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The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has reportedly cited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a motive behind last week’s attack. According to The Washington Post, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators from his hospital bed that the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the bombings that killed three people and wounded over 170 more. Investigators say it appears the brothers were “self-radicalized” through the Internet and U.S. actions in Muslim countries. No evidence has emerged linking their acts to foreign militants.
Investigators say the Tsarnaev brothers may have learned to make the pressure-cooker bombs they used by reading the al-Qaeda magazine “Inspire.” The older brother bought fireworks from a store in New Hampshire two months before the attack. On Tuesday, lawyers for his wife, Katherine Russell, said she is cooperating with the investigation.
Amato DeLuca: “She is doing everything she can to assist in the ongoing investigation.”
Miriam Weizenbaum: “The injuries and loss of life to people who came to celebrate a race and a holiday has caused profound distress and sorrow to Katie and her family. The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.”
The social media website Reddit has apologized after its online forums were used to falsely accuse innocent people of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings. Rumors quickly spread across the Internet last week that one of the Boston suspects was Sunil Tripathi, a student who went missing while on leave from Brown University. Reddit users had started the rumors after posting photos they claimed matched that of one of the Boston suspects. Reddit says it has expressed its regret to the student’s family. Earlier today Rhode Island police said they have pulled a dead body from the Providence River that may be Tripathi’s.
Federal authorities have dropped charges against a Mississippi resident detained last week for allegedly sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a local official. Shortly after being released, Paul Kevin Curtis told reporters his arrest had been a “nightmare” ordeal.
Paul Kevin Curtis: “I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official. This past week has been a nightmare for myself and my family. My mother has suffered, as well as my children. I would like to get back to normal.”
Hours after Curtis was released, the home of another Mississippi resident was searched in connection with the case.
In Bangladesh, at least 70 people are dead after a building housing several garment factories collapsed near the capital Dhaka. Hundreds of people were injured with an unknown number still trapped in the wreckage. Workers said they were ordered by supervisors to come to work this morning even after cracks had been found in the building the day before. The disaster comes exactly five months after a massive fire killed at least 112 garment workers at Bangladesh’s Tazreen factory, which made clothing sold by Wal-Mart, among other companies.
In Iraq, the toll from Tuesday’s clashes between government forces and Sunni protesters at a protest encampment near Kirkuk has reached at least 42 dead, mostly civilians, and more than 100 wounded. The violence was the deadliest to date in the dispute between Sunni groups and the Shiite-controlled Iraqi government.
Guatemala’s top court has annulled the historic trial of former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, sending the case back to the earliest stages. Ríos Montt was tried on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. But as the trial neared a close last week, appeals judge Carol Patricia Flores ordered its suspension and nullified all proceedings dating back to November 2011. On Tuesday, Guatemeala’s Constitutional Court sided with Flores’ ruling and ordered the case transferred to her jurisdiction and restarted before the genocide charges were brought. Massacre survivors had attended Ríos Montt’s trial and offered testimony about the atrocities they witnessed. Click here to watch our interview with Allan Nairn about the Ríos Montt trial from Friday’s broadcast.
Lawmakers in France have voted to legalize gay marriage and extend adoption rights to same-sex couples. France becomes the 14th country to equalize marriage, joining recent countries including Uruguay and New Zealand.
The Israeli government is again accusing the regime of Syrian President Basher al-Assad of using chemical weapons against rebel fighters. Top Israeli military leaders told reporters on Tuesday they’re confident Assad’s forces have deployed chemical weapons in a number of recent attacks. But no evidence was submitted to prove the contention beyond claims of photographs and unspecified intelligence. Israel has sought to prove chemical weapons use by Syria in order to trigger the red line for intervention floated by President Obama. The White House has pushed back against the latest Israeli claims, saying the U.S. still believes chemical weapons have not been used.
Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana has announced plans to retire at the end of his term in 2014. Baucus is the sixth Senate Democrat to bow out of next year’s midterms rather than seek re-election. As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus has developed a reputation as a key backer of powerful lobbyists on Capitol Hill. According to The New York Times, Baucus aides who went on to become lobbyists have helped financial firms save more than $11.2 billion in taxes. He was one of four Democratic senators to vote against background checks in last week’s defeat of new gun-control measures.
New figures show inequality has sharply widened in the two-year recovery following the period known as the Great Recession. According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of U.S. households saw their income jump 28 percent, while that of the remaining 93 percent declined. The wealth gap separating the top 7 percent from the rest jumped from a ratio of 18-to-1 in 2009 to 24-to-1 in 2011.
Hundreds of low-wage workers are expected to walk off the job today at more than a dozen fast food and retail stores in Chicago. The strike is being coordinated by the group Fight for 15, an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. More than 400 workers took part in a similar one-day strike in New York City earlier this month.
An Illinois teenager is facing terrorism charges after being caught up in an online FBI sting. Eighteen-year-old Abdella Ahmad Tounisi is accused of trying to join an al-Qaeda-linked group through a fake website run by the FBI. He was arrested Friday at an airport in Chicago where he was allegedly seeking to begin his journey to Syria, where the group is fighting the government. Tounisi has been charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. But his arrest has raised new questions about whether FBI stings are ensnaring people who would otherwise be considered harmless. In an email to an FBI agent who posed as a recruiter, Tounisi allegedly confessed: “Concerning my fighting skills, to be honest, I do not have any.”
An Ohio Catholic high school physical education teacher has lost her job after her lesbian partner’s name appeared in her mother’s obituary. Carla Hale of Clintonville, Ohio, had listed her partner as among the survivors of her late mother. Just days after her mother’s funeral, Hale was fired after a complaint from an anonymous parent.
Carla Hale: “She asked me if I really wanted to put her name in there, in the obituary, but as we sat there that day — my mom really loved Julie, and Julie loved my mom. And as I sat there with my brother, you know, it was like he — his wife was mentioned, my niece’s husband was mentioned, so why not? Why not my person I love?”
Hale had worked at Bishop Watterson High School for 19 years before her dismissal. A Change.org petition calling for her reinstatement has received more than 50,000 signatures.
New York City’s Cooper Union has announced an end to its longstanding tradition of free tuition for all. The school says students will now be charged on a sliding scale, with tuition as high as $20,000 for those deemed able to afford it. School officials claim those unable to afford tuition still will not have to pay. Cooper Union students have not paid tuition in more than 100 years. The decision was announced after nearly two years of protests from students and faculty to preserve Cooper Union’s status as one of the few remaining tuition-free colleges in the country.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a unanimous measure calling for the city’s retirement system to divest over $583 million from fossil fuels. The resolution urges the $16 billion San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System to pull out the stock it holds in 91 of the 200 top fossil fuel corporations in the world. The vote marked the latest in a national effort for divestment called Go Fossil Free, which organizers say is modeled on the international solidarity campaign against South African apartheid.
The Obama administration has been accused of backtracking on vows to move toward nuclear disarmament following reports it plans to spend more than $10 billion to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. The plan would extend the life of U.S. nuclear B61 gravity bombs stored in Europe and apply new tail fins to make the bombs into guided weapons. Joseph Cirincione, head of the nuclear arms control group the Ploughshares Fund, told The Guardian: “The billions of dollars we are lavishing on the B61 is criminal. This is billions of dollars spent on a weapon whose mission evaporated at the end of the cold war,” he said.
Bob Edgar, the former lawmaker and head of the democracy watchdog group Common Cause, has died at the age of 69. Edgar served Pennsylvania in Congress for 12 years and also led the National Council of Churches. Click here for his many interviews on Democracy Now! about campaign finance reform, unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns, and more.