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As many as 10,000 people fleeing violence in their home countries are surging through the Balkans in efforts to reach Hungary before the country seals its border. Many of the people are fleeing wars in Syria and Afghanistan. They are traveling by buses, on foot, in wheelchairs and wheelbarrows. Once people reach Hungary, they can travel freely throughout most of the European Union. The Hungarian government has said it will completely seal its border by August 31.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a sports hall that has been converted into an emergency refugee shelter went up in flames this morning in the eastern town of Nauen. The town has seen anti-immigrant protests by right-wing groups in recent days. The fire comes after right-wing protesters clashed with police during demonstrations against a newly opened migrant shelter in a small town outside of Dresden over the weekend. German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced anti-immigrant violence by right-wing protesters on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “There was an aggressive, xenophobic mood that is in no way acceptable. It’s repulsive to see how right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis are voicing their hatred. But it is just as disgraceful to see how German citizens, and even families with children, are supporting this by marching along with them.”
In news from financial markets, the Chinese stock market has continued to drop, following a dramatic plunge yesterday dubbed “Black Monday.” The decline shook markets around the world. After the New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell at 9:30 a.m. Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Index immediately plummeted a record 1,000 points before eventually closing down nearly 600 points. In China, the decline continued Tuesday, sparking fears among Chinese investors that the world’s second largest economy may be much weaker than expected.
Jerry Xu, Chinese investor: “I think it must be an omen of a coming global financial crisis. Not only is it the Chinese stock market, but also Europe and the United States stock markets dropped a lot yesterday. It’s not only China’s business. It may be an omen of a coming financial crisis for the world. So I think it’s pretty serious. I’m not optimistic about the future of the market.”
Over the last three days, the market’s decline has erased nearly $3 trillion in value from stocks globally. In the United States, stock prices are expected to stabilize today. We’ll speak with economist Michael Hudson after headlines.
In news from the Philippines, a U.S. marine has testified in court that he choked a Filipino transgender woman until she was unconscious, but he claims he did not kill her. U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is on trial for the 2014 murder of 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, who was found dead in a hotel room near a former American naval base that still frequently hosts U.S. ships. He testified Monday that he punched and choked Laude after learning she was transgender. The case has strained relations between the U.S. and the Philippines, with some Filipino lawmakers calling for changes to the rules permitting American military forces in the country, which is a former U.S. colony.
North and South Korea have reached an agreement to defuse the rising tensions between the two countries, following an exchange of artillery fire and threats of increased military action last week. South Korean leaders agreed early Tuesday morning to shut off a loudspeaker that has been broadcasting anti-North Korea propaganda near the border, while North Korea indirectly acknowledged responsibility for planting landmines that recently killed two South Korean soldiers. The South Korean director of national security announced the agreement.
Kim Kwan-jin: “North Korea expressed regret over a recent landmine incident in the South’s side of Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that wounded the South’s soldiers. South Korea agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts along the MDL from 12:00 (0300 GMT) local time on August 25. North Korea agreed to end the quasi-state of war.”
A court in the Netherlands has ordered Russia to pay compensation for costs and damages after seizing the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise and arresting its crew during a protest against Arctic oil drilling in 2013. The group of 28 activists and two journalists were jailed for two months for trying to stop Russian oil drilling in the Arctic. The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected the court’s authority.
In news from Washington state, officials say the wildfires burning across more than a quarter of a million acres in central Washington are now the largest in the state’s history. More than 1,000 firefighters and 700 National Guardsmen are battling the blazes. Meanwhile, in eastern Washington, fires have forced the school district on the Spokane Indian Reservation to postpone the beginning of school due to poor air quality and firefighting on nearby roads.
The wildfires come as a new study links climate change to drier conditions that are helping fuel increasingly strong wildfires across the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, at the end of the month, President Obama will visit the Arctic, where he will emphasize the impact of climate change. The visit comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s decision to issue the final permit clearing the way for Arctic oil drilling.
Meanwhile, President Obama has announced new measures to promote solar energy including bolstering a federal program to help people switch to using rooftop solar panels to generate their electricity. Obama’s speech at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas Monday came on the heels of the administration’s announcement earlier this month of a plan to cut carbon emissions by an average of 32 percent.
President Obama: “So we’re taking steps that allow more Americans to join this revolution with no money down. You don’t have to share my passion for fighting climate change. A lot of Americans are going solar and becoming more energy-efficient not because of tree huggers — although trees, you know, are important, just want you to know — but because they’re cost cutters. They like saving money. And I’m all for consumers saving money, because that means they can spend it on other stuff. Solar isn’t just for the green crowd anymore. It’s for the green eyeshade crowd, too.”
A judge in Ferguson, Missouri, has withdrawn as many as 10,000 arrest warrants as part of a series of changes to the court system announced Monday. The order withdraws all municipal warrants issued before 2015. It also changes the conditions for pretrial release and creates a pathway for people to have drivers’ licenses reinstated if the suspension was due to failure to pay fines or show up to court. A Justice Department probe found the city has been targeting African Americans for arrest and then profiting off of their fines. The changes come after a year of widespread protests over the police killing of Michael Brown.
And in California, members of a women’s book club say the company running a tour through the Napa Valley kicked them off the train because they are black. Ten of the 11 members of the book club are African-American. They say they were ordered off the train on Saturday by the company Napa Valley Wine Train because they were laughing too loudly. One of the women is 83 years old. The move immediately drew criticism for being racially motivated, and the hashtag #LaughingWhileBlack began trending on Twitter.