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HeadlinesJuly 30, 2013

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Bradley Manning Verdict Expected Today; Trial to Enter Sentencing Phase

Jul 30, 2013

A verdict is expected today in the court-martial of Army whistleblower Bradley Manning for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning faces up to life in prison for the most serious of the more than 20 charges against him — aiding the enemy — after he leaked more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks in an attempt to spark a national debate about U.S. foreign policy. He has pleaded guilty to 10 of the charges which could carry up to 20 years in prison. After nearly two months of trial at Fort Meade, Maryland, the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said she plans to announce her verdict at 1 p.m. Eastern time today. After the verdict, the trial enters the sentencing phase where both the prosecution and defense will present more evidence and arguments.

Israel, Palestinian Authority Restart Peace Talks After 3-Year Lapse

Jul 30, 2013

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have resumed peace talks for the first time in three years. The two sides’ top negotiators sat down Monday for a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington. The talks will be overseen by Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Clinton, who was named Monday as the new special envoy for Middle East peace. The last talks broke down in September 2010 after Palestinians insisted that Israel stop expanding West Bank settlements.

EU Envoy Meets with Ousted Egyptian President Morsi

Jul 30, 2013

Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been allowed to meet with European Union envoy Catherine Ashton after being held incommunicado by the military since his ouster nearly four weeks ago. Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood have continued to call for his reinstatement after at least 72 people were killed Saturday when Egyptian police opened fire on a Brotherhood rally.

FBI: More Than 100 Victims of Forced Prostitution Rescued in Raids

Jul 30, 2013

The FBI says it has rescued more than 100 young victims of forced prostitution and arrested 150 people during a three-day sex-trafficking bust that spanned 76 cities nationwide. The victims, almost all young women, range in age from 13 to 17. Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, spoke on Monday.

Ronald Hosko: “Sex trafficking among children remains one of the most prevalent, violent and unconscionable crimes in this country. Despite our many challenges, those who exploit children should know that we, this team, will continue to seek them out and bring them to justice.”

Pakistan: Roughly 250 Prisoners Escape in Prison Attack

Jul 30, 2013

In northwest Pakistan, dozens of Taliban militants attacked a prison overnight and freed roughly 250 prisoners. At least 12 people were killed as attackers, many of them dressed as police, deployed explosives, fired machine guns and reportedly cut the throats of some Shiite minority prisoners.

At Least 7 Injured in Florida Propane Plant Blasts

Jul 30, 2013

In Florida, at least seven people were injured, some of them critically, in a series of explosions at a Blue Rhino propane plant early this morning. The cause is under investigation.

Fast-Food Workers Launch Historic Nationwide Strikes

Jul 30, 2013

Fast-food workers have launched a historic series of strikes as part of an escalating nationwide call for the right to unionize and earn wages of $15 an hour, more than double the current federal minimum wage. Actions are taking place this week in at least seven cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Kansas City and Milwaukee, as part of a coordinated campaign by workers in the largely non-union industry. In New York City on Monday, hundreds of employees from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and other chains walked off the job for the day and rallied, chanting, “We can’t survive on 7.25.”

“Dream 9” Youths Remain in Detention After Deportation Protest, Some in Solitary Confinement

Jul 30, 2013

A group of young immigrants known as the “Dream 9” remain in an Arizona detention center more than a week after attempting to re-enter the United States to protest the Obama administration’s record deportations. While most of the DREAMers had previously been deported or compelled to leave the United States because of current policy, three others chose to join them in Mexico and accompany them home. All nine are being held at Eloy Detention Center. Some say they have been placed in solitary confinement after launching a hunger strike and attempting to collect the stories of fellow migrants. DREAMer Lizbeth Mateo spoke in a recording Monday, saying it was her her fifth day in solitary.

Lizbeth Mateo: “This is Lizbeth Mateo. I’m at the Eloy Detention Center. This is my fifth day in solitary confinement, and I want all nine of us to go home as soon as possible. The conditions here are not — are not the best. There are a lot of women who have been waiting for months to see their asylum officers, to get the interview — even three years. They’re all waiting.”

On Monday, Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of California released a letter signed by 33 members of Congress calling on President Obama to release the Dream 9. “These youth are the victims of our broken immigration policy, and they deserve to come home to the United States, where they can continue to work towards fulfilling their dreams of higher education,” the letter said.

Senate Confirms Former Bush Official James Comey to Head FBI

Jul 30, 2013

The Senate has voted 93 to 1 to confirm former Bush administration official James Comey as FBI director. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul cast the only dissenting vote after ending delays over questions about the FBI’s domestic drone use. Comey is known for refusing to reauthorize the Bush administration’s warrantless spy program while serving as acting attorney general, forcing the administration to make changes. But the American Civil Liberties Union has criticized him for backing what it terms “some of the worst abuses of the Bush administration,” including waterboarding, warrantless wiretapping and indefinite detention. Comey recently told a Senate panel he now views waterboarding as torture.

Report: U.S. Spy Agencies Aided New Zealand Military in Monitoring of McClatchy Reporter

Jul 30, 2013

New Zealand’s government is rebuffing a report that U.S. intelligence agencies helped its military monitor the communications of a freelance journalist reporting for McClatchy in Afghanistan. A report in New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times says “U.S. spy agencies” assisted the New Zealand military in collecting metadata on the phone calls of Jon Stephenson and his “associates” while he was reporting on the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan last year. New Zealand’s defense minister said a review of the claims is underway. If confirmed, the report could show spying techniques used by the National Security Agency and recently revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden have been used against journalists.

Poll Shows Shift in Attitudes About Civil Liberties, Terrorism

Jul 30, 2013

A new poll appears to show increasing public skepticism about National Security Agency surveillance policies. The poll from the Pew Research Center found for the first time since polling began nearly a decade ago people in the United States are more concerned about protection of civil liberties than about protection from potential terrorism. According to the poll, 47 percent of people said their greatest concern about government anti-terrorism policies is that they have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, while 35 percent said the policies have not gone far enough. Overall, a majority — 56 percent — said federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and Internet data swept up by the government for anti-terrorism efforts.

Pope Francis on LGBT People: “Who Am I to Judge?”

Jul 30, 2013

Pope Francis has issued unusually candid remarks about LGBT people, saying they should not be marginalized in society, but maintaining that homosexual acts are a sin under Catholic teaching. While on a flight back from Brazil, the pope responded to a reporter’s question about a supposed “gay lobby” at the Vatican.

Pope Francis: “Everyone writes about the gay lobby. I still haven’t found anyone who gives me an identity card in the Vatican with 'gay' written on it. They say that there are these people. I think when someone finds themselves with a person like this, they need to make a distinction between being a gay person and that of being part of a lobby. All lobbies are not good, that is the bad thing. If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

Pope Francis also rejected the idea of ordaining women priests, saying, “This door is closed.” In a statement, the head of the Women’s Ordination Conference responded in part, “Pope Francis could have looked to the majority of Catholics who support the ordination of women … and strongly believe with God a door is always open.”

Thousands of Teachers Join Final “Moral Monday” Protest in North Carolina

Jul 30, 2013

Thousands of people flooded Raleigh, North Carolina, for the last Moral Monday protest following the end of the state legislative session. The crowd included flocks of teachers from across North Carolina protesting a state budget approved last week that slashes funding for public education. More than 920 people were arrested over the course of 13 Moral Monday actions organized by the local NAACP against the Republican state Legislature. Over the past couple months, the North Carolina Legislature has ended unemployment benefits to more than 70,000 people, rejected the Medicaid expansion under President Obama’s healthcare law and passed new restrictions described as the harshest crackdown to date on voting rights.

North Carolina Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

Jul 30, 2013

On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed another product of the Republican-led Legislature — a sweeping package of anti-choice measures tucked into a motorcycle safety bill. Among other restrictions, the law bans abortion coverage in the state health insurance exchange and directs state officials to issue new standards for abortion clinics that many may be unable to meet. Similar rules have shuttered clinics in other states. Pro-choice demonstrators held a 12-hour vigil across from the governor’s mansion Monday and planned a second one today. They have accused Gov. McCrory of reneging on a campaign promise not to approve new abortion restrictions. The bill has fueled mass protests that saw more than 100 people arrested at a Moral Monday action earlier this month. According to the Guttmacher Institute, states across the country adopted 43 new restrictions on access to abortion in the first half of this year. That’s the second highest number ever at the midyear mark.

Florida: Unarmed African-American Man Shot by Deputies in His Yard

Jul 30, 2013

In Florida, a 60-year-old African-American man is recovering from bullet wounds after sheriff’s deputies shot him in his own yard even though he was unarmed. According to the Pensacola News Journal, Roy Middleton was rummaging for a cigarette in his mother’s car early Saturday morning when deputies arrived in response to a call from a neighbor who suspected him of burglary. Deputies claim Middleton “lunged” at them with something metallic in his hand. Middleton says he merely heeded calls to show his hands while holding keys with a metal flashlight attached. Deputies deployed about 15 rounds of ammunition, shattering Middleton’s leg and riddling the car with bullets.

Toronto: Hundreds Protest Police Killing of 18-Year-Old

Jul 30, 2013

In Toronto, Canada, hundreds of people gathered Monday to protest the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old early Saturday that was caught on video and went viral online. The video shows Sammy Yatim standing inside an empty streetcar holding a knife while police train their guns on him from outside. While Yatim appears to remain inside the streetcar, several yards from the police outside, nine shots are heard in less than 15 seconds. Police then approach Yatim and deploy a taser. Yatim died from the gunshot wounds. The officer involved has been placed on paid suspension, and his actions are under investigation.

Apple Supplier Pegatron Accused of Labor Abuses

Jul 30, 2013

Apple is facing a new round of accusations about labor abuses at factories in China that make its products. Following reports of employee suicides and excessive hours at plants run by Foxconn, Apple has increased its orders to another supplier, Pegatron. But the group China Labor Watch says it found scores of violations at three Pegatron factories, including underage labor, insufficient wages and average shifts amounting to nearly 70 hours per week. The group’s executive director said: “Our investigations have shown that labor conditions at Pegatron factories are even worse than those at Foxconn factories.”

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