Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya sneaked back into Honduras on Monday, almost three months after he was toppled in a coup. Zelaya has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa in order to avoid arrest. After Zelaya’s dramatic return, the coup government ordered a curfew, but thousands of Zelaya supporters defied the ban and rallied outside the Brazilian embassy. Earlier this morning police fired tear gas outside the embassy. Speaking from Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised Zelaya.
Hugo Chavez: “You have carried out a heroic act that will remain in the history of Honduras and Latin America for the dignity of your people, who are just like our people.”
The Associated Press reports the White House is considering expanding counterterror operations in Pakistan and increasing the number of drone attacks inside Pakistan. The move is being considered as part of a proposal for the military to increase focus on eliminating al-Qaeda instead of mounting a major military escalation in Afghanistan. The Obama administration appears split on a request from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to send up to 45,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
World leaders are meeting at the United Nations today for a one-day summit to pursue a new agreement to fight global warming. The talks come less than three months before the major climate summit in Copenhagen.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The aim of tomorrow’s summit meeting is for leaders to mobilize political momentum that can accelerate pace of negotiations and help strengthen the ambition what is on offer. A climate agreement will not just safeguard the environment, it can help to fundamentally shift our world toward a greener economy.”
The Financial Times reports a growing rift between the US and Europe is overshadowing the UN summit. European Union officials have grown increasingly frustrated at the US stance on climate change, saying it has fallen short on both its level of ambition to reduce emissions and on offering aid to developing nations. John Bruton, the EU ambassador to the US, blamed the US Senate for holding up the global agenda on climate change.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to announce a plan today to significantly cut China’s carbon emissions. China recently became the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, surpassing the United States. The airline industry is also expected to make a pledge today to slash carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2050.
A new study has found the US government has delivered more than twice as many federal dollars to subsidize fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas since 2002 than for renewable energy programs. Between 2002 and 2008, the federal government gave $72 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels through research initiatives, tax incentives and other programs. At the same time, government spending on traditional renewable energy sources such as wind and solar totaled just $12 billion. Another $17 billion went to ethanol made from corn.
A US district judge has returned grizzly bears in eastern Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, in part because climate change is threatening the grizzly’s food supply. The ruling will impact about 600 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. Judge Donald Molloy cited climate change’s devastation to whitebark pine forests, which produce nuts that some grizzlies rely upon as a mainstay.
President Obama is meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas in New York today. The meeting marks the first between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders since Netanyahu was elected. On Monday, the White House attempted to downplay expectations. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “We have no grand expectations out of one meeting.”
The Health and Human Services Department has launched an investigation of the major insurance company Humana for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under healthcare legislation in Congress. Humana is one of the largest private carriers serving seniors under a program called Medicare Advantage.
The Merced Police Department in California is investigating reports that officers twice used a Taser on an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs. Forty-year-old Gregory Williams is a double amputee. After Williams was tased, he was held for six days in jail, but no charges have been filed against him yet. Williams is African American. Both officers in the case are white.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the 2009 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation’s genius grants. Recipients include the Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat, filmmaker James Longley, and Jerry Mitchell, the Mississippi-based journalist whose work has led to prosecutions in decades-old Civil Rights-era slayings.
And the political pranksters The Yes Men have distributed thousands of copies of a fake edition of the New York Post focused on the climate change crisis. The lead headline read “We’re Screwed.” The thirty-two-page paper was released to coincide with New York Climate Week.