Egyptian state media is reporting authorities have detained ousted President Mohamed Morsi on new charges. This is the first update on Morsi’s status since he was forced from office on July 3. Morsi will reportedly be detained for 15 days pending investigations into his suspected collaboration with the Palestinian group Hamas for a prison break during the 2011 uprising against the Mubarak regime. The news comes as Egypt is seeing major protests today both in support and against army General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The army’s top leader asked supporters this week to demonstrate in support of a military crackdown on what he called “violence and potential terrorism.”
The United Nations has increased its count of the death toll in Syria’s more than two-year civil war to more than 100,000. The figure is up from the 93,000 deaths announced last month. Speaking before meeting with Syrian opposition members at the United Nations, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States remains committed to convening international peace talks in Geneva on ending Syria’s conflict.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “There is no military solution to Syria. There is only a political solution, and that will require leadership in order to bring people to the table. Yesterday I had a conversation with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia. We remain committed to the effort to bring the parties to a Geneva 2 to implement Geneva 1, and we will try our hardest to make that happen as soon as it’s possible.”
Iran has reportedly floated an offer of direct nuclear talks with the United States. The New York Times reports Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki relayed the proposal earlier this month and offered to facilitate any future discussions.
The Justice Department has unveiled plans to restore some of the oversight struck down in last month’s Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Speaking to the National Urban League’s annual conference in Philadelphia, Attorney General Eric Holder said he will ask a federal court to require that Texas obtain federal approval for all changes to its voting laws.
Eric Holder: “This request to 'bail in' the state of Texas and to require it to obtain pre-approval from either the department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found. Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented just last year in the redistricting case of Texas v. Holder, as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized, we believe that the state of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”
A federal court last year ruled the Republican-controlled statehouse in Texas discriminated against people of color in its redrawing of political maps for congressional and legislative districts ahead of the 2012 election. Holder’s announcement marks the Obama administration’s first policy move since the Supreme Court invalidated a critical portion of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act that required nine states with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal approval for changes to voting rules. Holder says more actions will be announced in the coming weeks, including challenges to voter ID laws nationwide.
The lone woman of color on the all-female jury that acquitted George Zimmerman has come forward to reveal she believed he was guilty. Speaking to ABC News, the woman, identified by her first name of Maddy, said she initially wanted to convict Zimmerman but changed her mind after deciding there was not enough evidence in the eyes of the law. The juror said she suffers from the outcome of the trial and shares the grief of Trayvon Martin’s mother.
Juror B29: “It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat, because I feel that I was part, or I feel that I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death. And as I carry him on my back I’m hurting as much as Trayvon’s Martin’s mother, ’cause there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain.”
Robin Roberts: “But you feel in your heart of hearts that you and the jury approached it and came with the decision, and you stand by that decision to this day?”
Juror B29: “I stand by the decision because of the law. If I stand by the decision because of my heart, he would’ve been guilty.”
The juror’s comments come as Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, has visited Capitol Hill to attend the first-ever meeting of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys.
Closing statements are underway in the military trial of Army Private Bradley Manning for the disclosure of government information to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, the lead military prosecutor accused Manning of betraying the nation, saying: “Manning had the general evil intent … He was not a whistleblower. He was a traitor.” Manning is the first-ever defendant to face an “aiding the enemy” charge for leaking government documents to a news source, which could set a major precedent for future cases involving journalists. Defense attorneys are set to make their closing remarks today.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to sanction any country that aids National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The 30-member panel passed the measure by unanimous consent. It calls on the State Department to work with Congress to level sanctions against any government that helps Snowden evade U.S. extradition. Snowden remains holed up at an airport in Russia, where he has reportedly been granted temporary asylum.
The oil giant Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the plea deal, Halliburton will pay the maximum fine and remain on probation for three years.
Federal prosecutors have unveiled charges against the hedge fund giant SAC Capital Advisors for alleged securities and wire fraud. The indictment accuses SAC of enabling a massive insider trading scheme that reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for the firm and its billionaire owner, Steven Cohen, over more than a decade. Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said SAC’s scheme was unprecedented in size for a U.S. hedge fund.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara: “When so many people from a single hedge fund have engaged in insider trading, it is not a coincidence. It is instead the predictable product of substantial and pervasive institutional failure. As alleged, SAC trafficked in inside information on a scale without any known precedent in the history of hedge funds. As described in the indictment, the scope of illegal trading was deep, and it was wide. It spanned more than a decade in time, involved the securities of at least 20 public companies, extended across multiple sectors of the economy, and benefited SAC to the tune of at least hundreds of million dollars.”
The charges against SAC mark a rare departure for federal prosecutors in that they chose to avoid a “deferred prosecution agreement” that allows a firm to avoid indictment if they agree to change their behavior.
The banking giant UBS has agreed to pay a $885 million settlement for deceptively selling mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Under the terms of the deal, UBS does not admit to any liability or wrongdoing and its executives will avoid charges. UBS is among 18 banks pursued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency for dumping the toxic securities that helped cause the nation’s financial crisis. UBS previously paid a $1.5 billion fine for its role in the manipulation of Libor, the basis for rates on trillions of dollars in transactions across the globe.
A federal judge has cleared a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley of encouraging the targeting of African-American homeowners in Detroit. The plaintiffs in the case include five black Detroit residents who say Morgan Stanley helped subprime mortgage lender New Century Mortgage Company issue loans likely to push borrowers into foreclosure. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer tied Detroit’s current bankruptcy woes to the actions of major banks, writing: “It is not difficult to conclude that Detroit’s current predicament, at least in part, is an outgrowth of the predatory lending at issue here.”
The North Carolina State Senate has passed sweeping restrictions on abortion contained in a motorcycle safety bill. The measures sparked mass protests from opponents who say they threaten to shutter clinics. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has said he will sign the bill, despite a campaign promise not to approve new restrictions on abortion.
A federal judge has delayed until next year the enforcement of Alabama’s new anti-choice law, which threatens to close more than half the state’s abortion clinics. The measure forces doctors at the state’s five clinics to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a step that can be impossible in part because some hospitals oppose abortion.
The news comes as abortion rights supporters have launched a nationwide caravan aimed at mobilizing supporters of reproductive freedom. Participants in the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride plan to travel in the coming weeks to Wichita, Kansas, Jackson, Mississippi, and other areas where access to abortion is under attack. Organizer Sunsara Taylor spoke at a kick-off rally in New York’s Union Square.
Sunsara Taylor: “We’re going to all the states with only one clinic left. We’re going to North Dakota, where on August 1st they plan to shut down — they have a law that would shut down the only clinic left in North Dakota. We’re hoping for an injunction, we’re expecting an injunction, but we’re going to be there either way, because the fact that these laws passed is totally unacceptable. There needs to be a massive fight in this country of people standing up and refusing to tolerate this, because women’s lives and women’s future and ultimately the kind of society we want to live in is at stake.”
An Ohio gay couple dealing with a life-threatening illness has won recognition of their marriage after marrying out of state. John Arthur, who is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his husband James Obergefell tied the knot in Maryland earlier this month in order to ensure they were legally wed before the end of Arthur’s life. A federal judge has ruled that Arthur’s death certificate must show Obergefell as his surviving spouse, ensuring that the two can be buried next to each other on Arthur’s family plot. The ruling could prompt other Ohio same-sex couples married out of state to seek recognition of their unions.
Alabama has carried out its first execution in two years. Andrew Reid Lackey was killed by lethal injection Thursday night for the 2005 stabbing murder of 80-year-old Charlie Newman. Lackey was put to death despite claims he suffered mental illness.
Thousands of people rallied in Tunisia on Thursday after a leading opposition figure was shot dead. Mohamed Brahmi, a leftist member of the Tunisian parliament, was killed outside his home. Tunisian unions have called a general strike to protest his murder.
A landmark report on Colombia’s more than 50-year internal conflict has found that nearly a quarter of a million people have been killed, most of them civilians. The report tackles the military conflict between Colombia’s armed forces and leftist guerrillas dating back to 1958, as well as the right-wing paramilitaries that have emerged since the mid-1980s. Gonzalo Sánchez, head of the Colombian investigative team, unveiled the findings.
Gonzalo Sánchez: “The total of violent deaths in the country between 1958 and 2012 is at least 220,000 caused by the armed conflict. Eighty percent of these have been unarmed civilians. It’s a war that has left most of the country mourning, but very unevenly. It’s a war whose victims are in the vast majority noncombatant civilians. It’s a depraved war that has broken all humanitarian rules beyond social and political objectives that multiple gangs could brandish.”
According to the report, Colombia’s bloodiest period came between 1985 and 2002, when wealthy elites formed paramilitaries to battle rebels and attack civilians. The main paramilitary group, the AUC, was responsible for the bulk of nearly 2,000 massacres since 1980 as well as the worst atrocities. The leftist guerrilla group FARC was responsible for the most kidnappings and attacks on infrastructure. An estimated 4.7 million people have been displaced since 1996, and around 1,200 indigenous people have been killed over the same period. The paramilitaries have long worked closely with successive right-wing Colombian governments, who in turn have received billions in U.S. aid. The report was commissioned in 2011 as part of ongoing peace talks with the rebel group, FARC.
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