Ten 2020 hopefuls took to the stage in New York City Wednesday night for a climate town hall hosted by CNN. In a seven-hour marathon, the candidates discussed their climate plans, the fossil fuel industry, the Green New Deal, fracking, carbon neutrality and more. Climate activists had been pushing for an official debate on the climate crisis, but the Democratic National Committee rejected the proposal. In one of the night’s most memorable moments, Joe Biden was asked about his plans to attend a fundraiser hosted by fossil fuel executive Andrew Goldman today despite signing the “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge. This is Anderson Cooper and Biden.
Anderson Cooper: “There is a fundraiser tomorrow night. It’s given by a guy named Andrew Goldman. He does hedge funds and stuff, but he also has a company called Western LNG, and their biggest project, which I think was announced in like 2018, is a floating liquefied facility for natural gas. It’s off the coast of British Columbia, and it’s going to provide Canadian gas to parts of northern Asia. So, what Andrew is saying is, if you’re going to a fundraiser that’s given in part by this guy who has a company that is pulling up natural gas, are you the right guy to go after these people?”
Joe Biden: “Well, I didn’t realize he does that. I was told — if you look at the SEC filings, he’s not listed as one of those executives. That’s what we look at: the SEC filings, who are those executives.”
Later in the evening, Senator Elizabeth Warren was questioned by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo about whether, as president, she would mandate the type of light bulbs Americans use.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry hopes we’re all talking about. That’s what they want us to talk about: This is your problem. They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws and around your cheeseburgers, when 70% of the pollution, of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air, comes from three industries, and we can set our targets and say, by 2028, 2030 and 2035, no more.”
Those three industries are buildings, electric power and oil, Warren said. And Bernie Sanders pledged to reject nuclear energy and invest in wind, solar and geothermal instead. At the town hall, he took aim at military spending.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Maybe, just maybe, instead of spending a trillion-and-a-half dollars every single year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we pool those resources and we work together against our common enemy, which is climate change.”
We’ll host a roundtable discussion about the climate town hall after headlines.
In Britain, the showdown between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Parliament continues to ratchet up as Johnson suffered another major blow Wednesday when lawmakers voted to block a no-deal Brexit. Later in the day, members of Parliament rejected Johnson’s bid to call a snap election. Boris Johnson is the first British prime minister to lose their first three votes in Parliament — in Johnson’s case, the triple defeat occurred in under 24 hours.
Amid the Brexit chaos, members of Parliament applauded Sikh Labour lawmaker Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi as he condemned Boris Johnson as racist. He called on Johnson to apologize for telling a newspaper last year Muslim women who wear hijabs look like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers.” Johnson refused to apologize.
After ravaging the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian is continuing its path northward up the southeastern U.S. coast as a Category 3 storm. At least 73,000 people in Georgia and South Carolina were without power this morning. Officials in the Carolinas are warning of powerful storm surges and flooding, and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to follow any evacuation orders they receive.
The death toll in the Bahamas reached at least 20 people Wednesday as the nation now grapples with ongoing rescue efforts and the immense task of recovery after large swaths of the islands were left utterly decimated. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the unprecedented hurricane had caused “generational devastation.”
Meanwhile, President Trump doubled down on his false claim that Alabama would be hit by Hurricane Dorian. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Alabama would be hit, which was swiftly corrected by the National Weather Service. While speaking to reporters from the Oval Office Wednesday, Trump held up a map which appeared to show an altered projection of Dorian’s path to include Alabama. The hurricane’s path was extended with a black marker. Altering official government weather forecasts is illegal. The president and the White House refused to say who altered the map he showed.
Yahoo News is reporting the FBI has been monitoring groups protesting U.S. immigration policy at the border. The FBI Phoenix office has reportedly been tracking the social media accounts of targeted groups and sent an intelligence memo to other law enforcement agencies saying the protesters were armed and “using lethal force.” But almost all the evidence presented in their report involved nonviolent activity.
In more news from Arizona, volunteers with the aid groups No More Deaths, Border Angels and People Helping People in the Border Zone found the human remains this weekend of an estimated seven people who died while trying to cross the Arizona-Mexico border. According to No More Deaths, human remains of at least 8,000 migrants have been recovered along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2000. Click here to see our recent special report from Arizona, “Death and Resistance on the U.S.-Mexico Border.”
The State Department confirmed it offered millions of dollars to the captain of an Iranian oil tanker to divert the vessel to a country that would be able to seize it on behalf of the United States. The Financial Times revealed Wednesday State Department official Brian Hook sent an email that read, “I am writing with good news,” before attempting to bribe the captain of the Adrian Darya 1. The tanker became the focus of growing diplomatic tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the summer after it was impounded by British authorities in Gibraltar in July on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria. It was released last month after Gibraltar rejected a U.S. request to keep detaining the ship.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the report by tweeting, “Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself. Sounds very similar to the Oval Office invitation I received a few weeks back.”
The news came as the U.S. imposed yet more sanctions on Iran Wednesday, blacklisting an oil shipping network. A senior Trump official also indicated the administration would likely reject a French proposal to partially relaunch Iranian oil sales in an effort to salvage parts of the Iran nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday removed all limits on nuclear research and development.
In Mexico, one of the primary suspects in the 2014 disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students from a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, has been acquitted. Gildardo López Astudillo, who was believed to have ordered the kidnapping as the head of an organized crime unit, was released after a judge determined he had been tortured to obtain evidence. International experts say the Mexican military and federal police also played a role in the disappearance. Mexico’s undersecretary of human rights, Alejandro Encinas, condemned the court’s decision.
Alejandro Encinas: “As well as setting a precedent so that acquittal sentences can be established for the others involved, it’s strengthening a trend that has already been registered, with the freedom of other detainees in the case of Ayotzinapa.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to challenge the decision to release López Astudillo. López Obrador established a truth and justice commission to investigate the Ayotzinapa case in January, shortly after taking office. The commission has not yet uncovered any further information about what happened to the students.
Starting next year, Denmark will become the first country to ban PFAS chemicals from food packaging. The so-called forever chemicals are linked to cancer, high cholesterol and decreased fertility, and they do not break down in the environment.
Meanwhile, Germany announced Wednesday it plans to ban glyphosate. The chemical pesticide is found in the popular Roundup weedkiller, manufactured by Monsanto, and has been found by the World Health Organization to lead to cancer. It has also been found to wipe out insect populations crucial for ecosystems and pollination of food crops. The ban is set to go into effect by the end of 2023.
The Trump administration is rolling back plans that would have seen American consumers start using more energy-efficient light bulbs starting next year. The Energy Department’s announced move reverses legislation passed by Congress in 2007 to phase out inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs, replacing them with LEDs or fluorescent light bulbs to meet new efficiency standards. Jason Hartke of the Alliance to Save Energy said, “Wasting energy with inefficient light bulbs isn’t just costly for homes and businesses, it’s terrible for our climate.”
Regulators have fined YouTube over $170 million for violating the privacy of children by collecting their personal data without parental consent. The Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general say YouTube, which is owned by Google, illegally gathered and used the data to target underage users with advertising. The record settlement must now be approved by a judge.
As investigations continue following the deadly mass shooting in West Texas Saturday, authorities say the gunman was barred from purchasing firearms because he was deemed mentally unfit. He failed a firearms background check in 2014. Investigators believe they may have identified the individual who made a private sale of the gun used in the rampage, which killed seven people and injured at least 25 others.
The survivor of a rape that sparked widespread outrage in 2016 due to the leniency of the punishment for the rapist, Brock Turner, has revealed her identity as she prepares for the publication of her new memoir, “Know My Name,” later this month. Chanel Miller’s name was unknown until this week, but her words were heard by millions thanks to her powerful victim impact statement. This is a part of that statement, as read by Miller on “60 Minutes.”
Chanel Miller: “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me. In newspapers, my name was 'unconscious, intoxicated woman.' Ten syllables and nothing more than that. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity, to relearn that this is not all that I am, that I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the all-American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty.”
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, a white man, to a 6-month prison term for sexually assaulting Miller while she was unconscious behind a dumpster. Turner only served three of those months. Judge Persky was recalled by voters in 2018.
Noted sociologist and economic historian Immanuel Wallerstein died over the weekend at the age of 88. Wallerstein was best known for his world systems analysis, in which he contends all political and social structures in the modern world operate under the capitalist order. Wallerstein emphasized the need for alternative, more humane systems. In 2010, Wallerstein sat down for a conversation with the late civil rights activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.
Immanuel Wallerstein: “If you want to understand right-wing populism in the United States, or indeed in Europe or in other parts of the world today, understand it in terms of people panicking. They don’t know how to protect themselves. They do see that they’re in a shaky situation, and they lash out at whatever. That leads to xenophobia and all sorts of — you find the enemy where it doesn’t solve any of your problems, but it makes you feel better for a few minutes, until the next time.”
That was Immanuel Wallerstein speaking in 2010. He passed away this weekend at the age of 88.