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President Obama has challenged world leaders to act urgently on climate change or “condemn our children to a world they will no longer have the capacity to repair.” On Monday, Obama opened an international conference on the Arctic being held in Alaska by emphasizing the U.S. role in creating the climate crisis.
President Obama: “The fact is that climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. That, ladies and gentlemen, must change. We’re not acting fast enough. I’ve come here today as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating this problem and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it.”
Obama’s remarks come just weeks after his administration granted permission to Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic, a move critics say will accelerate climate change.
Meanwhile, Obama is also expected to propose the U.S. Coast Guard acquire and build new icebreaking ships that can operate in the Arctic in an effort to keep pace with Russian and Chinese fleets. On Monday, Alaska Governor Bill Walker, who traveled with Obama to Anchorage, called Russia’s moves in the Arctic “the biggest buildup of the Russian military since the Cold War.” We’ll have more on Obama’s trip after headlines.
In news from Syria, a United Nations agency has confirmed the destruction of the Temple of Bel in the ancient city of Palmyra by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Satellite imagery shows the 2,000-year-old main temple building has been flattened.
In Iraq, nonviolent civil resistance is growing as a campaign of weekly protests enters its second month. Tens of thousands of protesters flooded Baghdad’s main square on Friday, calling for improvements to the country’s electrical system amid a sweltering heat wave, trials for corrupt officials and the enactment of anti-corruption reforms. The demonstrations are largely led by young people, many of whom see the movement as a rebuke of the government created by the United States following the 2003 invasion. One of demonstrators, 22-year-old Hussein Ali, told The New York Times: “This protest was established to demolish what the Americans set up.”
In Ukraine, the government says a National Guard member has been killed and 125 people injured, most of them officers, as members of nationalist parties clashed with security forces outside Ukraine’s Parliament. The Ukrainian government blamed the violence on ultra-nationalists, whom security forces accused of throwing grenades. The unrest came after lawmakers backed a measure to grant more autonomy to two eastern regions currently held by pro-Russia rebels. The measure is one of the first steps in a peace deal intended to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has killed more than 7,000 people since it began in March of last year.
In Guatemala, President Otto Pérez Molina continues to refuse to resign as Congress prepares to vote on his impeachment. The president has faced months of massive demonstrations over a corruption scandal that has led to the resignation of the majority of the president’s Cabinet and the arrest of top officials. Pérez Molina said Monday he would face the impeachment process head-on.
President Otto Pérez Molina: “I am ready not only to face this process but also to respond to it, and to respond to it head-on, with my head held high, because if there’s anyone who has been hurt by this more than anyone, it is me.”
Puerto Rico’s top religious leaders are calling on the Federal Reserve to restructure the territory’s $72 billion debt in order to avoid dramatic austerity measures. In August, Puerto Rico failed to make a $58 million debt payment, pushing the territory into default. Hedge funds that are heavily invested in Puerto Rico have called on the territory to raise taxes and slash funding for education, even though Puerto Rico has already closed almost 100 schools in 2015 alone. On Monday, 18 top religious leaders cited the biblical notion of jubilee to call for debt relief. They also threw their support behind a bill before Congress that would allow Puerto Rico to declare a limited bankruptcy, a move currently permitted only for cities and municipalities inside U.S. states.
In Turkey, two British journalists and their Iraqi translator have been jailed on terror charges. Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury of Vice News were detained last week while covering protests in eastern Turkey over the government’s military offensive against Kurdish dissident groups. They were initially accused of filming without government accreditation. A court has now charged them with engaging in terror activity on behalf of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, a radio anchor has been shot and killed, marking the third journalist to be murdered within just two weeks. Cosme Maestrado’s death comes on the heels of the murder of another radio anchor known for his reporting on human rights issues on August 20 and the murder of a newspaper publisher on August 18. The Philippines is the third most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq and Somalia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The Vatican has announced Pope Francis will allow Roman Catholic priests during the upcoming holy year to absolve women who have had an abortion. The Catholic Church stringently opposes abortion. But the pope said priests can forgive women who have had abortions if they seek forgiveness with a “contrite heart.” The pope said, “I am well aware of the pressure that has led [women] to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal.”
In the United States, a federal judge has ruled in favor of an anti-choice group that objected to including contraception in employee health plans, handing down what the website ThinkProgress called “the wackiest anti-birth control court decision to date.” Judge Richard Leon’s ruling goes far beyond the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which allowed most private companies to refuse to provide birth control coverage to employees if they claim religious objections. The anti-choice group March for Life filed suit last year, saying they objected to the birth control mandate on secular, not religious, grounds. The Obama administration is likely to appeal the judge’s decision to side with the group.
In Kansas, white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller has been convicted of capital murder for killing three people at a Jewish community center and assisted living facility in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park last year. Miller has a lengthy history of ties to neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan. He previously served time behind bars after being indicted on weapons charges and for plotting to assassinate the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Proceedings to determine his punishment begin today. He could face the death penalty.
In Chicago, a group of public school parents, grandmothers and education activists are entering the third week of a hunger strike to save Dyett High School, the only remaining open-enrollment public high school left in the community of Bronzeville. Supporters say the city neglected the school for years before announcing plans to close it. Under Chicago mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the city has closed about 50 schools in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods as part of what critics say is a push to privatize education. The hunger strikers have called for Chicago to reopen Dyett High School as a global leadership and green technology school, and have submitted a detailed proposal that has yet to be considered by officials. At least two of the hunger strikers have been hospitalized. On Monday, local clergy, including Rabbi Brant Rosen, voiced support for the hunger strikers.
Rabbi Brant Rosen: “We are here to say that in this day and age it is a shame, it is a shameful reality, that families in a community have to starve their bodies in order to have a decent school, open-enrollment school, public school for their families. This is what it has come to in this city, and this is what it has come to in this country, that our public institutions, our sacred public institutions, and in particular our public schools, are increasingly being treated as commodities that can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. We are here to stand with the Dyett hunger strikers because they are our moral role models, they are our teachers, they are showing us what it means to love your community.”
The State Department has posted thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails online as part of a court-ordered disclosure process following revelations Clinton used a private email server while she was secretary of state. The department said it redacted information from 125 emails after discovering “confidential” materials, but said none of the emails were marked classified when they were sent. Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign is defending his remarks about Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, and Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner. Weiner is the former New York congressman who resigned after admitting to sending sexually explicit photos and messages to women online. Speaking in Massachusetts over the weekend, Trump suggested Abedin’s husband’s transgressions made her handling of Clinton’s emails a security risk.
Donald Trump: “Huma now is one of the people that — it all sort of came through Huma. Who is Huma married to? One of the great sleazebags of our time, Anthony Weiner! Did you know that? She’s married to Anthony Weiner. You know, the little bing, bing, bing, bom, bom…I love you very much.”
That’s Donald Trump, imitating Anthony Weiner sending online messages. Trump’s aide, Michael Cohen, defended Trump’s remarks, telling CNN, “It’s politics. All’s fair in love and war.”
In news from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a newly hired assistant professor has resigned following a scandal involving his call for law professors critical of the so-called war on terror to be treated as “enemy combatants.” In a 184-page article in the most recent issue of the National Security Law Journal published at the George Mason School of Law, now former West Point professor William Bradford argued that “lawful targets” of the war on terrorism include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews.” He also called for attacking Islamic holy sites “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage.” Bradford has also been accused of inflating his academic credentials. West Point confirmed Bradford’s resignation on Monday.
And the Supreme Court has ruled against a Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in June to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. In response, two gay couples and two straight couples sued Davis, arguing she has failed to carry out her duties as a public official. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied Davis’s appeal that the court grant her “asylum for her conscience.” If Davis continues to refuse to issue licenses, she could face fines or possible jail time.