In Gaza, at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, have been killed in three days of an Israeli military bombardment before a ceasefire began late on Sunday. At least 350 Palestinians were wounded. Palestinians accused the Israeli government of launching the attack in an effort to build political support ahead of November’s elections. Palestinian children who survived the Israeli assault described horrifying situations. This is a 9-year-old girl named Leen Matar who was pulled from the rubble.
Leen Matar: “I was at my grandfather’s house when suddenly the rubble started to fall on us. And we started screaming, and the neighbors came to rescue us. … We don’t want to keep going through this. Every year there are strikes, killings of children and injuries. I am happy that I am alive, because I always had a dream to fulfill, which is to become a doctor and help people in such times, to help them because I have been through many problems like this.”
Israel defended the bombardment of Gaza, saying it was a preemptive operation targeting militants with the group Islamic Jihad. Two senior Islamic Jihad commanders were killed in the attack. During the bombardment, Israel also cut off fuel to Gaza, leading to blackouts across the region. We will go to Gaza after headlines.
The Senate has passed a sweeping $739 billion bill to address the climate crisis, reduce drug costs and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote Sunday after every Republican in the Senate voted no. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer described the legislation as the boldest climate package in U.S. history.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “The Senate has now passed the most significant bill to fight the climate crisis ever, and it’s going to make a difference to my grandkids. The world will be a better place for my grandchildren because of what we did today, and that makes me feel very, very good.”
Many climate groups praised the Senate for taking action but said far bolder steps are needed to address the climate emergency. Varshini Prakash, the founder of the Sunrise Movement, tweeted, “This isn’t the bill my generation deserves but it is the one we can get. It must pass to give us a fighting chance at a livable world.” She went to write, “Youth leaders to Congress–Pass this bill, then get back to work.”
The Senate bill aims to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 40% by the end of this decade. But it also includes controversial provisions added to win support from West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. At Manchin’s request, the bill will make it easier for the pipeline industry to win approval of new projects, including the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia. The bill could also lead to more drilling on public lands and waters and expand tax credits for fossil coal and gas-burning plants. The Center for Biological Diversity has described the bill as a “climate suicide pact.”
Meanwhile, at the insistence of Sinema, Democrats agreed to drop a proposal to raise taxes on private equity and hedge fund firms. The bill will also allow Medicare to begin negotiating for some prescription drugs, which could lower prices for millions, but during negotiations over the bill Senate Republicans blocked an effort to place a $35 monthly cap on insulin for most Americans.
History was made in Colombia on Sunday when Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla, was sworn in as Colombia’s first leftist president. Francia Márquez Mina also made history becoming Colombia’s first Black vice president. Petro is a former M-19 guerrilla who went on to serve as a senator and mayor of the nation’s capital, Bogotá. Márquez Mina is a longtime Afro-Colombian environmental activist, land and water defender. In 2018, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. During his inaugural address, Petro vowed to fight inequality and climate change and to push for peace. He also condemned the U.S.-led war on drugs.
President Gustavo Petro: “It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has completely failed, that it has killed a million Latin Americans, many of them Colombians, during the last 40 years, and that it leaves 70,000 North Americans dead by overdose each year from drugs that are not produced in Latin America. The war on drugs strengthened mafias and weakened states.”
Supporters of Gustavo Petro and Márquez Mina celebrated what they saw as a new beginning for Colombia, which has been ruled by the elite and right-wing forces for generations. This is Manuel Ponton speaking in Bogotá.
Manuel Ponton: “It is the beginning of democracy in Colombia because it is the first time there will be a government of popular origin. It is the first time that people feel happy about the election of a president, and for the first time, we feel that there is a real transition toward guaranteeing citizens’ rights.”
We will have more on Colombia later in the broadcast.
Tensions remain high in the Taiwan Strait, where China has extended its largest-ever military drills in the region following last week’s visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. On Sunday, China ended live-fire exercises, but it is continuing to carry out drills simulating anti-submarine attacks and sea raids. In addition, China has suspended talks with the United States on a number of issues, including the climate crisis, anti-drug efforts and military relations, due to what it called Pelosi’s “egregious provocations.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency is warning of a potential nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant. Ukraine and Russia are accusing each other of attacking the nuclear site twice since Friday. Russia, which has occupied the plant since early March, said shelling by Ukrainian forces could have “catastrophic consequences” for Europe. Ukraine claims it was Russian forces who carried out missile strikes on the nuclear plant in an effort to disconnect it from Ukraine’s electrical grid. Local residents called for an end to fighting near the site, which is home to six nuclear reactors and thousands of tons of highly radioactive materials.
Volodymyr Martynyuk: “As city residents, we call on the Russian army and the Ukrainian Armed Forces to avoid open fighting in the area around Enerhodar and within a 20-kilometer zone around the nuclear power plant. We’re talking about the safety of the entire planet, not just about the safety of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and nearby foreign countries.”
Indiana has adopted a near-total ban on abortions, becoming the first state to approve new laws restricting reproductive rights since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June. On Friday, Indiana’s Republican governor signed the abortion ban just minutes after the Republican-dominated Senate approved the legislation. It’s set to take effect on September 15. The new law outlaws abortions at the moment of conception, with exceptions only in cases of rape, incest or medical emergency. Those providing abortion care face a $10,000 fine and up to six years in prison. The new law has drawn fire from Indiana’s Chamber of Commerce and some of the state’s largest employers. On Saturday, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly condemned the abortion ban and said in response the pharmaceutical giant was looking to expand its operations outside of Indiana.
A jury in Austin, Texas, on Friday ordered far-right conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones to pay $45 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim. That’s on top of more than $4 million in compensatory damages Jones was ordered to pay on Thursday. For years Jones spread conspiracy theories that the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a government hoax and the victims’ families were paid actors, resulting in online harassment and death threats for Sandy Hook families.
On Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres traveled to Hiroshima to mark 77 years since the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city. Guterres warned the risk of nuclear war is once again on the rise.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “We must keep the horrors of Hiroshima in view at all times, recognizing there is only one solution to the nuclear threat: not to have nuclear weapons at all.”
In climate news, California’s Death Valley National Park received a year’s worth of rainfall within just three hours last Friday, triggering flash floods that left about a thousand people temporarily stranded. A study by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found such monsoon rain events are becoming more intense as a result of the climate crisis.
Meanwhile, Iran has just recorded its hottest-ever temperature in the month of August. On Friday, the southwestern city of Ahvaz hit 53 degrees Celsius — or nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat index was a staggering 142 degrees.