The White House convened a virtual summit on the climate crisis Thursday, with 40 leaders representing the world’s major economies pledging cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. President Biden said the U.S. would slash emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade — nearly double the target set by the Obama administration six years ago.
President Joe Biden: “This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on wealthy nations to do more to help poorer countries face the climate crisis. He repeated a pledge to cut emissions in China, which recently passed the U.S. as the world’s biggest carbon polluter.
President Xi Jinping: “China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.”
The climate summit continues today with a focus, in part, on the role of big business. Speakers include billionaires Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates.
On Capitol Hill, the House Subcommittee on the Environment heard testimony Thursday on the role of fossil fuel subsidies in preventing action on the climate crisis. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg spoke of a widening gap between what countries are doing and what actually needs to be done in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Native American lawyer and environmental activist Tara Houska said Indigenous people should be front and center in any debate over the climate.
Tara Houska: “The reality is, is that we’re just 5% of the population globally, Indigenous people, and we hold 80% of its biodiversity. We’re the last holders of the sacred places all over Mother Earth. Despite this, our voices are almost entirely absent from the table of solving climate crisis. … We have to protect communities that are at risk, like my own. We are the people who are impacted first and worst by climate crisis, yet we are the people who often contribute the least to climate crisis.”
New York City has filed a lawsuit charging some of the world’s biggest oil companies with systematically and intentionally deceiving New Yorkers about the dangers posed by their products. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday the industry has for decades spread false advertising that violates New York’s consumer protection laws.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “There’s been a consistent effort by the fossil fuel industry to tell us they’re making things safe and green, when it just isn’t true. So, the city of New York will be filing a lawsuit against Big Oil in state Supreme Court. We’re specifically targeting Exxon, Shell, BP and the American Petroleum Institute, which is the trade group for Big Oil.”
South Africa has resumed use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, ending a temporary pause that followed reports of extremely rare but severe blood clotting in patients. Fewer than one in a million recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s shot developed the disorder.
Here in the United States, a panel of vaccine experts meets today to discuss whether to recommend resuming use of the shots.
Daily coronavirus infections continue to hold steady at a relatively high level in the U.S., with 67,000 new infections and more than 900 deaths reported Thursday.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms pregnant people have an elevated risk of complications and death from COVID-19. The disease raised the risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth and ICU admissions, with pregnant patients 22 times more likely to die than those who did not become infected.
The House voted Thursday to make Washington, D.C., the 51st U.S. state. The new state would be called “Washington, Douglass Commonwealth,” after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and would exclude federal buildings and monuments. The measure would give over 700,000 D.C. residents one representative in the House and two senators. The Biden administration has backed the bid for statehood, but it faces a stiff battle in the evenly divided Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass.
The Senate passed a bill targeting anti-Asian hate crimes, which have seen an exponential rise since the start of the pandemic. The measure would create a Justice Department position focused on the issue which would review hate crime reports. A single “no” vote was cast by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, the Trump ally who helped incite the deadly January 6 insurrection. Hawley called the bill “too broad.” The bill will be voted on by the House before heading to Biden’s desk.
The House passed the NO BAN Act Wednesday, limiting a president’s ability to impose discriminatory entry bans like the Muslim travel ban ordered by President Trump in 2017. This is Indiana Congressmember André Carson.
Rep. André Carson: “We knew that this was never about keeping America safe. It was all about enshrining Islamophobia and xenophobia as the law of the land. Though President Biden lifted these bans, our bills will ensure history does not repeat itself in this way again.”
The House also passed legislation ensuring U.S. citizens and residents who are detained at ports of entry have access to legal counsel.
A new report finds the government of Haiti may be complicit in crimes against humanity. Harvard University Law School researchers found Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has sanctioned attacks against civilians in impoverished neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, with targeted assassinations and threats against government critics carried out with impunity. This comes as the Biden administration has deported more Haitians in a few weeks than President Trump did in all of 2020.
A group of Democratic congressmembers introduced the Honduran Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act this week. The bill imposes sanctions on Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and suspends U.S. security assistance and weapons for the Honduran police and military.
This comes as Hondurans continue to flee the dire social and economic conditions at home. But many are not granted the opportunity to apply for asylum if they reach the U.S. On Wednesday, 85 Honduran migrants were deported from the U.S.
Doris Pacheco Hernández: “Yesterday, I was deported at 5 p.m. without reason. I was not told I was being deported. Nothing. I was suddenly asked to get ready in five minutes. I was told I would be picked up, and I was taken to the airport at 3 a.m. And then I was deported.”
In Colombia, Indigenous Governor Sandra Liliana Peña was gunned down in the Cauca region. Days before her murder, she publicly condemned the increasing amount of illicit crops being cultivated locally. Rights groups say she was at least the 52nd social leader killed this year and that over 1,100 activists and land defenders have been killed since the 2016 peace deal was signed.
In Kuwait, women rallied Thursday to demand safety and justice after the brutal murder of a woman earlier this week. The woman had filed against her murderer for harassment after she refused to marry him, but he was released on bail and went on to kidnap and stab her to death. This is a protester in Kuwait City.
Nawal Al-Sayegh: “It is very scary and very sad that in my own country, when I get into my car, I feel I need to lock the doors immediately. And it is very scary and very depressing that I have already taught my daughters how to protect themselves by holding their keys in a certain way while they’re walking to their car, or asking someone to accompany them from their place of work or study to their vehicles. It’s very scary that this is what our country has come to.”
In New York, a woman who had to go through labor while her wrists and ankles were shackled by police has settled for $750,000 with the city and the New York Police Department. The woman, who is African American, went into labor the day she was arrested and gave birth while handcuffed to a hospital bed, without her family or her doctor present. She sued for emotional distress and a violation of her civil rights.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected imposing limits on sentences for life without parole for minors. The 6-3 ruling reverses a trend toward more leniency for children and teens convicted of a crime and highlights the court’s strong conservative advantage. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was joined by the two other liberal judges in her dissent. She wrote, “The question is whether the state, at some point, must consider whether a juvenile offender has demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation sufficient to merit a chance at life beyond the prison in which he has grown up. For most, the answer is yes.”
In North Carolina, protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City for a second straight night to demand justice for Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot dead by police officers serving an arrest warrant Wednesday morning. Eyewitnesses described an “unlawful, unjustified killing” by multiple officers who opened fire as Brown tried to flee in a vehicle. This is Brown’s neighbor and longtime friend.
Jean Ferebee: “And I’ve got my neighbor across the street killed, and my baby comes running in my room with fear in his face. Like, how do I keep him safe, if the people that are supposed to serve and protect doesn’t keep us safe, are the ones taking them out?”
A family lawyer said Brown was unarmed, and demanded the release of police body-camera footage.