The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday it will freeze Obama-era fuel economy standards at 2020 levels—in the latest blow by the Trump administration against efforts to curb catastrophic climate change. Under previous rules, the U.S. was on track to double fuel mileage standards to an average of nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. Under the new rules, automakers will be allowed to continue selling cars and light trucks in the U.S. that average about 30 miles per gallon. The Trump administration also plans to revoke California’s authority to set its own tougher automobile emissions standards. California Governor Jerry Brown said his state would lead 17 other states in a legal challenge against the move, tweeting, “California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”
United Nations officials have condemned President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against the media. In a joint statement, U.N. special rapporteurs at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, David Kaye and Edison Lanza, said of Trump, “These attacks run counter to the country’s obligations to respect press freedom and international human rights law. We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence.” Their warning came as Trump continued to assail the media. This is Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Thursday evening.
President Donald Trump: “There has never been—and even these people back here, these horrible, horrendous people—even these people back there say—look at it. It looks like the Academy Awards, there’s so many. You ever see this many? … But they can make anything bad, because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news.”
Trump’s attacks came as his daughter—senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump—said she doesn’t share he father’s view that the press is the “enemy of the American people.” Ivanka Trump was speaking at an event held by the website Axios. During her interview, she also described her father’s policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border as a “low point” of her time in the White House.
Ivanka Trump: “Yes, that was a low point for me, as well. I feel very strongly about that. And I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children. So I would agree with that sentiment. I think immigration is incredibly complex.”
In Texas, immigrant rights groups say more than 500 fathers and sons who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, then reunited inside a for-profit immigration jail, have launched a strike and are refusing orders from ICE and guards from the GEO Group corporation. The fathers are reportedly refusing meals, saying they’ve been denied their right to apply for asylum, have not been notified about their immigration status and that ICE officials misled them into agreeing to deportation in exchange for reunification with their children. Their sons refused to participate in classes on Thursday. This is audio of one of the fathers, obtained by the immigrant rights legal support group RAICES.
Unnamed father: “What worries me is that we are restrained from our freedom as human beings. Our children are crying. It is so bad in here. We were told that one detainee’s son tried to hang himself. … I have talked to the other detainees, and there is a plan. We will not be eating, and everyone has agreed.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have denied a hunger strike is taking place inside Karnes. On Thursday, ICE said in a statement that fewer than 50 people had participated in a brief sit-in protest and later dispersed. Meanwhile, ProPublica reports that a youth care worker for Southwest Key has been charged with molesting at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys in Arizona. The worker is HIV-positive, prompting fears he may have transmitted the virus to the boys he sexually assaulted.
In Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, bombers with the Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition struck near the city’s main public hospital Thursday. Medics say the assault killed at least 55 people while wounding 126 others. This is a survivor of the attack.
Survivor: “I was rescuing people when the second airstrike happened. Its impact sent shrapnel flying into my face, making me bleed a little. I couldn’t feel my hand because of the shrapnel.”
The latest civilian deaths came as the U.N. warned more than 8 million Yemenis are now experiencing extreme hunger as a result of the ongoing conflict, with millions more at risk of contracting cholera—as the U.S.-backed war on Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission has declared Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of Monday’s national election. Mnangagwa served as vice president under longtime leader Robert Mugabe. He emerged as interim president after Zimbabwe’s military seized government buildings and deposed Mugabe last November. Opposition parties have rejected the outcome, questioning the vote count. On Thursday, police raided the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare, accusing party leaders of inciting violence. The raid came as the death toll in a bloody crackdown by soldiers on Wednesday’s post-election protests rose to six.
In Nicaragua, hundreds of students protested in the streets of Managua Thursday, calling on President Daniel Ortega to resign. The latest protests came as international human rights groups say more than 300 people have been killed by police and government-backed paramilitaries since anti-austerity protests erupted in April. The U.N. refugee agency says the violence has driven some 23,000 to flee to neighboring Costa Rica, where some 200 people are applying for asylum each day.
An international group of conservationists is warning that nearly every species of lemur is under threat of going extinct, as human development encroaches their territory on the island of Madagascar. The Primate Specialist Group reported Thursday that logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and mining have left 105 of 111 lemur species vulnerable to extinction.
In Mexico, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador says he’s preparing to ban the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Environmental groups celebrated the announcement, with Food & Water Watch Director Wenonah Hauter telling DeSmogBlog, “The plan to ban fracking in Mexico represents the latest common-sense decision by a world leader to prohibit this inherently toxic, polluting practice.”
In Pennsylvania, an environmental activist and grandmother has been jailed for fighting a fracked-gas pipeline being built in part on her own land. Sixty-three-year-old Ellen Gerhart was arrested last week after the company Sunoco accused her of violating a court order banning her from interfering with workers building the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which will run across the state. Gerhart has led the fight to stop the pipeline since Sunoco seized part of her land for construction using eminent domain. Sunoco is owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline. Gerhart remains in jail after she could not afford to post $25,000 cash bail.
CBS reported record revenues Thursday, exceeding investors’ estimates of quarterly earnings and driving up share prices of the media company. CBS announced the earnings on a conference call that included longtime CEO Les Moonves, who’s been accused of sexual assault and harassment by at least six women who say he forcibly kissed or touched them during business meetings and physically and professionally threatened them after they rejected his sexual advances.
During Thursday’s call, not a single reporter asked Moonves about his alleged sexual misconduct, instead allowing him to speak at length about CBS’s earnings. The allegations against Moonves were revealed in a New Yorker investigation by Ronan Farrow that also uncovered sexual harassment claims against CBS “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager. The New Yorker reports that Fager made unwanted advances toward employees and protected other men accused of sexual misconduct.
And in Massachusetts, Smith College has apologized to a black student who was racially profiled on campus. The student, Oumou Kanoute, was eating her lunch in a common room on Tuesday when a campus employee called police, reporting someone who “seemed out of place.” After an officer arrived on the scene and confronted her, Kanoute began recording the episode, later posting it on Facebook with a statement that read in part, “All I did was be black.” This is Oumou Kanoute, speaking with CBS Boston.
Oumou Kanoute: “It just still upsets me to just talk about it, because I don’t even feel safe on my own campus. And I’m away from home. I’m the first in my family to go to college. I’m doing this not only for me, but for my family, for my ancestors.”
In a statement, Smith President Kathleen McCartney offered Kanoute an apology, adding, “This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias in which people of color are targeted while simply going about the business of their daily lives.” Kanoute has demanded that Smith release the name of the staffer who called police on her, but the college has so far refused.