Update: 10:41 a.m. EDT: With a telephone apology apparently unsatisfactory, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is traveling back to Rochdale to apologize in person to Gillian Duffy, a supporter who he called a "bigoted person" after meeting her on the campaign trail, according to the BBC.
Below is the original post about the incident:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, having been in politics for decades, should have been well aware of the dangers of a "hot mic".
At a campaign stumping stop in northern England Wednesday, Brown had an engaging exchange with a resident called Gillian Duffy, who asked him pointed questions about immigration -- clearly a topic of genuine concern to her.
He responded diplomatically and smiled a lot (see them together at left). When he left Duffy, she told reporters amassed at the scene she would vote for Brown's Labour Party in the elections next week.
Then Mr. Brown got into his car and told an aid the entire discussion had been a "disaster," and called Duffy a "bigoted woman." He didn't realize a wireless microphone was still turned on and a news channel was listening in, and recording. (Click here to watch the video)
It may well be game-over for the already-trailing-in-the-polls Labour party.
If there's a cardinal sin in politics, it's probably, "don't get busted talking trash about your constituents."
Not only did Brown commit the sin, he did it in Labour's traditional heartland, the working-class north of England, and on a topic that millions of Britons are deeply worried about; European immigration.
It's historically Brown's arch-rivals in the Conservative Party who are cast as elitist and disconnected from the British populace. They will have no problem projecting that stereotype now onto Brown in the scant days before millions of ballots are cast.
In a radio interview just minutes after his faux-pas, Brown apologized "profusely" for his blunder, saying he meant no harm. But his face during the interview, buried in his hands, revealed great concern as he took "full responsibility for what's done."
Labour had hoped to rob the town Duffy is from, Rochdale, from the Liberal Democrat Party, which currently holds the Parliamentary seat.
"An ordinary woman who just came up and asked him questions what lots of people would ask him... and he called me a bigot," Duffy recounted with indignity after the incident. She no told reporters she no longer intends to vote for the Labour Party. She said she won't vote at all.
Labour needs every vote it can get in this incredibly close election.
The BBC says Brown personally called Duffy less than an hour later to apologize again. But he can't call everyone in England who shares her views on immigration. The damage is done.
A Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan tells CBS News the Islamic fundamentalist movement that once ruled the country is ready to defend their traditional heartland from a pending U.S. and NATO military offensive, and hundreds of militants are pouring in from neighboring Pakistan to help.
"Hundreds of Taliban (foot soldiers) and bombers are ready for the assault around Kandahar and we challenge the U.S. and NATO to this forthcoming operation," Muhammad Khalil, a commander in the southeastern province told CBS News in a telephone interview from the region.
Khalil claimed "hundreds of Pakistani militants" from the lawless tribal areas along the two nations' shared border have arrived in Kandahar, the Taliban's homeland, and were prepared to battle the Western and Afghan forces over the summer.
Fighting has already begun as elite American troops fan out in the mud-hut villages surrounding the provincial capital, Kandahar city, ahead of the expected offensive planned around a huge influx of about 30,000 additional American troops ordered by President Obama.
Khalil said his men were responsible for an attack Tuesday night on an Afghan security company just a mile from the main U.S. base in the region. He said three suicide bombers and a group of gunmen laid siege to the compound near the regional airport, which the U.S. forces are using as their base, for about two hours.
Above: Afghans inspect the site of a bombing attack near Kandahar city, Afghanistan, April 28, 2010.
A spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, Zalmay Ayubi, tells CBS News the attack began when a suicide bomber walked to the gate of the private security company and blew himself up. After the first bomber, rockets and grenades were lobed at the base. At least three other suicide bombers stormed the base and started firing, then blowing themselves up during the firefight.
Ayubi tells CBS four guards were killed, 30 more injured, and more than 20 vehicles were burned in the attack. He says two militants were arrested and four bombers were killed.
The influx of new fighters to Kandahar is part of the Taliban's attempt to avoid a military defeat in their heartland along the lines of what happened in neighboring Helmand province just a couple months ago.
That operation, a smaller-scale precursor to the Kandahar fight, saw Western and Afghan troops force the militants out of the strategic town of Marjah. Despite a slower than expected effort to rebuild the area and see the Afghan authorities' power take root, it remains largely secure, thanks in no small part to a continuing U.S. Marine presence.
Kandahar promises to be a much bloodier fight, for the Americans and their allies, and the Taliban. The city is home to hundreds of thousands of Afghans, many of whom sympathize with the Taliban movement.
U.S. military leaders have warned the American public to brace for increasing casualty figures as the operation ramps up in Kandahar.
I wish I'd counted the times Conservative Party leader and aspiring British Prime Minister David Cameron evoked that powerful mantra last night. I'd have run out of fingers.
Campaigning for "change" should be easy for the party which has sat on the sidelines in the U.K. since 1997. Cameron and the Conservatives adopted the strategy months and months ago -- not long after it worked so well for Barack Obama across the pond.
It was going well for them. The British public, like any public, is above all things fickle. Cameron rode high in the polls on his chariot of change for some time, a fact that the incumbent Labour Party and Prime Minister Gordon Brown were hard-pressed to combat.
After all, Labour has had 13 years to make the U.K. into everyone's utopia but, alas, has failed. Time for some change!
Cameron is a young, smart, savvy politician - the ideal front-man for one of Britain's oldest political parties to sell themselves as something novel.
And, if brought to power in the May 6 national elections, the Conservatives would, quite literally be a change. According to England's own geniuses at Oxford, change is defined as, "an instance of becoming different." Yes, the Conservatives are not Labour, so they would be different. It would be change.
Simple. Election over. Change to win it.
Stop! Thief! Another young, smart, savvy politician has stolen "change" from Mr. Cameron and is refusing to let go.
Above: Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg, left, and Conservative leader David Cameron prepare to take part in Britain's second televised election debate, in Bristol, England, April 22, 2010.
Nick Clegg, leader of Britain's "third" party, the Liberal Democrats, insists the Conservative party (which has been around since the early 1800s, or the 1600s, depending on how you count it) isn't actually offering any "real change".
For that, says Clegg, Britain must abandon the "old parties" and bring his own band of merry men into power.
Clegg's superior performance in Debate No. 1 last week brought him out of the shadows of Parliament right to the forefront of the British political debate.
He won the first debate hands down, partly because his two rivals simply didn't perform as well, and partly because many Briton's realized for the first time last week they actually have a third option.
Despite the best attempts of the party spin-masters to convince us otherwise, there was no clear winner in last night's highly rehearsed, made-for-TV spectacle.
Please read this Guardian column on the U.K. media's attempt to ape American debate punditry. It's time well spent.
Polls show Cameron and Clegg in a virtual dead heat. Gordon Brown isn't far behind and, if anything, fared best on the night by gaining in approval compared to his previous ratings.
Cameron spent much of the night railing predictably against Brown. The rest he spent using the word's "real change" like a pop song refrain and trying desperately to stare deep into the eyes of television viewers. You could actually see him thinking, "must remember to look in camera." He's yet to master the art, but he clearly learned something from watching Cameron.
The problem for Clegg now is that in one, very practical way, Cameron is absolutely right.
With the lines drawn around Great Britain's electoral map as they are, it's impossible for the Lib Dems to win enough seats in Parliament to make Clegg the next prime minister. His party will not lead.
So that leaves the Conservatives as the only option for voters who want a complete replacement of all those in power. Cameron, however, faces an almost equally daunting challenge. For the Conservatives to lead the next government, they have to win 116 new seats in Parliament.
That is a tall ask, and in all likelihood the election will end in a hung Parliament and Gordon Brown knocking on Clegg's door to form a coalition government.
The real question then, is would Britain rather "change" back into a Conservative country, which it has been many times over the last 200 odd years, or settle for a "half-change" with power shared by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
According to the polls, they aren't sure yet. Next Thursday, the 3rd and final debate will focus on the economy - a perceived strength for Brown.
It will likely determine which brand of change Britain is in the mood for.
Britain has been governed as a two-party democracy, for all practical intents and purposes, for three decades. Now, as volcanic ash strangles the nation's transportation back into the 19th century, the modern marvel of television is poised to shake the foundations of U.K. politics.
Okay, so we Americans turned the diabolical gaze of television cameras onto our would-be leaders about half a century ago -- Britain is a very old, tradition-obsessed nation. Change comes slowly.
But it's coming, and it looks like Nick Clegg. He's the leader of the Liberal Democrats party who, Friday morning, should be lying in bed and cuddling his television rather than his wife. He should probably even make it breakfast and then give it a foot rub.
Prior to Thursday's first-ever televised debate, most of Britain knew vaguely who Clegg was, but very few people had a clear idea of what his aspirations might be or how he would stack up on a level stage to his rivals.
According to the battery of polls which started making news broadcasts about three minutes after the debate's end, Clegg won the event by anything from a five to 40 percent margin. Most tellingly, he gained the most in favorability compared to his rivals in before and after polling.
While some are calling this a surprise victory, it's important to remember that Clegg had the most to gain and virtually nothing to lose going into the tete-a-tete-a-tete.
Gordon Brown, whose political charisma rivals that of oatmeal, was expected to either bumble his way into a knot and then explode, or fly into a fit of rage and attempt to decapitate arch nemesis Cameron.
Cameron, a young, shiny-looking suave character who came to politics after a successful PR career, was expected to embarrass the other two gentlemen by dancing articulate circles around them.
Brown held his own. He didn't let his renowned temper peek through the facade of calm and weathered wisdom. Cameron relied heavily on anecdotes and stuck to his talking points, came across as slightly more scripted than one with his level of schmooze-experience should have, and likely failed to win any new hearts and minds.
That is what this series of three debates is all about: The Great Undecided of Britain. There are armies of them. Polls have shown as much as a third of this county is still unclear on which party to back in the May 6 election.
Winning over those voters is the sole intent of these three men and their battalions of door-knocking foot soldiers, who have interrupted my dinnertime for the last week.
Just an hour or so prior to the debate, one of my local city councilors, from the Labour Party, beseeched my wife to add her name to the "safe-vote" list on her clipboard. (As a non-resident I can't vote here, so I just stood in the doorway listening and throwing questions at Councilor Billi Randall, who was gracious enough to not dismiss me as a waste of her stumping time.)
My dear wife is representative of a great many of her fellow countrymen and women. She was born into a family with a proud history of backing one of the two main parties. From the diehard working class Northeast of England, she and her family have never cast a vote for anyone but Labour.
This year, however, she joined the ranks of The Great Undecided.
"What is it that's putting you off Labour?" Randall asked my tea-supping spouse.
Her answer likely reverberates in the minds of many long-time Labour supporters: "Gordon Brown." The man has a supreme image problem.
"I actually think Gordon Brown is better behind the scenes," Randall conceded, hinting that she'd heard the complaint before.
At the end of our chat Randall had made her points well and my wife was pretty much sold; back in the familiar arms of her Labour Party. "Oh, I think I'll probably end up voting Labour," she confessed.
But she wasn't enthused, and she decided not to let Randall add her name to the definitive list of supporters on the clipboard.
Then, two hours later, it happened. As I drank a glass of whisky while ironing and watching the debate (pretty typical TV viewer, I'd say), I beheld the power of television.
"I think I might actually vote for the Lib Dems," proclaimed my wife, about half-way through the debate.
Almost 10 million Britons tuned into the debate last night. I wonder how many others thought that?
Nick Clegg's party has a snowball's chance in an Icelandic volcano of winning enough seats in Parliament to become Britain's next Prime Minister. That isn't the point. They will remain, in all likelihood, the third party, the "other party" for many years.
But while the U.K. may be Americanizing their politics to some degree, one key difference is that in a British national election, there can actually be no winner at all.
If no one party wins enough seats to form a clear majority, then a coalition government will have to be formed.
Gordon Brown went out of his way during the debate to show just how much he and Clegg have in common on domestic policy -- the Prime Minister knows he may have to try and draw the Lib Dems into a power sharing deal.
That could give the Liberal Democrats more political power than they've had since the party was forged in the late 1980s.
More importantly, it could give millions of Britons who, like my wife, felt they only had two choices and weren't excited about either of them, another option to strongly consider.
Mr. Clegg has the live television format to thank for that. He was granted an opportunity, and he seized it.
According to a report in The Times of London, investigators say American troops removed bullets from the bodies of the victims, which included two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother.
The soldiers then cleaned the wounds with alcohol before telling their commanders the civilians had been discovered already dead for many hours, according to the Afghans, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity.
NATO has confirmed that the five residents of Khataba village were killed erroneously in the nighttime raid on Feb. 12, when a joint force of U.S. and Afghan Special Forces stormed their home after a tip suggested a Taliban militant was hiding there.
"Despite earlier reports we have determined that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men," NATO spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale told The Times. The Western military alliance denied the claims that there had been any cover-up.
The Afghan government's investigation into the raid is ongoing, and officials involved in the probe would not go on the record for The Times story, saying they had to wait until the results were made public.
NATO vowed a full investigation into the civilian deaths immediately following the incident, according to the British newspaper, but later said it had been made impossible by the victim's prompt burial in accordance with Muslim tradition.
Several Arab newspapers and a local NBC television affiliate in New Jersey have reported that 26-year-old Sharif Mobley, of Buena Borough, New Jersey, is in Yemeni custody after killing at least one security officer while trying to escape from a hospital in the Yemeni capital.NBC40 reports that U.S. government sources have confirmed Mobley's arrest in Yemen, and say "federal investigators have an interest in Mobley and are waiting for more information to come out of Yemen."
The Yemen Post reports that the suspect in the hospital shooting was a German-Somali dual citizen, but Yemeni foreign ministry sources confirmed on March 8, that the suspect was a U.S. national, not German.
Yemen's Interior Ministry said last week it had arrested 11 suspected al Qaeda militants during a raid on one of their homes.
The ministry said in a statement on March 4 that the men were captured while meeting in the family home of one of the members in the capital San'a. The father of one of the suspects was killed by police when he opened fire on police during the raid.
According to multiple reports in the Arab media, Mobley was among those arrested in the raid.
Speaking to NBC40, Charles Mobley said he had no information on the reported arrest of his son. "We don't know nothing, we're trying to hear something," he told the local reporter.
The young man's mother, who declined to speak on camera, reportedly told NBC40 the family had last heard from Ishraf in late January, when he told them he was in Yemen.
"I remember him from high school," Dawn Bass, a former classmate, told NBC40. "He was just outgoing, he wanted to be, like the center of attention. He was a nice kid."
The U.S. has become increasingly worried about militants based in Yemen since al Qaeda groups there and in Saudi Arabia merged last year to become al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The group organized a failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas day in Detroit with a bomber smuggling explosives in his underwear.
In a report to Congress made in January by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry, the committee chairman, warned that al Qaeda's growing presence in Yemen and Somalia represented a "ticking time bomb" to U.S. security.
Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch "seeks to recruit American citizens to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States," Kerry warned in his opening letter to the report. "These Americans are not necessarily of Arab or South Asian descent; they include individuals who converted to Islam in prison or elsewhere and were radicalized."
"This is a significant blow to the Taliban. In the past they have been able to replace leaders, and no doubt they will replace him, but there are not many members of the Quetta Shura who can step into his role," Mir told CBS News producer Ben Plesser in Kabul, referring to the Afghan Taliban by its traditional name.
But the implications of Baradar's arrest for America and its allies in the war against Islamic fundamentalism may be far greater than the tactical victory of nabbing the purported No. 2 commander of the group.
CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark, embedded with a unit of Marines on the frontline (at left), reports that the long-expected operation to force the militants out of Marjah has yet to begin. But the fight isn't waiting.
The Marines came under direct small-arms fire Friday from Taliban militants entrenched on the agricultural town's outskirts.
The 28-year-old man, identified by CNN as Evan Muncie, was found under the remains of a market where he sold rice, according to family members speaking to University of Miami field hospital staff in Haiti.
Doctors say it is infeasible that the man survived that long without any water, but Muncie was reportedly disoriented after being pulled from the rubble and could not account for how he had survived for so long.
The reporter, Abdulelah Hider Sha'ea, told The New York Times that Awlaki admitted meeting the young man during his suspected training in Yemen under the wings of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Special Report: The Christmas Day Terror Attack
For embattled Afghanistan, no clear answer has emerged yet from the elegant meeting room in London, where top leaders from governments around the world have gathered to discuss a new road map for the central Asian country.
The year ahead in Afghanistan promises to be turbulent and probably bloody. The U.S. troop surge ordered by President Obama will probably provoke more conflict in the short term — because the intensified U.S. campaign will successfully target more militant hideouts, or because the hardliners will fight back more vigorously, or both.
For information on how to donate to relief organizations click here.
7:37 p.m. ET: Wednesday on the "CBS Evening News" our team of correspondents in the field continued to deliver stirring images and stories from the aftermath of the Haiti quake.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton reported from on board the USNS Comfort the hospital ship with 1,000 beds and eight operating rooms that reached Haiti yesterday. Everywhere on board, medical teams asked Ashton about conditions on the ground and the clinic where she's been working this week.
For information on how to donate to relief organizations click here.
7:22 p.m. ET: CBS News continue to deliver round-the-clock updates from on the ground in Haiti and around the world. On Tuesday's "CBS Evening News," medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton reported on the difficult life-and death choices being made every day at the 13 hospitals now open in Port-au-Prince.
For information on how to donate to relief organizations click here.
7:40 p.m. ET: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has answered widespread calls and implemented a temporary policy known as "humanitarian parole" – allowing orphaned children from Haiti to enter the United States temporarily on an individual basis to receive care.
Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said the government was exploring ways to convince al Qaeda militants "that we are serious," using intelligence and offensive operations against them.
"If they do not come to terms with the government policies and hand over their arms, then the government will also face them."