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Obama Unveils “Strongest Action Ever” in U.S. on Climate Change

Aug 03, 2015

President Obama is unveiling a new set of power plant regulations hailed by The New York Times as “the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change.” The plan could shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants, stop construction of new coal plants and fuel a shift toward wind and solar power by providing incentives for renewable energy. The final rules are reportedly stronger than earlier proposals, requiring existing power plants to cut emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan faces opposition from Republican lawmakers and coal companies, who have vowed to sue. We’ll be speaking on Tuesday with Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

California: Thousands Evacuated & Firefighter Killed amid Wildfires

Aug 03, 2015

The release of the power plant rules coincide with a reminder of global warming’s impact in California, where about two dozen wildfires are raging amid a historic drought. Thousands of people have been evacuated, and a firefighter has been killed. Daniel Berlant, spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the largest of the blazes, the Rocky Fire, consumed an unprecedented 20,000 acres over a five-hour period Saturday night.

Daniel Berlant: “That fire grew 20,000 acres in a five-hour period last night. That is an unbelievable amount of acreage burned in such a short amount of time. But again, it’s because of these drought conditions that are allowing fires like that one and like all the others that we’re responding to to grow so quickly.”

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Obama Authorizes Airstrikes to Defend U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebels

Aug 03, 2015

President Obama has authorized U.S. airstrikes to defend U.S.-trained Syrian rebels who come under attack, including from the Syrian government. Fewer than 60 rebels have completed the U.S. training program aimed at defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The first-known U.S. airstrikes to defend the forces from militants were launched last week. Anonymous officials told news outlets the United States would provide offensive strikes to support advances against ISIL but defend the rebels against any group that attacks them. Meanwhile, a Syrian government warplane has crashed amid air raids in the rebel-held northwestern town of Ariha, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens.

Turkey: 2 Policemen & 1 Soldier Killed in Suspected PKK Attacks

Aug 03, 2015

The U.S. and Turkey are discussing plans to clear ISIL from a zone along the Turkish-Syrian border. Meanwhile in eastern Turkey, two policemen have died and dozens more were wounded in a suicide attack Sunday. The army said the attack was carried out by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK. The army also accused the PKK of killing one soldier on patrol in eastern Turkey in a separate attack Saturday. These attacks come after Turkey has launched a wave of airstrikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq over the last two weeks.

French Police Pepper-Spray Migrants Trying to Enter Channel Tunnel

Aug 03, 2015

In news from Europe, French riot police sprayed hundreds of migrants with tear gas as they attempted to enter the Channel Tunnel to cross into Britain Sunday night.

1,800 Migrants Rescued by Italian Coast Guard at Sea, 5 Dead Aboard

Aug 03, 2015

Meanwhile, 1,800 migrants were rescued by the Italian coast guard over the weekend attempting to cross the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Five were found dead aboard. In total, hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived in Europe this year from Africa, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq in what humanitarian groups are calling the worst migrant crisis since World War II.

Mexico: Thousands Denounce Murder of Photojournalist Rubén Espinosa

Aug 03, 2015

In Mexico City, thousands marched through the streets Sunday to denounce the murder of photojournalist Rubén Espinosa. Episonosa was killed by gunmen alongside human rights activist Nadia Vera and three other women in an apartment in Mexico City Friday. Both Espinosa and Vera had been working in the southern state of Veracruz, which has seen increasingly deadly violence against journalists and activists. According to human rights groups, Espinosa’s murder signals a new level of violence against Mexican journalists, as he may be the first to be killed while in exile in Mexico City. In his final interview, he told the outlet Rompeviento about his exile.

Rubén Espinosa: “I had to leave due to intimidation, not because of a direct threat, per se, but out of common sense. There had just been an attack on students, who were brutally beaten with machetes and everything, and so we cannot, in this situation, do less, with any kind of threat or intimidation, because we do not know what will happen. In Veracruz, there is no rule of law.”

Espinosa is at least the 12th journalist who has worked in Veracruz to be killed since 2011.

U.N. Peacekeeper Killed in Attack in Central African Republic

Aug 03, 2015

In news from Africa, one U.N. peacekeeper has died and eight were wounded in an attack in the Central African Republic Sunday. The peacekeeping team was attacked by men wielding grenades and machine guns. Sunday’s is the seventh or eighth death of a U.N. peacekeeper since the force began its mission in Central African Republic nearly one year ago.

TPP Critics Optimistic After Talks End Without Final Deal

Aug 03, 2015

The latest round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, have wrapped up in Hawaii without a final deal. The trade pact, which is being negotiated in secret, involves 12 Pacific Rim nations and about 40 percent of the global economy. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said progress had been made.

Michael Froman: “We, the trade ministers of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, announce that after more than a week of productive meetings we’ve made significant progress, and we’ll continue to work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues paving the way for the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.”

Congress recently granted Obama fast-track authority to push the TPP through Congress on a yes-or-no vote with no amendments. In a statement, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen said, “It’s good news for people and the planet that no deal was done at this final do-or-die meeting given the TPP’s threats to jobs, wages, safe food, affordable medicines and more.”

Egypt and U.S. Resume Security Talks as U.S. Delivers F-16 Warplanes

Aug 03, 2015

The Obama administration has resumed formal security talks with Egypt for the first time in six years, despite concerns about human rights abuses, including the trial of Al Jazeera journalists. In Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry urged his Egyptian counterpart to show greater respect for human rights. The talks came days after the United States delivered eight F-16 warplanes to Egypt, the first since fully lifting a weapons freeze in March.

VP Joe Biden Considering Presidential Bid

Aug 03, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly considering a run for president. The New York Times reports Biden’s allies have begun reaching out to potential supporters, inspired in part by Biden’s late son, Beau, who died in May and who wanted his father to run.

State Department Releases 2,000 of Hillary Clinton’s Redacted Emails

Aug 03, 2015

The news comes as the State Department has released nearly 2,000 redacted emails from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private account, including documents related to Clinton’s role in the 2009 ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Clinton meanwhile has disclosed she made nearly $10 million in speaking fees in 2013, including $1.6 million from big banks.

Report: 400 Families Donate Nearly Half the Money in 2016 Campaign

Aug 03, 2015

A new analysis shows fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised so far in the 2016 presidential campaign. The report by The New York Times reveals the vast majority of the $388 million raised so far is being channeled to super PACs which can accept unlimited donations in support of candidates. The concentration of donors appears more pronounced among Republican candidates and their super PACs, who have raised more than half of their funds from about 130 families and businesses. A separate tally by the Associated Press found nearly 60 donations of a million dollars or more accounted for about a third of the total donations raised so far in the presidential race. The first Republican presidential debate is coming up on Thursday.

Journalists Promise Not to Reveal Attendees at Closed-Door Koch Event

Aug 03, 2015

As corporate campaign spending soars, a number of journalists from prominent media outlets accepted an invitation to a gathering of top Republican donors on the condition they not publicly name any of the attendees without permission. The Washington Post and Politico were among the news outlets to attend the event sponsored by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch at a luxury resort in California. The Koch brothers’ operation has vowed to spend $889 million on the 2016 election cycle. Protesters sought to shed light on the secretive event by photographing the donors as they walked in.

Puerto Rico Misses $58M Debt Payment as Island Teeters into Default

Aug 03, 2015

In news from Puerto Rico, the government failed to pay a $58 million debt payment on Saturday. It was the first missed payment in the commonwealth’s ongoing debt crisis. Lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy, a move permitted for cities and municipalities inside U.S. states but not for U.S. territories. Hedge funds are lobbying against the legislation. According to financial analysts, Saturday’s missed payment will push the commonwealth into official default by the end of the day Monday.

Germany: 1,000 Protest Possible Treason Charges Against Journalists

Aug 03, 2015

In Germany, more than 1,000 people demonstrated in Berlin Saturday in solidarity with two journalists who may be facing a treason investigation for reporting on the government’s plans to increase mass surveillance. The federal prosecutor said it was opening the treason investigation Thursday after the publication of two articles on the website Netzpolitik.org. Andre Meister, one of the journalists facing charges, spoke out Saturday.

Andre Meister: “The accusation is particularly absurd because it is a matter of secret service spying, and without whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, we would have no idea what is going on, what the secret services are doing with our tax money. There is even an investigation committee that wouldn’t exist at all without whistleblowers. Whistleblowers need our support and immunity from prosecution. We actually need a whistleblower protection law instead of criminal prosecution.”

Following protests, the prosecutor general has said he is awaiting the result of an internal investigation before deciding how to proceed. If charges are filed, it will be the first time journalists have faced treason charges in Germany in more than 50 years.

Israel: Gov’t Expands Detention Without Trial to Israeli Citizens

Aug 03, 2015

In news from Israel, the Security Cabinet has approved a policy of detention without trial for citizens who are suspected of attacks against Palestinians. The move comes after Jewish settlers firebombed a Palestinian home in the West Bank Friday, killing an 18-month-old baby. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called the arson attack a “war crime” and has vowed to bring it to the International Criminal Court.

Israeli Soldier Kills Palestinian Teen for Allegedly Throwing Stones

Aug 03, 2015

Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier fatally shot a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager in the Gaza Strip Friday for allegedly throwing stones near the border fence.

Images of Endangered Species Projected onto Empire State Building

Aug 03, 2015

In New York City, filmmakers and environmentalists projected images of endangered species onto the Empire State Building to highlight how human-driven climate change and the wildlife trade are threatening biodiversity. Louie Psihoyos, director of “The Cove” and “Racing Extinction,” said climate change is threatening species around the world.

Louie Psihoyos: “This is the biggest issue mankind has ever faced. My friends in paleontology say that World War II will be a footnote in comparison to what’s going on right now, which is one species, us, is causing this massive loss of biodiversity. So this event tonight will hopefully celebrate these animals and give them a chance, because like Cecil the lion that just died, there’s a lot more lions left, but they’re endangered. But what’s going on right now, we’re losing salamanders and frogs; half the turtles could be eaten, tortoises could be gone in the next two decades because of climate change.”

NAACP Launches 40-Day March from Selma to Washington, D.C.

Aug 03, 2015

And the NAACP has launched a 40-day march through the South to highlight racial injustice and police killings across the country. The Journey for Justice kicked off in Selma, Alabama, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for voting rights 50 years ago.

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