President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, threatened sanctions against International Criminal Court judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
John Bolton: “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system. And we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”
That was National Security Adviser John Bolton speaking during a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C., Monday. Bolton also announced the Trump administration is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C. The PLO called the move a dangerous escalation, saying it shows “the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine, as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region.” We’ll have more on John Bolton’s speech later in the broadcast.
The enormous Category 4 Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the East Coast, with 1.5 million people across Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina facing evacuation orders. The National Hurricane Center is warning of widespread flooding and a possible “life-threatening storm surge.” This is North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Gov. Roy Cooper: “The forecast places North Carolina in the bullseye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger. When weather forecasters tell us 'life-threatening,' we know that it is serious.”
We’ll have more on Hurricane Florence and the links between hurricanes and climate change after headlines.
The Trump administration is planning to make it easier for oil and gas companies to pollute the atmosphere with methane gas, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. The Trump administration could announce the rollback of the Obama-era rules requiring companies to monitor and repair methane leaks on oil and gas wells as early as this week.
In more climate change news, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law to shift California to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
Gov. Jerry Brown: “There’s no understating the importance of this measure. SB 100 is sending a message to California and to the world that we’re going to meet the Paris Agreement, and we’re going to continue down that path to transition our economy to zero emission, zero carbon emission, and to have the resiliency and the sustainability that science tells us we must achieve.”
That was California Governor Jerry Brown speaking Monday ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit here in San Francisco. Democracy Now! will be broadcasting live from San Francisco all week.
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday of the risks of “runaway climate change,” calling on world leaders to take dramatic steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions within the next two years.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat. Climate change is moving faster than we are, and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.”
350.org co-founder Bill McKibben announced Monday that more than $6 trillion of endowments and portfolios have now been divested from fossil fuel companies. The new target by 2020, he says, is $10 trillion divested from fossil fuel companies. On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and London Mayor Sadiq Khan published a joint op-ed in The Guardian calling on other cities around the world to divest their assets, writing, “We believe that ending institutional investment in companies that extract fossil fuels and contribute directly to climate change can help send a very powerful message that renewables and low-carbon options are the future.”
The Washington Post reports 1,600 federal workers have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office—a mass exodus that has shrunk the EPA’s workforce to levels not seen since the Reagan administration. Among the EPA workers to depart the agency was scientist Ann Williamson, who left the EPA after 33 years, saying, “I did not want to any longer be any part of this administration’s nonsense.”
A top United Nations official is warning that an all-out Syrian government ground offensive against Idlib province—the last major rebel-held territory in Syria—could lead to the worst loss of life in the 21st century.
Mark Lowcock: “There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don’t turn the next few months in Idlib into the worst humanitarian catastrophe, with the biggest loss of life, of the 21st century. You know, we had the tsunami in 2004, which killed a quarter-million people, roughly; we had the atrocious famine in Somalia in 2011, which killed another quarter-million people. We must—we must—it’s not acceptable to have huge loss of life in Idlib over the next period.”
In Afghanistan, at least 20 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the eastern province of Nangarhar. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
The White House says it’s preparing for a second possible meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after Trump received a “very warm, very positive” letter from Kim requesting another meeting. Trump and Kim met for a summit in Singapore in June, marking the first time a U.S. president has met with a North Korean leader. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is slated to hold his third summit with Kim next week, as the two leaders continue discussing plans to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.
In migration news, Doctors Without Borders says more than 100 people died earlier this month when their boats shipwrecked off the coast of Libya en route to Europe. Among the victims were at least 20 children, including babies. The United Nations says at least 1,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year trying to reach Europe.
Back in the United States, in Texas, more than 100 people rallied outside the Dallas police headquarters Monday night to protest the police killing of 26-year-old Botham Jean. White Dallas police officer Amber Guyger killed Jean, a black man, in his own apartment, after she walked in, allegedly believing it was her apartment. The two lived in the same apartment complex. Officer Guyger has been charged with manslaughter.
In Florida, Republican Congressmember Ron DeSantis has announced he’s immediately resigning from Congress in order to focus on his gubernatorial campaign. DeSantis is in a tight race against Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is vying to be the first African-American governor in Florida’s history. DeSantis’s resignation from Congress comes as The Washington Post has revealed he has spoken four times at a conservative conference where far-right speakers regularly spout Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist views. Other recent speakers at the annual David Horowitz Freedom Center Restoration Weekend conference include President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon and white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos.
And federal prosecutors have admitted they wrongly accused Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina of trading sex for influence with high-level Republicans. The Justice Department has charged Maria Butina with acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government, and accused her of trying to infiltrate the NRA and other right-wing groups. But the prosecutors now admit they mistakenly interpreted a joking text exchange between Butina and her longtime friend, who took Butina’s car for an inspection and then texted her, “I don’t know what you owe me for this insurance…” Butina jokingly answered, “Sex. Thank you so much.” Prosecutors now admit this exchange does not prove she was trading sex as part of a secret Russian government effort to infiltrate high-level Republican circles. On Monday, a federal judge ruled Butina must stay in jail until her trial because she is a flight risk.