A leading dissident in China, Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic and former professor, has been sentenced to prison for 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu is co-author of Charter 08 which calls for China to reform its human rights abuses and to introduce competing political parties to reform the current one-party Communist system, Al Jazeera. Liu profile, Times Online.
Yemen conducted airstrikes that led to the deaths of at least 30 suspected members of Al Qaeda who were meeting in a remote part of the country, New York Times. Factbox on suspected targets of the strike, Reuters India.
A new policy issued by Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, a top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, that would have court marshaled female soldiers who became pregnant as well as their male sexual partners has been rescinded, Washington Post.
Seven U.S. banks failed today, setting a new record. This means 52 banks have failed this year – more than double the total of all of 2008. Six banks in Illinois and one in Texas are the ones closed, but California and Georgia have the most failed banks of any states so far this year, CNN.
Syria has finally amended a law that allowed men who killed female relatives suspected of having illicit sex to receive small sentences. The law, Article 548, was used to decriminalize “honor killings,” and drew fire from women’s rights groups. The new law makes the minimum sentence two years instead of one, BBC News.
An investigation into the Air France Flight 447 crash shows the plane hit the ocean vertically and did not break up while still in the air. The discovery proves the speed sensors were not the cause of the crash, although they may have played some part, USA Today.
The U.S. Marines have launched a push into the Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan to fight Taliban militants. 4,000 troops entered the area today in the biggest U.S. military attack since 2001, and many are worried the Taliban will be pushed back into Pakistan, causing more turmoil in the country, New York Times. Update: U.S. Marines have suffered their first casualty in the first full day of the Afghan campaign, AP.