HARI SREENIVASAN: The phone-hacking scandal in Britain threatened to spread to the U.S. today. It was widely reported that the FBI is investigating whether a Rupert Murdoch tabloid in London tried to access voice-mails of 9/11 victims.
And Murdoch defended his handling of the scandal. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, which he also owns, he said he’s just getting annoyed at all the criticism of his company.
A federal judge in Washington has declared a mistrial just two days into the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens. The judge acted after prosecutors showed the jury some evidence that had already been disallowed. Clemens is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never used steroids. He had nothing to say as he left the courthouse. The judge set a September hearing to decide on holding a new trial.
A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed five people today at a memorial service for Ahmed Wali Karzai, half-brother of the Afghan president. The bomber blew himself up at a Kandahar mosque where the service was under way. President Karzai wasn’t attending. The attack came as a U.N. report said Afghan civilian deaths are up 15 percent from a year ago.
Officials with the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan blamed 80 percent of the killings on insurgents.
GEORGETTE GAGNON, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: This dramatic growth was mainly due to the use of land mine-like pressure plate improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, by the anti-government elements. We at UNAMA documented 1,462 civilian deaths.
HARI SREENIVASAN: NATO airstrikes, mainly involving helicopters, were the leading cause of civilian deaths by international forces.
The first American combat forces began leaving Afghanistan today as part of a gradual pullout. Army National Guard units from Iowa boarded a military plane at the Bagram Air Base terminal. They’re among the 1,000 troops set to leave Afghanistan this month. Last month, President Obama announced he is withdrawing 10,000 U.S. troops this year. The remaining 23,000 will leave by September of next year.
In India, investigators in Mumbai searched for clues in Wednesday’s triple bombing that killed 17 people and wounded 130 more. Others demanded answers to how the city was attacked again despite stepped-up security.
We have a report narrated by John Sparks of Independent Television News.
JOHN SPARKS: There was no warning. Three bombs were placed in the streets of Mumbai. A few hours later, detectives began their investigation. A series of bombs detonated in rapid succession, this not the work of suicide bombers, said the police; these were sophisticated devices triggered by timers. These the first attacks here since gunmen from Pakistan laid siege to the city in 2008, and the authorities were taken by surprise.
PALANIAPPAN CHIDAMBARAM, Indian interior minister: There was no intelligence input either to the central intelligence agencies or to the state agency regarding yesterday’s blasts.
JOHN SPARKS: Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although security experts say a domestic group, the Indian Mujahideen, are prime suspects.
Few here can see the point of it.
“What do we tell our children?” said this man. “They think these adults are mad. Why kill innocent people?”
Tonight, security has been ramped up across the nation, and the police are now better trained and resourced than they were a few years ago, but there are no shortage of targets in a country of 1.2 billion people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mumbai is India’s financial capital and home to its movie industry as well.
U.S. stocks turned lower today after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke played down talks of new stimulus moves. He had said yesterday that the Fed was ready to act if the economy gets worse. Today, he emphasized that he expects things to improve, albeit slowly.
In response, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 54 points to close at 12,437. The Nasdaq fell 34 points to close at 2,762.
Leading U.S. food companies have agreed to cut back on marketing junk food to children. General Mills, ConAgra Foods, Kellogg’s and others announced new guidelines today. They mandate specific nutritional requirements with less sodium, fat and sugar. The companies have rejected government guidelines that were stricter than the industry standards.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.