Representatives of over 40 nations have pledged to end the use of coal power. The deal, announced at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, did not include China and India, which account for two-thirds of worldwide coal consumption, nor did it include Australia, one of the world’s two biggest coal exporters. The Biden administration also refused to sign the pledge to stop burning coal, in an apparent concession to Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has resisted Biden’s push for U.S. investments in green energy.
Meanwhile, youth activists are taking to the streets of Glasgow today to demand world leaders do more to avert a climate catastrophe. The protest is being organized by Fridays for Future, which grew out of Greta Thunberg’s climate strike outside the Swedish parliament. We’ll go to the COP26 climate summit and the streets of Glasgow later in the broadcast.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled votes today on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Democrats’ Build Back Better Act. The votes come after months of negotiations and delays as Democrats whittled down their expansive social safety and climate package following myriad objections from conservative Democrats, many of these coming from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Those negotiations continued into Thursday as President Biden reportedly made calls to a number of Democratic lawmakers and as questions remained over several key issues, including immigration and the plan’s budget.
Youth climate activists confronted Senator Joe Manchin Thursday, demanding he back the Build Back Better Act and its provisions to combat the climate crisis.
Protesters: “We want to live! We want to live! We want to live! We want to live!”
Activists confronted Manchin multiple times, including blocking his Maserati as they demanded to know whether their futures were worth the profits he makes and chanting “We want to live!” as he slowly tried to drive through the crowd. The protests were led by five young people who earlier this week ended a two-week hunger strike demanding real action on the climate crisis from Washington. Click here to see our interview with one of those hunger strikers.
The White House has announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million workers. Beginning on January 4, workers at private sector companies that employ at least 100 people will have to be vaccinated against COVID or be tested weekly. Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings on the job and may have to pay for their own tests. A separate rule will require some 17 million U.S. healthcare workers to be vaccinated by January 4 — with no testing option.
The Biden administration has cut ties with vaccine maker Emergent Biosolutions, after it ruined millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at its factory in Baltimore, Maryland. The company will forgo $180 million of its $628 million contract to produce vaccines for the federal government.
Antiwar advocates are condemning the Biden administration for proposing a new $650 million missile sale to Saudi Arabia, warning the move will only trigger more death and suffering in Yemen. If approved by Congress, this would be the first major military sale to Saudi Arabia since President Biden took office and vowed the U.S. would end support for “offensive operations.” In response, CodePink tweeted, “Meanwhile, one Yemeni child continues to die every 10 minutes as a result of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi-led war on Yemen.”
In Chile, security forces shot dead two Indigenous Mapuche leaders during clashes Wednesday in the province of Arauco. The southern coastal region has been under a state of emergency since last month, with the Chilean government deploying 2,000 soldiers to the region as it attempts to suppress the Mapuche community and their fight to recover their ancestral lands.
The U.S. Congress has approved a new bipartisan sanctions bill targeting the Nicaraguan government ahead of the country’s presidential election Sunday and in response to President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on opposition. Ortega is seeking a fourth term. About 40 opposition figures — including seven presidential candidates — have been arrested since June. The legislation seeks to monitor and address human rights abuses and the obstruction of free elections by the Ortega government. Opponents say more U.S. sanctions will continue to harm the Nicaraguan people, and are demanding the U.S. government stop its catastrophic intervention in Nicaragua.
In The Hague, three leading press freedom groups this week launched an unprecedented tribunal charged with holding governments accountable for the rising violence against journalists. The People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists is being spearheaded by Free Press Unlimited, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. For the next six months, the tribunal will hold hearings on charges against the governments of Sri Lanka, Mexico and Syria, accused of failing to protect journalists and allowing their killers to act with impunity. This comes as UNESCO has released a new report that documents an 87% impunity rate in cases of murdered journalists between 2006 and 2020.
The Justice Department is suing Texas over its recently passed voter suppression law, saying it violates federal voting rights laws by targeting Texans of color, voters who don’t speak English and voters with disabilities.
In related news, the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature on Thursday approved extreme gerrymandered redistricting maps giving Republicans an outsized advantage that could last for the next decade. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who’s a Democrat, does not have veto power over redistricting plans, so any challenges to the new maps would likely go through the courts. In other news from North Carolina, dozens of Democratic state lawmakers staged a walkout earlier this week after the House swore in its newest lawmaker, Republican Donnie Loftis, who admitted he was present during the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
Bloomberg reports that Manhattan prosecutors have convened a second grand jury to continue probing the financial practices of Donald Trump’s real estate empire and to weigh possible criminal charges. A previous grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance indicted the Trump Organization and its former CFO, Allen Weisselberg.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, the judge overseeing the trial of teenage gunman Kyle Rittenhouse has removed a juror who was overheard joking about the shooting of Jacob Blake, an African American left paralyzed last year after he was shot by Kenosha police. Judge Bruce Schroeder agreed with prosecutors that the juror’s comments were disqualifying.
Judge Bruce Schroeder: “It is clear that the appearance of bias is present, and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case. … I think the best thing under the circumstances, I’m going to dismiss you from the jury, sir.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia, opening arguments begin today in the murder trial for the three white men who hunted down and killed Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery last year. Only a single Black juror was chosen; the 11 other jurors are white. After headlines, we’ll speak with Benjamin Crump, attorney for Ahmaud Arbery’s family.
Oklahama’s Pardon and Parole Board has recommended clemency for Julius Jones, an African American man sentenced to die for a 1999 murder he says he did not commit. Calls are mounting for Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to halt Jones’s execution, scheduled for November 18.
Meanwhile, a Texas judge has denied a request to grant a new murder trial to Rodney Reed, an African American prisoner sentenced to death by an all-white jury in 1998 for a crime he’s always denied committing. Lawyers say there’s compelling evidence that another man may be responsible for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old white woman. You can see our coverage of both death penalty cases, of Julius Jones and Rodney Reed, at democracynow.org.
In labor news, striking Alabama coal miners returned to New York City this week to bring their protest to the offices of hedge fund BlackRock, the largest shareholder of Warrior Met Coal. Six rallygoers were arrested during a peaceful sit-in protest. One thousand members of the United Mine Workers of America have been on strike for over seven months. This is union leader Brian Sanson.
Brian Sanson: “The same executives ran the company into bankruptcy, ran it into the ground; bought nonunion mines that lost millions of dollars; misled investors; cut benefits off to 2,500 retirees; cheated the pension plan out of a billion dollars; cut workers’ wages by $6 an hour; eliminated future healthcare, future pensions for these workers; and all while asking — and getting — bonuses from the bankruptcy court.”
Meanwhile, 34,000 Kaiser Permanente health workers on the West Coast have authorized a strike starting November 15, unless their demands for fair pay and staffing are met.