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The United States and China on Wednesday pledged to work together to slow greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry made the surprise announcement at the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
John Kerry: “The United States and China have no shortage of differences, but on climate — on climate, cooperation is the only way to get this job done.”
Climate justice groups cautiously welcomed the commitment but said far more action is needed to avert the most catastrophic effects of global heating. Meanwhile, six major automakers and 30 governments agreed Wednesday to phase out gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks by 2040. But Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan-Renault and Hyundai-Kia refused to sign the pledge, as did the U.S., China and Japan.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, defense lawyers called Kyle Rittenhouse to the witness stand Wednesday, as the teenage gunman faces homicide and weapons charges for fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020. Rittenhouse broke down in tears while on the stand. He admitted to using deadly force, but claimed self-defense and denied intending to kill his victims during cross-examination.
Meanwhile, the trial judge, Bruce Schroeder, continued to make headlines after he repeatedly sided with the defense, while excoriating prosecutors for asking questions he said were out of bounds. At another point the trial was interrupted when Judge Schroeder’s cellphone began ringing.
Corey Chirafisi: “The actions that I had talked about — [phone ringing] — were done in bad faith.”
The judge’s ringtone was the song “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood, which is the opening song played at Donald Trump’s rallies. Rittenhouse has attended at least one Trump rally, and Trump has publicly defended Rittenhouse. We’ll have much more on the trial after headlines.
In Ethiopia, the U.N. says 72 drivers who work for the World Food Programme have been detained in the country’s northern Afar region, one day after the U.N. reported a group of staffers had been arrested in Addis Ababa. Rights groups are warning detentions are targeting ethnic Tigrayans, with prominent community members, including a bank CEO and religious figures, being rounded up by authorities. This comes after the government declared a state of emergency and amid a mounting humanitarian crisis and threat of all-out war.
In Sudan, a court has ordered internet providers to restore service that has been down since the October 25 military coup. This comes as Sudan’s main political coalition has rejected negotiations with the military coup leaders. This is a spokesperson for the group Forces of Freedom and Change, which formed in 2019 during the popular uprising that led to the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir.
Alwathiq Elbereir: “Internet services are being cut in order to hide the immense amount of legal and humanitarian violations taking place. … We stress that we will not meet the military. Our position is unequivocally clear: There will be no negotiations and no compromise with the undertakers of the coup.”
Polish forces have detained hundreds more migrants and refugees on the Belarus border and sent another 3,000 soldiers to the area as the crisis there intensifies. At least seven people have died in recent days, as some 4,000 migrants and refugees face freezing temperatures and lack access to food and medical attention. Most of the refugees are from the Middle East, Afghanistan and African countries. European leaders threatened to increase sanctions on Belarus over the violent crackdown. This is a Syrian migrant describing an attack by a Belarusian soldier.
Youssef Atallah: “He kicked me in the face with his foot, so I passed out for about a couple minutes; broke my nose and broke a bone in here. And my eyes are swelled like that.”
Polish officials have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of weaponizing the refugee crisis in retaliation for European Union sanctions against Belarus.
Chile’s lower house of Congress has voted to impeach President Sebastián Piñera for violating Chile’s tax and bribery laws. Lawmakers cited irregularities in the 2010 sale of a mining company partially owned by Piñera’s children. The revelations emerged in the Pandora Papers leak. Chile’s Senate will now take up the impeachment motion, which would require two-thirds of senators to pass.
F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, has died at the age of 85. As a government minister, de Klerk defended and enforced segregation and white minority rule. But in 1990, facing intense pressure both within South Africa and from the international anti-apartheid movement, then-President de Klerk dismantled the apartheid system and ordered the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. Mandela became the nation’s first Black president in 1994, and de Klerk served as his vice president. The pair were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
A federal judge has approved a landmark $626 million settlement for residents of Flint, Michigan, who were poisoned by lead in their drinking water. In 2014, Flint’s unelected emergency manager, appointed by then-Governor Rick Snyder, switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River as a cost-saving measure. The move was linked to at least 12 deaths and widespread lead poisoning in residents, including children, in the majority-Black city. The settlement makes money available to all of Flint’s children, as well as adults who can show an injury, some business owners and anyone who paid for polluted water. Plaintiffs’ attorney Trachelle Young hailed the settlement.
Trachelle Young: “Today is a day where there is actual accountability for the Flint residents. … This is really a result because we, as a community, stood up. We, as community activists; we, as pastors and ministers of justice; we, as residents, as concerned citizens; we, as parents — we came together and said that we are not going to sit here and allow them to treat us as if we don’t matter.”
In aviation news, Boeing has admitted responsibility for the 2019 crash of its 737 MAX Ethiopian Airlines jet and has agreed to compensate the victims’ families. The crash killed all 157 passengers and crew on board and came just months after another 737 MAX crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. The disasters led to the jets being grounded for 20 months. Boeing acknowledged that there were safety issues in the 737 MAX, and said it was accepting full liability.
The Justice Department announced a lawsuit Wednesday charging ride-hailing app Uber with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act for charging fees to passengers who need more time to enter a car due to a disability. Uber’s software automatically adds an additional fee for people who take more than two minutes to enter a vehicle after a driver arrives for a pickup.
New York has announced it will close six prisons next year as the state’s prisoner population dropped to its lowest level since 1984. In related news, the advocacy group Release Aging People in Prison, or RAPP Campaign, held multiple rallies Tuesday to urge Governor Kathy Hochul to dramatically increase the number of prisoners granted clemency. The group says that 16,000 clemency applications have been filed since 2011, yet former Governor Andrew Cuomo commuted just 41 sentences. This is an advocate reading the words of Kim Brown, a prisoner at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She has been behind bars for around half her life.
Roslyn Smith: “'Blacks are disproportionately sentenced to exponentially higher sentences than our white counterparts. And until the legislation or governor does something to change that, justice will never be served. The last three women to receive clemency were all white women. Two of them served less time than me.'”