To know: Federal prosecutors have dropped all charges against former Senator John Edwards, whose recent trial ended with him being acquitted on one charge and with a hung jury on the remaining charges ? Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong faces new charges from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency ? British Prime Minister David Cameron is testifying before an inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal ? Syrian helicopters that were said to be coming from Russia may actually be old ? The San Francisco Giants? Matt Cain pitched the first perfect game in the team?s history.
The slogans, mostly in Arabic, some in English, read: ?Our revolution is peaceful? and ?We just want freedom.? In response to the regime?s persistent casting of all revolutionaries as terrorists, other banners read ?Are doctors terrorists?? and ?Dignity, equality, law?are these terrorism?? The twenty or thirty demonstrators were silent. They were mostly young people, some were even teenagers, wearing Converse sneakers and thin-legged jeans that rode low on their hips. The majority were women, a few of whom wore headscarves, while others sported shaved scalps and dreadlocks. Among them, I recognized Alawites, Sunni, and Druze.
For the first few moments, nobody moved. The heaving, vigorous crowd of shoppers in the markets simply stood still. Drivers gazed straight ahead through their windshields. A few taxis beeped their horns. Finally, a traffic officer rushed over and quietly ushered the protestors across the street. They gathered on the median strip and while traffic resumed around them, they directed their signs toward the Justice Palace, Syria?s infamously arbitrary and opaque law courts.
The onlookers?shopkeepers and customers, adults and children?drifted across the street, too. Many lifted phones and cameras to record the demonstration. Fathers propped daughters on their shoulders to catch a glimpse. A few young girls in the audience applauded. One teenage street vendor, most likely illiterate, demanded in a thick provincial accent that someone read him the signs. No one spoke above a whisper. No one rushed away. No one shouted at the activists or tried to accost them. No one chanted for President Bashar Al Assad, as often happened during the first Damascus pro-democracy protests in 2011, when demonstrators would be quickly surrounded by security and whisked off to prison. For a few minutes, on that inconspicuous weekend in early May, that corner of Damascus belonged to the revolution.
Craig Whitlock reports for the Washington Post on the expansion of U.S. military bases in Africa:
The surveillance flights have taken on added importance in the turbulent aftermath of a March coup in Mali, which has enabled al-Qaeda sympathizers to declare an independent Islamist state in the northern half of the country.
Elsewhere, commanders have said they are increasingly worried about the spread of Boko Haram, an Islamist group in Nigeria blamed for a rash of bombings there. U.S. forces are orchestrating a regional intervention in Somalia to target al-Shabab, another al-Qaeda affiliate. In Central Africa, about 100 American Special Operations troops are helping to coordinate the hunt for Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of a brutal guerrilla group known as the Lord?s Resistance Army.
The results of the American surveillance missions are shrouded in secrecy. Although the U.S. military has launched airstrikes and raids in Somalia, commanders said that in other places, they generally limit their involvement to sharing intelligence with allied African forces so they can attack terrorist camps on their own territory.
To watch: The Giants? Gregor Blanco saves Cain?s perfect game: