New York Times, By Richard Pérez-Peña, July 29
A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge in what a prosecutor called “a senseless, asinine shooting” of an unarmed man during a minor traffic stop. Officials say it was the first time such a charge had been leveled against an officer in the county.
The Hamilton County prosecuting attorney, Joseph T. Deters, released a much anticipated video of the shooting of Samuel Dubose taken by the officer’s body camera that he described as crucial evidence that Mr. Dubose did not act aggressively or pose a threat to Officer Ray Tensing, and that Officer Tensing had lied about being dragged by Mr. Dubose’s car. A grand jury, Mr. Deters announced, indicted the officer on a murder charge, punishable by life in prison, and a voluntary manslaughter charge.
“It was a senseless, asinine shooting,” Mr. Deters said at a news conference, using stark terms to denounce the July 19 killing, the officer’s claims and the officer himself. “This doesn’t happen in the United States, OK?” he said. “This might happen in Afghanistan. People don’t get shot for a traffic stop.”
NYT Opinion; Charles Blow: The Shooting of Samuel Dubose
Reuters, By Matt Siegel, July 27
Sydney – The Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia failed to report to police more than 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse going back more than 60 years, a government investigation into abuse and its aftermath heard on Monday.
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was launched in 2013 amid allegations of serial child abuse inside the Catholic Church in Australia, has a broad mandate to examine religious and secular organizations.
At the opening hearing into the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Monday, Angus Stewart, senior council assisting the commission, described the church as an insular sect with rules designed to stem the reporting of sexual abuse.
“Evidence will be put before the Royal Commission that of the 1,006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah’s Witness Church since 1950, not one was reported by the church to secular authorities,” he said.
New York Times, By Sindya H. Bhanoo, July 27
Farming may have originated 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study.
Researchers discovered a large number of seeds at an ancient hunter-gatherer site known as Ohalo II on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Many of the seeds had scars, a mark that distinguishes domesticated species from wild forms.
Additionally, about 150,000 plant remains were retrieved from the site, comprising more than 140 species. The mix included 13 known weeds, as well as edible cereals like wild emmer, barley and oats.
Los Angeles Times, By Evan Halper & Seema Mehta, July 26
Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to position herself as a crusader against climate change Sunday by unveiling some robust goals, even as she continued to avoid some of the more contentious battles around global warming.
Clinton announced that she will push to vastly expand the number of solar panels installed in the United States, as well as to boost overall renewable energy to the point that it will be able to fuel all homes and businesses by 2027.
The proposals reflect Clinton’s commitment to continuing the path on climate change set by President Obama, who champions numerous policies that bolster renewables and push a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.
The Clinton package is incomplete, however. Unlike her rivals in the Democratic presidential contest, Clinton has yet to take a position on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast ports. She also has yet to weigh in on a campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing nationwide, or to take a firm position on offshore oil drilling.
The proposal Clinton released Sunday for boosting solar installations by 700% is vague on details about how it would be funded.
Think Progress: Clinton Campaign Releases Horror Film Montage Of Climate-Denying Presidential Candidates
Science Daily, July 23
New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid human-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth’s past.
Using advances in analysing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.
Published today in Science, the researchers say by contrast, extreme cold periods, such as the last glacial maximum, do not appear to correspond with these extinctions.
“This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns,” said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.
PM’s office says jets bombed Kurdish targets in northern Iraq, hours after planes pounded ISIL positions in Syria.
Al Jazeera, July 25
Turkish fighter jets have bombed military positions of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in neighbouring Iraq.
The air raids came just hours after Turkish planes pounded Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria on Friday morning, marking a significant shift in Ankara’s position on how to deal with armed groups in Syria and Iraq.
“Strikes were carried out on targets of the Daesh [ISIL] terror group in Syria and the PKK terror group in northern Iraq,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, adding that shelters and warehouses containing PKK weapons were hit in the northern Iraq operation.
Turkey also approved the full use of its airbases by the US-led coalition against ISIL, according to the foreign ministry, marking a major change in its policy following a suicide bomb attack in Suruc, bordering Syria.
“The cabinet of ministers has given approval for the stationing in our country’s bases of manned and unmanned aircraft of the US and other coalition countries … taking part in air operations against Islamic State,” the foreign ministry said, adding that Turkey’s own aircraft would also be deployed.
RT: Turkey attacks Kurdish militia & ISIS positions – PM’s office
Prime Minister Davutoglu told reporters that some 590 suspected members of IS and PKK and other militant groups had been arrested in raids across Turkey that began on Friday, according to AFP.
Sydney Morning Herald, By Bianca Hall, July 22
Distant DNA links have been discovered between Aboriginal Australians and tribes living deep within the Amazon rainforest.
Researchers in the US and Denmark have established that people sharing DNA links with Aboriginal people crossed the Bering land bridge between Siberia and the Americas thousands of years ago.
The revelations, published in Nature and Science Magazine, are the strongest signs yet that there could have been multiple migrations from Siberia to the Americas tens of thousands of years ago.
The findings have captivated the international science community, with Jennifer Raff, an anthropological geneticist at the University of Texas, telling Nature on Tuesday they were, “honestly one of the most exciting results we’ve seen in a while.”
Washington Post, By Chris Mooney, July 20
James Hansen has often been out ahead of his scientific colleagues.
With his 1988 congressional testimony, the then-NASA scientist is credited with putting the global warming issue on the map by saying that a warming trend had already begun. “It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” Hansen famously testified.
Now Hansen — who retired in 2013 from his NASA post, and is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute — is publishing what he says may be his most important paper. Along with 16 other researchers — including leading experts on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets — he has authored a lengthy study outlining an scenario of potentially rapid sea level rise combined with more intense storm systems.
It’s an alarming picture of where the planet could be headed — and hard to ignore, given its author. But it may also meet with considerable skepticism in the broader scientific community, given that its scenarios of sea level rise occur more rapidly than those ratified by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest assessment of the state of climate science, published in 2013.
The authors conclude that 2 degrees Celsius global warming—the widely accepted international target for how much the world should limit global warming—is “highly dangerous.”
Climate Progress: Climate Scientist Warns Sea Levels Are Rising Faster Than We Thought
Moscow-allied de facto state between Moldova and Ukraine threatens to destabilize region
Al Jazeera, By Matthew Luxmoore, July 19
Tiraspol, Transnistria — Viktor Dobrov remembers the bullets. On June 19, 1992, receiving news of unrest at home while away on business in Russia, he flew back to Moldova’s capital Chisinau and spent three days making his way east through the epicenter of the country’s civil war, finally reaching the city of Tiraspol to rejoin his wife and 10-year-old son five days later on June 24.
“We walked across holding white flags. There were snipers sitting on the roofs, and shooting from all sides,” he recalled, pointing at a bridge across the Dniester River, which today demarcates Moldova’s border with the pseudo-state that emerged in the conflict’s wake.
By the time the Moldovan army’s efforts to reclaim the region were repelled by Russian-backed separatists, the military conflict had claimed some 600 lives. A ceasefire signed that July left a narrow strip of land running from the Ukrainian border to the Dniester’s right bank as part of a new, breakaway republic called Transnistria.
Despite being recognized by no official government, Transnistria has survived 25 years since declaring independence in 1990. Moldova has learned to live alongside its Moscow-backed separatist region, continuing to update contingency plans in the hopes of future re-integration. Meanwhile, Russia bases over 1,000 regular troops as part of its Operational Group on the territory, while an international peacekeeping force and a mediated program of negotiations help maintain calm.
McClatchyDC, By Roy Gutman, July 19
Istanbul – They arrived in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks, the favored vehicle of Islamist fighters in the Middle East and South Asia. But these men, the first graduates in the faltering U.S. train-and-equip program, were traveling into Syria to fight against an extremist insurgency, the Islamic State.
The U.S. military calls them the “New Syrian force” and disclosed that they are to coordinate with rebel forces already on the ground who have a different objective – to fight the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The goal, a spokesman said, is to expand the effectiveness of all moderate forces.
Turkish news media said 54 fighters crossed in Sunday in a convoy of 30 vehicles, commanded by an ethnic Turkman colonel who’d defected from the Syrian army. McClatchy obtained photos from an anti-regime activist in Syria that showed the trucks were Toyota Hiluxes.
The “New Syrian Force” is the first contingent of a $500 million program Congress approved last year to train and equip 15,000 fighters.