The U.N. has launched a new $500 million appeal to address worsening humanitarian conditions in Iraq. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said aid operations are at severe risk without urgent funds.
Lise Grande: “There are 77 health clinics and facilities in areas that are servicing the hardest-hit people. They’re starting to close right now. By the end of June, they’ll all be closed. Already we’re facing a stock-out of emergency kits. These are the kits that we give families when they’re running for their lives. It’s a kit that includes drinking water, sanitation supplies and food. And we’re about to stock out of them. That’s why we need support right now. Iraq is on the brink. The people are in a lot of trouble.”
At least 150 people have been killed in an explosion at a gas station in Ghana. Many victims had taken shelter there after being displaced by heavy rain and flooding.
New documents from Edward Snowden show the NSA’s warrantless spying expanded under President Obama. In 2012, the Justice Department authorized the NSA to tap Internet cables without a warrant to seek out foreign hackers.
A new study rejects the theory of a “pause” on global warming over the past 15 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says an apparent hiatus in rising temperatures likely comes from limits on data from previous eras and that warming “has in fact been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded the drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing is mostly safe for the nation’s water supply. A multi-year study says there’s no evidence fracking has had “systemic impacts on drinking water resources” nationwide. But the EPA does say fracking techniques have contaminated water in some cases and have “the potential to impact drinking water resources.” Environmental groups say the study overly relied on energy companies’ data. Concerns over contamination have led to fracking bans in Maryland and New York.
The personal information of four million federal employees may have been compromised in a major government data breach last year. The FBI says Chinese hackers targeted the Office of Personnel Management. It was the largest breach of federal employee records in recent years.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Perry was an early frontrunner in 2012 before faltering in a televised debate, when he couldn’t remember the third of three government agencies he vowed to shut down. Perry also makes history as the first presidential hopeful of the two main parties to run while under criminal indictment. Perry faces abuse of power and coercion charges for cutting off funding to a county prosecutor who refused his calls to resign.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has criticized Republicans for voter suppression efforts nationwide. Speaking in Texas, Clinton called for reforms to make it easier for young people and people of color to cast their ballots.
Hillary Clinton: “Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? I believe every citizen has the right to vote. And I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote.”
A new report says the Red Cross has squandered millions of dollars in donations for Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. According to ProPublica and NPR, the Red Cross raised about $500 million but managed to build just six permanent homes. The group had falsely claimed to have provided homes to 130,000 people. Some of the money was used to boost employee salaries and may have been used to wipe off tens of millions of dollars in Red Cross debt.
Organizers say the nation’s first student debt strike has grown. Almost 200 students have refused to pay back loans they took out to attend schools in the for-profit Corinthian Colleges system, which has been sued by the federal government for its predatory lending. Now more than 1,200 students have threatened to join the strike unless the Department of Education orders the cancellation of the strikers’ debts.
Employees of the New York City-based Gawker Media have overwhelmingly voted to unionize. Gawker becomes the first major digital outlet to form a union.