HARI SREENIVASAN: A gunman shot four U.S. Air Force troops in Germany today. The attack triggered investigations in both countries.
Two U.S. airmen were shot and killed and two others were injured outside Frankfurt airport’s terminal two this afternoon. Police say 21-year-old Arif Uka ran onto an Air Force shuttle bus and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon. The suspect’s uncle told the Associated Press that Uka works at the airport and that he’s a German-born devout Muslim whose parents moved to Germany from Kosovo.
Authorities do not believe there were any other individuals involved in today’s attack, though they are still searching for a motive. All four airmen were based at Lakenheath airfield in England.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences.
ANGELA MERKEL, German Chancellor (through translator): It is a terrible incident. And Germany will do everything possible to quickly find out what has happened.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama addressed the attack during the afternoon White House briefing.
U.S PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want everybody to understand that we will spare no effort in learning how this outrageous act took place, and I’m working with German authorities to ensure that all of the perpetrators are brought to justice.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Frankfurt police later the U.S. airmen and the attacker apparently had a confrontation outside the bus just before the shooting started.
In Yemen, security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters in the south, and two people were killed.
Opposition forces have been calling for longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Separately, White House officials said Saleh voiced regret today for accusing the U.S. and Israel of organizing the protests.
The only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet was shot to death today in Islamabad. At least three men sprayed Shahbaz Bhatti’s car with bullets near his home. He had videotaped a message acknowledging his advocacy of religious tolerance made him a target of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
SHAHBAZ BHATTI, Pakistani Cabinet member: I’m ready to die for a cause. I’m living for the — my community and suffering people. And I will die to defend their rights. So, these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. I would prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Bhatti was the second lawmaker murdered recently after opposing laws that call for the death penalty for insulting Islam.
The top NATO commander in Afghanistan has apologized for the killings of nine boys in a helicopter attack. It happened Tuesday in a remote northeastern region. General David Petraeus said today: “We are deeply sorry for this tragedy. These deaths should have never happened.”
NATO officials said there was a miscommunication, and coalition helicopters mistook the boys for insurgents.
The U.S. Army soldier accused in the WikiLeaks case will face 22 more charges. Private 1st Class Bradley Manning allegedly gave thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy group. The new charges in military court includes use of unauthorized software on government computers to obtain classified information.
The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved a two-week stopgap bill to keep the government running. It included $4 billion in spending cuts. President Obama immediately signed it, and he urged congressional leaders to begin negotiating a long-term plan with Vice President Biden.
But House Speaker John Boehner said, first, the Senate’s Democratic majority must put a proposal on the table.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-Ohio), speaker of the House: The House has a position. Where’s the Senate Democrat position? I have no idea where it is. How do you — how do you start — how do you start a conversation where one house has spoken, but the other house hasn’t? And so where is the starting point?
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Senate majority leader , Harry Reid, dismissed Boehner’s challenge as nothing more than a ploy.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-Nev.), majority leader: I can’t imagine anything so shallow. That’s what we do. That’s what negotiations are all about.
I’m not going to negotiate with you folks here as to what we’re going to — we want to do. That’s why we need to sit down in a room, with the administration there represented and the Republicans, both in the House and the Senate, and work something out.
HARI SREENIVASAN: House Republicans have already voted for $61 billion in cuts for the rest of this fiscal year, but Democrats have called that proposal a nonstarter.
The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, said today the Republican cuts could slow the economy. He dismissed projections of 700,000 jobs lost, but he said there would be an effect.
BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve Chairman: It would reduce growth. But we think it’s — given the size, it’s more in the couple of — one- to two-tenths in the first year, another tenth in the next year, something on that order of magnitude. And that would translate into a couple of hundred thousand jobs.
HARI SREENIVASAN: On Wall Street, stocks managed slight gains a day after a sharp sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than eight points to close above 12,066. The Nasdaq rose more than 10 points to close at 2,748. The gains came even though oil surged again, to finish above $102 a barrel for the first time since 2008.
In Ohio, Republicans in the state Senate narrowly passed a bill that bans public sector workers from striking. It also restricts their collective bargaining to wages and working conditions, but not to benefits. The legislation has drawn thousands of protesters to Columbus in recent weeks. It now goes to the statehouse, where Republicans are also in the majority.
Thousands of supporters of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe rallied today against economic sanctions imposed on their country. Trucks and buses brought the Mugabe supporters to an open field on the outskirts of Harare. Mugabe addressed the rally and threatened to seize foreign businesses as retaliation. The sanctions target Mugabe and his party leaders over human rights abuses.
Pope Benedict XVI has now proclaimed in a new book that the Jewish people were not to blame for the death of Jesus. The Vatican officially adopted that position in 1965. In his book “Jesus of Nazareth Part II,” Benedict makes his own case by asking, “How could the whole people have been present at this moment of the crucifixion to clamor for Jesus’ death?”
A Holocaust survivors group said today the pope’s statement helps by confirming that view for a new generation of Catholics.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.