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Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi appeared in court today four months after his ouster in a military coup. Morsi faces charges surrounding the deaths of protesters killed in a rally against his government last December. Today’s hearing marked Morsi’s first court appearance since his ouster, a period that has seen hundreds of his supporters shot dead by state forces. Morsi told the court he remains Egypt’s legitimate president and reportedly chanted, “down with military rule.” The trial has been adjourned until January.
On the eve of Mohamed Morsi’s trial, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo for talks with his counterpart Nabil Fahmy. Kerry addressed the recent U.S. decision to scale back military aid to Egypt’s government.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “Of course we understood that the decision with respect to some aid, which has been held back for a period of time — we knew that in some places, obviously, that wouldn’t be well received. But it’s not a punishment. It’s a reflection of a policy in the United States under our law. We have a law passed by the United States Congress regarding how certain, you know, events unfold with respect to the change of a government in a country, and we’re bound by that.”
After Egypt, Kerry flew to Saudi Arabia for talks with Saudi King Abdullah.
The Pakistani government is warning of a new rift with the United States after a CIA drone strike that killed the head of the Pakistani Taliban. Hakimullah Mehsud and six other militants died on Friday when U.S. missiles hit their vehicle in North Waziristan. Mehsud had a $5 million bounty on his head and was accused of responsibility for thousands of deaths. The attack came just as the Pakistani government had relaunched peace talks with the Taliban. Pakistani officials were reportedly set to meet with a delegation of Taliban representatives the following day. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar called the strike “an attack on regional peace.”
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar: “Brick by brick, in the last seven weeks we tried to evolve a process through which we can bring peace to Pakistan. And what have you done? You have scuttled it on the eve of the day, or one day before, 18 hours before, a formal delegation of respected 'ulema,' or religious leaders, was to fly out to Miranshah and hand over this formal invitation, both as far as the venue is concerned and also as far as certain other issues were concerned.”
In addition to announcing a review of U.S. ties, the Pakistani government also summoned the U.S. ambassador to warn of a “standoff” unless drone attacks cease. Also denouncing the strike, the leading Pakistani opposition leader, Imran Khan, proposed a ban on NATO supply trucks inside Pakistan. Khan accused the U.S. of sabotaging the peace talks.
Imran Khan: “I feel saddened to say this, but just as the dialogue was about to start today, those Taliban who were to take part in the talks, including Hakimullah Mehsud, were killed by yesterday’s drone attack. It was done to sabotage the talks.”
The Pakistani Taliban has reportedly picked Khan Sayed as its new leader. He previously served as second in command.
The suspect in Friday’s armed attack at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) could face the death penalty for shooting dead a Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding five other people. Paul Ciancia is charged with murdering a federal officer and committing violence at an international airport. LAX police head Patrick Gannon described the attack.
Patrick Gannon: “9:20 this morning, an individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled a assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal. He proceeded up into the screening area, where TSA screeners are, and continued shooting and went past the screeners back into the airport itself. Personnel officers from airport police, Los Angeles Airport Police, responded immediately to the calls. They tracked the individual through the airport and engaged him in gunfire in Terminal 3 and were able to successfully take him into custody.”
The slain victim, Gerardo Hernandez, was the first TSA agent to die in the line of duty since the agency’s creation following the 9/11 attacks. He was a married father of two who had emigrated from El Salvador as a teenager. Citing a law enforcement source, the Southern Poverty Law Center says the gunman, Paul Ciancia, was carrying a note making racist, homophobic and sexist slurs about government officials and describing the TSA in conspiratorial terms. Ciancia remains in critical condition and unresponsive to police questioning.
The Obama administration is rejecting calls to grant clemency to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden just days after Snowden asked for international help. In a letter given to a German lawmaker last week, Snowden called on the United States to drop charges against him, writing: “Speaking the truth is not a crime.” On Sunday, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer ruled out clemency and said Snowden should return to face criminal charges. In some of the latest of Snowden’s disclosures, The New York Times reports the NSA intercepted the talking points of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of a meeting with President Obama in April. The NSA also mounted a major eavesdropping effort focused on the United Nations climate change conference in Bali in 2007.
The United Nations’ top scientific panel on climate change has concluded global warming will threaten the world’s food supply in the coming decades. A leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next report warns climate change could reduce crop production by 2 percent each decade for the rest of the century, driving up prices and plunging millions more into hunger and starvation. It is the first time the IPCC has issued a dire warning on global warming’s threat to the world’s food supply. The report also warns global warming could “exacerbate” a number of other problems, including poverty, water scarcity and war. The panel’s report is formally due in March. According to NASA, new data shows this past September tied 2005 for the warmest September on record.
Israel is preparing a new round of annexation projects in the occupied West Bank. On Sunday, the Israeli government issued tenders to build more than 1,800 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is also reportedly planning to build a new separation wall along its border with Jordan. The moves come ahead of a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage U.S.-brokered peace talks.
The pending Geneva peace conference on Syria appears further in doubt after months of delay. On Sunday, the opposition Syrian National Coalition said a timetable for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad remains a precondition for its involvement. The coalition also rejected the inclusion of Iran at the negotiating table. The Syrian government, meanwhile, accused Secretary of State John Kerry of interference for publicly backing a handover of power.
Two French journalists have been found dead following their abduction in Mali. Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont of the radio network RFI were kidnapped after interviewing a separatist leader in Mali’s north. Twelve suspects have been arrested for the pair’s murder. France invaded northern Mali earlier this year to fight rebel forces.
A new book claims President Obama’s campaign team considered replacing Vice President Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton for Obama’s re-election bid. The idea was reportedly discussed, but ultimately abandoned because it would not significantly improve Obama’s chances. At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama never considered dropping Biden from the ticket.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “What I can tell you, without a doubt, is that the president never considered that, and had anyone brought that idea to him, he would have laughed it out of the room.”
On Sunday, President Obama campaigned in Virginia for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election. McAuliffe is squaring off against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general. In his remarks, Obama seized on the impact of the recent government shutdown.
President Obama: “You’ve seen an extreme faction of the Republican Party that has shown again and again and again that they’re willing to hijack the entire party and the country and the economy, and grind progress to an absolute halt if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want. Now, you know, this isn’t just speculation. We just saw it last month. Here in Virginia, you felt the pain of the first government shutdown in 17 years, and there aren’t lots of states that felt more of the pain than folks right here in Virginia.”
In New York City, day laborers and their allies gathered Sunday to call for immigration reform and to highlight the role of immigrant workers in the recovery effort after Superstorm Sandy, just over one year ago. The workers rallied in Foley Square to call for relief from deportation for workers who helped rebuild the city. The protest came on the heels of a New York Daily News report showing 74 percent of construction workers who die on the job are Latinos, even though census figures show Latinos account for just 41 percent of such workers. Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said safety for relief workers is a key demand.
Pablo Alvarado: “After a natural disaster, workers need to be protected. FEMA comes in, and they bring relief to homeowners, to a lot of people who are affected. But workers’ rights, people who go in, the first responders, people who go in and take out the contaminated waters, they don’t even receive a glove or a helmet. That needs to change.”