New York Times - The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia. The Trans-Pacific Partnership still faces months of debate in Congress and will inject a new flash point into both parties’ presidential contests. But the accord — a product of nearly eight years of negotiations, including five days of round-the-clock sessions here — is a potentially legacy-making achievement for President Obama, and the capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.
New York Times - Flooding from days of relentless, saturating rains paralyzed much of South Carolina on Sunday, as vehicles were submerged, dams were pushed to their limits, electricity was cut off to thousands and emergency officials staged hundreds of swift-water rescues. Officials attributed at least five deaths in South Carolina to the flooding. The menacing weather, an agonizingly powerful blend of a low-pressure system and some of the moisture from Hurricane Joaquin as it spun over the Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda, was expected to last into the week, raising fears that conditions could worsen.
Wall Street Journal - Oil prices rose on Monday on a weaker dollar and a larger-than-expected cut in U.S. production capacity. Gains, however, remained capped following Saudi Arabia’s decision Sunday to slash prices intensifying the global fight for market share that has battered oil prices since last year. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.3% to $49.42 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were trading up 1.2% at $46.07 a barrel.
Washington Post - At the second annual Our Ocean conference, which opens today in Chile and will address challenges to marine ecosystems around the globe, world leaders will announce the extra steps they are taking to protect the world’s oceans. And the Obama administration is helping to kick things off by announcing plans to create two new marine sanctuaries — one in Maryland, and the other in Lake Michigan. During the opening of the conference, President Obama is expected to announce plans for the sanctuaries in a video message to attendees. They’ll be the first new national marine sanctuaries designated by the federal government in the past 15 years. “These actions will protect waters of historic and natural importance,” Obama says in the video.
Columbus Dispatch - Federal officials, the Sierra Club of Ohio and the city of Fremont filed paperwork on Friday asking a judge to put on hold plans to remove a dam in northwestern Ohio. The removal plan for the Ballville Dam had been contested by the Sierra Club over concerns about pollution in sediment behind the dam, located about 35 miles southeast of Toledo and just upriver from Sandusky Bay. The Sierra Club this summer sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the removal. The Sierra Club usually supports dam removals, said Jen Miller, Sierra Club Ohio director.
Miami Herald - The seagrass in Florida Bay is dying, a sign that the ailing bay could be going from bad to catastrophic. Years of flood control on top of a prolonged drought wilted the bay over the summer, making already hot water twice as salty as it should be. When scientists hustled out to investigate last month, they found miles of dead seagrass: up to six square miles in Rankin Bight and seven square miles in meadows around Johnson Key, a flat once famed for redfish and snook. A cloud of sulfur had spread in water just off the Flamingo Visitor Center, leaving behind a stinky stain scientists call “yellow fog.” It may cover 25 square miles already.
Salon - One of Alaska’s most eroded coastal Native villages is being eyed as a possible national model for relocating whole communities whose futures are threatened by natural disasters escalated by climate change. The state is hoping to kick-start a mass exodus from the tiny village of Newtok through a national competition for states and local governments vying for a slice of nearly $1 billion in grants to be awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition is billed as an effort addressing climate change and extreme weather. If successful, Alaska officials are proposing that $62.6 million of the funds be used for relocation costs, including money for infrastructure and money to allow 62 families from Newtok to establish new homes at the chosen relocation site on higher ground 9 miles away. In the draft proposal publicly released Friday, state officials also are seeking a total of $162.4 million for three other vulnerable villages — Emmonak, Galena and Teller — with extensive storm damage in recent years.
Portland Press Herald - The city is in the early stages of deciding how to address the problem in a low-lying neighborhood where development is growing despite its soggy history. Portland’s Bayside neighborhood has been struck by significant floodwaters twice in 14 months, renewing debate about addressing the problem in an area prime for development that also is vulnerable to storms and sea level rise. Numerous cars were stranded in several feet of floodwater Wednesday in the low-lying areas near the intersection of Franklin and Somerset streets after a storm dropped 5.6 inches of rain on Portland in a matter of hours. In terms of magnitude, the storm fell just shy of the deluge – the fifth-worst in Portland history – that dumped 6.4 inches on the city on Aug. 13, 2014, and also caused major flooding in Bayside and other city neighborhoods.
Christian Science Monitor - Those preparing for Hurricane Joaquin might want to know that some researchers say a foot has been added on to the usual tidal flooding estimates. But don't blame Joaquin entirely. The extra tidal boost is coming from the Atlantic ‘blob’ – a body of cold, fresh water that has been puzzling scientists. Researchers say that the slowing down of the planet’s oceanic circulatory system is being felt particularly along the Atlantic coast of the United States.
Politico - Rep. Jason Chaffetz has officially launched his dark-horse campaign for House speaker, arguing he’s a better choice to unite the fractious Republican conference and that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy lacks the communication skills and credibility with conservatives needed to succeed in the top leadership job. In a lengthy interview with POLITICO in his Capitol Hill office this weekend, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee predicted that opposition from conservatives will block McCarthy from securing the 218 votes he needs to be elected on the House floor later this month – and so Chaffetz is pitching himself as an alternative.