FROM John Burns
Julian Assange and the British-Ecuadorian Standoff Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame has been holed up in Ecuador's London embassy. Diplomatic principle and British law say a foreign embassy is equivalent to the soil of another country. Ecuador says Britain is threatening to break the rules. Britain wants to send Assange to Sweden, and Assange fears that could mean extradition to the United States. We update the stalemate with John Burns, London Bureau Chief for the New York Times and Charles Crawford, former British ambassador to Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw.
Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee There were a thousand boats and a million onlookers braving a cold rain yesterday on the Thames for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II . She's the only British Royal to live long enough for that honor other than Queen Victoria. Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee will be four days long, including a concert this evening featuring Sirs Elton John and Paul McCartney. Prince Phillip, who turns 91 this week, will miss it because of a bladder infection. John Burns is London Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
Fraying Diplomatic Ties between Iran and Britain After its embassy in Tehran was vandalized this week, Britain withdrew its ambassador to Iran and reduced ties to what's being called "the lowest level of diplomacy." Other European nations have followed suit. Today in Brussels, EU finance ministers met to discuss intensifying sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. John Burns is London Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
Rupert Murdoch on the Witness Stand Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, answered questions from members of Parliament today for almost three hours. Rupert Murdoch apologized, denied previous knowledge and blamed subordinates for the cell phone-hacking and bribery scandal rocking Britain's political elite. We hear about the testimony and the protester who threw shaving cream at the elder Murdoch's face.
Rupert Murdoch on the Witness Stand Britain's 80-year old press lord, Rupert Murdoch, and his son, James, answered questions from members of Parliament today for almost three hours, saying that phone hacking and bribing police officers are wrong. Both denied knowing that News Corp policies were broken so often and blamed subordinates they accused of betraying them and their company. At one point, a protester managed to throw a small amount of shaving cream in the elder Murdoch's face. We hear about the substance and the drama as the scandal develops.
NATO Air Strikes Hammer Tripoli NATO aircraft struck at least 15 targets in 30 minutes early this morning near Moammar Gadhafi's command compound in Tripoli, the heaviest bombardment so far. In Bengazi, the US invited the Libyan rebel council to open an office in Washington. John Burns is in Tripoli for the New York Times .
Sex, WikiLeaks and the Law Julian Assange spent last night in a London Jail, without bail on an arrest warrant from Sweden. He has not been charged with a crime, but Swedish authorities say two women have accused him of rape and sexual harassment. Assange says it’s really all about WikiLeaks .
Sex, WikiLeaks and the Law Julian Assange spent last night in a London Jail, without bail on an arrest warrant from Sweden. He has not been charged with a crime, but Swedish authorities say two women have accused him of rape and sexual harrassment. Assange says it's really all about WikiLeaks . Meantime, the international uproar over WikiLeaks continues. Today, the Foreign Minister of Australia, where Assange is a citizen, called him "irresponsible" but innocent and blamed the United States for the leak of classified cables. A Swiss bank has frozen his legal defense funds, and Visa and MasterCard have cut him off. American politicians have called for his head from the Right and the Left. Could he be extradited to the US? Would WikiLeaks retaliate with a massive document dump? What about the First Amendment?
Who Benefits from WikiLeaks' Release of Military Documents? On Saturday WikiLeaks released almost 400,000 classified reports about the Iraq war and promised more to come about the war in Afghanistan. At a London news conference, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was joined by Daniel Ellsberg , who leaked the Pentagon Papers almost 40 years ago. Ellsberg called Assange "the most dangerous man in the world" because he has the courage to challenge the US government.
Who Benefits from WikiLeaks' Release of Military Documents? On Saturday WikiLeaks released almost 400,000 classified field reports about the Iraq war, and promised more to come about the war in Afghanistan. Those reports are now on the Internet and in newspapers worldwide. The Pentagon says WikiLeaks has put lives at risk and given adversaries valuable information. Others say official distortions and wrong-doing have been exposed. What's new about contractors, sectarian executions and civilians killed by American soldiers? What about Iraqi stability after US soldiers stand down? Should the whistle-blowers who were the source of the records be treated as criminals or public servants?
Police in London Arrest Five in Alleged Terror Plot against Pope As Pope Benedict XVI was making history in London today, British police arrested five street cleaners in an area where the Pope was scheduled to visit. They were charged with terrorism . John Burns reports from London for the New York Times .
Is Great Britain Headed for Coalition Government? For the first time since the 1930's, Great Britain's two-party government may be in for a change. If neither the Labour nor Conservative party wins enough votes to govern, Nick Clegg , leader of the Liberal Democrats , will be the power broker. Currently, the parties are in a three-way tie, which could leave the country ruled by a coalition. But who would be getting in bed with whom? What about the current Prime Minister, Labour's Gordon Brown? John Burns is London Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
New Priority for President Karzai: Reaching Out to the Taliban Officials of 70 nations are meeting in London to map out ways of ending eight years of war in Afghanistan. Last year was the worst yet in the fight with the Taliban, but the theme of the meeting is reconciliation, starting with President Hamid Karzai. John Burns is London Bureau Chief for the New York Times .
Death of Edward Downes, Wife Ignites Debate on Assisted Suicide Angry debate about assisted suicide is raging in Europe after a British conductor and his wife drank a lethal barbiturate at a clinic in Switzerland. At 85, Sir Edward Downes was almost deaf and blind, but otherwise healthy. His 74-year-old wife Joan was suffering from terminal cancer. This month, they traveled to Zurich and checked in at the Dignitas clinic, where with two of their children holding their hands, they each took a single does of barbiturate and died. John Burns is London Bureau chief for the New York Times .
War and Diplomacy in Iraq and Afghanistan Violence is down in Iraq, but it's up in Afghanistan, with American soldiers and diplomats caught in between. After months of painstaking negotiations, the US and Iraq appeared to have reached a deal last week on extending the presence of American forces beyond the end of this year. That's when the UN mandate runs out. But now, Iraq's cabinet is demanding changes in what's called the Status of Forces Agreement . In Afghanistan, allied leaders say more troops are needed, against an insurgency fueled in part by the presence of foreign forces. Can the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq resolve their competing political interests and agree on terms for US withdrawal? Will the US and NATO have to sit down with the Taliban to avoid mistakes made in Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union?
A Shaky Start for the New Way Forward Another hanging has gone awry, the civilian death toll is higher than anyone thought before and Iraq’s government may not be on board. All this as Secretary of State Rice visits Iraq's Arab neighbors , trying to sell the President's plan for more troops to avoid total chaos. Meantime, the New York Times quotes a US official in Iraq as saying, "We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem," adding, "we are being played like a pawn." Does America's war in Iraq make for tension between the Arab governments and their own people? How worried are the regimes about the rising influence of Iran? Will talks between Israel and the Palestinians make a difference? We get perspective from journalists in Iraq and Europe, experts on international security and Middle East policy.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.