The Obama administration has moved a step closer to regulating greenhouse gases. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency said six gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, endanger the environment and public health. The move would allow the EPA to take action against the gases without needing congressional approval. The EPA says it will now draft regulations to curb the emissions under the Clean Air Act. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced the move in Washington.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: “Today’s action is a step towards enduring, pragmatic solutions to the enormous challenge of climate change. It is a step towards innovation, investment and implementation of technologies that reduce harmful emissions.”
The New York Times is reporting over 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years. More than 49 million people get their drinking water from the systems. While every single violation was reported, regulators took action in less than six percent of cases. The disclosure comes ahead of a Senate hearing today on enforcement of water safety laws. The EPA is expected to soon unveil new regulations for overseeing the nation’s water systems. But critics have questioned their effectiveness because the EPA is still run by many officials who ignored the old regulations.
The news follows the opening day of the global climate summit here in Copenhagen. On Monday, environmental activists opened a parallel summit billed as the global civil society counterpart to the climate talks. Addressing the Klimaforum’s opening session, the Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein called for climate reparations to developing nations and stressed the urgency of a grassroots environmental movement.
Naomi Klein: “We have to somehow offset the carbon we emitted coming here. How do we do it? We do it, or we try to do it, by using this incredible space, this historic convergence, to build the kind of global mass movement that will never ever let our leaders get away with this kind of criminal negligence again. That is our task, my friends. It is awesome and fearsome. Think of it as the mother of all carbon offsets.”
In the United States, dozens of people gathered outside the offices of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Monday for a rally against mountaintop removal mining. The activists called for an immediate end to mountaintop removal, beginning with the blasting underway at Coal River Mountain, the last intact mountain on the historic Coal River Mountain range. The protesters included the environmental activist and attorney Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Meanwhile, in California twenty-nine people were arrested Monday at a protest outside the San Ramon headquarters of the oil giant Chevron. The group Mobilization for Climate Justice West organized the action to coincide with the Copenhagen summit’s opening day.
The oil giant Shell has won approval to begin drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast. On Monday, the Interior Department approved Shell’s license for three exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Native and environmental groups have warned the drilling could chase away sea life and contaminate the ocean.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats have drafted a “compromise” measure that would essentially hand over the so-called “public option” to private insurance companies. Under the proposal, the government would no longer establish a public option to compete with insurers. Instead, the federal Office of Personnel Management would hire the insurance companies to run the health plans.
Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska meanwhile has introduced an amendment adding strict anti-abortion language into the Senate healthcare reform bill. Nelson’s measure mirrors the controversial language included in the House bill sponsored by Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak. The measures would bar any woman who receives government health insurance subsidies from enrolling in an insurance plan that covers abortion.
In Iraq, more than 100 people have been killed and over 160 wounded in a series of coordinated bombings. At least five areas of Baghdad were hit earlier today. It was one of the deadliest attacks in Iraq this year.
The White House has announced President Obama plans to defend his decision to escalate the Afghan war when he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo later this week. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama will address critics of his orders to deploy over 30,000 additional troops.
Robert Gibbs: “We’ll address directly the notion, I think that many have wondered, which is the juxtaposition of the timing for the Nobel Peace Prize and — and his commitment to add more troops around — into Afghanistan. That’s obviously something that he will address.”
In Iran, dozens of anti-government demonstrators were arrested Monday as part of an annual student day of protest. Iranian police blocked main roads and fired tear gas near main school campuses in Tehran. It was the latest in a series of crackdowns on opposition protests since Iran’s disputed elections in June.
In Indonesia, a former army officer has admitted that five Australian journalists were deliberately murdered while covering the US-backed Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975. Speaking to the news magazine Tempo, former Indonesian special forces commando Gatot Purwanto said the five were killed out of fear they would expose the invasion and killings of Timorese. Purwanto’s admission is believed to be the first by an Indonesian military officer involved in the invasion. Monday marked the invasion’s thirty-four-year anniversary.
In Chile, six people have been charged with the 1982 poisoning of ex-President Eduardo Frei Montalva. At the time of his death, Frei Montalva had been a vocal critic of the US-backed military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said Frei Montalva was likely killed for his stance.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet: “I want to say that President Frei, in his time, was denouncing human rights violations, and this is probably the motive for the criminal actions that ultimately cost him his life. Therefore, it seems to me, that here in Chile justice takes a while, but it comes. And in this case, it has arrived, and we know that it helps us as a society.”
Back in the United States, a Chicago resident has been charged with complicity in the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. Prosecutors say David Headley aided the attackers by conducting surveillance missions before the assault took place. Nearly 170 people were killed in the three-day siege of Mumbai, including six Americans.
In New York, the trial of a young US citizen who has been held in twenty-three-hour solitary confinement for nearly three years has been delayed until next month. Syed Fahad Hashmi is charged with providing material support to al-Qaeda in a case that rests on the testimony and actions of an old acquaintance who turned government informant after his own arrest. Hashmi is being prosecuted for a two-week period when the informant stayed at his home carrying rain gear that was allegedly later delivered to al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. Hashmi’s period in solitary confinement is believed to be one of the longest ever for a prisoner before trial. Hashmi’s family and supporters continue to hold weekly rallies outside the Manhattan federal prison where he’s jailed.
Faisal Hashmi: “And from the court interactions where we see him in court, he looks like a shell of the person that he was before. He looks frail, and he looks jittery. As you can imagine, people cannot stand solitary confinement for a day or two days or three days. He’s been in solitary, straight solitary confinement, ahead of his trial for two-and-a-half years without having a conviction, because the government said so.”
And the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil charges against three former executives at what was once one of the nation’s top subprime lenders. The three are accused of misleading investors before their company, New Century Financial, collapsed in 2007.