HARI SREENIVASAN: Iraqi Christians held funerals today for hostages killed at a Roman Catholic church in Baghdad last night. At least 58 people were killed and 78 wounded. Militants seized the site during evening mass. And that triggered a raid by Iraqi security forces. It was unclear if the hostages died before or during the raid.
At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI denounced the attack and appealed for an end to the violence in Iraq.
POPE BENEDICT XVI, Leader of Catholic Church (through translator): Among those who died there were also two Catholic priests and a group of faithful who gathered for the Sunday mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, made more ferocious because it was directed against unarmed people gathered in the house of God. That is the house of love and reconciliation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: A group linked to al-Qaida claimed it carried out the assault on the church in a bid to exterminate Iraqi Christians. In 1980, Catholics made up nearly 3 percent of the Iraqi population. By 2008, the number was less than 1 percent.
Thousands of people in Indonesia sheltered in camps today, as a volcano erupted again. Mount Merapi spewed massive clouds of ash and smoke into the sky over central Java. The eruptions have forced nearly 70,000 villagers to take refuge in crowded government camps. Merapi has killed 38 people so far. Nearly 500 others died in a tsunami one week ago in western Indonesia.
Brazil has elected its first female leader ever. Dilma Rousseff easily won Sunday’s runoff election. Supporters from the ruling Workers Party celebrated last night in Sao Paulo. Rousseff ran with the promise she would continue the policies of President Lula da Silva. During his tenure, Brazil has reached new international, economic, and political heights. He was barred by law from seeking a third term.
Insurance giant AIG will pay back nearly $37 billion to the U.S. government. It’s part of the company’s plan to repay more than $100 billion in federal assistance it received. AIG got the largest of the government packages. In return, the government took an 80 percent stake in the company.
Wall Street had a flat day, as traders waited for election results and new policy moves by the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones industrial average gained six points to close at 11124. The Nasdaq fell two points to close at 2504.
There were opening arguments in the trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in Texas. He’s accused of illegally funneling money to Texas Republican legislative races in 2002. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing. If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The man who was president John F. Kennedy’s close adviser and speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, died on Sunday. He passed away at a New York hospital from complications from a stroke. Sorensen penned some of JFK’s most famous speeches, including the 1961 inaugural address, with its call to duty, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Theodore Sorensen was 82 years old.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.