The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 9 announced the red knot is now protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The robin-sized shorebird, which twice a year makes an epic 9,000-mile migration between southern South America and the Canadian Arctic, has declined by 75 percent since the 1980s. Threatened by loss of an essential food, horseshoe crabs, as well as habitat destruction, the bird is also at risk from climate change, which threatens to destroy many of its shoreline stopover areas as well as its breeding habitat in the far north.
With the country’s final executions of 2014 are scheduled to take place in Georgia, Missouri and Texas this week, a new coalition has launched a campaign to push for an end to capital punishment.
The goal — to mobilize the 90 million Americans who support ending capital punishment — was announced early on Dec. 9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The Obama administration issued guidelines on Dec. 8 that restrict the ability of federal law enforcement agencies to profile on the basis of religion, national origin and other characteristics, protocols the Justice Department hopes could be a model for local departments as the nation tackles questions about the role race plays in policing.
The policy, which replaces decade-old guidelines established under the Bush administration, also will require federal agencies to provide training and to collect data on complaints.
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Dec. 9 released a report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
A 600-page summary from the 6,000-page report has been declassified after months of disputes between the committee and the CIA over redactions. The summary concludes that the CIA repeatedly tortured detainees, including using the simulated drowning technique called "waterboarding." The report also concludes that the information gathered using torture produced no security benefits and accuses the CIA of repeatedly lying to Congress, the White House and the American public.
In the waning days of 1964, University of California, Berkeley, students inspired by the fight for racial equality found their collective voice in challenging a campus ban on political advocacy.
On Dec. 2, following weeks of demonstrations and failed negotiations, more than 1,000 students took over the administration building in what would be the apex of the Free Speech Movement.
Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of sewage in the ocean this year, much of it raw or poorly treated, according to federal data analyzed by Friends of the Earth. The activsit group, releasing its annual report card on cruise ships, called for stronger rules to protect oceans, coasts, sea life and people.
The report shows that some of the 16 cruise lines graded are slowly getting greener; but more than 40 percent of the 167 ships still rely on 35-year-old waste treatment technology. Such systems leave harmful levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants in the water. By law, wastewater dumped within 3 nautical miles of shore must be treated, but beyond that ships are allowed to dump raw sewage directly into the ocean.
The Supreme Court is taking on a free speech case over a proposed license plate in Texas that would feature the Confederate battle flag.
The case involves the government’s ability to choose among the political messages it allows drivers to display on state-issued license plates.
There's a good chance WiG readers signed into their email at some point on Dec. 9 and found a message from MoveOn.org inviting them to vote on whether Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren should run for president in 2016.
A news release from MoveOn said the national grassroots progressive Democratic organization stood poised to put its full weight behind an effort to convince Warren to run for president "pending a vote of its membership."
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India have stressed the importance of uniting people across borders and religions by educating children and freeing them from poverty.
The 17-year-old Malala, who was shot in the head two years ago for insisting that girls have as much right to education as boys, says it is "not only the right but the duty of children" to be educated.
An audacious right-wing Republican, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann stood out from the moment she was first elected to Congress in 2006. Democrats were ascendant and Bachmann was a stridently Republican new arrival with a homespun Minnesota twang.
Four terms later, Bachmann is leaving just as Republicans take control of Congress for the first time since she was first elected. After a turbulent career dotted by fights with the left and her own party, and a fast-rising and fast-fading presidential campaign, Bachmann said she is ready to leave, her work in Congress complete.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's 12-point loss in a weekend runoff ended up closer than several polls suggested it could be. But an Associated Press analysis of the returns show that a slide in turnout simply wasn't enough for Landrieu to recover the ground she'd lost since her last victory six years ago.
The vote on Dec. 6 resulted in a comfortable win for Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican who will give the GOP a 54-seat majority when the Senate convenes in January.