SEAL TEAM RESCUE
-THE RAID…American aid worker Jessica Buchanan and her Danish coworker Poul Thisted – held captive in Somalia for three months – were rescued in a daring nighttime raid by U.S. Navy SEALs. Very different details of course – but the story brings back memories of the SEAL team raid that killed Osama Bin Laden nearly nine months ago – particularly since we can confirm this was the storied “SEAL Team 6″ again. Luis MARTINEZ and Martha RADDATZ report that the raid was ordered in part because Buchanan’s health had failed recently. Navy SEALs parachuted from a plane into the area near the compound where the two hostages were being held. As the SEALs approached the compound on foot, gunfire broke out. All nine captors were killed, but no Americans were killed. The SEALs gathered up Buchanan and Thisted, loaded them onto helicopters and flew them to safety at a U.S. base, Camp Lemonier, in Djibouti. Dana HUGHES confirms that at the time of the raid they were being kept about 25 miles east of the town of Adado – in an area controlled by a local administration opposed to the Islamist al-Shabab militants.
-THE KIDNAPPING…Buchanan and Thisted were working for the Danish Refugee Council on a de-mining project in northern Somalia when they were kidnapped on October 25, 2011 along with a Somali colleague. Their three-car convoy was stopped on the way to an airport. Dana HUGHES and Bazi KANANI report that the three were kidnapped by Somali criminals – not militants associated with al-Shabab – for ransom. The fate of their Somali colleague isn’t clear.
-CONVERSATION WITH TEACHER WHO KNOWS BUCHANAN…Dana HUGHES reports on a conversation with international school teacher John Hravatic (Har-vat-ick) in Nairobi who worked with Jessica Buchanan. “She was great to work with, she’s just a wonderful lady, she’s adventurous, a risk taker, just vivacious. She’s up for a challenge, as far as I know Jess she’s adventurous, she’s up for a challenge and it didn’t surprise me that she would do something like this. She was always looking ahead, looking forward, what can I do, how can I help people?” Today Hravatic heard the news via text from his wife: “I asked who told you, and she immediately wrote back and said it was legit…tears of joy coming and just giddiness that Jess was free, and obviously what it means for her family. It’s awesome..”
-A DEVOTED MISSIONARY…The Danish Refugee Council confirms Jessica Buchanan is from Bedford, Virginia. She attended Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania and earned her teaching certificate. A local church there posted on its Facebook page that she sold everything she owned to become a missionary in Somalia. On her way to that goal, she joined the teaching staff of Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi as a student teacher in the spring of 2007, later teaching the fourth grade there until 2010 when she left for Somalia. Her husband is a Danish man, Erik Landemalm, who according to his Facebook page is an international consultant and project manager for the Association of West European Parliamentarians for Action in Africa.
-OBAMA’S HINT…The moment was hardly noticeable as we watched last night – but now it’s worth a look, and listen. As President Obama entered the House chambers last night to give his State of the Union speech, he pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and said, “Leon. Good job tonight. Good job tonight.” Worth noting that we have video of Panetta on a recent visit to the base in Djibouti where the rescued hostages have been taken. In a phone call from the U.S. Capitol immediately after the State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama informed John Buchanan that his daughter Jessica had been rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces.
EGYPT, ONE YEAR LATER
-CELEBRATION…AND ANGER…Today is an official holiday in Egypt – to celebrate the anniversary of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and gave perhaps the greatest lift to the so-called “Arab Spring.” As Alex MARQUARDT reports from Cairo’s Tahrir Square – it’s a celebration for some, but for many it’s a day to vent fury over how little has changed. “Down with the military!” they are chanting, as they arrive in the square that became
-THE REVOLUTION’S BIGGEST NAME…MARQUARDT interviewed some of the architects of the Egyptian uprising – including Google’s Wael Ghonim. “We have achieved a lot, we have done the impossible in the last twelve months,” Ghonim said. “I’m not happy with the pace as an individual but at the end of the day, life doesn’t work on individual desires. We are recovering from 60 years of dictatorship and 30 years of corruption, we cannot just do it in 12 months.”
-THE REVOLUTION – IN PICTURES…An excellent photo essay here – of Egypt’s revolution.
-COSTA CONCORDIA MANAGEMENT AT HEARING…Costa’s CEO Pierluigi Foschi goes before the Italian Senate’s Public Labor Commission today to talk about the Costa Concordia shipwreck.
-THE CAPTAIN’S WIFE…Meanwhile, Captain Schettino’s wife has given her first interview to Oggi Magazine and defends her husband, saying he is not a “monster” and that they will “face this public hanging together.”
-THE SEARCH…Searches resume this morning after interruptions due to strong winds and rough sea. Another contained explosion was carried out on deck #3, to allow divers to search further. Divers are also trying to remove some of the larger bits of the ship that continue to obstruct passageways.
-THE FUEL PUMPING…The company that will pump fuel from the ship, Smit Salvage, says it is “realistic” to start the actual transfer operation Saturday, but the actual timing could depend on weather conditions.
YEMEN’S PRESIDENT IN THE U.S.
Yemeni’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to arrive in the United States today. One source says he’ll arrive at 5pm ET and be treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
From Akiko FUJITA in Tokyo: Japan reported its first annual trade deficit in 30 years today. While the deficit can be blamed on a number of factors, it is largely the result of the March earthquake and the strong yen. The Fukushima disaster shut down most of Japan’s reactors, creating a massive energy shortage and raising fuel import costs. A strong currency has meant fewer exports, as Japanese companies increasingly shift production abroad. Earlier this month, Honda announced it would begin producing the Acura in Ohio. Nissan shifted output of its compact car to Thailand. Toyota’s announced plans to export Camrys bound for South Korea – from the US, instead of Japan. Analysts don’t expect Japan to run a deficit immediately, but say the current account could diminish within the next 3 to 4 years. That means the world’s third largest economy, will no longer be able to finance its massive public debt (twice the $5 trillion economy), without overseas funds.
STUDY: DOGS HAVE BEEN MAN’S BEST FRIEND FOR AT LEAST 33,000 YEARS
A pair of dog skulls uncovered in digs in Siberia and Belgium, each 33,000 years old, show dogs were domesticated long before any other animal, including sheep, cows or goats. Scientists used carbon dating to determine the age of the skulls, then examined the bone structures.