Classified material. A federal appeals court ruled today the government does not have to release 50 images taken of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after his death in 2011. Conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch sued for access to the photos under the Freedom of Information Act. But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously that releasing the images could cause riots that would put Americans abroad at risk. "It is undisputed that the government is withholding the images not to shield wrongdoing or avoid embarrassment, but rather to prevent the killing of Americans and violence against American interests," the opinion said. According to the government, the images show bin Laden’s body at his compound in Pakistan, its transportation to a U.S. ship, and his burial at sea.
Bullet(s) fly. Syrian troops opened fire today on an Israeli military vehicle traveling near the cease-fire line in the occupied Golan Heights. Israeli troops returned fire with an antitank missile. A Syrian Army spokesman claimed the vehicle crossed into Syrian territory and was completely destroyed in the attack. The Israelis dispute both claims, adding just one bullet hit the jeep, causing no injuries. Today’s incident is the latest in an escalation in animosity between the two countries. Israel recently bombed targets in Syria, saying they were staging areas for weapons headed to the Lebanese Shiite political and military organization Hezbollah. Syria accuses Israel of aiding rebel fighters trying to oust its government.
Sore loser. The latest international incident rocking Europe involves a Russian singer’s fifth place finish in the continent’s popular televised singing contest. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a news conference today to accuse Eurovision Song Contest organizers of “stealing” votes from singer Dina Garipova. The outrage “will not go unanswered,” Lavrov said. Yikes. It’s like the Cold War all over again. So much for healthy competition bringing people together.
Snake bit. If this doesn’t make you shudder, you have nerves of steel: Scientists in Florida discovered, and killed, an almost 19-foot-long Burmese python hanging out in a rural area south of Miami. The snake, which measured 18 feet 8 inches, is almost double the length of the usual specimen—10 feet. But researchers say invasive species often get larger in their adopted homes than in their native environment. Burmese pythons have become a blight in Florida, where they are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and eating endangered species. The snakes first showed up in the wild in the early 2000s after people who bought them as pets, not realizing how big they could get, started releasing them.