10 things you need to know today: June 18, 2015
A white gunman kills nine at a black Charleston church, the pope calls for action against climate change, and more
Gunman kills nine in Charleston church
A white gunman reportedly shot and killed nine people Wednesday night during a prayer service at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. At least one other person was injured. The gunmen fled the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a downtown Charleston landmark, on foot, setting off an overnight manhunt. "I do believe this is a hate crime," Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said. Church members said state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the church's pastor, was among the dead.
Pope Francis calls for action on climate change
Pope Francis on Thursday called for a global "revolution" to fight climate change. In the first papal document on the environment, Francis urged world leaders to hear "the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor" and take "decisive action, here and now," to fight pollution that is damaging the environment and causing temperatures to rise. The Pope firmly backed scientists who say climate change is mostly a man-made problem. "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," he wrote.
Woman will be featured on $10 bill
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it will put a woman on the $10 bill in 2020 in time to mark the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. The government is appealing to the public for input on who should replace Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary, on the bill's face. Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea briefly appeared in recent years on $1 coins, but Martha Washington was the last woman featured on a bill when she was shown on a silver-dollar note in the late 1800s.
FCC proposes $100 million fine against AT&T over data "throttling"
The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed fining AT&T $100 million for allegedly misleading customers with unlimited data plans, since their speeds would slow way down if they exceeded a set amount of data use in a billing cycle. "Unlimited means unlimited," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said. The proposed penalty is the largest such fine ever. AT&T has 30 days to respond. It says the FCC has considered the practice, known as "throttling," as an acceptable way to balance its network capacity with users' needs.
Hong Kong legislature votes down China-backed election reform
Hong Kong lawmakers on Thursday rejected electoral reforms backed by Beijing but opposed by local democracy advocates. Two-thirds of the 70-member legislature were needed to approve the changes, but 28 voted no. China has promised voters the right to pick their next administrator, but only from a list of pre-screened candidates. The proposal triggered last year's so-called umbrella protests by activists demanding open, truly democratic elections.
Lack of recruits plagues effort to train Iraq troops
A U.S. push to train 24,000 Iraqi soldiers this year has been hampered by a lack of Iraqis willing to join the fight against the Islamic State. "We simply haven't received enough recruits," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday. "We must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government." Iraq's government criticized Carter last month for saying Iraqis lacked a "will to fight" ISIS.
House tries again on fast-track trade bill
House Republicans on Thursday plan to try to revive a fast-track trade bill President Obama wants to help him secure a 12-nation Pacific trade pact. House Democrats helped defeat the measure in a vote last week. They have demanded more protections for U.S. workers. If the streamlined new version of the bill passes, the Senate, which approved the original version, would have to take up the new version.
Fed leaves interest rates low, but signals hike later this year
The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee said Wednesday that it would hold the benchmark federal funds interest rate at historically low levels — virtually zero — for now. The short-term rates have been kept low since 2008 to boost the recovery, but Fed policy makers said forecasts indicated that the economy was improving enough to begin raising rates slowly later this year. "My colleagues and I would like to see more decisive evidence that a moderate pace of economic growth will be sustained," Fed Chair Janet Yellen said.
California rules Uber drivers are employees, not contractors
The California Labor Commissioner has ruled that drivers for the app-based taxi service Uber are employees, not contractors. The decision currently only applies to a driver asking for reimbursement for $4,152.20 in expenses, but it could have a huge impact on Uber. If it loses appeals of the ruling, it could have to pay for unemployment insurance, Social Security, and worker's compensation, dramatically increasing its labor costs. Uber says it is merely a neutral technology platform linking drivers with customers.
Brian Williams to stay at NBC, but not as Nightly News anchor
NBC plans to announce Thursday that suspended newsman Brian Williams will not return as anchor of the network's Nightly News broadcast, according to news reports. Williams was sidelined four months ago for falsely claiming that his helicopter had taken fire while he was reporting on the Iraq war. Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Williams, is expected to be named his replacement. Williams is expected to remain with the company working on breaking news at cable news network MSNBC.