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At least 50 people have been killed in a bombing targeting a Shia Muslim shrine in the Afghan capital of Kabul. The victims had gathered to mark the holy day of Ashura. More than 100 people were also injured. It was one of the deadliest single attacks in Afghanistan this year.
The bombing of a Shia Muslim shrine in Kabul comes after foreign leaders gathered in Germany on Monday for a meeting on Afghanistan’s future and the NATO role there. Afghan President Hamid Karzai told attendees his government will need political and military support for another decade and financial backing until at least 2030. The conference took place without Pakistan, which announced a boycott following the deadly NATO raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers late last month. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Pakistan’s decision.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “I think it was unfortunate that they did not participate. And I said in my prepared remarks that it would have been better if they had come. So we regretted the choice that they made, because today’s conference was an important milestone toward the kind of security and stability that is important for Pakistan, as well as for Afghanistan.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint address on Monday to call for major changes to the European Union treaty in response to the sovereign debt crisis threatening the eurozone. Speaking in Paris, Sarkozy and Merkel called for a series of new rules including tighter limits on member states’ national debt.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “Our preference would be for a treaty of all 27 members so that nobody feels excluded from the Franco-German move. But we are perfectly ready to go for a treaty of 17 members open to all countries that would want to join us.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “We are in a difficult situation, and we need to regain confidence, the acceptance of whether we are trustworthy in the eurozone, if we can live up to our responsibilities. As the belief that we can be taken at our word has suffered, many are worried about whether they can rely on us.”
Senate Democrats are planning a new vote on a measure to raise taxes on earners making over $1 million to fund a payroll tax cut. Republicans have blocked the effort four previous times over the past two months. At the White House, President Obama urged Republicans to drop their opposition to taxing the wealthy.
President Obama: “We are going through what is still an extraordinary time in this country and in this economy. And I get letters every single day, and I talk to people who say to me, 'This unemployment insurance is what allowed me to keep my house before I was able to find another job. This is what allowed me to still put gas in the tank to take my kids to school.' We cannot play games with unemployment insurance when we still have an unemployment rate that is way too high.”
Hundreds of activists are gathering in Washington, D.C. for a week-long protest dubbed “Take back the Capitol from corporate control.” A series of demonstrations and sit-ins are expected to protest corporate influence over the political process. Organizers say they expect many attendees from the Occupy encampments that have been shut down in recent weeks nationwide.
Arrests continued on Monday with 11 people detained at Occupy protests in Orlando and San Diego. The raids followed the weekend of arrests of 19 people in Portland and 16 people in Seattle. Around 100 protesters are facing eviction from their encampment at Seattle Central Community College after a judge ruled they can be displaced. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, members of Occupy L.A. rallied at City Hall on Monday to protest the raid on their encampment last week. And at the Occupy camp in Washington, D.C., activists regrouped following the arrests of 31 people on Sunday.
Tizzy Giordano: “One of my friends was grabbed by the throat by a cop. She has scratches and bruises on her throat. We have it on tape. I mean, it’s probably on YouTube by now. I mean, just that, watching your friends get hurt, is awful.”
James Cullen: “If we get kicked out and arrested, we will either come back or find another park. I think that a lot of—I think something really inspiring about a lot of the other occupations is that they get kicked out, they get moved, and they come back stronger.”
Today the Occupy movement is staging a national day of action to stop foreclosures. In New York City, activists will be gathering in a Brooklyn neighborhood to help a community reclaim foreclosed homes.
In Russia, hundreds of people have been arrested following massive protests against the nation’s parliamentary elections. Several thousand people took to the streets late Monday to denounce perceived fraud and voting irregularities in the election that has allowed Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party to retain power. According to the activist group “Solidarity,” at least 300 people have been detained and could be held for up to 15 days for participating in a mass demonstration in Moscow. The Interior Ministry reportedly deployed troops against the public following violent clashes between the police and protesters. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe claims ballot stuffing and frequent procedural violations slanted the election in favor of Putin’s party. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney voiced concerns about the vote.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “We have serious concerns about the conduct of those December 4th parliamentary elections. These concerns are reflected in the preliminary report issued by the OSCE’s (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) election observation mission, including a lack of fairness in the process, attempts to stuff ballot boxes and the manipulation of voter lists, among other things. Equally concerning are reports that independent Russian election observation efforts, including the nationwide Golos network and independent media outlets, encountered harassment of their personnel and cyber attacks on their websites.”
Operators of Japan’s earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility have disclosed large amounts of radioactive water have leaked through a concrete wall and may have reached the Pacific Ocean. According to Tokyo Electric Power, as much as 45 tons of the water has been released.
Federal regulators are reportedly preparing to slap Massey Energy with the largest fine ever levied on a U.S. mining company for the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 workers last year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Mine Safety and Health Administration will release a report today issuing about 360 safety citations against Massey. The company Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey in June and will be responsible for payment.
The 2011 Right Livelihood Awards were handed out in Stockholm on Monday to four recipients: entrepreneur Huang Ming of China, for his work on solar energy; the activist Jacqueline Moudeina of Chad for her efforts “to win justice for the victims of the former dictatorship in Chad and to increase awareness and observance of human rights in Africa”; the midwife Ina May Gaskin of the United States “for her whole-life’s work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child”; and the group GRAIN for its “worldwide work to protect the livelihoods and rights of farming communities and to expose the massive purchases of farmland in developing countries by foreign financial interests.” The Right Livelihood Awards are awarded annually and are widely known as the “alternative Nobel Prize.”