Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.
Dozens of fires erupted in New South Wales, Australia, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in November. More than 100 fires are still burning. This season’s fires are unprecedented. It’s a much earlier fire season, and the fires have gotten very big, very early.
Police have charged at least 24 people for intentionally starting bushfires in the state of New South Wales, according to a statement the New South Wales Police.
An area about twice the size of Belgium, roughly 15 million acres, has burned. At least 24 people are dead, including at least three volunteer firefighters, and more are missing.
Australia’s capital recorded the worst pollution it’s ever seen, with an air quality index 23 times higher than what’s considered “hazardous.”
Nearly half a billion animals, including mammals, birds, and reptiles, likely lost their lives in the blazes in one state, New South Wales alone, a staggering loss which is probably an underestimate, according to the University of Sydney.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced a new $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Agency to “coordinate a national response to rebuild communities and livelihoods”. Morrison’s administration faced criticism for thwarting global efforts to face the threat of climate change.
Here’s how to support the local state fire services and affected communities, donate to wildlife and environmental organizations and assist displaced and affected First Nations — Australian indigenous communities.
Iran launched missile strikes against two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. More than a dozen ballistic missiles targeted the Al Asad and Erbil military bases, the Pentagon said, and U.S. officials were assessing the damage.
The base was already on high-alert and recently paused its operations against ISIS to shift resources to prepare for a possible revenge attack by Iran.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday that the U.K. condemned the Iranian attack on military bases in Iraq, noting that British forces use the facilities along with their American coalition counterparts.
After ending his campaign for president, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is endorsing Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Castro decided to endorse so quickly after dropping out, in contrast to most of the other candidates who’ve left the race, in order to have time to campaign for Warren ahead of the Iowa caucuses, which are in less than a month.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the most high-profile endorsement of the campaign so far: New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The two drew more than 20,000 people to a New York City rally when she first backed Sanders in October.
Biden has the most endorsements from current and former office-holders, including several sitting U.S. senators and former Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.
Swedish furniture maker Ikea will pay $46 million to the family of a California toddler who died after being crushed by one of its dressers. Jozef Dudek was two years old when he died in May 2017 after an Ikea Malm dresser toppled onto his neck, resulting in injuries that caused him to suffocate, according to the family’s lawyers.
Feldman Shepherd, the legal firm that represents the Dudek family, said in a statement that the payout is the largest wrongful death settlement related to one child in US history. The company apologized in a statement.
In 2016, Ikea paid $50 million to the families of three other children who had been killed by Malm dressers and agreed to redesign the product to higher safety standards.
As part of the settlement, Ikea has agreed to broaden its outreach to consumers about the Malm product recall, according to the family’s lawyers. The lawyers said the furniture maker will also meet with representatives of Parents Against Tip-Overs, an advocacy group lobbying for safer furniture designs and more stringent testing standards.
Los Angeles prosecutors announced criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein, following the start of his rape trial in New York. Weinstein was charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013, officials said. The felony charges include forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.
If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in prison, prosecutors said. He is expected to be arraigned at a later date.
The news of an LA case comes as Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to five counts in New York, including raping a woman in 2013 and forcing another woman to engage in oral sexual conduct in 2006. The most serious charge is predatory sexual assault, which carries a potential life sentence.
The United States’s defense secretary has contradicted Donald Trump by saying the country’s military had no plans to bomb Iranian cultural sites amid threats of retaliation from Tehran over the US assassination of its top military commander General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, near the airport in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.
Attacking cultural sites with military action is considered a war crime under international law, including a United Nations Security Council resolution supported by the Trump administration in 2017 and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. Iran is home to 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Iranian Parliament approved a bill designating the entire U.S. military and Pentagon terrorist organizations. Lawmakers also backed a motion allocating $220 million to the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force to take revenge for Soleimani’s death.
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