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HeadlinesSeptember 23, 2013

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68 Killed in Militant Attack on Nairobi Mall

Sep 23, 2013

An armed standoff is continuing at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where al-Qaeda-linked militants have taken hostages in a deadly rampage. At least 68 people have died and nearly 200 have been wounded since armed gunmen with Somalia’s al-Shabab stormed the shopping center on Saturday. Explosions and black smoke were seen at the mall today as Kenyan forces tried to enter. Al-Shabab says it launched the attack in response to Kenya’s role in the African Union peacekeeping force in neighboring Somalia. Kenyan forces entered Somalia two years ago to help the fight al-Shabab militants. At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “I condemn in the strongest terms yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. This premeditated act targeting defenseless civilians is totally reprehensible. The perpetrators must be brought to justice as soon as possible. Scores have been killed and wounded. I express my condolences to families of the deceased and injured and to the loved ones of all those of other nationalities who are among the victims.”

There have been unconfirmed reports at least three of the al-Shabab gunmen are Americans. The assault on the Westgate Mall marks the worst single attack in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. embassy in 1998.

78 Killed in Bombing of Pakistani Church; Militants Blame Drone War

Sep 23, 2013

At least 78 people were killed in Pakistan on Sunday when a pair of suicide bombers attacked worshipers outside a church in the city of Peshawar. Another 100 people were wounded. It was the deadliest-ever attack on Christians in Pakistan. The militant group TTP Jundullah claimed responsibility and said the bombing was retaliation for U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan. A spokesperson told the Associated Press the group will continue to attack non-Muslims in Pakistan until the U.S. drone war stops. At least six people were reportedly killed on Sunday when a U.S. drone hit alleged militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region.

Over 120 Killed in Iraq Violence

Sep 23, 2013

A weekend of violence in Iraq has left at least 120 people dead. At least 104 were killed on Saturday in one of Iraq’s deadliest days this year. Iraq is facing its bloodiest period since the Sunni-Shia fighting between 2006 and 2008, a civil war sparked by the U.S. invasion. More than 4,000 people were killed in Iraq between April and August.

Russian Foreign Minister Accuses U.S. of “Blackmail” on Authorizing Strikes

Sep 23, 2013

Russia is accusing the United States of exploiting the Syria chemical weapons deal to push through a U.N. measure authorizing military force. The United States is leading a push for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would threaten strikes if the regime of Bashar al-Assad fails to comply with the U.S.-Russia agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical stockpile. On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of “blackmail.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “Our American colleagues are starting to slowly blackmail us, saying that if we won’t adopt a resolution based on Chapter VII in the U.N. Security Council, then they will cease their work with Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.”

Lavrov also added that Russia has offered to send troops to ensure the safety of U.N. weapons inspectors in Syria. The Assad regime met its first deadline under the pact last week when it handed over information on its chemical stockpile.

U.S. Faces Government Shutdown as House Ties Funding to Obamacare Repeal

Sep 23, 2013

The United States is moving a closer to a potential government shutdown as Republicans push their effort to repeal “Obamacare.” On Friday, House Republicans approved a bill that would tie the continued funding of federal agencies after this month to the defunding of the Affordable Care Act. After Friday’s vote, House Speaker John Boehner urged the Senate to follow suit.

House Speaker John Boehner: “Our message to the United States Senate is real simple: The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want 'Obamacare.' The House has listened to the American people. Now it’s time for the United States Senate to listen to them, as well.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has vowed to fight for the House measure in the Senate and has backed a government shutdown if Senate Democrats reinsert “Obamacare” funding as expected. Cruz’s effort has drawn criticism from a number of Republican colleagues.

Obama Warns Republicans on Debt Ceiling Vote

Sep 23, 2013

Republicans have also vowed to link the upcoming debate on extending the Treasury’s borrowing limit to an “Obamacare” repeal. The United States is facing a deadline of around mid-October to expand the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling or face a default on its debts. Speaking in Missouri after Friday’s House vote, President Obama said the U.S. risks becoming a “deadbeat” country.

President Obama: “This is the United States of America. We’re not some banana republic. This is not a deadbeat nation. We don’t run out on our tab. We’re the world’s bedrock investment. The entire world looks to us to make sure the world economy is stable. We can’t — we can’t just not pay our bills. And even threatening something like that is the height of irresponsibility. So what I’ve said is, I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Obama: Gun Violence Should be a National Obsession, Spark Change

Sep 23, 2013

President Obama is continuing his call for renewed focus on gun control in the aftermath of two mass shootings in the past week. Speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus event on Saturday, Obama said supporters of gun control need to “get back at it” after the Senate defeat of a measure to expand background checks earlier this year. On Sunday, Obama addressed a memorial service for the 12 people killed by a gunman at the Washington Navy Yard last Monday. Obama said the nation’s gun violence should “obsess” all Americans and spark political mobilization.

President Obama: “It ought to be a shock to all of us, as a nation and as a people. It ought to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. That’s what happened in other countries when they experienced similar tragedies. In the United Kingdom, in Australia, when just a single mass shooting occurred in those countries, they understood that there was nothing ordinary about this kind of carnage. They endured great heartbreak, but they also mobilized, and they changed.”

Obama spoke just days after a shooting in Chicago left 13 people injured, including a three-year-old boy. More gun violence in Chicago over the weekend left at least five people dead.

Bangladeshi Garment Workers Rally for Higher Pay

Sep 23, 2013

An estimated 50,000 garment workers rallied in Bangladesh on Saturday in their largest protest to date. The workers are seeking a pay increase from their current $38 a month to $103. The head of the garment workers union, Nazma Akhtar, spoke out in Dhaka.

Nazma Akhtar: “Today we are demanding 8,000 taka for the garment workers’ minimum wage. As you all know, the garments workers are earning 77 percent foreign currency in this country from the women workers, but our salary is very low. They are getting 3,000 taka. So now we are demanding 8,000 taka minimum wage for the garments workers.”

Bangladesh last raised its minimum wage for garment workers in 2010. The country’s garment industry has come under heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of the factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 garment workers in April and a fire that killed 112 last November.

Inquiry: South African Police Lied About Marikana Killings

Sep 23, 2013

A commission of inquiry has found that South African police lied about last year’s killing of 34 striking miners. The victims were shot dead more than a week after walking off the job at the Marikana platinum mine in a call for higher pay. Police say they opened fire after workers tried to attack them with machetes, but the miners have accused the police of committing a massacre. The shooting marked the worst mass killing in South Africa since the end of apartheid. A government-backed inquiry now says South African police have withheld and falsified evidence after reviewing a police hard drive that was only recently disclosed.

IPCC Unveils New Climate Report, Warns of 2 Degree Celsius Temperature Hike

Sep 23, 2013

Scientists with the world’s leading scientific authority on global warming are unveiling their latest findings this week at a conference in Sweden. In its fifth assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns the planet is facing a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels over the next few decades, making parts of the planet uninhabitable.

Protests Urge Obama to “Draw the Line” on Keystone XL

Sep 23, 2013

Protests were held around the country on Saturday in a national day of action against the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The group says it organized some 200 rallies in nearly 50 states under the banner of “Draw the Line,” urging President Obama to reject Keystone’s construction.

Anglo American Drops Out of Controversial Mining Project in Alaska

Sep 23, 2013

A controversial mining project in Alaska is in jeopardy after losing one of its key backers. The British-based firm Anglo American has announced it is walking away from the Pebble Mine, which would dig up 186 square miles of the Alaska coast in a search for copper and gold. Critics say it would threaten waters that provide half the world’s supply of sockeye salmon.

Students Charged for CUNY Protest Against Ex-CIA Chief Petraeus

Sep 23, 2013

Six students at the City University of New York are facing charges following their arrest last week at a protest against former CIA director and military general David Petraeus. Petraeus began teaching a course at CUNY this month following his resignation last year. Prior to heading the CIA, Petraeus commanded U.S. troops in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Video footage from last week’s protest shows one officer repeatedly punching a detained student in the abdomen. The students insist their protest had been peaceful and say their charges should be dropped.

Sikh Physician Attacked in Apparent Hate Crime

Sep 23, 2013

A Sikh physician and professor at New York’s Columbia University has been attacked in an apparent hate crime. Dr. Prabhjot Singh was walking near his home in Harlem when a large group of young males confronted him, punching him repeatedly and calling him “Osama” and “terrorist.” Singh suffered a fractured jaw and multiple bruises.

Transgender Teen Voted Homecoming Queen

Sep 23, 2013

A transgender teenage girl in Huntington Beach, California, has made history by being voted homecoming queen at her high school. Sixteen-year-old Cassidy Lynn Campbell was biologically born a male, but identifies as female. After being crowned at a school football game Friday night, Campbell said she hopes to be an inspiration for LGBT youth.

Cassidy Lynn Campbell: “Whether I won or not tonight, I was a winner from the beginning, and I already knew it. You know, I put my message out there. And if this could help one child, or more, or hundreds or thousands or millions, then it was more than worth it.”

Campbell’s homecoming victory came just weeks after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a landmark measure to support transgender youth. The new law requires equal access to sex-segregated facilities and programs in public schools based on the gender preference of the student.

Hundreds Protest Neo-Nazi Takeover Attempt in North Dakota Town

Sep 23, 2013

Hundreds of people rallied in the small North Dakota town of Leith to protest a potential takeover by American Nazis. The neo-Nazi leader Jeff Schoep and his National Socialist Movement have voiced plans to move into Leith, buy up properties, and vote themselves in to control the local government. The town has a population of just 17 people. Sunday’s anti-Nazi rally included a large contingent of Native Americans from nearby reservations.

Scott Garman: “Let’s keep it peaceful. But just remember, these streets are our streets, the American people’s streets. They are not the streets of the Nazis.”

Chase Iron Eyes: “We know that white supremacists don’t respect us. They’re here in an effort to spread their hate.”

Shelby Wilson: “We’ll be here all night, and then we’ll be back, if need be, over and over and over again.”

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