Ferguson officer leaves job, protests continue
Last week, a grand jury ruled not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The ruling sparked a wave of protests across the country, most of them peaceful. In Ferguson, the protests turned violent as citizens ransacked local businesses, threw rocks at police and set cars on fire. Since then, people from Boston to Los Angeles have taken to the streets with their hands raised above their heads in a gesture of surrender, a reference to the now disputed claim that Brown was surrendering at the time he was shot. Amid the anger over the grand jury decision, Wilson officially resigned from the Ferguson Police Department. Transcripts of his testimony, forensic reports and other evidence from the Ferguson case are publicly available. Forensic evidence, which suggests a scuffle between Brown and Wilson along with witness testimony, seemed to corroborate Wilson’s story that Brown attacked him in his police car and struggled to take his gun before Wilson pursued him.
Chuck Hagel resigns, Obama seeks new Defense Secretary
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel submitted his resignation last week after serving less than two years on the job. Hagel had been under pressure from the Obama administration and had criticized the operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. His resignation reflects the changing security environment over the last two years. As a Vietnam War veteran and a skeptic of U.S. intervention abroad, Hagel shared many of the same views as Obama. He was put in place to carry out Obama’s vision of reducing defense spending and shrinking the U.S. Army. However, with the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, the military-led effort to help contain Ebola in West Africa and the campaign to defeat ISIS, Washington’s priorities have shifted to the management of immediate problems. Hagel also felt his opinions were being overshadowed by the White House staff, a complaint shared by his predecessors Leon Panetta and Robert Gates. Hagel will stay in office as Defense Secretary until Obama finds a replacement. Administration officials told CNN yesterday that Ashton Carter, second-in-command at the Pentagon, will be Obama’s choice to succeed Hagel.
Mubarak cleared of remaining criminal charges
The Cairo Criminal Court has dropped all remaining charges against ousted Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, including the charge that he murdered hundreds of protesters during the 2011 revolution. Mubarak was also cleared of charges of corruption and of bribery. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Cairo University to protest the acquittal, holding up pictures of Mubarak behind bars. Many fear that the old regime is back under current President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Sisi was elected president after a military coup, which ousted Egypt’s first democratically-elected leader Mohamed Morsi. Under Sisi, Morsi has been held in prison and thousands of his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death in mass trials. Mubarak-era officials have been released and new laws have been passed, which restrict political freedom. However, Sisi has assured his citizens that there would be no return to the old Egypt and that the nation was on “a path to establish a modern democratic state.” So far, Mubarak has spent more than three years in jail on various charges. Today, it is unclear whether he will walk free.
Scientists say without climate deal, world could become uninhabitable
United Nations negotiators are gathering in Peru this week to further hash out the details of an international global climate agreement schedule to be finalized in Paris next year. Scientists and climate experts say that if a deal is not reached, the world could eventually become uninhabitable for humans. The new urgency has driven 145 nations to commit to finalizing the pact. Recent momentum has given U.N. officials hope that a deal can be reached. In September, 400,000 demonstrators in New York called for immediate action to prevent climate change. The next month, the European Union (EU) set targets to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The United States and China, the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases, later announced an unprecedented bilateral agreement to cut their emissions, an achievement which many commentators thought would be impossible. Yet despite recent progress, disagreements between the EU and the United States over whether emissions targets should be legally-binding threaten to bring the talks in Peru to a standstill.