The United Nations’ top panel of climate scientists is warning that humans are consuming land and water resources at an unprecedented rate, with the climate crisis and biodiversity loss already threatening the food supply of hundreds of millions of people. In a new report out today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that without dramatic action, extreme weather and rising temperatures will turn even more fertile land into desert, shrinking the global food supply even as the world’s population rises to more than 7.5 billion people. This is climate scientist and IPCC co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
Valérie Masson-Delmotte: “We humans affect more than 70% of ice-free land. A quarter of this land is degraded. The way we produce food and what we eat contributes to the loss of natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity. When land is degraded, it reduces the soil’s ability to take up carbon, and this exacerbates climate change. In turn, climate change exacerbates land degradation in many different ways. Today, 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification.”
The IPCC recommends dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, along with more efficient farming methods and a shift in diets away from dairy and meat — which produce vast amounts of methane and carbon dioxide while consuming large amounts of land.
Federal agents swept through seven poultry processing plants in Mississippi Wednesday, arresting 680 people in one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history. Video handed out to reporters by Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows agents entering factories, leading people out in plastic handcuffs, frisking them and loading them onto buses. They were taken to a massive Mississippi National Guard hangar for processing. Outside the base, dozens of family members and supporters gathered, chanting “Let them go!” The mass arrests came on the first day of the school year and left scores of children traumatized and crying for their parents. Some children walked home from classes, only to find their doors locked and their family members missing. This is 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio speaking with Mississippi CBS affiliate WJTV.
Magdalena Gomez Gregorio: “Government, please show some heart. Let my parent be free and with everybody else. Please, don’t leave the childs with cryness and everything. … I need my dad and mommy. My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”
The arrests targeted chicken processing plants operated by Koch Foods, one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S. Last year, Koch Foods paid out $3.75 million to settle an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission class-action suit charging the company with sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers at one of its Mississippi plants. Labor activists say it’s the latest raid to target factories where immigrant workers have organized unions, fought back against discrimination or challenged unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
President Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, in a politically polarizing trip that followed last weekend’s mass shootings that killed a combined 32 people, including the Dayton gunman. During Trump’s first stop in Ohio, he met with medical workers at Miami Valley Hospital, posing for a group photo and grinning with two thumbs up. Outside, hundreds of protesters accused Trump of stoking white supremacist violence, chanting “Do something!” and “Hate not welcome here!” Later in the day, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump toured El Paso’s University Medical Center, where none of the eight survivors still receiving treatment agreed to meet with the president. Trump did meet with law enforcement personnel at an El Paso emergency operations center.
President Donald Trump: “We had an amazing day. As you know, we left Ohio. And the love, the respect for the office of the presidency, it was — I wish you could have been in there to see it.”
Meanwhile, El Paso police arrested a Trump supporter Wednesday as he sat outside an organizing space for immigrant activists, wearing blue latex gloves and brandishing a knife. Organizers with Casa Carmelita say police also recovered a loaded gun, ammunition and a bag of white powder from the man’s truck, which sported a large banner portraying Donald Trump as Rambo and bumper stickers for the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars. The man appears to be 21-year-old Thomas Bartram, who was profiled earlier on Wednesday by the Washington Examiner. Bartram told the paper he was an “open-carry kind of guy” at political rallies; a photo accompanying the article shows Bartram making what appears to be a white nationalist hand gesture.
Democratic presidential candidates are linking Trump’s racist rhetoric to massacres by white nationalists in Texas, California and elsewhere. Senator Elizabeth Warren said Wednesday Trump gave white supremacists aid and comfort. Beto O’Rourke said Trump made it “very clear” that he’s a white supremacist. Former Vice President Joe Biden said Trump had aligned himself with the “darkest forces in this nation.” New Jersey Senator Cory Booker spoke out during a visit to the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2015 a white nationalist gunman killed nine African-American worshipers.
Sen. Cory Booker: “White supremacy allows political leaders to promise to build the wall, while not building hospitals, schools or infrastructure critical for the success of all Americans.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has linked a State Department employee to violent and hateful white nationalist messages posted online under a pseudonym. The SPLC’s Hatewatch project found evidence that U.S. Bureau of Energy Resources foreign affairs officer Matthew Q. Gebert and his wife made regular posts glorifying Nazi soldiers, denying the Holocaust, advocating for ethnic cleansing, spreading anti-Semitic and anti-black conspiracy theories, and glorifying mass murderer Dylann Roof. Gebert also allegedly hosted well-known members of the white nationalist movement at his home in Virginia.
Fox News TV personality Tucker Carlson is under fire for insisting that white supremacy is a “hoax” and “not a real problem in America.” Carlson made the remarks on his program Tuesday evening.
Tucker Carlson: “The whole thing is a lie. If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns or problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America.”
Last month, media campaigners launched a campaign to pressure advertisers to boycott Tucker Carlson’s show, after he launched a racist attack on Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar. Carlson has previously said immigration makes America “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided,” and in 2006 called Iraqis “semi-literate primitive monkeys.”
Amnesty International has issued a travel warning for visitors to the United States, citing the threat of gun violence. In a statement Wednesday, Amnesty warned travelers, “Be extra vigilant at all times and be wary of the ubiquity of firearms among the population. Avoid places where large numbers of people gather, especially cultural events, places of worship, schools, and shopping malls. Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.”
The website Splinter is reporting new details about the sibling of Dayton, Ohio, shooter Connor Betts, who was the first victim in Sunday morning’s massacre that left nine people dead and 27 wounded. The sibling was initially identified as Connor Betts’ sister, Megan Betts, but a friend told Splinter Betts was a transgender man who went by the name Jordan Cofer, used male pronouns and appeared to be out to only a handful of people — and possibly not even his family. It’s not clear whether the gunman knew about Cofer’s gender identity, or whether it played a role in the shooting. In a statement, the National Center for Transgender Equality said, “Mass gun violence is an epidemic in this country and deserving of swift and immediate action by lawmakers at all levels of government. We join the nation in mourning for every community impacted by gun violence.” In 2019 alone, at least 10 trans people have been murdered in the U.S.
CNN reported Wednesday that the mother of the alleged El Paso shooter called police weeks before the shooting because she was concerned he had an “AK” type firearm. According to family attorneys, the mother did not identify herself or her son and was transferred to a public safety officer who told her that, based on her description, her son was legally allowed to purchase an assault rifle.
Puerto Rico’s former Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez was sworn in as governor on Wednesday, becoming the third person to hold the office in less than a week. This came just hours after the Puerto Rican Supreme Court overturned the swearing-in of Vázquez’s predecessor, Pedro Pierluisi. Pierluisi had been appointed as Puerto Rico’s secretary of state by disgraced Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who stepped down last Friday amid weeks of massive protests calling for his ouster. The Puerto Rican Senate sued to block Pierluisi’s appointment because he was sworn in without the Senate’s confirmation. Wanda Vázquez is also a member of the ruling political party and an ally of Rosselló. On Wednesday, Vázquez said she would accept the position — although it’s unclear for how long. Vázquez had been accused of ignoring allegations of corruption within the Rosselló administration. In the weeks leading up to her rise to the governorship, there were mounting protests demanding her resignation.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a massive bomb attack in the capital Kabul Wednesday that killed 14 people and injured 145 others. Wednesday morning’s truck bomb explosion tore through a police station, leveling the building and a nearby army recruitment center, and blowing out windows more than a kilometer away from the blast site. The latest attack came as the United Nations said 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded by fighting in July, making it the deadliest month in at least two years. This comes as U.S. officials are continuing talks in Qatar with the Taliban, aimed at bringing a halt to fighting in Afghanistan — which is now in its 19th year, the longest war in U.S. history.
In Massachusetts, the Boston Police Department is under fire for destroying the wheelchairs of homeless residents as part of “Operation Clean Sweep,” a campaign targeting Boston’s poorest citizens. Images posted on social media show officers ordering homeless people away from Boston Medical Center before loading three wheelchairs into the back of a garbage truck and crushing them. A local activist, Cassie Hurd, tweeted, “It was heartbreaking to speak with Jarrod, who lost not only his wheelchair, but everything he owns that he keeps in his backpack. He was hit by a car last Tuesday. City of Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh — this is inhumane & cruel.”