The Obama administration has launched what it calls the first strikes of its expanded military campaign against the Islamic State. The Pentagon says U.S. warplanes bombed Islamic State positions south of Baghdad in support of Iraqi forces under fire. The United States had carried out previous strikes under the stated mission of safeguarding U.S. personnel, helping refugees and protecting infrastructure.
The airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq come as the United States won pledges to fight ISIS at an international summit in Paris. Some 30 countries signed on to a statement vowing to defeat ISIS "by any means necessary." The United States did not invite Iran to the summit, but confirmed it had reached out with an unspecified offer of cooperation against ISIS. The Iranian government rejected the U.S. overture as "hollow and self-serving" and marred by "evil intentions." France had wanted to invite Iran to the talks in Paris, but Secretary of State John Kerry said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would have boycotted. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Iran could still play a role.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond: "Having a coming together today of 30-odd countries, including 10 from the Middle East region, following the meeting in Jeddah last week, shows that we are building the momentum of support for the coalition and its objectives. In terms of Iran, I think it was always unlikely that Iran would become a fully fledged member of the coalition, but I think we should continue to hope that Iran will align itself broadly with the direction that the coalition is going and that we can expect Iran to be cooperative with the plans that the coalition is putting in place — if not actively a part of the coalition."
Despite the pledges of cooperation, France is the only country to join the U.S. bombing effort so far, launching new surveillance flights over Iraq on Monday.
President Obama is set to unveil an expanded U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The plan reportedly includes sending up to 3,000 military personnel and helping build new treatment centers in Liberia. Congress will be asked to approve around $88 million in funding. It follows a dire warning from the World Health Organization that the number of new cases is far surpassing aid workers’ capacity to respond. At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power called an emergency meeting for this Thursday.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power: "The trend lines in this crisis are grave. And without immediate international action, we are facing the potential for a public health crisis that could claim lives on a scale far greater than current estimates and set the countries of West Africa back a generation. Because of the increasingly grim situation, particularly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the United States has requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council this Thursday, September 18. I don’t need to tell any of you how unusual Security Council debates on public health issues and public health crises are, but at this moment it is crucial that council members discuss the status of the epidemic, confer on a coordinated international response, and begin the process of marshaling our collective resources to stop the spread of the disease."
In a statement today, the group Doctors Without Borders warned: "The response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind. The window of opportunity to contain this outbreak is closing."
The Ukrainian government has offered a number of key concessions to the separatist forces it’s battled since April. A proposal from President Petro Poroshenko would grant the separatists amnesty, language protections, and self-governance rights under Ukrainian sovereignty. The offer comes as part of the peace effort following the truce brokered earlier this month. In the worst violence since the truce was reached, at least six people were killed and 15 wounded in shelling Monday in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. The violence comes as the United States and other NATO countries began military exercises in Ukraine.
Hundreds of migrants are feared dead after several shipwrecks in recent days. In the worst incident, the International Organization for Migration warns up to 500 people died after traffickers rammed their ship off the coast of Malta last week. The death toll on the year for migrants at sea is near 3,000.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has issued an appeal to Scottish voters to reject independence in Thursday’s referendum. Cameron spoke during a visit to Scotland on Monday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron: "It’s my duty to be clear about the likely consequences of a 'yes' vote. Independence would not be a trial separation, it would be a painful divorce. So this is our message to the people of Scotland: We want you to stay. Head, heart and soul, we want you to stay. Please don’t mix up the temporary and the permanent. Please don’t think: I’m frustrated with politics right now so I’ll walk out the door and never come back. If you don’t like me, I won’t be here forever. If you don’t like this government, it won’t last forever. But if you leave the United Kingdom, that will be forever."
Polls show the referendum is too close to call, with a large number of voters still undecided.
North Korea has sentenced an American prisoner to six years of hard labor for
"hostile acts." Matthew Todd Miller is one of three U.S. citizens known to be imprisoned in North Korea.
New figures show last month was the warmest August on record around the globe. According to NASA, West Antarctica saw hotter temperatures of up 8 degrees Celcius higher than normal, 14 degrees Fahrenheit. This year so far is the fourth hottest on record. A new international study released today says reducing the carbon emissions that cause global warming will be of minimal financial cost, and might end up saving money. According to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an ambitious plan will cost $4 trillion over 15 years, or about 5 percent of the money that would be spent anyway on new power plants and infrastructure. In addition to keeping temperatures at the level needed for long-term survival, the changes would lead to less deaths from air pollution, as well as lower medical bills and fuel costs.
Senate Republicans have again blocked a measure aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women. The Paycheck Fairness Act would let workers compare salaries without the threat of retaliation and force companies to explain pay disparities. Republicans voted unanimously to block the bill on Monday in their latest effort to defeat the measure over the past four years.
The National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings have reactivated star running back Adrian Peterson after benching him for a game following his indictment for alleged child abuse. Peterson was released on bail in Texas on Saturday following allegations he used a tree branch to beat his four-year-old son. On Monday, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman defended the team’s decision to allow Peterson back on the field.
Rick Spielman: "We have to respect that there’s a legal process in place. And we have seen everything that’s in the file. I will not get into any detail, just because I hope that you can respect that the legal process is going to take its course. And everything and all the information that we’ve been able to gather as of today, this is the decision we felt was best. There’s protocol in place on how we report everything. So we reported to NFL. They were aware of the situation. But the decision based on having Adrian inactive this weekend was from our organization, and the decision based going forward as of today is our organization’s decision."
The Vikings’ decision to reactive Peterson came just as it emerged he was investigated for abusing another one of his sons last year. No charges were filed in the case. The news comes as the NFL faces scrutiny over its lax treatment of abuse cases involving players and their partners. We’ll have more on the NFL later in the broadcast.
The architect of Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration law has resigned his top post in the state Republican party after making denigrating comments about Medicaid recipients. In a radio appearance, Russell Pearce called for the forced sterilization of Medicaid recipients.
Russell Pearce: "You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get a woman Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol and nicotine. If you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."
In response to criticism, Pearce has stepped down as the Arizona Republican Party’s first vice chair. In 2010, Pearce sponsored Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which forced police to investigate the immigration status of people they have detained.
Pope Francis has issued one of his strongest condemnations of war and the arms trade to date, saying the spate of conflicts worldwide amounts to a "piecemeal" World War III. Francis made the comments in a visit to Italy’s largest war memorial, built for soldiers who died in World War I.
Pope Francis: "Finding myself here, in this place, near this cemetery, I am able to say only one thing: War is madness. Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. Today, too, the victims are many. … How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important."
Pope Francis recently "un-blocked" the beatification of a leading advocate for peace, the Salvadoran Catholic Archbishop Óscar Romero. Known as the "voice of the voiceless," Romero was a prominent advocate for the poor and a leading critic of the U.S.-backed Salvadoran military government. He was killed in 1980 while delivering mass at a hospital chapel by members of a U.S.-backed death squad. With Pope Francis’ move to unblock him, Romero would be eligible for a declaration of sainthood in the Catholic Church.