NEWS DAY | Peter Erlinder freed / U.S., Israel, Suez, Lebanon / MSM this weekend

Free on “unconditional bail,” Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder is now out of Rwanda and on his way home. Supporters say he will hold a news conference in Kenya on Sunday afternoon.

A fleet of battleships including at least 11 U.S. and one Israeli vessels, crossed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea on Friday, according to Arabic, Israeli, German and Norwegian news media reports. (Strangely, neither BBC nor the mainstream U.S. media are carrying the story, though Firedoglake has a connect-the-dots blog post.) Egyptian authorities lined the canal with thousands of security forces to protect the passage and stopped all non-military traffic and all fishing in the area. According to Ha’Aretz:

According to eyewitnesses, the U.S. battleships were the largest to have crossed the Canal in many years, Al-Quds reported.

Egyptian opposition members have criticized the government for cooperating with the U.S. and Israeli forces and allowing the ships’ passage through Egyptian territorial waters.

Meanwhile, another ship is preparing to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This ship, known as Mariam or Virgin Mary, carries about 50 women and medical supplies for cancer patients. (The apparent Twitter hashtag is #virginmary.) The departure date is not yet known. Yahoo news reports a warning from Israel:

A senior Israeli military official has warned the Beirut government against allowing an aid ship to depart Lebanon for the besieged Gaza Strip.

“I say clearly to the government of Lebanon: You are responsible for the sea vessels leaving your ports with a clear and known intention of trying to break the naval blockade on Gaza,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday.

So what is the big news in the MSM? BBC offers up car bombings in central Baghdad, with 26 dead, and a U.N. appeal for relief for 400,000 Krgyzstan refugees. At least the fighting, described earlier as “like a pogrom,” with national security forces joining in the anti-Uzbek frenzy, appears to have stopped.

The New York Times has a quartet of Afghan war storiescivilians killed by NATO air strikes, greatly increased violence (including a 45 percent increase in assassinations over 2009), two more U.S. military deaths, and a magazine article covering the “civic war” on the ground.  The NYT also notes the endangered status of human rights defenders in Mexico. The human rights story comes three days after the NYT described Spiderman’s most-wanted status in Mexico, a consequence of Marvel Entertainment’s copyright infringement complaints.

Closer to home, the Star Tribune reports on more Ponzi schemes in Minnesota and the Pioneer Press tells the story behind St. Paul’s jewel-like Mears Park, which this weekend hosts the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. (Following what seems to be its usual practice, the Strib’s front-page article, “Losing our lakes,” is not available on-line today.)

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