HARI SREENIVASAN: An Afghan policeman turned his gun on American troops in Eastern Afghanistan today and killed six. The gunman was killed in turn.
It happened during a NATO training mission in the province of Nangarhar along the border with Pakistan. There have been a string of incidents over the last year involving Afghan police who opened fire on their trainers.
In Iran, one nuclear scientist was killed and another was wounded in twin bombings in Tehran. Iranian police said assassins on motorcycles stuck magnetic bombs to the scientists’ cars as they drove to work. The bombs went off seconds later. No one claimed responsibility, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the attacks were foreign plots against Iran’s nuclear program.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, Iranian president (through translator): Without any doubt, in the assassinations which took place today, Western countries and the Zionist regime Israel were involved. I hope security officials immediately arrest them and present them to the people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ahmadinejad insisted the nuclear program would go forward and that Iran would get retribution.
Egypt was swept by demonstrations and riots today, after opposition parties claimed widespread fraud in Sunday’s elections. The opposition said most of its candidates for Parliament were defeated because the ruling party rigged the vote. That brought thousands into the streets to protest, even though the official results aren’t due until tomorrow. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group, said it may lose nearly all of its 88 seats.
There were new tensions in the standoff between North and South Korea. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak warned the North will pay a dear price if it attacks his country again. He said he was outraged by North Korean shelling that killed four people last week. Also today, U.S. and South Korea warships carried out joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea. The North called that a grave military provocation.
Representatives from nearly 200 nations began meeting in Cancun, Mexico, today at a United Nations conference on climate change. The U.N. wants to extend curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and to begin negotiating the next set of protocols. The talks have been stymied for three years.
Poorer countries say they will only move forward with greener measures if the United States and emerging giants China and India agree to binding cuts in emissions.
Congress has returned to Washington to wind up its lame-duck session. The Senate planned a vote this evening on ramping up safety inspections in the food industry. Lawmakers also face decisions on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, as well as unemployment benefits. It was unclear if there will be votes to repeal the military’s ban on gays or on a new treaty with Russia to cut nuclear weapons.
President Obama called today for Congress to freeze pay for all civilian federal employees for two years. The move could save the government more than $5 billion. It wouldn’t affect military pay. The president said getting the deficit under control will take broad sacrifice.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: In these challenging times, we want the best and brightest to join and make a difference. But these are also times where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices. And I’m asking civil servants to do what they have always done, play their part.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The president also said he’s recovering nicely after having a dozen stitches in his lower lip on Friday. He was hit by an elbow during a pickup basketball game.
Wall Street was down sharply for much of the day, but rallied late to make up most of the lost ground. The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a loss of 39 points to close at 11052. The Nasdaq fell nine points to close at 2525.
Shares of Irish banks traded higher today after getting $89 billion in loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. But the political opposition and Irish taxpayers criticized a key condition of the loans. It said Ireland must use $22 billion of its cash and pension reserves to shore up public finances. The E.U. and the IMF said it’s a good deal under the circumstances.
A retired electrician has come forward in France with 271 never-been- seen before works by Pablo Picasso. The former handyman worked for Picasso. He said today the artist’s second wife gave him paintings, sketches, and other works. He said he kept them in a trunk for decades, until now.
PIERRE LE GUENNEC, former handyman for Picasso (through translator): It’s because I had a few operations, and I thought that perhaps it’s time to do something about the art, so that there won’t be a problem for my children, because people will ask where it came from. And it is coming from me, because I worked for the monsieur for years, and I was with the monsieur until his final days.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Picasso’s estate estimates the art is worth more than $50 million. His heirs and lawyers insist the works were stolen. They say the artist would never have given away that much.
The U.S. Justice Department announced a crackdown on Web sites selling counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. Federal authorities have seized 82 domain names from commercial sites. Most were based in China. They peddled a range of fake brand-name items, from sports equipment to illegal copies of movies and music.
Veteran actor Leslie Nielsen died Sunday of pneumonia in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For decades, he played serious roles in movies like “Forbidden Planet” and “The Poseidon Adventure.” But, in 1980, he became a comic star as the deadpan doctor in “Airplane.”
His best-known line came when a passenger said, “Surely, you can’t be serious.” And Nielsen answered: “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”
Leslie Nielsen was 84 years old.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.