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HeadlinesJuly 23, 2013

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Leaked Report: Scores of Civilians Killed by U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan

Jul 23, 2013

A leaked Pakistani government report has bolstered claims that civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes are far higher than the Obama administration has admitted. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released figures from the Pakistani government’s own research into 75 CIA drone strikes and five attacks by NATO between 2006 and 2009. It finds that the attacks left at least 746 people dead, including at least 147 civilians, 94 of them children. The Bureau says the figures are likely too low — an earlier study based largely on media reports found that the number of drone-related civilian casualties in Pakistan ranges between 411 and 890.

Iraq: 500 Prisoners Escape from Abu Ghraib

Jul 23, 2013

In Iraq, more than 500 prisoners have escaped from Abu Ghraib, the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad made famous by photographs revealing the torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers. The prison break began Sunday night when suicide bombers and gunmen launched an assault that lasted into the morning. At least 10 police and four militants died. An official told Reuters most of the escaped prisoners were convicted senior members of al-Qaeda. Another prison north of Baghdad came under simultaneous attack with a number of soldiers and militants killed but no reported prisoner escapes. Abu Ghraib prison became synonymous with U.S. abuses in Iraq after graphic images emerged nearly a decade ago showing Iraqi prisoners being sexually abused and tortured by U.S. solders. Meanwhile in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, a suicide bomber targeting an Iraqi military convoy killed at least 22 soldiers and three other people who happened to be passing by.

Dempsey Seeks Deal to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Jul 23, 2013

The top U.S. military general traveled to Afghanistan Monday for a meeting on the future of U.S. troops there. General Martin Dempsey, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he hopes to see a deal signed by October to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the official end of the combat mission in 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had halted negotiations with the United States following a dispute over a Taliban political office in Qatar. The office, which opened amid plans for U.S.-backed peace talks, bore a flag and the name used by the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan. Speaking on Monday, General Dempsey downplayed the idea of a “zero option” that would see the United States withdraw all troops from Afghanistan at the end of next year.

Gen. Martin Dempsey: “I am convinced that we all seek a future — an Afghanistan that is stable, that is unified, that has a constitution that guarantees the freedoms that it guarantees, and that in the case of the United States military in particular, but also the coalition, that we continue to build that relationship with the security forces to make them capable of defending themselves against both internal and external threats.”

On Monday, the same day Dempsey spoke, Afghanistan’s Parliament voted in favor of firing the country’s interior minister over deepening violence and ineffective security. President Hamid Karzai said Interior Minister Mujtaba Patang would remain in power for now while the Afghan Supreme Court considers whether Parliament had legal grounds to dismiss him.

Afghanistan: 3 NATO Soldiers, Afghan Interpreter Killed by Bomber on Donkey

Jul 23, 2013

Earlier today, officials said three NATO soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed when a suicide bomber rode a donkey into a military convoy in Afghanistan’s Wardak province.

Egypt: 9 Killed in Clashes Between Morsi Supporters, Critics

Jul 23, 2013

In Egypt, at least six people were killed overnight in clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi near the main campus of Cairo University. Three others were killed in similar violence the day before. Morsi’s family blasted Egypt’s military rulers on Monday, accusing them of kidnapping Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood party who has been held incommunicado since his removal nearly three weeks ago. Morsi’s supporters are vowing to continue their call for the military to go.

Ahmed Amer: “There is no return backwards, no to the military rule. We must end the military rule and the national security units. They should go back to their holes. There is no return of the national security units. God willing, there will not be an erasing of the light. We will not retreat. If they want to come back (to rule), then they should do so over the bodies of the millions in the streets.”

Russian Lawyer: Snowden Could Soon Leave Moscow Airport for City

Jul 23, 2013

A Russian lawyer for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden says his client could leave the transit area of a Moscow airport as early as Wednesday and enter the city pending the receipt of the necessary paperwork. Snowden has been sheltering in the airport for exactly a month as of today as the United States has filed espionage charges and launched a global campaign to block his asylum bids in a number of countries. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Reuters Snowden believes U.S. efforts have made it unsafe for him to leave Russia and travel to Latin America, where three countries have offered asylum. He said Snowden should soon receive papers allowing him to remain in Moscow after applying for temporary asylum in Russia last week.

Pentagon Gives Congress Military Options for Syria

Jul 23, 2013

The Pentagon has for the first time given Congress a detailed list of military options for the conflict in Syria. General Martin Dempsey provided the list in response to a request from Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin. It outlines a range of options, from training and advising rebel troops to more involved actions such as launching strikes or establishing a no-fly zone, both of which could cost a billion dollars a month, according to Dempsey. Last week, General Dempsey said in testimony before the committee that he has provided President Obama with options for possible military action on behalf of rebels seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. He also conceded Assad will likely remain in power a year from now.

Trayvon Martin Supporters Continue Sit-In at Florida Governor’s Office

Jul 23, 2013

In Florida, supporters of Trayvon Martin have continued their sit-in outside the office of Florida Gov. Rick Scott where they are demanding a special session to address the issues they say are at the heart of Martin’s killing by George Zimmerman — racial profiling and vigilantism bolstered by Florida’s stand-your-ground law. The group Dream Defenders began their occupation a week ago following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the shooting death of the unarmed teen. While the state’s stand-your-ground law impacted instructions to the jury, Zimmerman did not use it to defend himself. On Monday, Scott affirmed his support for the stand-your-ground law and said he would not call a special session. A petition calling for him to do so has raised more than 28,000 signatures.

Journalists, Animal Rights Advocates File Lawsuit Against Utah “Ag-Gag” Law

Jul 23, 2013

A group of animal rights advocates and journalists have filed the first-ever lawsuit against so-called ag-gag laws aimed at suppressing revelations of animal abuse at farms and slaughterhouses. The plaintiffs are challenging Utah’s 2012 law which imposes a penalty of up to one year in jail for recording images or sounds of agricultural operations without permission. While a number of states have passed ag-gag laws, Utah was the first to attempt a prosecution by charging a woman who filmed a slaughterhouse from a public street. The case was later dropped. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, independent journalist Will Potter, wrote: “Utah’s law, and others like it, directly place both me and my sources at risk. There’s a long history of investigative journalism in this country based on exactly the type of research and whistleblowing that these laws criminalize.”

Federal Judge Blocks North Dakota Abortion Ban

Jul 23, 2013

A federal judge in North Dakota has blocked what could have been the country’s strictest anti-abortion ban from coming into effect. The law, which was set to take effect on August 1, would have banned abortion once a fetal or embryonic heartbeat can be detected, which happens at about six weeks of pregnancy when many women do not realize they are pregnant. Monday’s order came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the state’s only remaining abortion clinic, which is in Fargo. In his decision granting a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland called the North Dakota ban “a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women.”

Ohio Man Charged with Murdering 3 Women

Jul 23, 2013

An Ohio man is being held on $6 million bail after being formally charged with kidnapping and killing three women whose bodies were found in plastic bags. The suspect, Michael Madison, reportedly indicated to authorities he was inspired by Anthony Sowell, an Ohio serial killer convicted two years ago of killing 11 women. The three bodies were found within a few hundred yards of each other on Friday and Saturday. East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton spoke Monday.

Gary Norton: “That search turned up a number of things. It turned up information from people. It turned up physical evidence. And in one case, cadaver-sniffing dogs hit positive spots in a general area. We brought in then a second cadaver-sniffing dog, a third cadaver-sniffing dog. All of them responded to the same general area, which brought in BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) again and conducted a more thorough search. Fortunately, with the grace of God, there was not another victim found yesterday.”

One of the victims has been identified as Cleveland resident Angela Deskins, who was 38. The latest Ohio case comes less than three months after three other women were found alive in Cleveland after being held captive for roughly a decade. The suspect, Ariel Castro, has pleaded not guilty in that case.

73 Arrested at Latest “Moral Monday” Protest in North Carolina

Jul 23, 2013

In North Carolina, 73 people were arrested during the 12th “Moral Monday” protest against the agenda of the Republican-led state Legislature. This week’s action focused on the attempted rollback of voting rights. A state Senate committee is set to consider a proposal today that would require all voters to present certain forms of photo ID. The North Carolina NAACP has been leading the protests on a range of issues including the loss of unemployment benefits and attacks on women’s rights.

Rand Paul Staffer Resigns amid Furor over Pro-Confederacy Views

Jul 23, 2013

An aide to Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has resigned after coming under fire for his views in favor of the Confederacy and the shooting of President Abraham Lincoln. Jack Hunter, who helped write Sen. Paul’s book, formerly worked as a radio pundit known as the “Southern Avenger” who often donned a mask bearing the Confederate flag. He headed a group that advocated Southern secession from the United States and wrote about toasting Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Paul, who is being eyed as a top Republican presidential contender in 2016, initially defended his aide to The Huffington Post, calling him “incredibly talented” while acknowledging some of his writings were “absolutely stupid.” But Paul confirmed Monday Jack Hunter had left his staff in a “mutual decision.”

Former Top Wall Street Regulator Takes Job Defending Firms

Jul 23, 2013

The man who once served as the Obama administration’s lead enforcer on Wall Street malfeasance has taken a job defending the firms he once regulated. The New York Times reports Robert Khuzami, who left his post as enforcement head of the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, has accepted a job at Kirkland & Ellis, one of the country’s largest corporate law firms. He is expected to earn more than $5 million a year.

Immigrant Youth Known as “Dream 8” Detained at U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing

Jul 23, 2013

A group of at least eight young immigrants have been detained at the border after trying to re-enter the United States to challenge the Obama administration’s record deportations. The so-called Dream 8 were brought to the United States as children. Most had been deported or compelled to leave the United States by current immigration policies. But three of them chose to leave the United States and travel to Mexico in order to stand with the others and help them return home. One of those three, Lizbeth Mateo, spoke out before the action in a video produced by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance.

Lizbeth Mateo: “Hi, everyone. This is Lizbeth. I’m making this video from Mexico. I know it’s going to sound a little crazy, and to be honest, I still can’t believe that I’m here. It’s surreal. I know you’re going to think that I’m crazy for doing this, for leaving the U.S., for coming to Mexico. But to be honest, I think it’s even crazier that I had to wait 15 years to see my family.”

The Dream 8 wore graduation caps and gowns as they went to the border. Supporters gathered to cheer them on from both the United States and Mexico sides. An update on social media said the Dream 8 had been taken to a detention facility in Florence, Arizona.

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