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HeadlinesAugust 07, 2013

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Yemen Claims Al-Qaeda Terror Plot Foiled; U.S. Drone Strike Kills 7

Aug 07, 2013

Yemeni officials claim to have foiled an al-Qaeda plot to blow up oil pipelines and seize control of key ports in Yemen. The news came as tanks roamed the capital Sana’a after the United States and Britain removed diplomatic personnel and urged citizens to leave over intercepted communications about an al-Qaeda threat. Officials in Yemen say the motive for the planned attack appears to be retaliation for the U.S. killing of Said al-Shihri, a deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula whose death from a drone strike was confirmed by the group last month. Earlier today, a U.S. drone strike killed seven people in southern Yemen. Officials said the dead were al-Qaeda suspects, but witnesses who arrived at the scene found only charred bodies and the wreckage of two vehicles. It was the fifth drone strike in Yemen in less than two weeks.

Bradley Manning’s Maximum Sentence Reduced to 90 Years

Aug 07, 2013

A military judge has reduced the maximum possible prison sentence for Army whistleblower Bradley Manning to 90 years. Manning faced up to 136 years in prison following his conviction on 20 counts for leaking troves of secret documents to WikiLeaks. But on Tuesday, Col. Denise Lind granted requests by the defense to merge a number of the counts against him.

Bradley Manning’s Father: “I Still Love My Son”

Aug 07, 2013

Bradley Manning’s father has spoken out about his son in an interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Brian Manning said he believes in his heart his son is innocent, explaining that he cannot understand how the leaks were logistically possible and that he believes Bradley was “grandstanding” when he confessed to carrying them out in order to spark a debate on U.S. foreign policy. Brian described the terms of his son’s imprisonment at the Quantico Marine brig, saying they amounted to torture, and he responded to Anderson Cooper’s question about what he would say to his son.

Brian Manning: “I would basically tell him right off the bat that he had no excuse whatsoever for allegedly releasing that information. I mean, I can’t fathom any reason to myself why he should be — that I should forgive him for doing something like that, because it’s against my creed or code of honor.”

Anderson Cooper: “Is there any message you want to get across to him?”

Brian Manning: “I’d like to, you know, just like in Quantico, right before we ended our visits, it was always, 'I love you, son,' and he’d say, 'I love you, dad.' And I still love my son.”

U.S. Files Charges for 2012 Benghazi Attack

Aug 07, 2013

U.S. officials have filed sealed criminal charges against a number of suspects in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, last September. Anonymous officials say militia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala is facing murder charges in connection with the attack, while roughly a dozen other suspects have been identified. None have so far been arrested.

Pentagon Official in Charge of Guantánamo Says Prison Should Never Have Opened

Aug 07, 2013

The Pentagon official in charge of Guantánamo Bay, who played a key role in creating the prison under President George W. Bush, is now saying it should never have been built. In an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, William Lietzau said Guantánamo’s detainees should have been designated prisoners of war and held in Afghanistan or charged with crimes and jailed in U.S. prisons. Lietzau said the most effective way for President Obama to close the prison now would be to announce an end to the so-called war with al-Qaeda. He said: “Just like you can’t kill your way out of this war, you’re not going to transfer your way out of Gitmo. The really hard question is, how do you end this war?” Lietzau announced late last month he is stepping down from the Pentagon to take a job with the military contractor PAE.

Egypt’s Interim President Declares Failure of Diplomatic Efforts

Aug 07, 2013

In Egypt, at least one person died and dozens more were injured during clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Alexandria. Hours later, Egypt’s interim president said efforts by foreign diplomats to resolve a standoff with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood have failed. His comments followed a visit from Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who urged leaders to release Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and conduct an inclusive dialogue on Egypt’s future. McCain reiterated his belief the ouster of Morsi was a coup — a term the White House has so far avoided.

John McCain: “We have said that we share the democratic aspirations and criticisms of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets on June 30. We’ve also said that the circumstances of the former government’s president’s removal were a coup, and we have said that we cannot expect Egypt, or any other country, to abide by its laws if we do not abide by ours in the United States.”

Fort Hood Shooting Suspect: “War is an Ugly Thing”

Aug 07, 2013

The U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, told a military court Tuesday that evidence presented at his trial would show that he was the shooter. Major Nidal Hasan, who is representing himself at his court-martial, said in his opening statement that “war is an ugly thing” which causes death and destruction on both sides. He cast himself as having been on the wrong side of a U.S. war with Islam before switching over. A military prosecutor said Hasan carefully planned the 2009 shooting spree and sought to kill as many soldiers as possible. Hasan could face the death penalty.

Tunisia: Tens of Thousands Protest Killings of Opposition Figures

Aug 07, 2013

In Tunisia, tens of thousands of people flocked to the streets of the capital Tunis for demonstrations marking six months since the assassination of Chokri Belaid, a leading human rights advocate and critic of the Islamist-led government, who was gunned down outside his home on February 6. Tunisia has been embroiled in a political crisis over the past two weeks following the fatal shooting of another opposition leader — Mohamed Brahmi, a member of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly, who was killed on July 25. On Tuesday, the assembly suspended its activities indefinitely pending a dialogue between the two sides. An anti-government demonstrator spoke out on Friday at Bardo Square in Tunis.

Jendoubi Shaker: “I’m here today because the situation in Tunisia is critical, because the
government and the National Constituent Assembly are devouring Tunisian people. First of all, we ask for the government of Ennahda to be overthrown. And second, we ask for the National Constituent Assembly to be dissolved and to form a new government. We have to stand united for Tunisia. Every Tunisian, from Bizerte in the north to Ben Gardane in the south, is asked to watch over Tunisia and protect it. Our only concern is to keep the country’s integrity. We have to put an end to violence, because after the revolution we have witnessed three political assassinations — Lotfi Nagdh, Chokri Belaid, and now Mohamed Brahmi. We also have witnessed the attack on our national military, where eight soldiers were assassinated in Chambi, and we have to make sure these things will never happen again. We have to stand united for Tunisia.”

Uganda Passes Harsh Law Against Protests

Aug 07, 2013

Lawmakers in Uganda have passed a bill critics say is aimed at criminalizing rising anti-government protests. The law requires prior authorization from police for political meetings involving three or more people and allows the use of force to clear unauthorized gatherings. The bill passed despite protests and fierce attempts to block it by opposition members in the Ugandan parliament. It comes amid a crackdown against opponents of longtime President Yoweri Museveni who are protesting corruption and the high cost of living.

Obama Backs Larger Role for Private Sector in Housing Market

Aug 07, 2013

President Obama delivered his latest address on the economy Tuesday, claiming a recovery in the housing market and calling for private lenders to form the “backbone” of the market, while the federal government plays a more limited role. Speaking in Phoenix, Arizona, Obama backed a bipartisan Senate plan to end the mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “as we know them” in order to help avert another housing crisis.

President Obama: “One of the key things to make sure it doesn’t happen again is to wind down these companies that are not really government, but not really private sector — they’re known as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. For too long, these companies were allowed to make huge profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag. It was 'heads we win, tails you lose.' And it was wrong. And along with what happened on Wall Street, it helped to inflate this bubble in a way that ultimately killed Main Street.”

U.S. Sues Bank of America for Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud

Aug 07, 2013

Obama’s speech came as both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Bank of America on Tuesday, accusing it of willfully defrauding investors by concealing risks associated with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities at the start of the financial crisis.

NOAA: Last Year was Warmest Ever Recorded in the U.S.

Aug 07, 2013

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last year was among the 10 warmest years on record around the world. In the United States, last year was the warmest ever recorded, with temperatures a full degree higher than the previous record and more than three degrees higher than the 20th century average. Another recent study by Stanford University scientists found the Earth’s climate is currently changing at a rate far faster than at any other point in the past 65 million years. Without intervention, the current pace could spur a rise in annual temperature of roughly 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Heat Wave in China Kills Dozens

Aug 07, 2013

Parts of China are seeing their most severe heat wave in at least 140 years. Dozens of people have died as temperatures have hovered around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. According to media reports, the heat has caused glass to crack, roads to warp, vehicles to erupt spontaneously into flames, and a highway billboard to catch fire.

Mexico: Farmers’ Rights Activists Murdered amid Spate of Killings

Aug 07, 2013

In Mexico, two activists who advocated for the rights of farmers have been found shot to death in the southwestern state of Guerrero. The murdered activists were members of the Emiliano Zapata Revolutionary Agrarian League. A group leader said a third member is missing. The killings are the latest in a spate targeting journalists and activists in Mexico. Other victims include an environmentalist murdered in Veracruz last week and an indigenous rights activist killed last month in Oaxaca.

Detained “Dream 9” Activists Win 1st Step in Bid for Asylum

Aug 07, 2013

The Department of Homeland Security has tentatively approved asylum requests from a group of young immigrants known as the “Dream 9” who challenged the Obama administration’s record deportations late last month by attempting to cross the border from Mexico. Officials ruled the activists have a “credible fear” of persecution if returned to Mexico. Most members of the Dream 9 had been deported or forced to leave the United States under current policies, but three left voluntarily to accompany the others back. An immigration judge will determine their final status. For now the Dream 9 remain in detention in Arizona.

Pennsylvania Shooter Kills 3 at Township Meeting

Aug 07, 2013

Police in rural Pennsylvania say a man whose home had recently been condemned by local authorities opened fire on a municipal meeting Monday night, killing three people and wounding a number of others. Rockne Newell had been evicted from his home following a long-running dispute with officials in Ross Township. Authorities say he fatally shot a zoning official and two local residents before suffering a gunshot wound after a bystander tackled him. Newell is in police custody.

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