HARI SREENIVASAN: An American prisoner jailed for illegally trespassing in North Korea is back in the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter negotiated his release in Pyongyang, and the two departed there earlier today.
Aijalon Mahli Gomes was greeted by his family and friends on the tarmac in Boston. Gomes had been teaching English in South Korea before crossing into the North last January for unknown reasons.
Homemade bombs killed three U.S. troops in Afghanistan today. The attacks were in the south and the east, but no more details were given by NATO. Thirty-five Americans have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month, as fighting there has escalated. NATO announced today a joint force was wrapped up a week — has wrapped up a weeklong offensive northeast of Kabul, killing about 40 Taliban fighters and capturing key operatives.
The first video of 33 men trapped in a mine in Chile shows them healthy and in good spirits. They have been trapped underground since the mine collapsed August 5. The footage was shot by a tiny camera lowered down through a small emergency shaft.
We have a report narrated by Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News.
ROHIT KACHROO: It is cramped and dark, and the only light comes from their mining helmets. But there’s little about their spirit to indicate the depth of their ordeal. They sing the national anthem. Then, some of the men take the chance to send a message home. “I am here, my mother,” says one man. “I am OK, my friends,” says another.
Then, with similar optimism, each one speaks into the camera as they stand shirtless in the heat. They play dominoes to help stimulate their minds. Along with food and medicine, a video camera was sent through the bore hole to take us through the keyhole of their underground home.
And it shows how a mini-community with daily routines has formed. They have divided the space into separate areas, one to eat, one to sleep, another to wash, and another for leisure activities. They have a daily meeting, and there’s daily prayer. They keep busy by cleaning and sorting their provisions. And as well as dominoes and cards, they’re encouraged to sing and make videos for their families.
Submariners arrived near the mine today. Life in the deep is the nearest thing to the underground shelter. And the men have been told that those with waists of more than 35 inches won’t be able to squeeze out of the escape tunnel when it’s built. They appear to have coped well for 22 days. But there may be a hundred days more underground.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Chile’s state-owned mining company is drilling the escape tunnel, and the Chilean government is footing the bill for the rescue efforts. The company that owns the mine has said it cannot afford to pay its miners and may go bankrupt.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon said today a state prosecutor investigating the massacre of 72 migrants is missing. The graves were discovered on Tuesday, and the prime suspect is the Zetas drug cartel. The prosecutor and a police officer involved in the initial investigation disappeared on Wednesday. Also, the U.S. State Department told its diplomats in Monterrey, Mexico, to remove their children from the area. Two weeks ago, there was a shoot-out in front of an American school there, and kidnapping threats are on the rise.
The U.S. birthrate has dropped to its lowest level in a century. The National Center for Health Statistics estimated 4,136,000 children were born in 2009. That’s down nearly 3 percent from 2008. Researchers said the economic crisis may be partly to blame, prompting people to delay having children.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.