Up to 500 people have been killed and 800 wounded in fighting between rival soldiers in South Sudan. The violence followed what the South Sudanese government called a foiled coup attempt against President Salva Kiir. Thousands of people have taken refuge in U.N. facilities to escape the fighting.
Six U.S. troops have died in an aircraft crash in Afghanistan. It was the deadliest incident for American forces in Afghanistan this year. The military says the crash was an accident, but the Taliban says it carried out an attack.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the CIA to hand over an internal study said to be highly critical of its own program of secret detentions and torture. The study is said to echo the findings of the Intelligence Committee’s report, which has yet to be declassified but reportedly documents extensive abuses and a cover-up by CIA officials to Congress. The CIA study is also said to contradict the agency’s own formal response to the Senate report. On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said the CIA’s withheld study “raises fundamental questions about why a review the CIA conducted internally years ago — and never provided to the committee — is so different from the CIA’s formal response to the committee study.”
Edward Snowden has published an open letter offering to help the Brazilian government investigate National Security Agency surveillance. Snowden’s leaks have revealed the NSA spied on the personal communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, as well as on Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras. In his letter, Snowden said he needs political asylum in order to assist countries like Brazil targeted by NSA spying, writing: “Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.” Brazilian officials say they have no plans to grant Snowden’s request. At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney rejected Snowden’s call for asylum abroad.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “Our view, as I said earlier, has not changed. We believe that Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to, ought to return to the United States, where he faces charges for leaking classified information and where he will receive full due process and protections. The broader issues with regards to Brazil and other nations and the disclosures are ones that we discussed directly with those nations through diplomatic channels and with our Brazilian counterparts, and that will continue, but when it comes to Mr. Snowden, our views certainly haven’t changed.”
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee appeared before the European Parliament on Tuesday to warn against pending testimony by Edward Snowden. Mike Rogers said the U.S. opposes the European Union’s invitation for Snowden to answer questions about NSA spying on their countries.
Rep. Mike Rogers: “We have strong concerns. We’ve had very, very direct dialogue with our colleagues and compatriots in the European Union. I personally do not believe it rises to the dignity of this body to have someone who is wanted for a crime in the United States for stealing information that has jeopardized the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and other places around the world. I do believe that this would have a reaction in the United States that would not be helpful to a constructive dialogue as we continue to work out our differences.”
President Obama held talks at the White House on Tuesday with executives from top U.S. tech firms, including Apple, Twitter, Google and Facebook. The meeting comes days after the tech firms joined together to call for tougher controls over U.S. government surveillance. In a statement, the companies said they urged Obama “to move aggressively on reform.”
Ukraine has secured a $15 billion bailout from Russia amidst an economic crisis and political unrest. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has faced weeks of protest for a decision to reject closer integration with the European Union in favor of strengthening Russian ties. Yanukovych says the Russian deal offers better terms because of the tough economic reforms that would have come with the EU’s. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people rallied in Kiev to oppose the pact with Russia.
A gunman opened fire at a Reno, Nevada, medical building on Tuesday, killing one person and injuring two others before taking his own life. The attack came four days after a student gunman critically wounded a classmate and then committed suicide at a high school in Colorado.
A spat has opened up between the United States and India over the alleged mistreatment of an Indian diplomat. India’s deputy consul general in New York was arrested last week on charges of underpaying a domestic helper and committing visa fraud to win her entry into the country. The diplomat says she was handcuffed, cavity-searched and kept in a cell with drug-addicted prisoners despite asserting her right to diplomatic immunity. Indian Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath demanded an apology.
Kamal Nath: “The United States needs to come out of the mindset that there are still banana republics in this world. That’s an old mindset. The United States, along with all the states and state functionaries, must recognize that every country has dignity and cannot be dealt with in this manner. More steps should be taken against the United States until they give an unconditional apology for what has happened.”
In response, Indian officials have removed security barriers in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. A group of Indian politicians has also refused to meet with a delegation of visiting U.S. lawmakers. In Washington, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. expects India to protect its embassy.
Marie Harf: “We have conveyed at high levels to the government of India our expectations that India will continue to fulfill all of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, excuse me. Obviously, the safety and security of our diplomats and consular officers in the field is a top priority.”
The Washington, D.C. city council has approved one of the nation’s largest minimum wage rates for 2016. The minimum wage would rise in two years from $8.25 an hour to $11.50. The measure was approved unanimously, meaning it could withstand a veto from Mayor Vincent Gray. Gray vetoed a living wage requirement at large retail stores earlier this year.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing a controversy over whether his appointees deliberately caused traffic delays to exact political revenge. Democrats say lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge were reduced in September to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for declining to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election. Just one lane was operational over a four-day period, causing massive traffic jams. Two Christie appointees, one of them a high school friend, have resigned since the scandal broke. One of them has claimed the lanes were closed to conduct a traffic study, but it appears no study actually took place. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller has asked the Department of Transportation to investigate. Christie has denied any wrongdoing and said he had no knowledge of the closures when they occurred.
Sixteen people have been arrested in Oregon after blocking a shipment of equipment bound for the Alberta tar sands. The protesters locked themselves to two vehicles in front of the truck’s route. Organizers say the action marked the sixth against tar sands shipments in the Pacific Northwest in just over two weeks.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has placed five more priests on leave in the continued fallout from allegations of child sexual abuse. One of the priests, Michael Chapman, was found to have carried out molestation, while the other four were said to have violated undisclosed standards of “behavior and boundaries.” A former top-ranking clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, Monsignor William Lynn, was convicted last year of covering up child sexual abuse by Philadelphia priests.
The LGBT magazine The Advocate has named Pope Francis its person of the year. Announcing its decision, the magazine cited the pope’s more inclusive stance on LGBT rights than previous pontiffs. Asked about gay priests, Francis has said, “Who am I to judge?” He has also said God looks upon gay people with love. The Advocate writes: “Pope Francis is still not pro-gay by today’s standard … But what Francis does say about LGBT people has already caused reflection and consternation within his church.” Time Magazine named Pope Francis its “Person of the Year” last week.