Congress has approved a bill to extend federal funding into early December, averting a government shutdown just hours before a midnight deadline Thursday. The stopgap measure won the support of enough Republicans to pass only after Democrats agreed to drop a provision that would suspend a limit on the national debt. Without action on the debt ceiling, the U.S. could default on its loans in mid-October.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a planned vote Thursday on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill amid fractures in the Democratic Party over the Build Back Better Act, a 10-year, $3.5 trillion package to expand the social safety net and combat climate change. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin told reporters Thursday he’d only accept a 10-year, $1.5 trillion social safety net bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin: “My top line has been 1.5, because I believe in my heart that what we can do and what the needs we have right now and what we can afford to do, without basically changing our whole society to an entitlement mentality.”
Progressive Democrats say they won’t vote for an infrastructure bill until Senate Democrats move on a reconciliation bill containing the Biden administration’s top legislative priorities. Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted, “By allowing one bill to advance without the Build Back Better Act alongside it, we leave behind childcare, paid leave, health care, climate action, education, and a roadmap to citizenship. We’re not going to leave working people, families, and our communities behind.”
Immigrant justice advocates are condemning a federal appeals court’s ruling that will allow the Biden administration to continue mass expelling asylum seekers without due process under Title 42, citing the pandemic as justification. Last month, a lower court issued a temporary ban on the Trump-era policy, which was set to go into effect today. Attorney Lee Gelernt, who led the ACLU’s lawsuit against Title 42, said, “If the administration is making the political calculation that if it acts inhumanely now it can act more humanely later, that calculation is misguided and of little solace to the families that are being sent to Haiti or brutalized in Mexico right now.” This comes as CBS News reports the Biden administration has deported at least 5,400 Haitian asylum seekers using Title 42 in the last 11 days. Meanwhile, four United Nations agencies, including the Human Rights Office, are urging countries to stop deporting Haitian asylum seekers without first properly assessing their claims, a violation of international law.
A new study in The Lancet finds that over half of all police killings in the U.S. go unreported in government data. That represents over 17,000 deaths at the hands of the police since 1980. Police killings of Black Americans is the most undercounted, at a rate of 60%. The police also kill Black people at a disproportionate rate that’s 3.5 times higher than white people.
In Lebanon, survivors of last year’s devastating blast at the Port of Beirut took to the streets to protest the recent suspension of an investigation into the deadly incident. Prior to the suspension, top officials moved to dismiss the lead investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, from the case. This is Karine Hitti, who lost both her husband and her brother in the explosion.
Karine Hitti: “The judge is getting threatened by politicians and by everyone he is trying to accuse. I don’t know how the suspects have the right to submit a complaint to doubt the judge’s impartiality. They are suspects. They should be investigated and have to prove they are innocent.”
In El Salvador, thousands of people took to the streets of the capital San Salvador for another round of protests against President Nayib Bukele and El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as an official currency. Critics warn of drastic fluctuations in cryptocurrency’s value and worry about the economic impacts on poorer communities. This is one of the protesters.
Carlos Garcia: “We do not agree with the bitcoin law. We want the law to be removed because it’s money laundering in our country. Also, regarding the constitution, we have a good constitution. The problem is that Bukele wants to be reelected, and he wants to change the constitution.”
Opponents are accusing Bukele of being a dictator. This comes as last month Salvadoran Supreme Court judges, who were recently appointed by Bukele’s political party, ruled that the president could seek a second consecutive term — which until now has been prohibited in El Salvador.
In New York, environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger is being sentenced today after over two years under house arrest on pretrial misdemeanor charges. He has been targeted by Chevron ever since he successfully sued the oil giant in Ecuador on behalf of 30,000 Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral land. This week, U.N. human rights experts called Donziger’s house arrest arbitrary and in violation of international law, calling for his immediate release and reparations.
Animal rights defenders have released shocking footage taken inside a slaughterhouse run by California’s largest poultry producer. A videographer with the group Direct Action Everywhere used miniature infrared cameras to document workers slamming live chickens onto a concrete floor, failing to properly inspect birds, failing to stun birds before their throats were cut, and other abuses. Activists say Foster Farms workers are underpaid, ordered to remain on their feet for hours without breaks, and are forced by managers to work at a breakneck speed that prevents the humane treatment of animals.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is restoring migratory bird protections that were gutted during the final days of Trump’s presidency. A Trump administration rule change in January allowed companies that kill birds to largely avoid punishment under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Interior Department says that rule change would have led to hundreds of millions of bird deaths per year.
This week the Biden administration said another 23 plant and animal species should be listed as extinct, including the ivory-billed woodpecker and several types of freshwater mussels. It’s the latest example of an unprecedented loss of biodiversity due to climate change and humans’ encroachment on natural habitats.
In Italy, thousands of youth climate activists marched through the streets of Milan today demanding world leaders meet their pledges to the Paris Climate Agreement and keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The protest came at the end of a three-day climate conference, ahead of the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. On Thursday, several youth climate delegates were briefly detained by police after they held a peaceful protest ahead of a speech by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. This is Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate.
Vanessa Nakate: “I and other activists will continue speaking, will continue striking and will continue demanding for climate justice. And there is no climate justice without acknowledging that loss and damage is here with us now.”
In labor news, today marks 13 days since dozens of New York taxi drivers began a round-the-clock protest outside City Hall demanding relief for thousands of drivers who’ve been devastated by massive debt — accrued largely due to the artificially inflated cost of taxi medallions. Data from 2019 shows medallion owner-drivers — who are mostly immigrants — owe nearly $500,000 on average, even though the market value for medallions has drastically collapsed. Drivers are also denouncing the mental health impacts triggered by the financial ruin. At least nine have died by suicide.
In Chicago, workers at El Milagro tortilla plants led another protest Thursday against low pay, staff shortages and abusive working conditions, including intimidation and sexual harassment. The latest action comes after El Milagro management ignored workers’ demands to meet and discuss their grievances. At a press conference yesterday, the workers announced they have also filed a formal labor complaint against El Milagro. Last week workers walked off the job to denounce poor treatment.
In Canada, a judge dismissed a challenge by the Trudeau administration to a ruling that found the government underfunded First Nations children’s services. The Canadian government was ordered to pay billions in compensation to the affected children, many of whom were forced into foster care as they had to leave their homes to access government services.
This comes as Canada marked its first-ever National Day of Truth and Reconciliation Thursday in honor of the lost children and survivors of government- and church-run schools for Indigenous children. Gatherings took place across Canada, including in Toronto.
Ieniente Cook: “Every single day, all of us are just fighting to get our culture back, and it was unfair of us to lose it. … We should be living our lives on our reservations and on our land and getting our land back. And it’s hard seeing all these people just protesting something like this, a genocide. We’re protesting a genocide, and it’s emotional, very emotional.”