In Sharm el-Sheikh, delegates at the U.N. climate summit agreed on Sunday to establish a landmark “loss and damage” fund to help the Global South deal with the worst effects of the climate catastrophe, largely caused by rich countries. The U.S., historically the world’s worst polluter, was the last major holdout on the proposal before finally agreeing to the fund on Saturday. But it’s unclear how these commitments will be enforced. In the U.S., such funds would need to be appropriated by a now-split Congress. Meanwhile, activists, the U.N. and vulnerable nations have condemned the lack of action on lowering emissions in order to reach the goal of keeping global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is Alok Sharma, president of last year’s COP26, speaking Sunday.
Alok Sharma: “Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary, not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phasedown of coal, not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels, not in this text. And the energy text weakened in the final minutes. Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”
In Colorado, a gunman shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs just before midnight Saturday. At least two dozen others were injured. Police said at least one person inside Club Q confronted the shooter, likely preventing further bloodshed. Among the victims were 40-year-old Kelly Loving, a trans woman visiting from Denver, and Club Q employees Derrick Rump and Daniel Davis Aston, a trans man. Police have taken a 22-year-old suspect into custody. This is Joshua Thurman, a survivor of the massacre.
Joshua Thurman: “We heard them saying check certain people because they’re critical. We heard everything. And all I can think about is everything, my life, just everything, friends, family, loved ones. I came here to celebrate my birthday. Honestly, I was supposed to be in Denver, but I came back a day early.”
Community members gathered at a memorial near the nightclub on Sunday. Sunday also marked Transgender Day of Remembrance.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said authorities recorded 400 shellings in eastern Ukraine Sunday, with the Donetsk region bearing the heaviest attacks. On Saturday, a series of powerful explosions near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant prompted the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, to make an urgent plea to stop fighting in the region. “You’re playing with fire!” warned Grossi.
In Indonesia, at least 56 people are dead and hundreds injured after an earthquake struck West Java province earlier today. Rescue teams are still searching for people trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Many areas are also facing power outages.
China reported three COVID-19 deaths in Beijing since Saturday — the nation’s first deaths linked to the coronavirus in six months, as officials warn Beijing is facing its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic. This comes as China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy has triggered rare public protests.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Los Angeles County is advising residents to once again start masking indoors amid rising cases. COVID-19 is still causing an average of close to 300 daily deaths in the U.S.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament got underway in Qatar Sunday after a flashy opening ceremony in the capital city, Doha. In the opening match, Ecuador defeated Qatar’s national team 2 to 0.
This year’s World Cup has been marred by revelations that thousands of migrant workers have faced serious labor and human rights abuses as they worked to build stadiums and other infrastructure for Qatar ahead of the games.
Meanwhile, the captain of Iran’s national team has spoken out in support of Iranians protesting back home. Ehsan Hajsafi spoke to reporters in Qatar on Sunday, ahead of today’s match between Iran and England.
Ehsan Hajsafi: “We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right, and our people are not happy. … I hope conditions change to meet the expectations of the people and that they become happy, all of them. The situation in the country is not great, and the team knows this.”
In Iran, two of the nation’s most prominent actresses were arrested on Sunday after they voiced support for anti-government protests and appeared in public without wearing a hijab, as required by law. Ahead of her arrest on Sunday, Hengameh Ghaziani wrote, “whatever happens, know that as always I will stand with the people of Iran. This may be my last post.” Katayoun Riahi was also arrested and accused of acting against Iran’s authorities.
Meanwhile, UNICEF says it is “deeply concerned” by reports of children being killed, injured and detained in Iran during recent anti-government demonstrations. According to the organization Human Rights Activists in Iran, 46 boys and 12 girls have been killed since the protests first erupted in mid-September. Some of the children were as young as 8 years old.
In Syria, at least 31 people were killed, including a journalist and 10 other civilians, as Turkey’s military launched a series of weekend airstrikes targeting Kurdish militias. Turkey’s government called the attacks an act of self-defense, after it blamed the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party for an explosion in Istanbul that killed six people on November 13. Earlier today, three people were reportedly killed and 10 others wounded in a Turkish border town after rockets fired from a Kurdish-controlled region struck a high school and two houses. Turkey’s government pledged to respond to the attacks “in the strongest way possible.”
Elon Musk has restored Donald Trump’s Twitter account, after conducting a Twitter poll to determine whether the former president should be allowed back on the platform after he was banned following the January 6 Capitol insurrection for inciting violence. On Saturday, Trump said he had no plans to return to Twitter. Another banned user, Kanye West, also appears to have had his account restored. West was blocked last month, prior to Musk’s takeover, after posting antisemitic tweets. It remains to be seen whether Musk’s latest moves will cause more of Twitter’s dwindling staff and advertisers to leave.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has named former Justice Department prosecutor Jack Smith to lead investigations into Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection, as well as whether Trump mishandled classified materials.
Attorney General Merrick Garland: “Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate, as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.”
Special counsel Jack Smith also previously worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York and investigated and prosecuted war crimes and crimes against humanity at The Hague’s International Criminal Court.
In California, a federal judge sentenced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes to 11 years in prison for defrauding investors in her blood testing company that falsely claimed its machines could run a wide range of diagnostic tests from a few drops of blood. Holmes was declared the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire by Forbes in 2014, but Theranos started to crumble just a year later following an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.
President Biden and other G20 leaders are calling for more regulation of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to ensure global financial stability following the collapse of crypto exchange company FTX last week. Investors have sued disgraced CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, as well as a number of celebrity endorsers including NFL star Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and tennis star Naomi Osaka. FTX owes its 50 largest creditors over $3 billion, according to a bankruptcy filing, while 1 million or more people and businesses could be affected by its downfall. One of FTX’s creditors, the Ontario Teachers’ pension fund, was forced to write off its $95 million investment.
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court Friday to allow its student debt relief program to go into effect as various legal challenges have put the plan on hold. On Saturday, the Education Department started notifying some 16 million applicants they’ve been approved for up to $20,000 each in federal loan relief.
In other Supreme Court news, a former anti-abortion activist turned whistleblower has come forward to allege that Justice Samuel Alito leaked the outcome of a landmark 2014 ruling weeks before the court’s decision was made public. The whistleblower, Rev. Rob Schenck, told The New York Times that a wealthy conservative donor informed him about the court’s yet-to-be-published decision after she and her husband had dinner with Alito and his wife. Alito allegedly let the couple know the court was preparing to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain whose owners sought to deny birth control to workers, citing religious freedom. Schenck says he shared the leaked information with Hobby Lobby’s president and used the advance knowledge to prepare a public relations campaign. In July, Schenck sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts informing him of the alleged 2014 Hobby Lobby leak but received no reply. Through a spokesperson, Alito denied any involvement in leaking the outcome of the ruling.
The New York State Education Department has banned schools from using Native American logos or imagery for their mascots unless they receive approval from an Indigenous community. State schools that don’t comply could face loss of funding.
In Argentina, human rights icon Hebe de Bonafini died Sunday at the age of 93. Bonafini was one of the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977, after two of her sons were disappeared by Argentine security forces during the country’s brutal U.S.-backed military dictatorship. Bonafini and other mothers of the disappeared led frequent protests in Buenos Aires’s Plaza de Mayo in defiance of the dictatorship, wearing white scarves on their heads, which became a symbol of their struggle. In the decades that followed, they continued to fight for justice for the tens of thousands of people disappeared, tortured and killed during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” In 2016, Bonafini spoke as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo held their 2,000th march.
Hebe de Bonafini: “I think that there are no women like us in the world with the strength in our bellies, in our hearts, in our bodies, with so much responsibility for our children, whom we love, whom we love and whom we continue to defend.”