The United Nations says levels of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming have reached a record high. According to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose by nearly three parts per million from 2012 to 2013, the largest single-year increase since detailed records began three decades ago. Last year, concentrations of carbon dioxide reached nearly 400 parts per million, the highest level in at least 800,000 years. As oceans absorb the increased carbon, ocean acidification has reached a rate that is "unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years." In a press release, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud called the data a "scientific base" for global action on climate change. "We are running out of time," he said. The report comes ahead of the U.N. climate summit and the People’s Climate March in New York City later this month.
A study on climate change has warned the southwestern United States is at an increased risk of devastating drought. Cornell University professor Toby Ault discussed the results on Monday.
Toby Ault: "The risk of a decade-long drought is normally about 50 percent, but with climate change it goes up to about 80 or 90 percent, according to our results. And for a multiple-decade-long drought, a megadrought, the risk is normally in the order of 5 to 15 percent, but with climate change it goes up to between 20 and 50 percent for a lot of the Southwest."
California is in the midst of an epic three-year drought with more than 58 percent of the state deemed to be in "exceptional drought," the most severe category possible.
Iraqi lawmakers have approved a new government. Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will share power with two deputy prime ministers — one Sunni and one Kurdish. The key posts of defense minister and interior minister have not yet been filled. Speaking on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the new parliament as a necessary step in the fight against militants with the Islamic State, or ISIS.
Secretary of State John Kerry: "Tonight, Iraq has a unity government. Tomorrow, I will travel to the Middle East to continue to build the broadest possible coalition of partners around the globe to confront, degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. On Wednesday, President Obama will lay out in even greater detail our coordinated global strategy against ISIL."
On Monday, the U.S. military said its latest round of airstrikes in Iraq near the Haditha Dam killed 50 to 70 Islamic State fighters.
The European Union has agreed to expand sanctions on Russia over its role in eastern Ukraine. But the EU said it would hold off on imposing the sanctions right away amidst a ceasefire between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops, which has been disrupted by periodic clashes. A U.N. human rights official says the number of people killed in the Ukraine crisis has topped 3,000 and could be "significantly higher." The number includes the 298 people on board Malaysia Airflines Flight 17. A new report by the Dutch Safety Board out today finds the plane was hit by multiple "high-energy objects" and broke apart in the air over eastern Ukraine. The report does not assign blame.
Yemeni police have opened fire on Shiite protesters marching on the prime minister’s office in the capital Sana’a. A rebel leader told AFP seven protesters were killed. The Houthi rebels have been protesting for weeks to call for the resignation of the government and the reinstatement of fuel subsidies.
In Chile, a bomb has exploded in a subway station, injuring seven people in the capital Santiago. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet called it a terrorist attack.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet: "We think that this is an abominable act and therefore we will use the full weight of the law, including invoking anti-terrorism law, because those responsible for these acts will need to be held accountable, and we’re going to take all measures to ensure that people can continue to live their lives in peace and tranquility."
President Obama has extended the more than 50-year-old embargo on trade to Cuba for another year. In a statement, Obama said the embargo is "in the national interest of the United States." Each year for more than two decades, the United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba. The most recent vote was 188 to 2, with only the United States and Israel supporting the embargo.
In Peru, an anti-logging activist and three other leaders of the Ashaninka native community have been murdered in a remote area near the Brazilian border. Edwin Chota was a prominent opponent of illegal logging, which is devastating the Amazon region. He had received death threats from the loggers, who local authorities say are suspected of carrying out the killings.
A new report by Human Rights Watch finds Israel has unlawfully coerced nearly 7,000 Eritrean and Sudanese migrants into returning to their home countries, where they may face torture and other abuses. After fleeing human rights crises at home, the migrants have faced indefinite detention, restrictions on healthcare access and the rejection of 99.9 percent of asylum claims in Israel.
The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark ruling in Citizens United. The ruling cleared the way for corporations and other special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. On Monday, 20 Republicans joined Democrats as the Senate voted 79 to 18 to open debate on the amendment proposed by Senator Tom Udall, which would restore Congress’ ability to limit campaign spending. It would still need approval by a two-third majority in the Senate before moving to the House.
Documents from Edward Snowden have revealed details about the U.S. government’s secret plans to conduct economic espionage for the benefit of U.S. corporations. The Obama administration has acknowledged conducting economic spying, but denies it does so to help U.S. companies. However, a 2009 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published by The Intercept news site reveals concern about potential challenges to U.S. corporations from foreign multinationals. It suggests using "cyber operations" against "research facilities" in foreign countries and then assessing "whether and how [the] findings would be useful to U.S. industry."
A former portfolio manager for SAC Capital has been sentenced to nine years in prison for what the government has called the largest insider trading case in history. Mathew Martoma was charged with conducting illegal trades based on inside information about the development of an Alzheimer’s drug, netting $276 million in profits and averted losses for SAC Capital. He was the eighth employee of the firm to be convicted of insider trading.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been cut by his football team and indefinitely suspended by the National Football League after a video showed him punching his then-fiancée into unconsciousness. (A warning to our TV viewers the video is graphic.) The footage, from February, was released Monday by the tabloid website TMZ. The details of the case have been known for months after a previous video from a different angle showed Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of an elevator and dropping her face-first on the ground. The Baltimore Ravens had defended Rice, while the NFL’s first response in July was to suspend him for just two games. A massive public outcry led NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to apologize and change the league’s domestic violence policy. We’ll have more on the case with sportswriter Dave Zirin after headlines.
The city of Ferguson, Missouri, is set to implement new reforms following mass protests over the police killing of 18-year-old African American Michael Brown. At a meeting later today, the City Council is expected to vote on reforms that have stemmed from activist demands, including a citizen review board for police, a cap on how much of city revenue can come from fines, and a one-month recall program for warrants. Municipal court fines currently make up Ferguson’s second-highest source of revenue, and the city issued warrants at a rate of three per household last year. The meeting comes exactly a month after Brown was shot dead by a white police officer.
An eyewitness who saw the police shooting of Michael Brown has largely confirmed the accounts of earlier witnesses who said Brown was fleeing from police officer Darren Wilson. The witness is a worker who did not know Brown and had no ties to Ferguson. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he saw Wilson chase Brown and fire at him while his back was turned, before Brown stumbled and put his hands up in the air in an apparent gesture of surrender.
The New York City Police Department is facing new accusations of police brutality after a man said he was punched, kicked, beaten with nightsticks and hit with pepper spray in the Bronx. Surveillance video shows about half a dozen officers piling onto 23-year-old Santiago Hernandez and pummeling him. Hernandez said he had been waiting for a friend outside a building when he was stopped and frisked by officers who said they were investigating a noise complaint. When the search turned up nothing, Hernandez said he asked why he had been frisked, at which point the officer put handcuffs on him. After he asked why he was being arrested, several other officers arrived and surrounded him. Hernandez told local news station ABC 7 what happened next.
Santiago Hernandez: "They was taking turns on me. One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes, he punches me, he steps back. And another one comes, he grabs my arm, hits me like 10 times with the baton. Another one comes, pepper sprays me. They was taking turns on me, like it was like a gang."
Hernandez was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but the Bronx district attorney has reportedly declined to prosecute him. The NYPD says it is conducting an internal investigation. The incident took place August 18 while the NYPD was already facing protests over the death of Eric Garner. Garner died after police in Staten Island wrestled him to the ground in a banned chokehold and then pinned him down, while he pleaded that he could not breathe. He had been accused of selling loose cigarettes.
An Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexually assaulting eight African-American women while on duty has been released from jail. Daniel Holtzclaw was released on Friday after posting $500,000 bond. He is accused of carrying out the alleged assaults after threatening victims with arrest if they did not comply with his sexual demands.
A single mother in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison for ordering medication online to help her teenage daughter induce an abortion. Jennifer Ann Whalen pleaded guilty to breaking a state law that prevents anyone other than a doctor from providing abortions. Her daughter suffered abdominal pain and went to the hospital where a doctor called the police. Whalen said she bought the pills online because her daughter did not have health insurance and she could not find a local clinic near their rural community.