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President Obama has called on Congress to support a $1 billion plan to ramp up the U.S. military presence across Europe amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Obama made the announcement in Poland on the first leg of a four-day Europe trip. Shortly after his arrival in Warsaw, Obama said the United States has already boosted ground troops and F-16 aircraft in Poland.
President Obama: “I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security, as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security, and it is sacrosanct. And during my visit here three years ago, I said that the United States would increase our commitment to Poland’s security. The United States honors our commitments, which you see in the aviation detachment at Lask Air Base. It is a commitment that is particularly important at this moment in time.”
Obama’s visit comes as Ukrainian forces have launched an offensive to retake the eastern city of Slovyansk from pro-Russian rebels. The assault follows deadly fighting Monday in the eastern city of Luhansk.
At least 15 people were killed in attacks across Iraq on Monday, a day after the United Nations said last month was the deadliest so far this year. About 800 Iraqis died in violence in May, most of them civilians. The previous month, April, was the second deadliest this year with 750 killed.
New research finds U.S. soldiers may have been sickened by breathing in heavy metals at a base in Baghdad. A researcher told USA Today six U.S. veterans who complained of shortness of breath were found to have titanium in their lungs, which matched dust samples from Camp Victory.
China has announced plans to limit its total carbon emissions for the first time, just one day after the Obama administration unveiled its plan to limit carbon output from coal-fired power plants. Reuters reports the announcement was made by a Chinese official at a conference in Beijing. China is the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, which are fueling global warming, although the United States still has higher emissions per capita.
Syria is holding elections today. President Bashar al-Assad is expected to win a near-total victory, despite the three-year battle to oust him. Syria’s opposition and its Western allies have denounced the election as a sham. The conflict in Syria has killed more than 150,000 people and displaced 9.5 million, about 40 percent of the pre-war population.
In Spain, King Juan Carlos has announced he will abdicate the throne to his son Prince Felipe. The king was selected by dictator Francisco Franco and crowned after Franco’s death in 1975. He has suffered a recent dip in popularity. His daughter and son-in-law are under investigation for corruption, and in 2012 he took a costly elephant-hunting trip to Botswana amid massive unemployment. The trip was kept secret until the king broke his hip there. Across Spain and around the world on Monday, tens of thousands called for a referendum on whether to keep the monarchy. Protests took place in more than 60 Spanish towns and cities, including the capital Madrid.
Isabel Garcia, protester: “That we’re working in this crisis to support them is, in my opinion, an insult to society that they have those exorbitant salaries. And, on the other hand, anyone who wants to govern or carry the country’s baton should stand for election. The vote is sovereign, and so are the people.”
Daniel Rias, protester: “This is the time. We can’t wait any longer, because it’s the moment to reflect on the system. This is when it could change, that they at least give the option for the people to elect what they want, what they want for their government in the future.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn in a new unity government, bringing together the factions of Fatah and Hamas after years of division. U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Obama administration plans to recognize the new government.
Jen Psaki: “Well, at this point, it appears that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include ministers affiliated with Hamas. Moving forward, we will be judging this government by its actions. Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but we’ll be watching closely to make ensure that it upholds the principles that President Abbas reiterated today.”
Israel said it was “deeply disappointed by the U.S. position,” would seek to block Hamas from participating in upcoming elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a New York Times reporter who faces a possible prison term for refusing to reveal a confidential source. James Risen had asked the court to overturn a ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors say Sterling gave Risen information on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program. We’ll have more on the case later in the broadcast.
In Georgia, a toddler is fighting for his life after a SWAT team threw a flashbang grenade into his playpen while he was sleeping. Authorities raided the home in the early hours of the morning last week, searching for an alleged drug dealer who was not there at the time. The grenade hit 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, who is now in a medically induced coma. He has reportedly lost the use of a lung, suffered burns to his face, and is set to undergo more surgery. Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told WSB-TV a confidential informant had purchased drugs at the home.
Sheriff Joey Terrell: “So when the CI done the deal, there was no indication there was children. There was no clothes; there was no toys. There was nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home. If there had of been, then we would have done something different. We never — part of our policy is, if there’s children involved when we serve a search warrant, we do not use the flashbang, of course. You know, that’s a no-brainer.”
The toddler’s mother says there were children’s shoes in the house and a van parked out front with car seats visible inside. The toddler’s family was staying with relatives at the house after their own home burned down.
The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed an ordinance to phase in a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the highest for a major city in the United States and more than twice the federal minimum. Depending on their size, Seattle businesses will have between three and seven years to implement the rise. Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who was elected on a platform of a $15-an-hour minimum wage, spoke before Monday’s vote.
Kshama Sawant: “The attempts of business to undermine 15 will continue, well after this vote today. They may submit legal challenges. They may challenge this at the ballot. They may wait for their moment to make the temporary tip penalty permanent. But today’s message is clear: If we organize as workers, as a labor movement, with a socialist strategy, we can tackle the chasm of income inequality and social injustice. 15 in Seattle is just a beginning. We have an entire world to win. Solidarity.”
The vote by the Seattle City Council came as a new report found that across the country women working in the retail industry make an average of four dollars less than men. Researchers at Demos say millions of female salespeople earn an average of $10.58 an hour compared to $14.62 for their male counterparts. Retail salesperson is the most common job in the United States.
A new study has found hurricanes with female names are deadlier than hurricanes with male names, because people do not take them as seriously. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study concludes people do not prepare as well for female-named storms. “Our model suggests that changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charley to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll,” researchers wrote.
Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone has announced plans to make a film about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Stone, whose past films include “Platoon,” ”JFK” and “Born on the Fourth of July,” will base his film on “The Snowden Files,” a book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding. Sony Pictures, meanwhile, has acquired the rights to make a film based on journalist Glenn Greenwald’s book about Snowden, “No Place to Hide,” which will be produced by the makers of the James Bond films.