In Moscow, the death toll from Monday’s twin subway bombings has risen to thirty-nine. Sixty-five more people were injured in the suicide bombings. There has been no claim yet of responsibility for the deadly bombings, but Russian investigators believe Chechen rebels were involved. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to “find and wipe out” those behind the twin suicide bombings.
Dmitry Medvedev: “Suppression of terror in the country and the fight against terrorism will continue. We will continue operations against terrorists without hesitation, to the very end.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton linked Russia’s fight against militants to the US war on terror.
Hillary Clinton: “We face a common enemy. Whether you’re in a Moscow subway or a London subway or a train in Madrid or an office building in New York, we face the same enemy. The extremists who would try to turn the clock back on civilization, who are nihilistic, who pervert religion and values, they are unfortunately not just after Americans, but they’re after Europeans, they’re after Canadians, they’re after people who stand up against them and what they are promoting.”
A ninth member of a Michigan-based Christian militia has been arrested as part of an alleged plot to spark a war against the federal government. The Justice Department has accused the members of the Hutaree militia of planning on killing a law enforcement officer and then bombing the funeral procession. On Monday, the ex-wife of the alleged militia leader, David B. Stone, spoke to the media.
Donna Stone: “He’s got a temper. He can get radical, and he wants things done his way. One way or another, they will get done his way is the way he looks at everything.”
Reporter: “And are they using weapons? Are they using bombs?”
Donna Stone: “I can honestly say I have seen weapons, but I’ve never seen bombs at David’s house.”
A white power skinhead from Tennessee has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to carry out a killing spree targeting African Americans, including then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Daniel Cowart said he had plotted with a man from Arkansas to carry out a racially motivated plot to murder dozens of people. He said he had planned to culminate the attacks by assassinating Obama. Under terms of a plea agreement, Cowart faces between ten and seventy-five years in prison.
In another plot to assassinate a politician, a thirty-three-year-old man from Pennsylvania has been charged with threatening to kill Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia. Norman Leboon had posted a YouTube video last week in which he threatened to shoot Cantor and his family. Cantor is the only Jewish Republican member of Congress.
Ten Mexican students were killed on Sunday after stopping at a checkpoint run by drug traffickers in the state of Durango. The dead included three girls, ages eight, eleven and thirteen; the rest were all teenagers except for a twenty-one-year-old. The students were on their way to receive government scholarships as part of a federal program called “Opportunities” that supports low-income students. The killings are believed to have been carried out by the Zetas, one of the largest drug cartels in Mexico. The Zetas was formed by former Mexican soldiers who were trained by the United States in the mid-1990s at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia.
For the first time in almost three years, Israel will soon allow a shipment of clothes and shoes to be delivered to Palestinians living in Gaza. Palestinian officials said ten truckloads are scheduled to arrive on Thursday. Israel has imposed a severe blockade on Gaza since June 2007 in defiance of the international community. Human rights groups have described the blockade as a form of collective punishment.
In Burma, the opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi has announced it will boycott the upcoming elections organized by the military junta. The opposition National League for Democracy won the last election in 1990 by a landslide but was never allowed to rule. The boycott was called less than a month after the military junta barred Aung San Suu Kyi and all other current or former political prisoners from running.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is filing a lawsuit today challenging the legality of the government’s use of secretive prison units known as Communication Management Units, or CMUs. The units are designed to severely restrict prisoner communication with family members, the media and the outside world. Alexis Agathocleous is an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Alexis Agathocleous: “In 2006 and ’07, the Federal Bureau of Prisons secretly opened two experimental prison units which impose extraordinary restrictions on communications. For example, there is a categorical ban on any physical contact with family during family visits, including with young children. CMU prisoners aren’t told what led to their transfers to the CMU, nor do they have any meaningful review process. And predictably, this secrecy has led to an unchecked pattern a designations that have no basis in real evidence, but instead are discriminatory and retaliatory. So two-thirds of the prisoners at the CMU are Muslim. That’s a thousand percent overrepresentation over the national average, while others simply have unpopular political views.”
In education news, the Obama administration has awarded $600 million in grants to schools in Delaware and Tennessee as part of the Race to the Top Program. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for the grants that are designed to spur school reform. Tennessee recently lifted its cap on the number of new charter schools. Both Tennessee and Delaware have imposed new measures that base teacher pay and promotions partly on how well their students perform.
The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has officially announced the Obama administration will delay regulating greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants and oil refineries until at least January 2011.
Three US nuclear power plants have reported fires in recent days. Two of the fires occurred at plants owned by Progress Energy in the Carolinas. The third occurred near Cleveland, Ohio at a plant owned by FirstEnergy. Two firefighters were injured in the Ohio blaze. The fires come at a time when the Obama administration is pushing for the construction of the nation’s first new nuclear power plants since the early 1980s.
In political news, the Republican National Committee is coming under intense scrutiny after it was revealed the RNC had spent nearly $2,000 in party funds at a topless bondage-themed nightclub in West Hollywood. The money was spent at a club called Voyeur, where scantily clad performers are said to play out bondage and sadomasochistic scenes. The conservative Christian group Concerned Women for America said it was dismayed. In a statement, the group’s leader Penny Nance asked Republicans, “Did you really swill drinks, ogle young girls and plan party business at this kind of establishment? Please explain!”
The Associated Press has uncovered new details about an Afghan man who died while in a secret CIA prison known as the Salt Pit. The man, Gul Rahman, died three weeks after being detained in Afghanistan. He was found dead on November 20, 2002, after being left in his cold cell shackled and half-naked. It remains uncertain whether any intelligence officers have been punished as a result of Rahman’s death. The CIA’s then-station chief in Afghanistan was promoted after Rahman’s death, and the officer who ran the prison went on to other assignments, including one overseas. Rahman’s family repeatedly pressed International Red Cross officials about his fate, but the US never disclosed information about his death.
And the US Postal Service said Monday it wants to end Saturday mail delivery by early next year as part of a wide-ranging plan to save billions of dollars. The Postal Service is also considering a proposal to eliminate the equivalent of 40,000 full- and part-time jobs, about eight percent of the current workforce.