Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has rejected an ultimatum from his country’s armed forces to respond to massive protests or face removal from office. On Monday, the Egyptian military gave Morsi 48 hours to outline a “roadmap” for reconciliation after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to oppose his government. A leaked roadmap shows the military is prepared to overthrow Morsi, scrap a draft constitution, and impose a government headed by an army general. But in a televised speech Tuesday night, Morsi asserted his right to serve out his term as the first democratically elected president in Egypt’s history. The Egyptian military’s deadline expires today, leaving the country in a state of crisis.
A U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has killed at least 17 people. Reuters is reporting most of the dead were fighters with the Haqqani militant group. The attack in the North Waziristan region was the deadliest by the United States in Pakistan this year, and the second since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office last month. Sharif has called for an end to the drone strikes.
A controversy has erupted between Bolivia, the United States and several European countries after false rumors emerged Bolivian President Evo Morales had rescued National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden from legal limbo in Russia. On Tuesday, a plane carrying Morales was rerouted to Austria after France and Portugal barred it from their airspace over concerns Snowden was on board. Bolivia’s foreign minister denounced the move, calling the Snowden rumor “a lie.”
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca: “Portugal needs to explain to us, France needs to explain to us, why they canceled permission. Besides, this plane is French and has pilots trained in France. We are in communication with authorities. We consider that it could possibly be because of statements from President Morales over the case of Mr. Snowden, who has asked for asylum. We’re going to analyze this. They want to intimidate us. It is discrimination towards our president. It has endangered the life of the president.”
Bolivia’s defense minister has blamed the White House for Morales’ forced landing in Austria, calling it an act of U.S. sabotage. Bolivia also accused Austria of aggression after delaying the plane’s departure for several hours and searching on board. Bolivia is one of 20 countries where Snowden has reportedly applied for asylum after withdrawing his bid to stay in Russia.
Speaking in Brunei, Secretary of State John Kerry said he discussed the U.S. effort to extradite NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of a regional meeting.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “I did raise the issue of, obviously, Mr. Snowden, but that is not his portfolio. It’s being handled — nor is it mine, directly, because it’s being handled within the Justice Department. So it is fair to say that we didn’t discuss any substantive progress, but I certainly raised, from our point of view, how it fits within the context of our relationship. But again, not his portfolio, and so it wasn’t discussed in a way that he would be able to take any action on it.”
Ecuador is claiming it has discovered a hidden listening device at its embassy in London. A small microphone was reportedly found in its ambassador’s office during a security sweep last month. The Ecuadorean embassy has been hosting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for over a year in his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden. The revelations come days after National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed widespread U.S. spying on European Union offices and foreign embassies.
At least 45 people were killed Tuesday in bombings across Iraq. The deadliest attack left eight people dead in northern Baghdad. So far this year, Iraq has seen its bloodiest sectarian violence since 2007.
The Syrian government is continuing an offensive to retake rebel-controlled areas. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 40 civilians and 70 fighters on both sides of the conflict were killed in violence on Tuesday. The regime of Bashar al-Assad has dropped leaflets over the northern province of Idlib urging rebels to abandon their fight. Speaking in Brunei, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and Russia remain apart on key issues but agree on the need for a Syria peace conference “sooner rather than later.”
Secretary of State John Kerry: “We narrowed down some of the options with respect to the potential of that conference. We both agreed that that conference should happen sooner rather than later. We agreed that we are both serious, more than serious, committed to the Geneva process. We both agreed that our countries have an ability to be able to make a difference if we can pull together in that effort.”
The White House has announced it is delaying a critical piece of President Obama’s healthcare law by one year. The government will wait until 2015 to implement a requirement that businesses with at least 50 employees provide health insurance or face penalties. The move follows complaints that reporting requirements were too complicated to follow. Health experts are warning the delay could significantly reduce the number of people who will receive insurance when the law takes effect next year.
Fire crews in Arizona say they have begun to contain the deadly blaze that killed 19 firefighters on Sunday. Local officials say the fire is no longer raging out of control. The firefighters’ deaths marked the worst loss of life in a U.S. wildfire in 80 years. On Tuesday, mourners in the town of Prescott gathered for a candlelight vigil. Prescott Fire Battalion Chief Ralph Lucas paid tribute to his fallen colleagues.
Ralph Lucas: “I’m going to leave here remembering your husbands, your uncles, your dads. I had the great pleasure of getting to lead your spouses on many a fire over the years, and that’s what I’ll use to carry me into the future as a firefighter.”
The Arizona fire is one of a number wildfires that have raged in the past week amidst record-shattering heat across the western United States.
Dozens of federally contracted service workers staged a one-day strike in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday in a call for higher pay. The strike covered fast food employees and other low-wage workers at the Ronald Reagan Building, which houses a number of federal agencies. It was the second such strike organized by the group Good Jobs Nation in D.C. in the last two months.
A protester in California has been acquitted of all charges after being tried for writing protest slogans on a sidewalk. Jeff Olson faced up to 13 years in prison and $13,000 in fines on misdemeanor vandalism charges after using washable chalk outside three Bank of America branches in San Diego. Olson’s messages included “No Thanks, Big Banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.” He has accused a Bank of America executive, Darrell Freeman, of pressuring local prosecutors to go through with the case. After the verdict, Olson urged supporters to protest big banks by moving their money to local credit unions.
Jeff Olson: “There’s one way for them to send a message that will be heard, and that’s to close your account at a big Wall Street bank and move your money to a local, non-profit, community credit union. If you’re mad about this, if you think this wasn’t fair what happened to me, close your Wall Street bank account.”
Olson’s acquittal comes days after a similar arrest in Pennsylvania. Healthcare activist AJ Marin was detained for using chalk to write a sidewalk slogan against Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s decision to reject federal funds for expanding Medicare. Marin wrote: “Governor Corbett has health insurance, we should too.” He’s been charged with disorderly conduct.
A new study is refuting claims that pilot-less drones carry out more precise attacks than conventional aircraft. Speaking to The Guardian, Larry Lewis of the Center for Naval Analyses says he found that remote-controlled drones caused 10 times more civilian casualties than piloted warplanes over the course of one year in Afghanistan. Lewis says his findings are based on classified military files covering mid-2010 to mid-2011, the most intense period for U.S. air strikes during the Afghan war.
Newly revealed documents show U.S. Customs and Border Protection has considered weaponizing drones used along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to a report submitted to Congress in 2010, the agency is not only planning to increase the number of drones, it has also considered equipping them with “non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize [targets of interest].” The documents surfaced as part of a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against the Department of Homeland Security in order to obtain more information about drone use.
Military prosecutors have wrapped their case in the court-martial of Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. The final prosecution witness testified Tuesday in closed session as part of an effort to argue that Manning leaked documents that would be used by al-Qaeda. Manning faces up to life in prison for 21 charges including “aiding the enemy.” His defense team will begin their case on Monday.