West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin continues to thwart Democrats’ attempts to pass a historic, 10-year reconciliation package that would vastly expand the social safety net and combat the climate crisis. Manchin told the White House he opposes a key provision to replace coal- and gas-fired power plants with renewable energy sources, a central pillar of the Build Back Better Act’s climate plans.
Senator Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator. He has also earned millions from coal companies he created in the 1980s and that his son now runs. As Manchin fights plans to curb the worst effects of the climate crisis, recently released data show his home state of West Virginia is more vulnerable to worsening floods than anywhere else in the United States.
This comes as Indigenous leaders and climate activists capped off a week-long protest in D.C. Friday with a march on the U.S. Capitol and a sit-in on Pennsylvania Avenue and called again on President Biden to declare a climate emergency. Over 90 activists were arrested, bringing the total number of arrests during the week of action to 655.
In more news about the stalled reconciliation package, Axios is reporting Joe Manchin told the White House the plan’s child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and an income cap around $60,000 per family. The expanded credit, which was passed in March in the American Rescue Plan, has lifted millions of U.S. children out of poverty. Studies show extending the credit beyond 2021 would cut child poverty even further, reducing it another 40%. On Friday, Biden touted the Build Back Better Act’s provisions for working families while visiting a child care center in Connecticut.
President Joe Biden: “How can we compete in the world if millions of Americans’ parents, especially moms, can’t be part of the workforce because they can’t afford the cost of child care, or elder care, I might add? Elder care.”
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously approved booster shots for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Friday. The second shot can be given as early as two months after the first dose. Federal regulators will now meet to decide whether to greenlight the panel’s recent recommendations on J&J and Moderna boosters, as well as whether people should mix and match vaccines. Over 100 million people could be eligible for booster shots by the end of the week.
In international news, Britain is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, with over 45,000 new infections reported on Sunday. That’s the highest daily number in the U.K. since mid-July.
Russia is setting new daily records for cases and deaths, recording over 1,000 fatalities for the first time over the weekend.
In Australia, the city of Melbourne is ending its lockdown this week after meeting its target of reaching a 70% vaccination rate. Melbourne has been under lockdown longer than any other city in the world. In neighboring New Zealand, the country’s largest city, Auckland, will extend its strict lockdown for another two weeks.
The U.S. has offered to pay compensation to the families of 10 Afghan civilians who were killed in the August drone attack in Kabul during the final days of the U.S. occupation. Seven of the victims were children. The Pentagon initially said the strike averted an imminent threat by the Islamic State, and made other false claims about the attack. The Department of Defense, which did not specify the amount of the co-called condolence payments, also said it would assist family members who wanted to relocate to the U.S.
In other news from Afghanistan, the death toll from Friday’s explosions at a mosque in Kandahar has risen to at least 47. The Islamic State Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the attack. One local man lost loved ones at last week’s attack, as well as the mosque attack in Kunduz one week earlier.
Kandahar resident: “For how long should we live with blood and grief? What is our crime? Please share this with the entire world. We are Shiites. We are Afghans. What crime did we commit that we are offering so many sacrifices? A week ago, my brother got martyred in Kunduz. We did not go outside to earn money, but we came here for prayers this Friday. My brothers got martyred. Their grandchildren got injured and uncle got injured. Another brother is injured. For how long? For God’s sake!”
In more news from Afghanistan, a government spokesperson said girls will soon be allowed to return to secondary schools, after being told to stay home following the Taliban takeover.
In the United Kingdom, a man fatally stabbed longtime British Member of Parliament David Amess Saturday as he met with constituents at a church east of London. The Metropolitan Police said they have arrested and charged a suspect in the killing, which they described as a terrorist incident. It was the first murder of a British MP since 2016, when anti-Brexit politician Jo Cox was fatally shot and stabbed by a far-right white supremacist.
In Haiti, the U.S.-based group Christian Aid Ministries says 17 of its members and their family members, including five children, were abducted by a criminal gang Saturday as they were leaving an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. One of the members was Canadian, the rest U.S. citizens. They were based in Titanyen, just north of Port-au-Prince. Human rights groups warn kidnappings in Haiti have tripled since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a devastating earthquake in August.
In labor news, the union representing television and film production crews has reached a tentative agreement with an association of Hollywood producers, averting a strike of some 60,000 workers just hours before a midnight deadline Saturday. The tentative deal brings members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees higher pay, longer breaks and better healthcare and pension benefits. Some union members are opposing ratification of the contract, saying it doesn’t go far enough to prevent short turnarounds between work assignments.
Immigrant justice advocates on Saturday walked out of a virtual meeting with the Biden administration to protest its plans to resume the contested Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, by mid-November. Before leaving the meeting, advocates read a statement that said, “It is not possible to make the inhumane humane, the unfair fair, or to breathe life into a deadly program. We refuse to be complicit in deterrence-based border policies.” The move comes after the Supreme Court in August revived “Remain in Mexico.” The program forced some 70,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico in often extremely dangerous conditions.
The Financial Times reports China has test-fired a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in a launch that reportedly caught U.S. intelligence by surprise. China’s Foreign Ministry denied the report. This comes as the Biden administration and its allies have taken a more aggressive military posture toward China. Last week, the U.S. and Canada sent warships through the Taiwan Strait, drawing condemnation from the Chinese military, which called the ships a threat to peace and stability in the region. That followed the incursion of about 150 Chinese warplanes into airspace claimed by Taiwan in early October.
In India, at least 26 people have died in massive landslides and floods triggered by days of torrential rains in the state of Kerala. Houses and bridges — some that connected to small villages — were also washed away. Some 180 rescue camps have been set up for the more than 8,000 people who’ve been evacuated so far.
An Argentine judge has indicted a former Spanish minister who served during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco on four counts of homicide. The judge also ordered the immediate arrest of Martín Villa, who lives in Madrid, but said it was unlikely to happen. Villa is accused of playing a key role in the brutal acts committed by Franco’s right-wing regime, which ruled Spain until 1975 when Franco died. Tens of thousands of people were tortured, raped, killed and disappeared. Yet in 1977 Spain passed an amnesty law that pardoned crimes committed by the Franco dictatorship. Survivors and loved ones of Franco’s victims have attempted to override the legislation by bringing many of these cases to courts in Argentina under international law.
In Brazil, two Indigenous Yanomami children drowned last week in a river where illegal gold miners operate. Yanomami leaders said the children, who were 7 and 5 years old, were sucked into a dredger machine as they were bathing in the Parima River. Brazilian officials alleged the boys were carried away by the river’s currents. Following the incident, Yanomami leaders, who for long have resisted illegal mining, deforestation and the destruction of their territory, called on far-right President Jair Bolsonaro to kick out the miners who’ve invaded Yanomami land — the largest Indigenous reservation in Brazil. According to Indigenous leaders, an estimated 20,000 illegal miners are currently in the region, polluting rivers with mercury that is used to separate gold from sand.
In Puerto Rico, over 4,000 people took to the streets of San Juan Friday to protest ongoing and worsening power outages and increases in energy costs following the U.S.-imposed privatization of the electricity grid.
Protesters: “¡LUMA afuera! ¡LUMA afuera! ¡LUMA afuera! ¡LUMA afuera!”
Demonstrators chanted “Get out, LUMA!” as they shut down traffic on a main highway. LUMA, a U.S. and Canadian company, took over Puerto Rico’s transmission and distribution of power in June. Residents of the island say the power cuts have damaged appliances and can be life-threatening to those who rely on certain medical machines. Earlier this month, California Congressmember Katie Porter grilled LUMA CEO Wayne Stensby during a virtual hearing.
Rep. Katie Porter: “How many blackouts have been reported since LUMA took over on June 1?”
Wayne Stensby: “The system has a very large number of outages, Congresswoman, both before and after.”
Rep. Katie Porter: “Can you count them? Is it so big you can’t even keep track of them all?”
Wayne Stensby: “There are outages every single day.”
Congressmembers Porter and Raúl Grijalva have requested LUMA turn over multiple documents by the end of this week.
Former President Donald Trump is expected to sit for a video deposition today in a case that alleges his security guards assaulted protesters outside New York’s Trump Tower in 2015. At least 10 civil cases are pending against Trump.
In Georgia, jury selection starts today in the trial of three white men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man who was chased down and shot to death while out for a jog. Over the weekend, community members and Ahmaud Arbery’s family gathered outside of the Glynn County Courthouse for a pretrial rally. Another rally is planned for today. Last month, former prosecutor Jackie Johnson was indicted and arrested for interfering with the investigation and trying to prevent the arrest of two of Arbery’s killers — Greg McMichael, a former police officer, as well as his son Travis.
Colin Powell, former top U.S. general and the first African American secretary of state, has died from COVID-19. He was 84 years old. Powell, who was reportedly fully vaccinated, died at Walter Reed National Medical Center. He served as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005 under George W. Bush. Powell defended faulty intelligence before the U.N. in a push to invade Iraq, which he later called a “blot” on his record.