YEMEN ATTACK: SOLDIERS SLAUGHTERED
-90 DEAD, MORE THAN 100 WOUNDED…They were soldiers in a war which Yemen and the U.S. are fighting against Al Qaeda – soldiers trained to fight terrorism. And they were killed by a suicide bomber – who blew himself up in a tightly-packed formation during a drill for a military parade in the capital, Sana’a. The bomber was himself in uniform – not clear whether he was a soldier or not – among those participating in the rehearsal ahead of Yemen’s National Day celebrations tomorrow. Martha RADDATZ reports from the scene: “There was carnage in a fairly wide area – berets and parts of uniforms scattered around…It happened right by the parade viewing stand. The soldiers were of course marching in tight formation which is why so many died…Ambulances screamed past and teams were picking up body parts when we arrived. Eyewitnesses said they saw the bomber’s belt – one eyewitness told us he saw him blown apart before his eyes.” The soldiers were part of a counterterrorism unit Martha and our team had spent time with yesterday, as they did target practice and other drills. Soldiers from other military and law enforcement units were among the dead as well – but top military officials including the Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff were unharmed. It’s one of the worst bombings in months in Yemen.
-CLAIMING REPONSIBILITY…Nasser ATTA, also in Sana’a, reports: In a phone call, Ansar al Shariaa claimed responsibility for today’s suicide attack. The caller said it was retaliation for the Yemeni Army’s attacks and U.S. drone strikes in the south. It’s a message for the Americans, the caller said, and the “tools of the Americans” who are targeting the “mujahedeen.”
ITALY QUAKE TOLL: 7 DEAD, THOUSANDS HOMELESS, HISTORIC BUILDINGS FLATTENED
-DAMAGE ASSESSMENT…Lama HASAN reports that residents of the zone around the 6.0 quake that struck Sunday morning near Bologna had to spend the night in cars, tents and school gyms – with homes damaged and in fear of further aftershocks. Meanwhile, in addition to the human suffering, the structural damage in Finale Emilia has destroyed several pieces of history. The quake took out historic landmarks including the Mirandola cathedral, the Castello Estense, and the Torre dei Modenesei.
-MONTI ABANDONS NATO SUMMIT, RETURNS HOME AMID TRAGEDIES…Bloomberg reports Italian Prime Minster Mario Monti left the NATO summit and returned to Italy to lead his government’s response to the earthquake and the fatal bombing of an all-girl school which happened over the weekend. Today Monti will attend the funeral of Melissa Bassi, a high-school student killed in the blast.
-THE WAR AGENDA…Today’s discussions are focused on how much money is needed to continue to support Afghanistan and who will foot the bill. General John Allen explained yesterday that the Chicago summit represents a “midway point assessment” in the troop drawdown and that combat operations will continue throughout the mission, concluding December 31, 2014 when the mission will shift from combat to more of a supportive role.
-PUSH TO REOPEN SUPPLY ROUTES FAILS…The New York Times reports President Obama struggled to balance the United States’ relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan, after a deal to reopen NATO supply lines through the two countries fell apart. With no deal, Mr. Obama refused even to meet with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, who flew to Chicago with hopes of lifting his stature. Pakistan closed the routes into Afghanistan after a deadly NATO strike last November.
-SECOND DAY OF CLASHES EXPECTED…After a volatile weekend of clashes between NATO protesters and Chicago police, protesters have vowed to march this morning to Boeing headquarters. Later, immigration rights activists plan to travel to Crete, Ill. where officials want to build a detention facility for illegal immigrants slated for deportation. Many downtown businesses have told their employees to stay home today to avoid traffic snafus and angry protesters. The Chicago Tribune is live-blogging the happenings.
IRAN NUKES: GLIMMERS OF HOPE?
As Dana HUGHES reports, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has arrived in Tehran ahead of Wednesday’s crucial “P5 + 1″ talks in Baghdad on Iran’s nuclear program. The visit is the first since 2009. Amano is meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, as well as the Foreign Minister and other Iranian officials. The visit is focused on getting Iran to agree to terms that will allow IAEA probes of suspect Iranian sites. Some analysts and diplomats see hope in the meeting – that it may lay key groundwork for the Baghdad talks. The agency has requested permission to inspect Parchin, a weapons site southeast of Tehran, but Iran has so far denied IAEA inspectors access. State Department officials have said sanctions on the country are working. Iran is set to be squeezed even more after July when countries importing oil from Iran who have not significantly reduced their imports will face U.S. sanctions as well.
IRAQ BUYS U.S. DRONES TO PROTECT OIL
USA Today reports the United States has agreed to sell unarmed drones to Iraq’s navy as part of an effort to help protect the nation’s oil exports amid growing tensions in the Persian Gulf and to strengthen U.S.-Iraqi ties. The drones will allow Iraq’s military to keep a continuous watch over its oil terminals within Iraqi territorial waters of the Persian Gulf, where a significant portion of the world’s oil originates and which Iran has occasionally threatened to blockade.
FUNERAL TODAY FOR LOCKERBIE BOMBER
Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi is being buried today at Tripoli’s main cemetery. Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed calls for a fresh inquiry into the conviction of the ex-intelligence official in the wake of his death and reiterated his belief that Megrahi was indeed guilty. The New York Times reports senior FBI officials have joined with Scottish prosecutors in recent weeks in visiting Tripoli to press the case for American and British investigators to work on the case in Libya, but Libyan officials insist any new inquiries would have to be under Libya’s control.
SYRIA CRISIS – SPILLING INTO LEBANON
Overnight clashes in Beirut between Sunni groups that support and oppose the Syrian regime have killed one person and wounded 10. As Alex MARQUARDT reports, this is another incident adding to fears that Syria’s turmoil is spilling over the border to its neighbor.
YET ANOTHER DSK RAPE PROBE
When will it end? A French prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation today into allegations of gang rape in a Washington D.C. hotel by former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Earlier this month, the French daily Liberation reported that two Belgian prostitutes questioned in the Lille prostitution probe that is investigating DSK described him using violence during sex at the W Hotel in Washington. Today’s announcement makes the investigation into these charges official.
CHEN TO FINALLY MEET WITH CHRISTIAN BALE
Christian Bale first tried to meet with Chinese activist Chen Gaungcheng in December 2011 while in China, promoting his film “The Flowers of War.” Guards stationed at Chen’s house chased the actor and a CNN film crew away at the time… but now the New York Post reports a meeting between the pair is likely now that Chen is in New York.
MOUNT EVEREST DEATHS
Three climbers – a German, Canadian and South Korean – are dead, and two are missing while returning from the summit of Mount Everest following a sudden storm that swept over the mountain late Saturday. An official that monitors conditions on Everest told AP there was a “traffic jam” of climbers on the mountain Saturday and said the death toll could go higher.
AMERICAN TEENAGER FOUND DEAD ON SCOTTISH ISLAND
Scotland TV reports an American student, Evan Dube from Plaistow, New Hampshire, was found dead Sunday on a beach in Lerwick. Dube was with a group of ten students from Bates College who were participating in an archaeological research project. There were no suspicious circumstances; he went into the water and after coming ashore, he collapsed.
RUSSIA’S OLYMPIANS: NO BOOZE FOR YOU
From Tanya STUKOLOVA in Moscow: The Russian government has announced a ban on alcohol for Russian athletes and members of the official delegation during the Olympics in London, Kommersant daily reports. The lack of alcohol will make the famous parties at the Russian House in London more conservative.
SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT GOES TO COURT – TO FIGHT NUDE PAINTING
From Wilfred WAMBURA in Nairobi: South African president Jacob Zuma is set to go to court this week after an artist went ahead and exhibited a painting that depicts Zuma with his genitals exposed. The painting is part of many in an exhibition titled “Hail to the Thief”. Zuma argues that the painting violates his right of privacy. Link to image
LADY GAGA PERFORMS IN PHILIPPINES AMID PROTESTS
Lady Gaga has taken the stage in the Philippines tonight – despite the widespread religious protests from people who really don’t like the superstar – what she wears – and what she doesn’t. The Philippine Star reports police have implemented stricter security measures in anticipation of her concerts, both tonight and tomorrow night.
DISPUTE OVER DINOSAUR SKELETON
From Whitney LLOYD: Who knew you could buy an intact skeleton of a Tyrannosaur at auction? Apparently you can – but not without causing an international dispute. Reuters reports a nearly intact Tyrannosaurus skeleton sold for $1.5 million at auction in New York last night, but the sale has been disputed by the Mongolian government. The skeleton was discovered in the Gobi Desert, but it’s not clear whether it was found in the portion of the Gobi that lies in Mongolia. If it was, Mongolia wants it back.
“RING OF FIRE” ECLIPSE
-QUITE A PICTURE…The “ring of fire” eclipse began yesterday in Asia before spreading over the western U.S, dazzling people all along the way. Gina SUNSERI shares this great image from the European space weather satellite Proba 2.
-THE LEMURS HAD AN ECLIPSE PROBLEM…From Gloria RIVIERA: 20 lemurs at a Japanese zoo were fooled into getting ready for bed by the lunar eclipse. Instead of watching in awe and silence, the ring-tailed lemurs of the Japan Monkey Centre jumped up and down like crazy and then climbed up trees and poles. Actually, that’s typical of their evening ritual when it is believed that brisk exercise raises their body temperature. After the eclipse was over, the furry friends went back to their normal day time routine…having burned a few extra calories for the day.