LOS ANGELES – Marches and rallies against seed giant Monsanto were held across the U.S. and in dozens of other countries Saturday.
“March Against Monsanto” protesters say they want to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food and the food giants that produce it. Marches are planned for more than 250 cities around the globe, according to organizers.
Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified. But some say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment.
Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, said Saturday that it respects people’s rights to express their opinion on the topic, but maintains that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving resources such as water and energy.
Powell weighs in on use of drones
WASHINGTON – U.S. drone strikes should be conducted by the military, not the Central Intelligence Agency, and limited to targets that present a real immediate threat to the U.S., former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, according to a report Saturday.
According to an interview with Bloomberg TV, Powell, a retired U.S. Army general, said the unmanned, remotely controlled airplanes are a very effective weapon, but they need to be used in a more “circumscribed” manner to make sure the U.S. is focusing on the most high-value targets that represent a real immediate threat to Americans.
Powell, 76, was secretary of state for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. The retired four-star Army general was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1989-1993 during the first Persian Gulf War and earlier was, while serving in the Army, President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser from 1987 to 1989.
Powell’s comments come after President Barack Obama in a major national security speech on Thursday defended the use of drones but said he would work with Congress to increase scrutiny of them.
Powell added that authority for drone use should be transferred to the Defense Department.
Anti-Muslim activity on the rise in UK
LONDON – Police, politicians and activists in Britain are warning of rising anti-Muslim sentiment following the slaughter of an off-duty British soldier in a London street, an apparent act of Islamic extremism that has horrified the nation.
Metropolitan Police investigating the killing of Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old soldier who was run over by attackers then butchered with knives, arrested three more men in the murder investigation Saturday. Stun guns were used on two of the three men, ages 24 and 28, police said.
The latest arrests came as an estimated 1,500 members of an extremist right-wing group called the English Defense League marched in the northern English city of Newcastle, chanting Rigby’s name. In the southern English city of Portsmouth, police arrested two men for a racially motivated assault as hundreds of demonstrators gathered near one mosque, while several more people were detained for alleged racist offenses elsewhere.
The two men suspected of killing the soldier, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, remained under armed guard in separate London hospitals after police shot them at the scene. Police have not officially named the suspects because they have not been charged, but British officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the investigation, have confirmed their names to the Associated Press.
French soldier stabbed in throat
PARIS – A French soldier was stabbed in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris on Saturday, and the government said it was trying to determine if there were any links to the brutal killing of a British soldier by suspected Islamic extremists.
French President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker, who escaped, was unknown. The life of the 23-year-old soldier was not in danger, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
On Wednesday, British soldier Lee Rigby, 25, was viciously stabbed on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.
The French soldier was on a group patrol as part of a national protection program when he was attacked from behind, prosecutor Robert Gelli told Europe 1 radio. The assailant did not say a word, Gelli said.
Suspected rebels kill 28, wound 24
NEW DELHI – About 200 suspected Maoist rebels set off a land mine and opened fire on a convoy of cars carrying local leaders and supporters of India’s ruling Congress party in the country’s east, killing at least 28 people and wounding 24 others, police said.
Senior police officer M. Gupta said the attack occurred Saturday in the Sukma area, about 215 miles south of Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh state.
Two state party leaders and five police officers were among those killed, said R.K. Vij, a police officer. Other victims were party supporters.
Police identified one of those killed as Mahendra Karma, a Congress leader in Chhattisgarh state who founded a local militia, the Salwa Judum, to combat the Maoist rebels. The anti-rebel militia had to be reined in after it was accused of atrocities against tribals – indigenous people at the bottom of India’s rigid social ladder.
The rebels, known as Naxalites, have been fighting the central government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor. The fighters were inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and have drawn support from displaced tribal populations opposed to corporate exploitation and official corruption.