FBI Repression said Odeh’s arrest appears linked to the case of 23 antiwar activists subpoenaed by the FBI in 2010.
A crowd of several hundred people rallied in Maryville, Missouri, on Tuesday in support of teenage rape victim Daisy Coleman. Coleman says she was given alcohol and raped during a gathering of high-school athletes last year while another teen filmed the incident on his phone. Despite reported evidence and interviews supporting the case, prosecutors dropped charges against Coleman’s accused rapist, Matthew Barnett. A new prosecutor was appointed to review the case on Monday following a public outcry. On Tuesday, Coleman supporters held daisies as they gathered near the town square. The hacker group Anonymous helped organize the rally after initially calling attention to Coleman’s case.
An Ohio man who challenged the state’s ban on gay marriage while dealing with a life-threatening illness has died. John Arthur, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his husband James Obergefell tied the knot in Maryland earlier this year in order to ensure they were legally wed before the end of Arthur’s life. A federal judge later ruled that Arthur’s death certificate must show Obergefell as his surviving spouse, ensuring that the two can be buried next to each other on Arthur’s family plot.