Britain is set to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action in Syria as the United States and allies gear up for expected strikes on the Assad regime. The British resolution condemns the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons in Ghouta last week and authorizes “necessary measures for protecting civilians.” Russia is expected to issue a veto. The measure is being introduced as the Obama administration moves closer to launching air strikes on Syria, with reports suggesting an attack within days. At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States is not seeking regime change, but an appropriate response to the use of chemical weapons.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “The options that we are considering are not about regime change. They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.”
The Syrian regime has denied using chemical weapons. A U.N. team has resumed its visit to Ghouta today for a second day of inspections.
At least 44 people have been killed and nearly 160 wounded in a series of bombings in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. It is the second deadliest attack in Iraq this month after Sunday’s violence that left 47 dead. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the highest monthly toll since 2008.
One of the country’s oldest and most controversial nuclear plants has announced it will close late next year. On Tuesday, the nuclear plant operator Entergy said it plans to decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station in Vernon, Vermont. The site has been the target of protests for decades and has had a series of radioactive tritium leaks.
Low-wage workers at fast-food and retail chains across the country are gearing up for a nationwide strike on Thursday. Organizers expect workers to walk off the job in 35 cities in a pre-Labor Day call for a living wage and the right to unionize. Thursday’s action is expected to be the largest so far in a campaign that kicked off last November at fast-food restaurants in New York City. For the first time, strikes will be held in southern and West Coast cities, including Los Angeles, Memphis and Raleigh.
A former El Salvador military colonel linked to war crimes has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for immigration fraud in the United States. Inocente Orlando Montano admitted to lying about his background on his immigration forms and agreed not to contest deportation back to El Salvador. A U.N. inquiry has named him as among the top military officials who approved the murder plot that led to the 1989 slaying of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s daughter. The Jesuits had been outspoken advocates for the poor and critics of human rights abuses committed by the ARENA government. Montano lived in Boston for about a decade before his 2011 arrest. Prosecutors say he came to the United States in part to avoid being brought to justice for the Jesuits’ murders. He is among 20 Salvadorian officials who have been indicted by a Spanish court and could face extradition to Spain upon his release.
The United Nations’ top expert on torture is criticizing California’s force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners protesting solitary confinement and other harsh conditions. In a statement, Juan Méndez, the independent United Nations special rapporteur on torture, said solitary confinement “amounts to torture,” adding: “[It is] not acceptable to use threats of forced feeding or other types of physical or psychological coercion against individuals who have opted for the extreme recourse of a hunger strike.” A federal court ruled last week that California prisons can force-feed inmates deemed incapable of making medical decisions. At a rally for the hunger strikers in the Southern California city of Norwalk, the mothers of two prisoners spoke out about their sons’ plight.
Dolores Canales: “Right now, under federal government law, research chimpanzees are protected from being held in solitary confinement because they’re defined as social beings, and that it’s detrimental to their mental and physical health. So how much more of a social being is my son, or is my friend’s husband, or is somebody else’s son? I mean, a human being is the most social being that there is.”
Lydia Carbajal: “There’s no need for that. There’s no reason why they should be held in a cage 23 hours out of the day. I haven’t held my son in 10 years. I haven’t been able to touch him. I have nothing. And this has to stop. It really has to stop now, you know, because I can’t — I won’t lose my son. I will not lose my son.”
At its peak, the California hunger strike included some 30,000 prisoners. Dozens are still taking part.
The retail giant Wal-Mart has announced it will begin offering health insurance benefits to the partners of employees in same-sex unions. The policy change will take effect next year. Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private employer, with some 1.3 million workers.
The nation is commemorating today’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” President Obama will mark the anniversary with a speech today from the same spot as King at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Several African-American leaders will also deliver remarks along with other guests, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.