News Wrap: In Kabul, Memorial Day Marked With Fallen Marine’s Letter
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KWAME HOLMAN: A U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan this year was the focus of Memorial Day observances there. Sergeant William Stacey was on his fourth deployment when he died in a bombing. He left a letter to be read in the event of his death. In it, he wrote, “If my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that it was all worth it.”
The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen, said today the words speak resoundingly.
LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, International Security Assistance Forces: While our brothers and sisters fell in a place far from home, far from their families, the values for which they stood and for which they lived and for which they died occupy an enduring place in our hearts.
KWAME HOLMAN: Three NATO troops were killed in Afghanistan today and three others over the weekend. That brings the total NATO deaths to 172 this year.
There’s word that Iranian operatives were linked to an assassination plot against U.S. Embassy officials in the Middle East. The Washington Post reported today that American diplomats in Azerbaijan were warned last November. The report cited unnamed U.S. officials for the information.
The attacks never took place. But the Post account said phone records and other evidence tied the conspiracy to Iran and its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged today he avoided confronting media barons, like Rupert Murdoch, during his 10 years in power. But he denied making any deal to win Murdoch’s backing. Blair testified as part of the ongoing Leveson inquiry into British media standards.
We have a report from Gary Gibbon of Independent Television News.
GARY GIBBON: Tony Blair told Lord Justice Leveson things had got too close between politicians and the media bosses, but there had been no deal.
TONY BLAIR, former British prime minister: There was no deal on issues to do with the media with Rupert Murdoch or indeed with anybody else, either express or implied. And to be fair, he never sought such a thing.
GARY GIBBON: Tony Blair was asked why Labor dumped policies against foreign ownership of British media companies just before coming to office. He said he had decided the backlash that would have brought would have left no time for more important policies like health and education.
TONY BLAIR: I never felt that I could risk putting all of that to one side to fight this. Now, that’s the political judgment in a way that you have to make. So some people would say to me — and some of them did say — look, you can do this along with everything else. And I used to say to them, you’re being completely unrealistic about this.
GARY GIBBON: Tony Blair said he never changed his policies to fit in with Rupert Murdoch’s views.
A protester burst into the courtroom to attack Tony Blair over the Iraq war. He was arrested on suspicion of breach of the peace. Tony Blair said the time had now come for more regulation of the media and David Cameron should be supported by politicians from all parties if he brings forward reforms when the inquiry has finished.
KWAME HOLMAN: In Egypt, official tallies confirmed the field for next month’s presidential runoff. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will face Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The electoral commission rejected allegations of fraud in last week’s first round of balloting.
What was left of Tropical Storm Beryl soaked parts of Georgia and Florida today. The storm weakened into a tropical depression after making landfall just after midnight. But it brought sustained winds of nearly 70 miles an hour, along with bands of driving rain. No major damage was reported, beyond power outages.
In New Mexico, the trouble is not enough rain. A massive wildfire in the southwestern part of the state has burned across 190 square miles since last week. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze on Sunday, helped by lighter winds. They built a protection line around the nearest buildings, the privately owned ghost town of Mogollon.
And in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a wildfire on the edge of Lake Superior has blackened nearly 32 square miles and destroyed nearly 100 buildings. It started with a lightning strike last week.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.