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Egypt’s interim leaders have announced a timetable for forming a new elected government amidst high tensions with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The timetable calls for ratifying a new constitution within five months, followed by parliamentary elections in 2014 and a presidential vote after that. The interim government also voiced what it called “deep regret” for Monday’s shooting deaths of at least 51 Morsi supporters at the military site where he is believed to be detained. The Egyptian military has claimed it opened fire after coming under threat. The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the interim government’s timetable and has called for national protests against the killings of its supporters.
A car bombing in Lebanon has left nearly 40 people wounded. The attack hit a busy shopping area in a Shia suburb of Beirut known as a stronghold of the group Hezbollah. Al Jazeera reports the bombing was likely tied to Hezbollah’s fight against anti-government rebels in neighboring Syria.
Brazil has announced a probe of U.S. spying efforts inside its borders. A report based on documents provided by Edward Snowden says the National Security Agency has tapped into Brazil’s telecommunication network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the email and telephone records of millions of Brazilians for years. The Brazilian government will look into whether local firms cooperated with the United States. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said if confirmed, the NSA operation would be a violation of national sovereignty.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: “It is definitely a violation of sovereignty, without a doubt, just as it is a violation of human rights. Now we have to see, without rashness or prejudgment. We have to investigate. Brazil’s position is very clear and very strong: We do not agree in any way with these kinds of interferences, not just in Brazil, but in any country.”
Rousseff says her government will also raise the spying issue at the United Nations in the hopes of securing new international protections for privacy rights.
In his latest article based on Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the journalist Glenn Greenwald reports today that National Security Agency spying has extended to all of Latin America. After Brazil, Colombia appears to be the second biggest target of NSA surveillance. One NSA document suggests the surveillance covers issues of trade and economics: A priority for Venezuela was listed as “oil” while “energy” was assigned to operations in Mexico.
Edward Snowden is believed to remain at an airport in Moscow. On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro confirmed he’s received Snowden’s official asylum request. Maduro said asylum offers from his government, as well as from Bolivia and Nicaragua, show that large parts of Latin America are becoming a humanitarian corridor.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro: “We received an application letter for asylum from Snowden. He will need to decide when to fly here, if he definitely wants to fly here. The fact is that Latin America is humanitarian territory, and it’s growing every day.”
On Monday, thousands of people rallied outside the U.S. embassy in Bolivia to protest last week’s forced landing of a plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales. The plane was rerouted to Austria after France and Portugal barred it from their airspace over false suspicions Snowden was on board. The Bolivian government has asked the European countries involved to reveal the source of the false information.
The United States and the European Union have opened talks in Washington on creating the world’s largest free trade zone. The negotiations were briefly thrown into doubt last week after it emerged the United States has been spying on European Union offices and member countries’ embassies.
Lawyers for accused Army whistleblower Bradley Manning have opened their defense at his military court-martial. On Monday, Manning’s attorneys began by playing the video he leaked of U.S. forces shooting dead Iraqi civilians from a helicopter in 2007. The prosecution had sought to block the video from airing in court, calling it “not relevant.” Lawyers also submitted a transcript published in the book “The Good Soldiers” to show that the video had already been circulated before Manning made it public. Manning’s defense also asked the court to drop a number of charges, including aiding the enemy.
A federal judge has issued a ruling suggesting the force-feeding of hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay prisoners is illegal, but warning only President Obama can stop it. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected a prisoner’s effort to halt his force-feeding, saying she lacks jurisdiction. But Judge Kessler said: “It is perfectly clear … that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.” Kessler added: “It would seem to follow [the president] has the authority — and power — to directly address the issue of force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.” At least 45 of the estimated 106 Guantánamo hunger strikers are being force-fed through tubes.
Thousands of prisoners across California have launched their third large-scale hunger strike in the past two years. The action focuses on ending long-term solitary confinement, which the prisoners call a form of “indefinite state-sanctioned torture.” Thousands took part in the most recent hunger strike in the fall of 2011, winning vows to improve conditions in solitary confinement. The fast started at Pelican Bay State Prison, but it has now spread to two-thirds of the state’s 33 prisons. California officials say some 30,000 prisoners refused meals on the strike’s first day, which if sustained would result in the largest prison hunger strike in the state’s history. In addition to refusing meals, many prisoners are also missing classes and prison work programs.
The death toll from the derailment of a train carrying crude oil in Canada has reached 13. A police spokesperson in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, said dozens remain missing.
Benoît Richard: “We are still talking about around more or less 40 people that are reported missing and that we don’t know their whereabouts.”
The train was carrying crude oil from North Dakota when it derailed and slammed into the center of town. If the missing turn out to be dead, it would be Canada’s worst accident since the Swissair crash of 1998.
In Texas, thousands of people descended on the Capitol Monday as Republicans revived a bill that would shut down nearly all of the state’s abortion clinics and ban abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization. Hundreds of people on both sides gave testimony during a state Senate committee hearing that lasted into the early hours of Tuesday morning. Among them was Austin resident Katie Heim, who delivered a poem.
Katie Heim: “If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights. You would ride on a bus and fight all the fights. If my vagina was a gun, you would treat it with care. You wouldn’t spill all its secrets, because, well, why go there? If my vagina was a gun, you’d say what it holds is private. From cold dead hands we could pry; you surely would riot. If my vagina was a gun, its rights would all be protected. No matter the body count or the children affected. If my vagina was a gun, I could bypass security. Concealed carry laws would ensure I had purity.”
The Texas House is expected to debate and vote on the anti-choice bill today. The bill was defeated by State Senator Wendy Davis and a “people’s filibuster” last month, but Republican Gov. Rick Perry called a second special legislative session to revive it. Perry announced Monday he will not seek re-election as governor of Texas, fueling speculation he may make another bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked part of a new law signed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that would require abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The move came after Planned Parenthood and others filed a lawsuit saying the law would shut down two out of four of Wisconsin’s abortion clinics. Admitting privileges can be impossible for abortion providers to obtain because hospitals may oppose abortion or require doctors to admit a minimum number of patients each year.
Thousands of people gathered at the North Carolina Legislative Building for the 10th weekly “Moral Monday” protest called by the NAACP to protest the agenda of the Republican-led state Legislature. Many arrived in pink T-shirts to protest a series of anti-choice restrictions passed by the state Senate last week without a public hearing. The bill requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, which critics say would shut down all but one of the state’s abortion clinics. On Monday, more than 60 people were arrested at the “Moral Monday” action, including Janet Colm, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. More protests are expected today as a state House committee holds a hearing on the bill.
The Obama administration is reportedly considering a speedier withdrawal from Afghanistan that would remove all troops after next year. The New York Times reports President Obama is weighing proposals to scrap plans for a “residual force” in Afghanistan after the withdrawal date of 2014. The report cites Obama’s apparent frustrations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Obama and Karzai’s ties apparently reached a “new low” after Karzai objected to peace talks last month between the United States and the Taliban in Qatar.
The journalist and media activist Sputnik Kilambi has died at the age of 55 after a battle with liver cancer. Kilambi was often the only woman reporting from war zones. She was known as a mentor to other journalists who reported from the ground rather than from the press office. She worked for more than a decade at Radio France Internationale, and her voice was regularly heard as a correspondent for Free Speech Radio News, which she helped found. In 2002, she worked to expose sexual trafficking in the Balkans, where international peacekeepers hired by companies like DynCorp were contributing to the very crimes they were there to combat.
Sputnik Kilambi: “Estimates suggest more than 700,000 people, especially women and girls, are trafficked across the borders worldwide. Almost one-third of this figure concerns the Balkans, which has become a major transit and destination point. And one reason for this clearly is the huge international presence in the region.”
Kilambi also worked with the United Nations to establish media outlets and trained journalists dedicated to peace in countries ravaged by violence, including in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Côte d’Ivoire, where the U.N. radio station she helped found is known as “the peace frequency.” She worked most recently in Rwanda, helping to create the country’s first independent television news station.