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HeadlinesMarch 19, 2013

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Blasts Kill Scores in Iraq on 10th Anniversary of U.S.-Led Invasion

Mar 19, 2013

A series of bomb blasts have ripped through Baghdad and surrounding towns on the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that began a decade-long war in Iraq. At least 56 people died in more than a dozen explosions, most of them car bombings. It was 10 years ago today that the United States, under President George W. Bush, invaded Iraq on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Now, a decade after the invasion began, a new poll confirms most people in the United States believe it was a mistake.

Congolese Rebel Leader Wanted for War Crimes Surrenders at U.S. Embassy

Mar 19, 2013

A Congolese rebel leader wanted on war crimes charges has turned himself in to the U.S. embassy in Rwanda and asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court. Bosco Ntaganda was a leader of the M23 rebel group that temporarily seized the Congolese city of Goma last year. He has been indicted by the ICC for murder, rape, sexual slavery, ethnic persecution and recruiting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ntaganda had reportedly been fleeing from a rival faction of the M23 rebel movement. Some have also speculated he may have lost backing from supporters in Rwanda.

U.S. Condemns Syrian Firing of Rockets into Lebanon

Mar 19, 2013

Syrian aircraft have fired rockets into Lebanon along a remote area of the border. The attacks come after the Syrian government warned Lebanon to stop militants crossing the border to join rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland condemned the Syrian strikes.

Victoria Nuland: “Let me say that we can confirm what you are seeing in the press, that regime jets and helicopters did fire rockets into northern Lebanon, impacting Wadi al-Khayl, near the border town of Arsal. This constitutes a significant escalation in the violations of Lebanese sovereignty that the Syrian regime has been guilty of. These kinds of violations of sovereignty are absolutely unacceptable.”

Syrian Opposition Elects U.S. Citizen as Interim Prime Minister

Mar 19, 2013

The Syrian National Council has elected a Syrian-born U.S. citizen to serve as prime minister of an interim government overseeing areas captured by rebels. Ghassan Hitto is a technology executive who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. His election follows pressure from the United States and other countries for Syria’s opposition to choose a leader as a condition of increasing aid. It remains to be seen to what extent Syria’s divided rebel groups will accept Hitto’s authority.

Somalia: Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 10

Mar 19, 2013

In Somalia, a suicide car bomber killed at least 10 people in the capital Mogadishu. The militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility. The blast appeared to target a group of government officials but instead hit a vehicle carrying civilians.

Yemen Launches U.N.-Backed National Dialogue amid Protests

Mar 19, 2013

Yemen has launched a national dialogue to usher in elections and a new constitution after the popular uprising that forced President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power. A number of groups are protesting the U.N.-backed talks, including some who want independence for South Yemen. At least one protester was reportedly shot dead during protests in the southeastern city of Tarim. Nobel laureate Tawakkul Karman told AFP she is boycotting the talks over the “obvious imbalance in the representation of the youths, women and civil society groups and the participation of people who have the blood of the revolution youth on their hands.”

U.S. Role Seen as Key in Push for Global Arms Treaty

Mar 19, 2013

Representatives from roughly 150 countries are meeting in New York in a bid to negotiate the world’s first-ever global arms treaty. The treaty’s fate could rest largely on the United States, which leads the world in global arms exports. The United States backed out of last year’s talks, along with Russia and China, saying it wanted more time. The National Rifle Association has thrown its weight against a potential treaty, vowing to block its ratification in the United States. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a deal on Monday.

Ban Ki-moon: “This is no doubt a difficult issue. Yet the absence of the rule of law in the conventional arms trade defies explanation. We have international standards regulating everything from T-shirts to toys to tomatoes. There are international regulations for furniture. That means there are common standards for the global trade in armchairs, but not the global trade in arms.”

Study: 250,000 U.S. Guns Smuggled into Mexico Each Year

Mar 19, 2013

The U.N. global arms talks come as a new study has revealed that about 2 percent of all U.S. gun sales are made to groups that smuggle them into Mexico. More than 250,000 U.S. guns head into Mexico each year as part of an illegal trade worth nearly $130 million annually, according to researchers at the University of San Diego. In fact, thousands of U.S. sellers depend on the illegal sales and would go out of business without them, the report found.

Trial Opens for Challenge to NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Policy

Mar 19, 2013

A trial challenging the New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy opened Monday with testimony from young African-American men who say they have been stopped and searched without cause. For the next six weeks, Judge Shira Scheindlin will hear arguments about whether the NYPD’s practices are unconstitutional and unfairly target people of color. Nearly 90 percent of people stopped by police in 2011 were black and Latino, and nine out of 10 were neither arrested nor ticketed. Plaintiffs in the class action suit are seeking changes to police practices, including a court-appointed monitor. Juan Cartagena, president of LatinoJustice, spoke at a news conference outside the courthouse.

Juan Cartagena: “Philadelphia is watching. Newark is watching us — Paterson, New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco. That’s because policing, policing in urban America, is on trial. Policing in urban America is at issue. Policing in how black and brown people are treated is on trial. Do not forget that what’s happening in New York City by the NYPD is being watched closely by other police departments all over the country.”

Obama Taps Tom Perez for Secretary of Labor

Mar 19, 2013

President Obama has nominated Tom Perez, now head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to become the new secretary of labor. Perez was an adviser to the late Senator Ted Kennedy and oversaw Maryland’s Department of Labor, where he helped implement the country’s first statewide living wage law. During his tenure at the Justice Department, he opened a record number of investigations into civil rights abuses by local police, including a racial-profiling suit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But his nomination comes on the heels of an inspector general’s report that accused the department’s voting rights unit of partisan divisions and unprofessionalism. Obama praised Perez on Monday.

President Obama: “Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He is the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse. In his current role as the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Tom has fought to open pathways into the workforce for everyone willing to contribute, including people with disabilities, LGBT Americans, and immigrants. And he has helped settle some of the largest cases ever on behalf of families targeted by unfair mortgage lending.”

Perez is already facing criticism from Republicans, who object to his record on voting rights and support of undocumented immigrants. He is the only Latino to be tapped for Obama’s second-term Cabinet. Perez began his remarks Monday by thanking Obama in Spanish.

Tom Perez: “Le agradezco, señor Presidente, el gran honor de ser nominado para servir en está posición. It is a remarkably humbling and exciting phenomenon to be here today. My parents taught my four siblings and me to work hard, to give back to our community, and to make sure that the ladder of opportunity was there for those coming after us. Over my career, I’ve learned that true progress is possible if you keep an open mind, listen to all sides, and focus on results.”

Hacker Who Revealed AT&T Security Flaw Gets 3.5 Years in Prison

Mar 19, 2013

A hacker who leaked email addresses from an AT&T web server to a journalist in an effort to expose the company’s security vulnerabilities has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison. Twenty-seven-year-old Andrew Auernheimer, nicknamed “Weev,” found a flaw in AT&T’s server in 2010 that allowed him to gather 114,000 email addresses of iPad users. He gave the information to the website Gawker, which posted a redacted version. After a federal probe, Auernheimer was convicted of identity theft and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. On top of the prison term, he has been ordered to undergo three years of supervised release and pay more than $73,000 in restitution to AT&T. He was charged under the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the same law used by federal prosecutors to target the late cyber-activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January just weeks before his trial for downloading a trove of academic articles. Last week, Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys was indicted under the same law. Keys is accused of providing login information to the hacker group Anonymous that allowed them to alter the text of a headline on the website of the Los Angeles Times. Keys, who is 26, could face up to 25 years in prison.

Steubenville: 2 Teenage Girls Arrested for Threatening Rape Victim Online

Mar 19, 2013

Two teenage girls in Steubenville, Ohio, have been arrested for making threats on social media against a 16-year-old rape victim whose case sparked a national outcry and led to the conviction of two high school football players. The girls, ages 15 and 16, were being held in juvenile detention after one allegedly threatened the girl with bodily harm and the other threatened to kill the victim.

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