Iraqi, Kurdish and U.S. forces have launched a massive operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which was seized by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in June 2014. The United Nations is warning as many as 1 million people may be forced to flee their homes due to the offensive, which has been described as one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Three members of a Kansas militia known as the Crusaders have been arrested for plotting to blow up an apartment complex in the western Kansas town of Garden City. The apartment complex is home to many Somali refugees and houses a mosque. All three militia members were white men in their late forties. According to the FBI, the militia supported anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-government beliefs. Tom Beall is the acting U.S. attorney in Kansas.
Tom Beall: "It’s alleged the defendants conducted surveillance to size up potential targets. They stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components. They even prepared a manifesto describing their beliefs, to be published after the bombing. These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence. Many Kansans may find it as startling as I have that such things could happen here."
The FBI, which had an undercover agent in the militia, said the men were planning to carry out the attack on November 9, one day after the presidential election. Local Somali residents responded with shock to the arrests.
Abdulkadir Mohamed: "I’m here in the United States like 15 years now. I never meet any problem, except today, when I heard this information. And it makes me shocked and scared."
In climate news, nearly 200 nations have backed a legally binding deal to cut back on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners. Hydrofluorocarbon, or HFC, gas can be 10,000 times more more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Gina McCarthy, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, praised the deal.
Gina McCarthy: "If you look at it, we are going to achieve somewhere in the order of 80 to 90 percent of the emission reductions from these chemicals. It is staggering what this will achieve. We’re talking about an amount that’s comparable to thousands of coal-fired power plant emissions. It’s amazing."
WikiLeaks is continuing to publish more emails from the account of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. One newly published email revealed that Clinton privately bashed environmentalists opposed to fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline. During a meeting with the Building Trades Union in September 2015, Clinton said the environmentalists should “get a life.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to claim the election has been rigged, alleging the media is conspiring with Hillary Clinton to defeat him.
Donald Trump: "You see what’s happening. The process is rigged. This whole election is being rigged. These lies spread by the media, without witnesses, without backup or anything else, are poisoning the minds of the electorate. No witnesses, no backup, no anything else."
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, "The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary—but also at many polling places—SAD." Last week Trump called the presidential election "one big fix" and "one big, ugly lie." Meanwhile, Trump supporter Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke tweeted out a photo of an angry mob, saying it’s “pitchforks and torches time." Trump’s claims of a rigged election have been criticized by some Republicans. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Trump was “wrong and engaging in irresponsible rhetoric."
A ninth woman has come forward to say that Donald Trump inappropriately groped or kissed her. Cathy Heller said the incident took place at a Mother’s Day brunch in the 1990s—at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in front of her husband and in-laws. Heller said, “He took my hand, and grabbed me, and went for the lips.”
In North Carolina, authorities are investigating the firebombing of the Republican headquarters in the town of Hillsborough. Police said somebody threw a Molotov cocktail into the building, setting off a fire. In addition, somebody spray-painted a swastika on an adjacent building with the message, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.” The firebombing was denounced by leaders of both political parties in North Carolina. The state’s governor, Pat McCrory, described the firebombing as an “attack on our democracy.”
The United States and Britain are threatening new sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his supporters as the siege on eastern Aleppo continues. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Syria and Russia to stop bombing Aleppo.
Secretary of State John Kerry: "It’s a humanitarian disaster that is the largest humanitarian disaster since World War II. And it could stop tomorrow morning, tonight, if Russia and the Assad regime were to behave according to any norm or any standard of decency. But they’ve chosen not to."
Earlier today, 14 members of the same family were reportedly killed in an airstrike in eastern Aleppo. The dead included two six-week-old babies and six other children under the age of eight. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders is reporting that four hospitals and an ambulance in East Aleppo were bombed on Friday, making it one of the worst days yet for the city’s collapsing healthcare system.
In news from Africa, The New York Times is reporting the Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia, with hundreds of U.S. special operations forces carrying out ground raids targeting the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab. The U.S. is also carrying out drone strikes inside Somalia. Last month a U.S. airstrike accidentally killed more than 20 Somali soldiers.
In northern Brazil, more than 25 prisoners have reportedly died during what’s been described as a fight between factions inside an overcrowded prison. Seven prisoners were beheaded. Six were burned to death. Brazil has the fourth largest prison system in the world behind the United States, China and Russia.
Venida Browder has died at the age of 63. Her son Kalief Browder committed suicide in 2015 after spending three years at New York’s Rikers Island jail without trial after he was accused at the age of 16 of stealing a backpack. The family’s lawyer, Paul Prestia, praised Venida for tirelessly fighting for justice for her son Kalief. He said, “the stress from this crusade coupled with the strain of the pending lawsuits against the city and the pain from the death were too much to for her to bear. In my opinion, she literally died of a broken heart.”
In sports news, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his first game of the year for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Before the game, he continued his protest against racial oppression and police brutality by kneeling on one knee during the pre-game national anthem. After Sunday’s game, Kaepernick defended his actions, which have sparked similar protests across the country.
Colin Kaepernick: "I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality that this country says it stands for. To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards that it says it lives by. That’s something that needs to be addressed."