In more than 30 U.S. cities, workers and students walked out of school or off the job Monday with their hands raised to protest the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. In Washington, D.C., protesters staged a die-in at the Justice Department. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, dozens laid down in a major intersection in Harvard Square. President Obama, meanwhile, issued his first major policy response, announcing a community policing initiative.
President Obama: “The sense that, in a country where one of our basic principles — perhaps the most important principle — is equality under the law, that too many individuals, particularly young people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly. And as I said last week, when any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us.”
Obama’s plan includes $75 million to equip police with body cameras. He also announced an executive order to tighten rules on the provision of military-grade equipment to local police, but vowed to leave the transfers mostly intact. Speaking in Atlanta, Georgia, Attorney General Eric Holder also announced steps to curb racial profiling. We will have more on the protests and the Obama administration’s response after headlines.
St. Louis County police say an official with the St. Louis Rams football team has apologized after players raised their arms in the air before a game in a gesture of solidarity with Michael Brown. But Rams’ Executive Vice President Kevin Demoff told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he did not apologize, but merely told police he “regretted any offense their officers may have taken.”
The Lebanese army has detained the wife and child of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the militant group Islamic State, which has claimed swaths of Iraq and Syria. The news comes as the United States has continued airstrikes against the group with at least 55 since Friday. Meanwhile, a U.S. fighter pilot has died in a noncombat crash, reportedly in Jordan.
The United Nations World Food Programme has suspended aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees due to budget shortfalls after donor nations have failed to deliver on their pledges. The U.N. agency said the move could be “disastrous” for Syrians in countries like Lebanon and Turkey.
In northern Kenya, Somali militants from the group al-Shabab have killed 36 non-Muslim workers at a quarry near the town of Mandera. Last week the group killed 28 people in an attack on a bus in the same area.
The World Health Organization says Liberia and Guinea have met a goal to treat 70 percent of patients suffering from Ebola, while Sierra Leone has not. The agency warned it may not reach a year-end goal to isolate and care for all patients. But Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Ebola response mission, cited progress.
Anthony Banbury: “The global response to the Ebola crisis has succeeded in turning this crisis around. Where we were 60 days ago compared to where we are now, we have been — and by 'we,' I’m talking about all the actors involved in the response — extremely successful in getting this crisis under control. We’re far away from being out of the woods, but there has been remarkable results achieved in the past 60 days.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has scrapped plans for a major gas pipeline to Europe amid tensions over Russia’s role in Ukraine. After the European Union opposed the pipeline, Putin announced the gas would instead flow to Turkey.
In West Virginia, a man suspected of killing four people in a shooting spree has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say Jody Lee Hunt was suspected in three shootings. One of the people he killed had filed a domestic violence case against him.
In Mexico, outrage erupted across the country on the second anniversary of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s rule, as protesters denounced state-backed violence, corruption and the disappearance of 43 students in September. Over the weekend, 11 people held in maximum security prisons after an earlier protest were released following an international outcry. Anger intensified after a university student, Sandino Bucio, was grabbed from the streets Friday by undercover police who he said threatened to rape and disappear him.
In Colombia, FARC rebels have released a general and two other hostages captured last month. General Rubén Darío Alzate resigned shortly after his release, saying he should have taken more precautions. His kidnapping prompted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks aimed at ending the 50-year conflict with the FARC.
Bahraini human rights activist Maryam Alkhawaja has been sentenced to a year in prison in absentia for what she says are false charges of assaulting police. That means Alkhawaja would face prison if she returns to Bahrain, where her father, human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, is serving a life term. Bahrain is a key U.S. ally, home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Comedian Bill Cosby has resigned from the board of trustees of Temple University amid mounting claims he drugged and sexually assaulted women over a period of four decades. Other institutions, including Cosby’s alma mater, University of Massachusetts Amherst, have cut ties with Cosby as the number of his alleged victims has hit 20.
The president of the University of Virginia canceled a speaking event in Washington, D.C., Monday to deliver a speech at the university vowing steps to address sexual assault. An article in Rolling Stone magazine about a gang rape by fraternity members revealed a pattern of rape and impunity and sparked protests on campus. President Teresa Sullivan has outlined steps including increased policing and an added trauma counselor.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Prize, has been awarded to five people, including National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden accepted by video link from Russia.
Edward Snowden: “All the prices we’ve paid, all the sacrifices we’ve made, I believe we would do again — I know I would do again, because it was never about me … (inaudible) this is about us, this is about our rights, this is about what kind of societies that we want to live in, the kind of government that we want to have.”
Snowden was honored along with Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian newspaper, which published reports using Snowden’s leaks to expose sweeping NSA surveillance. The other Right Livelihood honorees were Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong and U.S. environmentalist “Bill McKibben”:http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/bill_mckibben, founder of 350.org and a leading voice against climate change.
Tonight marks the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the worst industrial tragedy in history. Campaigners say more than 20,000 people died as a result of toxic gas that leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide factory, while half a million more were poisoned. The toxic legacy continues as Union Carbide and its parent firm, Dow Chemical, have refused to pay for clean-up or face charges in Indian court.