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New figures show global greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxide increased by the highest amount on record last year. According to the Global Carbon Project, emissions jumped 5.9 percent in 2010 and have soared nearly 50 percent since 1990. Scientists say the increase likely accounted for a half-billion extra tons of carbon released into the air. China is the world’s leading emitter, followed by the United States, where emissions rose more than 4 percent last year.
The news comes as the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, enters its second and final week. On Saturday, thousands of people marched in the streets demanding climate justice.
The official U.S. unemployment rate has reached its lowest level in two-and-a-half years. The Labor Department says the jobless rate is now at 8.6 percent, the first time it’s been below 9 percent since March 2009. The U.S. also added 120,000 jobs last month, higher than expected. Despite the figures, the percentage of the unemployed who have gone without jobs over the long term increased to 43 percent, while the total percentage of adults in the workforce fell to 64 percent.
Thirty-one people were arrested at the Occupy site in Washington, D.C., on Sunday after police dismantled a structure erected by protesters. Scuffles broke out after officers moved in on the structure while protesters remained on top, refusing to move. A demonstrator criticized the arrests.
Protester: "This should be a non-issue. Five people shouldn’t have been arrested already. What should have happened is they should have said, 'You know, this is larger than we intended when we gave you permission to build the structure.' They should have changed the stipulations on their rules, and then they should have come back in three days. But there’s no reason for this to be happening right now at all."
Italy’s cabinet has unveiled a massive $32 billion austerity package in its response to the sovereign debt crisis threatening the eurozone. The plan includes a series of tax hikes and raises the retirement age for Italian workers. Italy’s trade unions have denounced the measures, saying they will come on the backs of the poor. On Sunday, Italy’s welfare minister broke into tears as she discussed the sacrifices being asked of low-income pensioners.
Iran is claiming to have shot down a pilotless U.S. drone near its eastern border. No footage of the drone has been released, but Iranian state TV says it was seized mostly intact. U.S. military officials say the drone could be aircraft that fell out of contact with operators as it flew over neighboring western Afghanistan last week.
At least 25 people were killed in Syria over the weekend in the ongoing crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. The clashes follow a vote on Friday by the United Nations Human Rights Council to condemn Syria for what it called "widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms."
Victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster held rallies in India on Saturday to mark the tragedy’s 27th anniversary. On December 3, 1984, around 40 metric tons of toxic gases leaked from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. The official death toll stands at around 3,500, but campaigners estimate the actual number is closer to 25,000, with many people still suffering. Union Carbide is now owned by Dow Chemical. To mark the anniversary, thousands gathered in Bhopal to call on the Indian government to boycott the 2012 Olympic Games in London because Dow Chemical is an official sponsor. Activists also blocked railway tracks to protest the ongoing denial of compensation payments to victims despite a $148 million plan unveiled earlier this year.
Thousands of people rallied in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Saturday in the latest protest against a so-called "free trade" deal with the United States. The South Korean parliament ratified the deal last week, but protesters are seeking to block its implementation before it takes effect next month.
Herman Cain has dropped out of the Republican presidential race following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct. During the campaign it emerged three women have accused Cain of sexual harassment, while just last week a fourth woman came forward to say she and Cain had engaged in a lengthy extra-marital affair.
The White House appears to be standing by a threat to veto a military spending bill for its inclusion of a controversial provision expanding the use of indefinite detention. The measure would authorize the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect without charge or trial anywhere in the world, including the United States. The Senate approved it last week as part of the larger National Defense Authorization Act. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama’s advisers will recommend a veto, but stopped short of saying a veto is assured.
Undercover agents working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency have reportedly laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in illegal drug money out of Mexico and into the United States. The practice is intended to track the drug profits of Mexico’s violent cartels in hopes of leading the agency to senior-level figures within the criminal organizations. Citing anonymous sources within the agency, the New York Times has revealed the DEA often allows cartels to continue their operations over months, and sometimes years, before making seizures or arrests. It is unclear how much illegal money the DEA has laundered for Mexico’s criminal organizations, but last year the agency seized $1 billion in cash and drug assets, while Mexico seized an estimated $26 million.
Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can appeal a lower court decision allowing his extradition to Sweden. Swedish authorities are seeking to question Assange about claims of rape and sexual assault, though he has not been formally charged.
Defense lawyers for the alleged U.S. Army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning are accusing the U.S. government of withholding key evidence that could help Manning’s defense at a pretrial hearing next week. Manning’s attorneys say U.S. officials are refusing to hand over internal government documents that assessed the impact of the release of thousands of diplomatic cables that Manning allegedly passed on to WikiLeaks. The U.S. government’s own analysts reportedly concluded the leaking of the cables posed little or no threat to national security. Manning’s hearing is set for December 16.