UNICEF says the massive flooding in Pakistan has now claimed more than 1,400 lives and affected more than three million people. The floods have been described as the worst to hit the region since 1929. Pakistani officials are concerned the rising waters could threaten to overwhelm the Warsak Dam, the nation’s third-largest dam. Some residents north of the city of Peshawar have already been evacuated. The catastrophe is likely to deepen as more rains are expected and conditions are ripe for the outbreak of disease. In the Charsadda region, Noor Ullah returned to his village to find that his house had been washed away, along with his small sugarcane field.
Noor Ullah: “Apart from the loss to human lives, the floods have also damaged crops. Lots of livestock have also been lost. There is so much mud in the houses that it is impossible to get inside.”
Many Pakistanis have taken refuge in a relief camp set up by the army in the outskirts of Nowshera.
Absar Ali: “When we go home, there will be no water, no electricity, no gas. The entire system has collapsed. All our homes are destroyed. It is a tremendous loss.”
Federal scientists have calculated that nearly five million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s oil well before BP put in place a temporary cap on the well on July 15. This officially makes it the largest unintentional oil spill in history. Scientists say as many as 62,000 barrels of oil were leaking from the well each day at its peak — that’s more than twelve times as much oil as the government originally projected. BP is planning to attempt to seal the well for good today using a procedure called static kill.
BP faces an investigation into whether its employees profited illegally from the Gulf of Mexico spill. US securities regulators are investigating potential insider trading in shares of BP, including by BP employees. At issue is whether people illegally profited from trading on non-public information at BP.
Al Jazeera is reporting at least three Lebanese soldiers have been killed by Israeli forces during an exchange of rocket and gunfire along the border between the two countries. A journalist was also killed, and five more Lebanese soldiers wounded, in the Israeli shelling. At least two Israeli soldiers were shot.
There are conflicting reports about how the violence began. Witnesses told Reuters the Israeli army fired at least seven artillery shells at the village of Edayseh after Lebanese troops fired warming shots at the border. Lebanese troops then responded with artillery fire. The incident appears to be the most serious military confrontation along the border since Israel’s month-long war against Lebanon in 2006.
In Afghanistan, six children died Monday when a suicide car bomber attempted to assassinate the governor of Dand District. The governor survived, but the blast killed three boys and three girls who were between the ages of six and ten. Meanwhile, militants have launched a rocket and ground attack on the main foreign military base in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. Two rockets hit inside the base, reportedly killing one foreign soldier and wounding some civilians.
President Obama said Monday that the US military is on target to withdraw all its combat troops from Iraq by the end of this month. Speaking before the Disabled American Veterans national convention in Atlanta, the President pledged the American presence in Iraq would soon transform from a primarily military to a diplomatic one. We’ll have more on Iraq later in the show.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced the launch of a four-person international panel to look into the May 31 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left eight Turks and one Turkish American died. The panel will be led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and outgoing Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. The panel will also have one Israeli and one Turkish member. Ban Ki-moon said the group would start work next week.
Ban Ki-moon: “I sincerely hope that by establishing this panel this will impact positively to the improvement of relationship between Israel and Turkey and contribute positively again to the overall peace process in the Middle East.”
Mark Regev, a spokesperson for the Israeli government, said Israel would cooperate with the UN proposal.
Mark Regev: “Israel today informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations that we will participate in his panel that will look into the flotilla incident. Ultimately, we believe the facts are on our side, and we have no problem with this sort of objective and credible panel that will look into the investigations being done by the parties.”
In news from Washington, momentum seems to be growing among Republicans to call for the repeal the 14th Amendment in an attempt to block citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants. The 14th Amendment states all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. In the House, ninety-four Republicans have backed the Birthright Citizenship Act, and there is growing support among Republicans in the Senate. Huffington Post reports Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supports a review of the 14th Amendment. On Sunday, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and called for hearings to be held.
Sen. Jon Kyl: “Well, actually, this is a constitutional provision in the 14th Amendment that has been interpreted to provide that if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen, no matter what. Now, there are limitations on that, for example, for the children of diplomats and so on. And so, the question is, if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?”
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion Monday that authorizes law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone stopped by police officers for any reason. Previously, officers in Virginia were required to investigate the legal status only of those who were arrested and jailed. The Washington Post reports the opinion is less stringent than the portion of an Arizona law that was stopped by a federal court last week. Under that law, Arizona authorities were required to question people who they have a “reasonable suspicion” are undocumented immigrants.
Countrywide Financial has agreed to pay $600 million to settle shareholder lawsuits in the largest payout so far from the subprime mortgage crisis. The settlement would end several class action lawsuits that claimed Countrywide concealed mounting risks as it loosened its standards for loans. As part of the settlement, Countrywide didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing.
The head of the UN’s panel on climate change spoke in Mexico City on Monday and urged world leaders to reach an agreement to cap carbon emissions at the upcoming UN climate talks in Cancún.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “If we want to limit temperature increase to about two degrees Celsius, two to 2.4 degrees, then we have estimated that global emissions will have to peak no later than 2015. And that’s what makes Cancún very important. I think it’s absolutely essential that we get some agreement to bring about some tangible efforts for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, because we don’t have the luxury of time if we want to limit temperature increase to, say, around two degrees Celsius. Now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it later, but if you do it later, it’ll be much more complex and much more expensive.”
At least twenty-two people have died in Kashmir in recent days, including seven on Monday, when Indian troops fired live ammunition and tear gas into crowds of protesters. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday as Kashmir’s top elected official, Omar Abdullah, traveled to New Delhi to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on President Obama to face him in a televised one-on-one debate in September. The proposal came as Iran deals with a new wave of international sanctions — driven by Washington — aimed at pressuring Iran over its nuclear program.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “We are ready to sit down and hold talks with Mr. Obama. We are already prepared. We have made plans to go to the United Nations toward the end of September. We are ready to sit down with Mr. Obama, face to face, man to man — albeit free and in the presence of media — to put the issues of the world on the table.”
A federal jury has convicted two Guyanese men of conspiring to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, though federal authorities acknowledged the plot never progressed very far. Lawyers for the men said their clients were set up by a government informant. One of the key pieces of evidence in the trial was a videotape of the exteriors of the airport and its fuel tank farm shot. One of the Guyanese men, Russell Defreitas, shot the video using a camera bought by the government informant who also had to show him how to use it. His attorney said, “Russell Defreitas can’t mastermind his way out of an on-off switch on a video camera.” Defreitas and his co-defendant Abdul Kadir could face life in prison.
And in media news, the billionaire entrepreneur Sidney Harman has reached an agreement to buy Newsweek magazine from the Washington Post Company. The magazine was reportedly sold for $1 and an agreement to transfer its $70 million financial liabilities. Harman is the husband of the Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, the subcommittee chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.