Thousands of teachers, parents and students marched in the streets of Chicago on Monday, the opening day of the city’s first public school strike in a quarter century. Almost 30,000 teachers and their support staff have walked out over reforms sought by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Chicago Teachers Union called the strike Sunday night after months of negotiations failed to resolve demands for pay raises, better classroom conditions, job security and evaluations.
Events are being held across the country today to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On the eve of the anniversary, federal officials announced first responders and other survivors exposed to toxic compounds from the wreckage at Ground Zero may now be entitled to free cancer treatment for the first time. The U.S. government has added about 50 types of cancer to its list of illnesses covered under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The law, signed by President Obama last year, was named after New York Police detective James Zadroga, who died in 2006 of a respiratory illness stemming from his work at the World Trade Center site. Zadroga was reported to be the first New York City police officer to die from inhaling toxic dust at Ground Zero. So far, at least 1,000 deaths have been tied to illnesses stemming from the 9/11 attacks.
Newly disclosed documents from before the 9/11 attacks have provided further evidence the Bush administration ignored repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden’s plans to attack the United States. Writing in the New York Times, journalist and author Kurt Eichenwald reports the Bush administration dismissed a number of warnings of an al-Qaeda attack in the United States beginning in the spring of 2001, instead focusing on Saddam Hussein. In one assessment, Eichenwald writes, "The CIA all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real." Some counterterrorism officials were so dismayed with the administration’s response that they discussed seeking a transfer so that others would be blamed when the attack on the United States eventually took place. The suggestion was dismissed because there would not be enough time to train replacements.
The U.S. military has disclosed a Guantánamo Bay prisoner died over the weekend in his cell. The victim’s identity has not been released, but he is said to have taken part in a hunger strike at the prison earlier this year. He is believed to be the ninth foreign prisoner to die at Guantánamo since the United States began jailing foreigners there in 2002. Several prisoners have taken their own lives.
The United Nations’s top human rights official has renewed pleas for both sides of the conflict in Syria to stop what could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, issued the appeal before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay: "The use of heavy weapons by the government and the shelling of populated areas have resulted in high numbers of civilian casualties, mass displacement of civilians inside and outside the country, and a devastating humanitarian crisis. I am concerned that they may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. I am equally concerned about violations by anti-government forces, including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture, as well as the recently increased use of improvised explosive devices."
Violence continued across Syria on Monday with around 100 people reportedly killed, most of them civilians. Unverified video shows what appear to be the bodies of 20 blindfolded Syrian soldiers after they were executed in Aleppo. Speaking in Cairo on Monday, the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he will be making his first visit to Syria in the coming days. Brahimi said expectations of progress should be kept to a minimum.
Lakhdar Brahimi: "We shouldn’t expect miracles. There are no miracles. And also that our approach is based on the fact that we are looking only to the interest of the people of Syria, and we will try to help the people of Syria and nobody else."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming to be in talks with the United States on setting a "red line" for Iran’s nuclear program that would trigger a military attack if crossed. Netanyahu made the disclosure in an interview with Canada’s CBC News.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "We’re discussing this right now with the United States."
Reporter: "So, what is it in terms of drawing that line, what are you hoping the U.S. will do?"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I think the issue is not merely the sanctions or the steps that are — that could be enhanced to put pressure on Iran. It’s also a clear delineation of a line which Iran cannot cross in its pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons capability. And I think if Iran saw that there is a chance — I won’t say it’s guaranteed, but there is a chance — they might pause and think before they cross that line."
Asked about Netanyahu’s comments in Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland refused to confirm that talks are being held on "red lines."
Victoria Nuland: "You know, we are absolutely firm about the president’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other — red lines. It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states as we are doing."
Clashes broke out in the West Bank on Monday following a week of protests against the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation. Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets to denounce austerity measures imposed by the PA in the face of a shortfall of international donations and of ongoing Israeli restrictions. A number of Palestinian taxi and truck drivers went on strike and blocked roads in a protest against a rise in fuel prices.
In Kuwait, thousands of people rallied in front of the country’s parliament Monday to call for the election of a prime minister from outside the ruling al-Sabah family and to protest the amendment of electoral laws. Among those taking part were lawmakers from the opposition-majority parliament elected earlier this year before a court nullified the vote and reinstated the pro-monarchy predecessor.
Two Ohio election officials fired for trying to extend early voting have filed a federal lawsuit seeking reinstatement at their jobs. The two officials, Thomas Ritchie and Dennis Lieberman, were dismissed last month for moving to extend early voting after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, announced all counties would follow uniform hours for early voting on weekdays. But since his order only applied during the week, Ritchie and Lieberman moved to expand voting times on the weekend. Critics have said the state’s uneven hours benefit white Republicans, while disenfranchising people of color. President Obama won Montgomery County in 2008. A federal judge struck down Ohio’s effort to prevent early voting the weekend before the election late last month, but Ohio has filed an appeal.
Campaigning in Ohio on Monday, Republican nominee Mitt Romney continued to push his vow to revive the U.S. economy if elected.
Mitt Romney: "We put them into place, and this economy is going to come back. We’re going to start creating jobs again. You’re going to see us have a balanced budget that’s actually within the realm of reality, all right. That’s going to happen. We’re going to get Americans to work with higher wages again, and you’re going to be confident that your child’s future is brighter even than your past. America does not have to have the long face we have right now under this president."
Two antiwar protesters have been found guilty of trespassing for entering a Missouri Air Force base with a letter describing their opposition to the U.S. drone program. The defendants, Ron Faust and Brian Terrell, were among a number of activists who took part in a demonstration at the Whiteman Air Force Base last April. The base is one of several homes of the U.S. military’s aerial drone program overseas.
The longtime environmental activist Larry Gibson has died at the age of 66. Gibson spent decades advocating against the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining, at one point walking across West Virginia to educate his fellow residents. He died while working on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia, his birthplace and an area he had spent years trying to protect.
Yemen is claiming to have killed Said al-Shehri, a militant leader believed to be the second-in-command of the group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Yemeni government says Shehri and six other militants were killed Monday in a military operation in eastern Yemen.