The U.S.-led bombing of militant targets inside Syria has intensified as Pentagon officials acknowledge a military mission that could take years. On Tuesday, American and other coalition forces launched more than 200 strikes on Islamic State targets. Speaking from the White House, President Obama vowed to “take the fight” to ISIS.
President Obama: “Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people. The overall effort will take time. There will be challenges ahead. But we’re going to do what’s necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group for the security of the country and the region and for the entire world.”
Later in the day, President Obama met with leaders of the Arab countries taking part in the strikes — Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar — on the sidelines of a one-day U.N. climate summit in New York City.
President Obama: “I just want to say thank you to all of you. This is obviously not the end of an effort, but is rather a beginning. But I’m confident we’ve got a partnership that’s represented here that will be able to be successful.”
Despite talk of an international coalition, The New York Times reports the United States is carrying out the vast majority of airstrikes from its warplanes and naval carriers.
In addition to targeting the Islamic State, the United States has launched attacks on the al-Qaeda-linked Khorasan group in Syria, saying it was “nearing the execution phase” of an attack on the United States or Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up a commercial plane in flight. Meanwhile, the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, says its leader, Abu Yousef al-Turki, has been killed in the strikes.
Activists on the ground also report the strikes have killed civilians. In Raqqa, the first wave of strikes reportedly killed 30 people, mostly local residents. In Aleppo, another unconfirmed report said 11 people were killed, including four children. Video footage showed bodies being pulled from the rubble of a destroyed building. In the town of Kfar Daryan, a resident said the U.S.-led strikes had killed displaced civilians who had fled the Assad regime.
Abu Ossamah: “The military headquarters are far from the city, in the mountains. There are no military headquarters inside the city. All the people who were killed today were displaced civilians from Aleppo fearing the bombs of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.”
World leaders have wrapped up a one-day day United Nations summit on climate change with pledges to tackle global warming but no binding commitments. On Tuesday, world leaders set goals including stopping tropical deforestation by 2030, improving food production and increasing the number of electric cars on the roads. Yet no movement was made on how to slow global warming and keep the rise in ocean temperatures below two degrees. In his remarks, President Obama called for a “global compact” to fight climate change.
President Obama: “Five years ago, I pledged America would reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. America will meet that target. And by early next year, we will put forward our next emission target reflecting our confidence in the ability of our technological entrepreneurs and scientific innovators to lead the way. So today I call on all major economies to do the same, for I believe in the words of Dr. King, that there is such a thing as being too late. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate while we still can.”
More than 30 countries set a deadline to end deforestation by 2030. But Brazil, which has the largest continuous rainforest in the world, refused to sign on, saying the plan conflicts with its own laws and targets. The gathering comes as part of talks ahead of a 200-nation summit in Paris in 2015 aimed at finalizing an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A new warning says the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could reach as many as 21,000 people by the end of the month. A worst-case scenario from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the epidemic could hit up to 1.4 million people by January 20. A best-case scenario predicts the epidemic almost wiped out by January, if drastic action is taken today. The CDC says there is likely around 2.5 times as many cases today as are being reported.
Spain has abandoned plans to impose some of the harshest anti-choice restrictions in Europe. While Spain currently allows abortion up to 14 weeks —– or 22 weeks in cases of fetal abnormalities –— the new measure would have allowed abortions only when the pregnancy resulted from rape or posed a serious threat to the pregnant person’s health. Following mass protests and polls which showed up to 80 percent of Spaniards opposed the new restrictions, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy withdrew the proposal on Tuesday. The bill’s chief architect, Spain’s justice minister, resigned following the move. Rajoy is now vowing to pursue requirements that 16- and 17-year-olds obtain parental consent before an abortion; similar restrictions are in place in many U.S. states.
Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have rebuilt a memorial for Michael Brown after it was burned to the ground overnight. The site is just feet away from the main memorial for Brown in the middle of the street where he was shot by police officer Darren Wilson. The cause of the fire is unclear. Protesters marched in Ferguson late Tuesday night after the City Council voted to table a proposal for a citizen police review board. At least three people were arrested after a clash with police.
Three people have died in a shooting at the postal company UPS in Birmingham, Alabama. Police say the shooter was a former UPS employee who recently lost his job. He opened fire on two of his supervisors before turning the gun on himself.
Hundreds of Denver-area high school students have staged a walkout over an attempt to censor their history curriculum. A right-wing majority on the Jefferson County school board has pushed extensive changes to AP history courses to promote corporatism and deference to authority. Their proposed changes include the removal of all mentions of civil disobedience from textbooks and materials. The student walkout on Tuesday followed a similar action by teachers that shut down two high schools for a day last week.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, previously known as Bradley, is suing the Pentagon for failing to treat her gender transition. A year ago, Manning announced she identified as a woman and planned to seek hormone replacement treatment. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union followed through on a vow to sue the Pentagon for denying gender-transition medical care and failing to follow other protocols for treating gender dysphoria.
The son-in-law of Osama bin Laden has been sentenced to life in prison following a conviction for conspiring to kill Americans. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is the most senior al-Qaeda member to be tried in a U.S. civilian court in the years since 9/11. During trial, Ghaith described meeting with bin Laden inside a cave in Afghanistan just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but denied having prior knowledge. The court rejected testimony from alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that Abu Ghaith had no role in al-Qaeda’s violent operations.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has voiced words of support for the climate activists arrested in Monday’s mass protest in the heart of Wall Street. More than 100 people were detained as part of the “Flood Wall Street” action targeting the financial sector’s role in the extractive industries fueling global warming. On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio said the demonstrators called attention to an urgent issue.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: “I can’t say they’re going too far. I think, first of all, the issue is one of tremendous urgency, and whenever you have an urgent issue, people utilize civil disobedience. It’s not a new phenomenon. I thought, clearly, we had a situation where it was civil disobedience as it’s supposed to be. … First of all, I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic. The right of people to make their voices heard, regardless of their views, is a fundamental American value, and we’ll protect that value.”