A world climate change summit opened outside Paris on Monday, with roughly 151 world leaders gathered to try to hammer out an agreement for 196 countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. In his remarks, President Obama emphasized that it has never been more important to address climate change, which is believed to have led to 14 of the 15 hottest years on record since just 2000.
“I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Obama said. “No nation, large or small, wealthy or poor, is immune to what this means.” USA Today, Bloomberg via The Week
The Chinese renminbi was anointed as one of the world’s elite currencies on Monday, a milestone decision by the International Monetary Fund that underscores the country’s rising financial and economic heft.
The move will help pave the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance, securing China’s standing as a global economic power. Just four other currencies — the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen — have the I.M.F. designation. But the path to the I.M.F. decision, a bumpy process that stretches back years, also introduced new uncertainty into China’s economy and financial system.
To meet the I.M.F. requirements, China was forced to give up some of its tight control over the currency, culminating in the abrupt devaluation of the renminbi that shook global markets in August. The changes could inject fresh volatility into the country, at a time when its economy is already slowing. The New York Times
An email chain at the center of Republican criticism of Hillary Clinton’s handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was released by the State Department on Monday.
In the exchange from the night of the attack, Clinton told her daughter Chelsea — who was using the pseudonym “Diane Reynolds” — that the attack was launched by “an Al Queda-like group.”
She also expresses her grief at the loss of two American diplomats, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, an information management officer. Two other Americans, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died later that night after they came to the aid of diplomats at the compound.
“Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow,” Clinton wrote.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi, first brought the exchange to light last month during Clinton’s marathon 11-hour testimony on the attacks. CNN
The estimated number of adolescents dying of AIDS in the Asia Pacific region has more than doubled since 2005, experts said Monday, warning of a “hidden epidemic.” UNICEF urged Asian countries to improve teenagers’ access to testing, saying many young people do not know their HIV status because of parental consent requirements for tests.
The Asia Pacific region has made enormous strides against HIV/AIDS in the adult population, with a 31 percent drop in new HIV infections between 2000 and 2014, and a 28 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2014. However, one in seven new infections in the region last year was among 15- to 19-year-olds, and the estimated number of AIDS-related deaths for adolescents aged 10 to 19 has shot up 110 percent to 6,600 in 2014, from 3,100 in 2005, a U.N. report said Monday.
At-risk adolescent groups include gay and transgender youths, injecting drug users, and people who buy and sell sex. VOA
A week after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet sparking tensions, U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for a de-escalation between the two countries and a unified front on the Syrian conflict.
“We all have a common enemy and that is ISIL. And I want to make sure we focus on that threat. And I want to make sure we remain focused on the need to bring about some sort of political resolution in Syria,” Obama said.
The U.S. president spoke Tuesday following talks with his Turkish counterpart Recip Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations climate conference. The meeting took place a week after Turkey shot down an SU-24 fighter jet, saying the Russian aircraft had entered its airspace.
Russia has insisted the jet did not cross the Turkish border and responded by imposing economic sanctions against Ankara. VOA
Officials at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Va., sent an email to employees in November banning Christmas trees in public areas, only to quickly reverse their decision after a backlash from veterans and employees.
The email, obtained by local NBC affiliate WSLS, asserted that when the public—including veterans—accessed the building, they should be assured the government was not endorsing a particular religion. It went on to make clear public areas could be decorated in a “winter season” theme only. “Trees (regardless of the types of ornaments used) have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year,” the email stated.
But the administration received an immediate backlash from veterans and staff, according to The Washington Times. Veteran Vicki Jackson told NBC the Christmas season is a difficult time of year for many veterans and Christmas decorations help bring hope and encouragement.
After management held a private lunch meeting on Friday with about 150 employees, administrators agreed to allow Christmas trees in public areas—as long as the spaces included Kwanzaa and Hanukkah decorations, as well. All decorations are paid for with donations and not government funds, NBC reported. The Christian Headlines
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