New information has emerged about the suspects in the killing of a Hamas commander in Dubai. Surveillance video from the hotel where the killing occurred shows 11 people working together as the murder took place. New evidence now shows those in the hotel were traveling on stolen European passports, including 6 Britons who say they were not involved in the attack, BBC News. Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, is suspected to the behind the attack. More on how the assassination was planned and carried out, Telegraph. More on Mossad’s tactics, Reuters.
The U.S. is continuing street-to-street fighting in the Afghan town of Marja. The military is battling IEDs and small groups of Taliban fighters in an effort to secure the town, Al Jazeera.
The U.S. has sent one of its top diplomats to Syria in an effort to repair relations there, Associated Press. A discussion of U.S. sanctions on Syria, BBC News.
The White House has accepted a proposal by Iran to meet directly for unconditional talks. A senior administration official will meet with representatives from Iran and Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. One of the primary issues is whether more sanctions will be imposed if Iran continues to carry out its nuclear program. The UN has already placed several rounds of sanctions on Iran, New York Times.
A Coast Guard drill yesterday morning on the Potomac River near the Washington Monument set off an hour-long scare before it was discovered the activity was part of a routine drill. CNN initially reported that 10 shots were fired after hearing gunfire described on a radio frequency the Coast Guard was using as part of the drill. CNN later retracted that statement but coming on the anniversary of September 11th when emotions are already heightened, many people were frightened, New York Times. Timeline of CNN’s coverage, CNN.
In his weekly address, President Obama talks about the millions of Americans without health insurance and how easy it is to lose health insurance in America, Transcript.
Myanmar, a country in southeast Asia formerly called Burma before it was renamed by the military junta that currently control it, plans to hold elections in 2010. The last elections were held in 1990 when pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi won most of the vote but was not allowed by the military to take power. Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for much of the time since then. Myanmar is a severely repressed state where citizens are not even allowed to stay the night in other people’s houses. This is the technicality that led to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest being extended when an American man who believed he was sent by God swam across a lake to Suu Kyi’s house and then, claiming illness, stayed overnight. Sanctions have been imposed against Myanmar, meaning that it is illegal for Western businesses to sell goods to the country, The New American.
The upcoming elections are an attempt to legitimize the government in hopes of one day having the sanctions lifted and being accepted in the global community. However, at least one fourth of the seats will go to members of the military and democratic activists like Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to participate. Reuters Q & A on the elections. Comprehensive analysis of the impact of elections by the International Crisis Group.
On April 5, 2009, Citizen’s Daily Brief reported that North Korea had launched a rocket using long range ballistic missile technology. North Korea still insists that the rocket was actually a satellite that is now orbiting in space, but the country also used world criticism of the launch as an excuse to withdraw from negotiations. The UN Security Council voted to impose new sanctions on North Korea following the launch. North Korea is now threatening to test a second nuclear weapon. North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in June 2006 and it is believed that North Korea is capable of carrying out the threat, United Press International.
Relations with North Korea appeared to be improving in the 1990s when U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with North Korean President Kim Jong-il. However, the Bush administration broke off relations with North Korea and famously referred to the country as part of the “Axis of Evil,” which also included Iraq and Iran.