A new report warns human-driven climate change is having dramatic health, ecological and financial impacts across the United States. The White House’s “National Climate Assessment” is reportedly the largest, most comprehensive U.S.-focused climate change study ever produced. It details how the consequences of climate change are hitting on several fronts — rising sea levels along the coasts, droughts and fires in the Southwest, and extreme rainfall across the country. President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, said climate change is no longer a future threat, but happening in the present.
Dr. John Holdren: “The contents confirm that climate change is not a distant threat. It is affecting the American people already. On the whole, summers are longer and hotter with longer periods of extended heat. Wildfires start earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall. Rain comes down in heavier downpours. People are experiencing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies. And climate disruptions to water resources and agriculture have been increasing.”
The report warns that unless greenhouse emissions are curbed, U.S. temperatures could increase up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.
The United States has pledged to aid Nigeria’s search for nearly 300 missing schoolgirls just as militants have carried out a new kidnapping. The Obama administration will send a team of experts including military officers to help the Nigerian government track down the girls, who were kidnapped from their hostel last month. In an interview with NBC, President Obama said the United States will do all it can to help.
President Obama: “We’ve always identified [the Boko Haram] as one of the worst local or regional terrorist organizations there is out there. But I can only imagine what the parents are going through. So what we’ve done is, we have offered — and it’s been accepted — help from our military and law enforcement officials. We’re going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them.”
The announcement of U.S. assistance came as suspected Boko Haram militants carried out a new kidnapping, seizing eight girls in an overnight raid. The girls are between the ages of 12 and 15. In the Nigerian capital of Abuja, protests continued Tuesday against what critics call the government’s lackluster response.
Yasmin Othman: “We want our girls back now. Now. We are not interested in any stories. Even one girl is enough to get any mother, any parent, any father, to stand up and be counted. This is a time for people who are well-meaning people to stand up and be counted in this country, you know, for the sake of these children and the other children yet to come. You know, that’s why we are here now.”
The Boko Haram has threatened to sell off the kidnapped girls into slavery. Here in the United States, rallies were also held in several cities in solidarity with the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. In New York City, a group of demonstrators rallied outside the Nigerian Consulate.
Oluremi Oshikanlu: “We must let our voices be heard, and we must let the world know that the blood of Nigerians is just as important as the blood of any other human being on the face of the Earth.”
The Roman Catholic Church has provided its most detailed account to date of the number of clergy officials punished for allegations of child sexual abuse. In testimony to the United Nations, Vatican representative Silvano Tomasi said nearly 850 priests have been dismissed and more than 2,500 have been disciplined.
Silvano Tomasi: “There were, since 2004 to the end of 2013, 848 priests who were dismissed from the clerical status and reduced to the lay status, and several hundred more had received other types of penalties, so that together they are about 3,500 priests.”
Tomasi says the church has paid more than $2.5 billion in compensation to child sexual abuse victims since 1950. The disclosures come as part of a United Nations hearing into the Vatican’s compliance with an international treaty barring torture. In response to Tomasi’s testimony, Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, accused the church of continuing to evade responsibility for its crimes against children.
Barbara Blaine: “The bottom line is that everyone has known for decades that sexually abusing a child, raping a child, is crime. And so, for Tomasi to say today that they are learning, that they need more information, they relied on their psychologist, it just is — those are old excuses that don’t pan out, because everyone — even I knew as a child in the 1960s and '70s that raping children was a crime. So, for them to claim they didn't know any better is ludicrous.”
Egyptian military ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has disclosed the Obama administration asked him to delay the coup that overthrew elected President Mohamed Morsi last year. In a television interview, Sisi says the U.S. ambassador asked to him to hold off on Morsi’s ouster “for a day or two.” Sisi’s claim marks his first public confirmation he discussed the coup with U.S. officials just before it was carried out. The United States has scaled back aid to Egypt, but has avoided a full cutoff by refusing to deem Morsi’s ouster a “coup.” Sisi is poised to win the Egyptian presidency in national elections next month.
A death row prisoner in Texas is seeking to delay his execution following last week’s botched killing in Oklahoma. The attorney for Robert Campbell says his client could face the same fate as Clayton Lockett, who died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after being injected with untested drugs. A second autopsy is now being carried out on Lockett one week after his death. Meanwhile, lawyers for the prisoner who was set for execution right after Lockett, Charles Warner, have asked a court to stay his killing for six months. He is due to be executed in six days.
Montana’s Supreme Court has overturned the one-month prison sentence of a former high school teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide. Stacey Rambold’s 30-day prison term sparked a national outcry. Judge Todd Baugh claimed Rambold’s 14-year-old victim was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her perpetrator. Montana prosecutors had appealed Rambold’s sentence, saying he should have received a minimum of two years under state law. The Montana Supreme Court’s decision vacates the sentence and assigns the case to a different judge.
Residents in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have taken over a city council meeting following another fatal police shooting. Armand Martin was shot dead after firing two handguns at police outside of his home. But the case has fueled criticism following a Justice Department report that found a pattern of excessive force in some 25 killings by police since 2010. On Monday night, activists stormed a city council session, demanding the firing of Albuquerque’s police chief.
Republican primaries were held in three states on Tuesday as the 2014 primary season kicks into high gear. In one of the first closely watched races, the speaker of the North Carolina House, Thom Tillis, won the Republican Senate nomination. Tillis will face Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in November in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate. The North Carolina primary drew national attention pitting Tillis, backed by much of the Republican establishment, against candidates with close ties to the tea party and religious right. As speaker of the North Carolina House, Tillis was a frequent target of the Moral Monday protests over the past two years.
A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds the death rate dropped in Massachusetts after it adopted a 2006 healthcare reform law expanding insurance coverage to the vast majority of residents. The decline suggests expanding health insurance could save tens of thousands of lives nationwide. Over the four years after the law went into effect, the Massachusetts mortality rate fell by about 3 percent, a drop equivalent to 17,000 fewer deaths annually on a national scale. The lower death rate was steepest in areas with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured residents. The study also warns existing health gaps between states will worsen in the coming years between those that have accepted federal money to expand Medicaid and those that have not. New figures released this week show the uninsured rate for American adults has hit its lowest level since the beginning of 2008. The rate is 13.4 percent, down from a high of 18 percent last year.