A group of leading scientists is warning global warming is happening at a faster rate than previously thought. In a new report, twenty-six experts say global sea levels could rise up to six-and-a-half feet by the year 2100. The group writes, “Climate change is accelerating beyond expectations.” Many of its members were part of the UN’s Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has urged nations to cap emissions. The warning comes less than two weeks before world leaders gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a climate treaty.
A new poll meanwhile shows the number of Americans who believe global warming is happening has declined. The Washington Post-ABC News survey says 72 percent of Americans believe global warming is real, down from 80 percent. A majority, however, continue to support imposing a national cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Obama administration has announced it won’t sign an international convention banning land mines. On Tuesday, a State Department spokesperson announced the White House has decided against changing the US stance following a review. This is the first time the Obama administration has publicly disclosed its position on the Mine Ban Treaty, which bars the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of antipersonnel mines. A review conference is being held in Colombia beginning on Sunday.
Administration officials say President Obama will unveil his decision on sending tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan next week. Obama is expected to announce the plan in a prime-time address next Tuesday night. At the White House yesterday, Obama said he intends to “finish the job” in Afghanistan.
President Obama: “I’ve also indicated that after eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job. And I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we’re doing there and how intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive.”
The announcement is expected to coincide with congressional appearances by the top US military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, and the US ambassador in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.
As President Obama prepares to escalate the Afghan occupation, new figures are calling into question US claims about the readiness of Afghan forces. The Inter Press Service news agency is reporting one in every four soldiers left the Afghan National Army during the year ending in September. Pentagon figures show the Afghan turnover rate is rising instead of slowing down.
President Obama hosted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House Tuesday. The two pledged to move ahead on the US-Indian nuclear deal. Outside the White House, hundreds of people gathered to protest the Indian occupation of Kashmir.
Protester: “We are delivering a message to President Obama that he pay attention on Kashmir. We are suffering since the last sixty-two years in Kashmir. Kashmir is occupied by three countries: India, China and Pakistan. We need freedom. We need the involvement of the United Nations, world community, and especially the US president, the United States.”
A top Obama administration official involved in closing the Guantánamo Bay prison has resigned. Deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy Phillip Carter has been responsible for overseeing US policy on prisoners seized abroad. His resignation follows the departure of another top figure in the push to close Guantánamo, White House counsel Gregory Craig.
The Federal Reserve is warning it expects a high unemployment rate over the next several years. On Tuesday, a Fed report said unemployment will remain well above the five percent benchmark through 2012. Another report meanwhile downgraded previous estimates of national economic growth in the third quarter from 3.5 percent to 2.8 percent.
New figures meanwhile show bank lending continues to decline. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says lending fell 2.8 percent in the third quarter, the largest drop in at least twenty-five years.
Japan is preparing to investigate a decades-old secret agreement that’s allowed the US to transport nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. The deal dates back to the 1960s. Successive Japanese governments have long denied reports of the pact because it violates a national law barring the storage or production of nuclear weapons. The move could further strain relations between the US and Japan. The governing Democratic Party of Japan was elected in August on a platform that included revisiting Japanese-US military ties.
In Britain, a hearing into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war opened on Tuesday with testimony that the drumbeat for war predated the 9/11 attacks. British officials said they began hearing of US plans to invade Iraq nearly two years before the March 2003 invasion. The head of the inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, said the panel would be unsparing in its criticisms.
Sir John Chilcot: “No one’s on trial here. We cannot determine guilt or innocence. Only courts can do that. But I make a commitment here that once we get to our final report, we will not shy away from making criticisms either of institutions or processes or individuals where they are truly warranted.”
At The Hague, a war crimes trial against two Congolese warlords has begun. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Chui are accused of directing a February 2003 attack on a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri region. It’s the court’s second case after the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga went on trial earlier this year.
In media news, the Washington Post has announced it’s closing its three remaining domestic bureaus. Six reporters based in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will be reassigned after their offices are closed at the end of the year.
And in New York, state officials and developers behind a massive stadium project have won a key legal victory to seize private property from Brooklyn residents. On Tuesday, the court of appeals said the state can use eminent domain to seize land planned for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project. Opponents of eminent domain have argued it’s unconstitutional, and lawmakers have faced calls to curb its use. The group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn says it plans to continue its campaign against the proposed stadium.