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The results of a United Nations report on the alleged chemical attack in Syria last month are set for release today, two days after the United States and Russia announced a diplomatic breakthrough that averts, for now, the potential for U.S. strikes. On Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said they had reached a deal to destroy or remove Syria’s chemical weapons by the middle of next year. The deal calls for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to provide a complete list of its chemical weapons resources within a week. An inspection of all chemical weapons sites and destruction of equipment for making the weapons would then be completed by November. During a visit to Israel on Sunday, Kerry reiterated the threat of U.S. strikes if the deal fails.
John Kerry: “Now, this will only be as effective as its implementation will be. And President Obama has made it clear that to accomplish that, the threat of force remains. The threat of force is real, and the Assad regime and all those taking part need to understand that President Obama and the United States are committed to achieve this goal.”
Larry Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Summers, a former economic adviser to President Obama and treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, was seen as the lead contender for the post, but several key Democrats had voiced opposition to the prospect of his nomination. Summers drew criticism over his role in pushing deregulatory policies that helped cause the financial crisis and for his suggestion while president of Harvard University that women have less innate scientific ability than men. In a letter to Obama Sunday, Summers wrote: “I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious.” Speculation now shifts to other top candidates, including Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen.
Iraq is continuing to see its worst wave of violence since 2008. On Sunday, at least 58 people died in car bombings and other violent attacks which hit mainly Shiite-dominated areas. At least 27 people died in separate attacks on Saturday.
A top female police officer in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province has died of her injuries after being shot by unknown gunmen on Sunday. Lieutenant Negara died at the hospital today, just over two months after the murder of her predecessor, Lieutenant Islam Bibi, who was also a woman. Women make up less than 1 percent of Afghanistan’s police force. Neither of the women’s killers have been arrested or even identified.
A suicide car bomber who apparently tried to attack a NATO-Afghan convoy near the city of Kandahar missed the target and instead killed at least three civilians. One official said two of those killed were children.
A new report by Human Rights Watch accuses security forces in the Gulf island nation of Bahrain of routinely detaining children without cause and imposing “ill-treatment that may rise to the level of torture.” According to the report, children in Bahrain are often held for long periods of time, threatened with torture and beaten. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights recorded 15 detentions of children suspected of involvement in pro-democracy protests in the month of August alone. The report came amid clashes between protesters and security forces following the death of a 22-year-old protester. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally and home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
In Mexico City, some 3,600 police descended on teachers in the main square Friday, deploying tear gas, a water cannon tank and helicopters to clear a month-long encampment against controversial education reform measures. More than 30 people were arrested. Dozens were wounded. The government ordered the eviction so spectators could gather in the square Sunday to hear President Enrique Peña Nieto perform the traditional “grito” or “shout,” marking the anniversary of the start of the Mexican War of Independence. Tens of thousands of teachers have been protesting the president’s reforms, including standardized teacher evaluations. Many are from the southern state of Oaxaca, where they played a key role in the 2006 popular uprising. After the crackdown, the teachers regrouped, forming a new encampment roughly a mile away at the Monument to the Revolution, where thousands gathered Sunday for an “alternative shout” ceremony. Benito Vasquez, press secretary of Oaxaca’s Section 22 of the teachers’ union, condemned Friday’s repression by the federal government.
Benito Vasquez: “We were repressed by the federal police and members of the national guard dressed as civilians. They attacked with tanks, tear gas and explosives. There were 31 people detained, our fellow teachers were assaulted, and our general secretary was attacked by the federal police.”
Mexico has been hit by torrential rain, landslides and flooding from Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel, which have buffeted opposite coasts, killing at least 21 people and prompting thousands to evacuate.
Historic floods have continued to devastate Colorado, sweeping through 15 counties, leaving more than 1,200 people unaccounted for, shattering rainfall records, cutting off entire communities, destroying or damaging roughly 19,000 homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. The National Guard has been deployed. Five people are confirmed dead, and a sixth — an elderly woman — is presumed dead after her home washed away. Many have raised concerns about toxic contamination from oil, gas and chemicals used in the gas-drilling process known as fracking, after at least one industry pipeline broke and began leaking.
A police officer in North Carolina has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American man who was apparently seeking help after crashing his car. According to police, 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell knocked on the door of a home in Charlotte after surviving a car wreck early Saturday morning. The woman who answered called 911 when she did not recognize Ferrell. Police say they found Ferrell nearby and fired a Taser at him when he ran toward them. They say he failed to stop, so one of the officers opened fire, killing Ferrell, a former football player for Florida A&M University who had recently gotten engaged. Police initially called the encounter “appropriate and lawful,” but later said the shooting was “excessive” and that the officer “did not have a lawful right” to fire his gun. The officer, Randall Kerrick, has been released on bond after turning himself in.
Police in New York City opened fire on an unarmed man near Times Square Saturday, missing their target but hitting two female bystanders, who were both wounded and taken to the hospital. The man had reportedly been behaving erratically. He was tasered, taken into custody and charged.
A judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ordered the Obama administration to review for possible declassification the court’s own secret opinions on the National Security Agency’s program of sweeping up Americans’ phone records. The ruling by Judge F. Dennis Saylor came in response to a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union. Judge Saylor said the public release of the documents could help fuel an “informed debate” spurred by leaks from Edward Snowden.
President Obama has appointed former acting head of the White House budget office Jeffrey Zients to serve as the next director of his National Economic Council after Gene Sperling leaves in January. The panel coordinates economic policy. Zients’ record includes a stint at Bain and Company and a spot on Fortune magazine’s list of the “40 Richest Under 40” in 2004.
In a victory for Native Americans in Idaho, a federal judge has temporarily blocked a massive load of equipment bound for tar sands oil fields in Canada from passing through tribal land and along federally protected rivers. Environmentalists and members of the Nez Perce tribe had formed blockades to stop earlier loads of oil-related equipment. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill blocked a shipment planned for next week and ordered the U.S. Forest Service to conduct an impact study before allowing the cargo to pass through national forest land.
Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. On Sept. 15, 1963, a dynamite blast killed four young girls in the church: Denise McNair, age 11, and Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old. Three days later, at a funeral for three of the girls, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. honored them as “martyred heroines.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “These children—unoffending, innocent and beautiful—were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity.”