At least 23 people have been killed in two bombings targeting the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut. More than 140 people are wounded. Iran’s cultural attaché is reportedly among the dead. At least one of the explosions appears to have come from a suicide bomber.
Protests have broken out in Afghanistan today against a proposed security pact with the United States. Around 1,000 people blocked a key road between Kabul and Jalalabad. The protest comes as Afghan tribal leaders are holding a meeting this week to decide whether U.S. forces can remain beyond 2014.
Nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers including the United States are resuming tomorrow in Geneva. Ahead of the negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry sought to lower expectations.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “I have no specific expectations with respect to the negotiation in Geneva except that we will negotiate in good faith and we will try to get a first step agreement and hope that Iran will understand the importance of coming there prepared to create a document that can prove to the world that this is a peaceful program. That’s always been our standard.”
A Russian court has granted bail to four activists detained in the Greenpeace protest against Russian oil drilling in the Arctic. The four are the first foreign members of the “Arctic 30” set for release since their arrest two months ago. Overall, 28 activists and two journalists are facing charges of “hooliganism,” which carry up to seven years in prison.
Recovery efforts are underway following Sunday’s deadly storms in the U.S. Midwest. The death toll stands at eight, with six killed in Illinois and two in Michigan. Hundreds of business and homes were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands remain without power. On Monday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared a state of disaster in seven counties.
Gov. Pat Quinn: “Each of these communities in Illinois were hard hit yesterday by the deadliest tornadoes that we’ve ever had in a month of November in Illinois history. And it is important that we see ourselves as a family, that we come together when something very dangerous and difficult and deadly happens to the people. We’re all in this together, and our state government is going to respond with every asset we have to make sure that these communities and the people in them are able to recover.”
The Supreme Court has rejected a petition asking it to halt the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of phone records. The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the motion earlier this year without going through the lower courts. It was the first legal effort to directly challenge the authority of FISA courts to authorize the collection of phone data under the PATRIOT Act. But on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case without comment. Two other cases challenging NSA surveillance are set to go before federal courts later this week.
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled the retail giant Wal-Mart has violated the rights of striking workers. In a statement, the NLRB said Wal-Mart “unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.” The incidents include last year’s “Black Friday” protest that saw workers lead rallies at more than 1,000 Wal-Mart stores and another strike this past June. The NLRB says it will pursue charges, unless Wal-Mart can reach an agreement with the workers. The group OUR Walmart is organizing a new round of “Black Friday” protests next week.
A Wal-Mart store in Canton, Ohio, is drawing controversy for organizing a food drive for its employees. A sign affixed to several bins reads: “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.” Wal-Mart says the drive shows the company is seeking to help its workers in need. But critics say it displays the company’s system of poverty wages for many employees.
George Zimmerman, the man who killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has been arrested on charges of domestic violence and aggravated assault. Zimmerman was detained in Sanford, Florida on Monday after his girlfriend accused him of pointing a shotgun at her during an argument. The woman, Samantha Scheibe, said Zimmerman had four guns in the home and was breaking furniture during an angry tirade. Zimmerman’s estranged wife accused him of threatening her earlier this year but no charges were filed.
A public feud has erupted between the two daughters of former Vice President Dick Cheney over same-sex marriage. Mary Cheney, who is lesbian and married, has criticized her sister Liz Cheney for opposing the rights of same-sex couples to wed. Liz Cheney is currently seeking a Senate seat in Wyoming. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, she said she believes in the “traditional definition” of marriage and said states should be left to decide whether to recognize same-sex couples. Mary Cheney responded: “You’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”
The City Council of Toronto, Canada, has voted to curb the powers of embattled Mayor Rob Ford. Over the past several weeks, Ford has admitted to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs, and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Ford has also made vulgar remarks about oral sex and has been linked in press reports to domestic abuse. On Monday, the City Council voted to limit Ford’s budget and transfer most of his authority to the deputy mayor. Ford lashed out at the council during a public hearing.
Rob Ford: “In one year, I received 3,000 letters through the mail, 46,000 CMS messages, 138,000 emails, 123,000 phone calls, and between my home number and my cell number and my Onstar number in my car, I received 22,000 numbers. Are you aware of that? 22,000 phone calls. Are you aware of that, Madam Clerk, or whoever is moving the motion?”
Ford has vowed to challenge the limiting of his powers in court. At Monday’s hearing, he caused a new stir after knocking down a female councilor. Later in the day, Ford appeared on television to debut his new weekly program, “Ford Nation.” Ford said he is being targeted for his fiscally responsible policies.
Rob Ford: “I’ve made mistakes, but I don’t think, you know, that anyone else is any different. It’s hypocrisy at its best, and I’m not proud of what I’ve done. It’s very humiliating. But, you know, being fiscally responsible down at City Hall — and let’s call a spade a spade here — the majority of councilors down there are left-wing tax-and-spend socialists. That’s what they are. And there’s a handful of us that are fiscally responsible. And if I was one of them — as you know, there’s some councilors down there that have been criminally charged. Nothing wrong with that. I haven’t been charged.”
An offshoot of Occupy Wall Street has announced it has bought up and forgiven $14.7 million worth of U.S. medical debt over the past year. The Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt group launched its “Rolling Jubilee” effort to buy distressed debt from financial firms, often for pennies on the dollar, and then cancel it so that borrowers do not have to repay. The group says it has spent more than $400,000 to buy up medical debt and relieve some 2,600 patients of their financial burdens.