As the United Nations climate summit continues in Glasgow, Scotland, more than 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets over the weekend to demand more urgent and meaningful action to prevent a planetary catastrophe. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg called COP26 a “failure.” This is Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate addressing the crowds Saturday.
Vanessa Nakate: “Our leaders continue to open up new coal power plants, construct oil pipelines and frack gas, without paying attention and listening to the voices crying out for help because of the destruction that is happening, that leaders have failed to understand that we cannot eat coal, we cannot drink oil, and we cannot breathe so-called natural gas.”
Marches and rallies took place on every continent Saturday, as well as online, as part of the global movement. Meanwhile, an analysis by Global Witness found that hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists are flooding COP26, with over 100 coal, oil and gas companies and associated groups represented. If the fossil fuel lobby were a national delegation at COP, it would be by far the largest, according to the report.
The U.S. House passed the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Friday after months of delays, which President Biden hailed as a “monumental step.” The measure includes $550 billion in new investments for bridges, roads, airports, waterways, public transit and broadband infrastructure. Lawmakers, however, did not vote for the Democrats’ more expansive climate and social safety package, after conservative Democrats insisted on waiting for a cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, which could take days or even weeks. A group of six progressive House members voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, insisting its passage should have remained tied to a vote on the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion measure. The six are Congressmembers Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. Congresswoman Omar said in a statement, “Passing the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act first risks leaving behind child care, paid leave, health care, climate action, housing, education, and a road map to citizenship.” Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, expressed confidence both bills would eventually pass.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “We will have the votes to pass Build Back Better. And let me just say that when we do, it will be a phenomenal achievement for our country to say we’re not leaving anybody behind. This rule vote tonight is the beginning of the delivering of that promise. It is actually codifying that promise that our colleagues have made to us tonight.”
Meanwhile, as conservative lawmakers have worked to slash climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act, a new report finds at least 28 U.S. senators collectively hold up to $12.6 million in fossil fuel investments.
A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily blocked President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for large businesses, after a group of Republican attorneys general challenged the order. The mandate would require workers at companies with at least 100 employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly.
In Los Angeles, patrons 12 and older must now provide proof of vaccination before entering indoor restaurants, bars, movie theaters, malls, gyms, salons and other venues.
The U.S. is lifting entry restrictions today for fully vaccinated international travelers from a host of countries that had been barred because of the pandemic, including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of the European Union. Exceptions will be made for children and people arriving from certain countries where vaccines are not widely available. All travelers will also have to provide a negative COVID test.
In medical news, Pfizer said Friday its experimental antiviral COVID pill cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% in high-risk adults, and will ask the FDA and other regulators for approval. Last week, the U.K. became the first country to approve Merck’s oral antiviral drug.
In India, a fire killed at least 11 patients from a COVID ward at a hospital in the state of Maharashtra. It’s at least the third hospital fire in India in recent months that resulted in mass casualties.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt, after unknown assailants tried to fly explosive-laden drones into his home in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone overnight on Saturday. Iraqi authorities said two of the drones were shot down, but at least one other managed to strike the prime minister’s official residence, blowing in doors and windows. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which reportedly left 10 guards injured.
The attack followed large protests against the results of last month’s parliamentary elections, which saw candidates representing pro-Iran Shia militias lose ground. On Friday, Iraqi soldiers fired tear gas and live rounds at demonstrators, with reports of at least two people killed and dozens injured.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 13-year-old Palestinian boy Friday during protests against the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Mohammad Daadas died at a hospital after being shot in the stomach. According to Defense for Children International, at least 12 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank so far this year.
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega appears to have secured his victory in Sunday’s election after unleashing a months-long crackdown on his opposition. An early count shows Ortega receiving about three-quarters of the vote, with around half of the ballots still to be counted. He’s seeking a fourth term as president. Dozens of opposition figures, including seven presidential hopefuls, have been arrested since June. That prompted international outcry and sanctions from the U.S., European Union and other nations. This is an exiled Nicaraguan in San José, Costa Rica, at a protest denouncing Sunday’s election.
Noemi Pavón: “In Nicaragua, there are no elections. In Nicaragua, there is an electoral circus, where Ortega chose those who will accompany him in this political circus. He let his political allies go free — collaborationist parties, as we call them. He imprisoned those candidates who formed a genuine opposition.”
The US State Department has told all American citizens in Ethiopia they should leave “as soon as possible,” as the prospect of wide-scale conflict mounts. The embassies of the U.S. and other countries evacuated all nonessential personnel. This came days after Ethiopia’s government declared a state of emergency, after Tigrayan rebels backed by Oromo fighters marched toward Addis Ababa, seizing two strategic towns less than 250 miles from the Ethiopian capital. On Sunday, Ethiopian authorities organized pro-government rallies attended by tens of thousands of people who pledged to defend Addis Ababa from the rebels.
In Sudan, soldiers fired tear gas and arrested scores of people over the weekend as protesters opposed to the October 25 coup began a two-day strike and campaign of civil disobedience demanding a peaceful transition to civilian rule. The protests came as mediators from the Arab League traveled to Khartoum Saturday for talks with the military coup leaders.
The government of Sierra Leone has declared a national disaster and three days of national mourning after a fuel tanker exploded Friday in the capital Freetown, killing at least 100 people and wounding at least another 100. The blast happened after a vehicle struck a tanker in a street with heavy traffic. The victims reportedly included people who went to collect fuel as it leaked out of the tanker immediately following the crash.
In Poland, tens of thousands of people took to the streets Saturday to decry the death of a 30-year-old pregnant woman who died in September after she was refused treatment amid Poland’s near-total ban on abortions. Advocates say Izabela, known as Iza, is the first person to die as a result of the draconian anti-choice law, as doctors refused to abort a fetus that showed numerous defects, and delayed offering care to Iza until a fetal heartbeat could no longer be detected. This is an activist speaking at a rally in Warsaw Saturday.
Natalia: “'I don't want to die,’ Iza said to a woman in the hospital room. Iza did not receive help because she was pregnant, because the heart of the fetus was still beating. … Iza could have lived. There was enough to take care of her, her health and her life. Iza died on September 22nd from sepsis. Iza was a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend.”
In Georgia, the trial of three white men who chased down and shot dead Ahmaud Arbery last year kicked off with opening statements Friday. The jury was also shown police bodycam footage of the 25-year-old Black jogger after he had been killed. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski described how the three defendants — Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, his son Travis McMichael and William Bryan — chased Arbery for five minutes in their pickup trucks until he was “trapped like a rat.” This is prosecutor Dunikoski delivering her opening statement.
Linda Dunikoski: “All three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions — not on facts, not on evidence, on assumptions. And they made decisions, in their driveways, based on those assumptions, that took a young man’s life.”
In Houston, at least eight people were killed, including two high school students aged 14 and 16, at the Astroworld Festival Friday, after an audience of some 50,000 people rushed toward the stage, crushing those at the front. Hundreds more were injured. The chaos unfolded during a performance by the rapper Travis Scott — the festival’s headliner and one of its organizers. Scott finished his set and brought out rapper Drake as audience members begged security guards to stop the performance but were ignored. CNN reports the show continued for about 40 minutes after initial reports of audience members being injured. A police investigation is ongoing, and at least two lawsuits have been filed against Travis Scott, Drake, Live Nation Entertainment and others involved in the festival.