U.S. forces have conducted raids in Somalia and Libya aimed at alleged Islamist militants. On Saturday, Navy SEALs attacked a seaside villa on the coast of Somalia, targeting an alleged senior leader of the Somali group al-Shabab. The SEALs reportedly withdrew after an exchange of gunfire that left seven people dead, none of them on the U.S. side. It was the most extensive U.S. raid in Somalia since 2009. The United States initially said the apparent target, identified as Ikrima, was captured in the raid, but later backed off that claim. An unnamed U.S. official said the operation came in response to the deadly attack on a Kenyan mall last month that killed over 60 people. But according to Reuters, another U.S. official said it is unknown if Ikrima was involved.
At least 51 people were killed in Egypt on Sunday in the continued fallout from the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Egyptian forces fired on Morsi supporters as they attempted to march on a pro-military rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Overall, at least 268 people were wounded in clashes nationwide. More than 400 supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were reportedly detained. The violence fell on the 40th anniversary of Egypt’s war to reclaim the Sinai Peninsula from Israel.
In Egypt, two hunger-striking Canadians have been released after nearly two months in prison, but are now being prevented from leaving the country. Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and Dr. Tarek Loubani were freed unexpectedly on Sunday morning. Hours later, they were prevented from boarding a flight at the Cairo airport after appearing on a government “stop-list.” The two have been in touch with their families and say they are in a safe location as they clear up the red tape for a return home to Canada. Greyson and Loubani were arrested on August 16 after rushing to the scene of a mass shooting by state forces of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. They staged a three-week hunger strike while being kept in a crowded and cockroach-infested cell.
Dozens of people were killed in Iraq over the weekend as part of the country’s worst spate of violence since 2008. An attack on a Shiite school in northern Iraq on Sunday killed 13 children and left 80 people wounded. On Saturday, at least 48 people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a group of Shiite pilgrims.
International weapons inspectors have begun destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. It is the first step under the U.N. resolution that followed the August 21 attack in Ghouta and threats of a U.S. military strike. The Assad regime faces a deadline of mid-2014 to abandon its full chemical arsenal. Speaking today in Indonesia, Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the initial progress.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “I think it’s also credit to the Assad regime for complying rapidly, as they are supposed to. Now we hope that will continue. I’m not going to vouch today for what happens months down the road, but it’s a good beginning. And we should welcome a good beginning.”
The United States and Russia say they hope to convene an international peace conference on Syria in about a month.
Republican leaders are refusing to back down in their campaign against “Obamacare” as the partial federal government shutdown enters its seventh day. On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner rejected calls to allow a vote on a government funding bill without tying it to undoing President Obama’s healthcare law. The White House has argued a so-called “clean” measure would have enough votes from Democrats and moderate Republicans if Boehner would allow it to reach the floor.
On Saturday, the House approved a measure to pay the nation’s 800,000 furloughed federal workers retroactively, but only when the government reopens. In a rally on the U.S. Capitol, a group of furloughed workers said they are struggling to provide for their families.
Marcelo Del Canto: “This is devastating to both of us. Our son is four years old. We had to take him out of day care immediately, because we knew that that would not be an expense that we could meet this month, because we don’t know how long this furlough could go.”
Natasha Rozier: “They should give up their paychecks. You know, they should reserve the right to get a paycheck, to know what it feels like to not have the money to provide for your family, to be able to put food on the table, to be able to put gas in your car.”
In addition to undoing “Obamacare,” House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans are also seeking cuts to programs include Medicare and Social Security in the upcoming debate over raising the debt ceiling. The United States faces an October 17 deadline to raise the debt limit or fail to pay off its debts. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the shutdown is already causing major damage to the economy.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: “You know, every day that the government is shut down, it does real harm to the American people. And I think you have to take a step back and look at where we are as a country, as an economy. The American people have been fighting their way out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The economy is coming back. They don’t need politics in Washington to bring the economy down.”
The New York Times reports Republicans and right-wing groups have been planning on a government shutdown as part of a strategy to undo “Obamacare” since President Obama was re-elected. Earlier this year, a group of Republicans gathered at an undisclosed location in Washington, D.C., and devised what they called a “blueprint to defunding Obamacare.” A group linked to the billionaire Koch brothers, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, gave more than $200 million to anti-“Obamacare” efforts last year.
Vigils were held around the world on Saturday to urge the release of 28 environmentalists and two journalists facing piracy charges in Russia. The “Arctic 30” were detained in a Greenpeace direct action against Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil rig last month. The Netherlands has filed legal action against Russia in a bid to win their release.
Rallies were held across the United States on Saturday in a call for renewed congressional action on immigration. Demonstrators in Phoenix, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other cities came together in what organizers dubbed the “National Day for Dignity and Respect.” Immigration reform has stalled in the House since the Senate approved a landmark measure in June. In New York City, hundreds of people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Alden Nesbitt: “I want to become a citizen, so that way I can feel like I am a part of this country, and I can, you know, pay taxes, go to school, drive and get a job like everyone else.”
Diana Ordonna: “I’m a DREAMer, and if this isn’t passed, I probably won’t be able to go to college. And, you know, I want to continue my education so that I can one day become a doctor and, you know, give back to society.”
The former Vietnamese military general, Vo Nguyen Giap, has died at the age of 102. Giap was the mastermind behind the Vietnamese military resistance against France and later the United States. Thousands of people gathered in Hanoi today to honor his life. A state funeral is expected next weekend.
The Angola 3 member Herman Wallace has died at the age of 71. Wallace died Friday morning in New Orleans just three days after a judge overturned his conviction following nearly 42 years in solitary confinement. He served more time in solitary consecutively than any other U.S. prisoner. Wallace and two others, known as the Angola 3, were placed in solitary in 1972 following the murder of a prison guard. The Angola 3 and their supporters say they were framed for their political activism as members of one of the first prison chapters of the Black Panthers. Wallace was freed last week after a judge ruled women were wrongly excluded from the jury that indicted him. Prosecutors quickly re-indicted him even though he only had days to live. But Wallace died a free man. In a statement, Wallace’s attorneys said: “Although his freedom was much too brief, it meant the world to Herman to spend these last three days surrounded by the love of his family and friends. One of the final things that Herman said to us was: 'I am free. I am free.'”