About half the population of the South Pacific Island state of Vanuatu has been left homeless by a devastating Category 5 cyclone that flattened buildings and washed away roads and bridges. Aid agencies say Cyclone Pam killed at least eight people, with the death toll expected to rise as rescuers reach more far-flung areas. Vanuatu has a population of about 250,000 and is made up of more than 80 islands. Disaster relief officials and relief workers are still trying to establish contact with remote islands that bore the brunt of winds of more than 185 miles per hour. We are joined by Alex Mathieson, former Vanuatu country director for the aid group Oxfam.
As the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu is devastated by Cyclone Pam, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben links the storm to global warming and responds to the new decision by the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to back the fast-growing divestment campaign to persuade investors to sell off their fossil fuel assets. This comes as University of Oxford alumni, donors and students are watching a vote set for today on whether the school will divest its endowment from the top 200 companies involved in exploring or extracting fossil fuels. McKibben also discusses news from NASA that California’s water supply could be exhausted by next year. Meanwhile, the environmentalist and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was found guilty of ordering the arrest of a judge while in office. Nasheed became famous in 2009 for holding a cabinet meeting underwater to show the threat of climate change to his island nation. McKibben is the author of several books, including "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet." 350.org has been posting updates about the situation in Vanuatu on its live blog at 350.org.
Today marks the 1,000th day WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent in political asylum inside Ecuador’s London embassy. For the first time, Swedish prosecutors have opened the door to Assange’s departure with a request to question him in London. Assange has never been charged over allegations of sexual assault, but has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, fearing a Swedish arrest warrant could lead to his extradition to the United States. We speak with one of Assange’s lawyers, Michael Ratner, who argues the alleged sexual assault case is not strong enough to go forward.
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