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HeadlinesSeptember 21, 2023

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U.N. Chief Warns Climate Ambition Summit, “Humanity Has Opened the Gates of Hell”

Sep 21, 2023

“Humanity has opened the gates of hell.” That was the stark warning of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres Wednesday as he opened a special summit on the climate crisis on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Guterres castigated wealthy nations and fossil fuel interests for failing to stop the burning of coal, oil and gas; he did not invite leaders of the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters — to address the summit, saying only those who take climate action seriously would be allowed to attend. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley noted the summit coincided with a U.N. Security Council meeting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley: “And I hope that in the same way we can take Ukraine seriously in the Security Council, that we can take the climate crisis seriously and the financing needs for it in the Security Council. This is as much a threat. In fact, it is a greater threat, because more lives are at stake globally than are at stake in Ukraine.”

Biden Announces Climate Corps as Activists Demand He Declare Climate Emergency

Sep 21, 2023

In Washington, D.C., police arrested four people Wednesday as they held a peaceful protest demanding President Biden declare a climate emergency. It was the latest in a series of civil disobedience actions that have seen 14 people arrested outside the White House in recent days.

Wednesday’s protest came as Biden announced the creation of the American Climate Corps, a paid training program for jobs critical to combating the climate crisis. The White House did not say how much it will spend on the new Climate Corps, which was created through executive action and will have to draw from existing funding sources. With 20,000 positions, it’s much smaller in scope than early proposals that envisioned a 300,000-member Civilian Climate Corps.

The climate action group Sunrise Movement praised the plan as a “visionary policy.” Keanu Arpels-Josiah, a New York-based youth organizer of last weekend’s March to End Fossil Fuels, said, “Biden clearly knows he can use his executive powers to take bolder steps on climate. It’s time he used them to stop approving oil and gas projects, phase down drilling on public lands and waters, and declare a climate emergency.”

Study Finds Climate Change Made Libya Flood Catastrophe 50 Times More Likely

Sep 21, 2023

Scientists have found human-made climate change made Libya’s extreme rainfall and flooding earlier this month 50 times more likely and 50% worse. The devastating flooding and dam collapse in Derna killed at least 4,000 people, with thousands of others still missing as rescuers continue their work.

Mohamed Basheer Basheer: “Every day we extract bodies in indescribable numbers that cannot be imagined. The situation is tragic, whole streets completely disappeared.”

Earlier this week, officials in eastern Libya ordered reporters to leave Derna following large protests that blamed the tragedy on the government. Some Libyan journalists were reportedly detained. The area’s internet and mobile networks also reportedly went down on Tuesday.

U.N. Warns Fighting Between Sudan’s Rival Military Factions Is Sickening and Killing Children

Sep 21, 2023

In Sudan, the U.N. is warning of a worsening child death crisis, five months into a bloody war between Sudan’s army and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group. Over 1,200 children have died of suspected measles and malnutrition in refugee camps. This is UNICEF spokesperson James Elder.

James Elder: “On the back of a cruel disregard for civilians and relentless attacks on health facilities, UNICEF fears that many thousands of newborns will die between now and the end of the year. Three hundred and thirty thousand children will be born in Sudan between October and December. They and their mothers, as you heard, do need skilled delivery care, rather in a country where millions are trapped, millions are lacking access to those basic healthcare services.”

CNN: Ukraine Likely Behind Drone Strikes on Wagner-Backed Paramilitary in Sudan

Sep 21, 2023

CNN is reporting Ukrainian special services are suspected to be responsible for a series of drone strikes earlier this month on Wagner-backed militia forces in Sudan. Ukrainian officials said they could neither confirm nor deny the reports. CNN says Wagner has been supplying arms to the RSF in its battle against Sudan’s military.

Nagorno-Karabakh Residents Seek Security Guarantees as Peace Talks Get Underway

Sep 21, 2023

Talks are underway between officials from Azerbaijan and from the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, two days after Azerbaijan launched a deadly military operation in the disputed territory and one day after a ceasefire was announced. On Wednesday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said his country had restored sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is overwhelmingly made up of ethnic Armenians but is recognized as Azerbaijani territory as part of a Russia-brokered ceasefire following the 2020 war. Meanwhile, protesters in Armenia took to the streets to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan resign for failing to support separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh, who agreed to disarm Wednesday. Negotiators said today certain security guarantees would have to be agreed to before they permanently disarm. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have suffered food, fuel and medical shortages due to an ongoing blockade by Azerbaijan, which has also led to accusations of genocide.

Patients Billed Up to $190 for COVID-19 Shots That Insurance Plans Are Required to Cover

Sep 21, 2023

The White House says it will once again allow U.S. households to order free COVID-19 tests through the mail, as disease experts warn of a likely surge of winter infections. This comes as the Biden administration’s rollout of an updated COVID vaccine is off to a rocky start, with widespread reports of shipping delays and gaps in health insurance coverage for the shots. Some patients report they were charged up to $190 per shot at pharmacies, even though most private health insurance plans — along with Medicare or Medicaid — are required to pay the full cost of the vaccinations. Previously the U.S. government purchased COVID-19 shots from manufacturers and offered them to all U.S. residents for free.

Senate Confirms Top Military Officer, Circumventing Anti-Abortion Protest of Sen. Tuberville

Sep 21, 2023

The Senate has confirmed Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr. as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Brown becomes the second African American, after General Colin Powell, to hold the role of the U.S. military’s top commander. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer used a procedural maneuver to force a vote on Brown’s nomination, circumventing a months-long blockade by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville on military confirmations and promotions. Schumer also advanced confirmation votes to fill vacancies atop the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Tuberville has delayed the Senate votes, citing opposition to the Defense Department’s policy of covering the travel costs of employees forced to cross state lines to obtain an abortion.

Merrick Garland Defends Justice Department Handling of Hunter Biden Case in Combative Hearing

Sep 21, 2023

In a highly contentious congressional hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland defended the Justice Department’s handling of its criminal investigation into President Biden’s son Hunter Biden. Biden was indicted last week on three felony charges related to his possession of a firearm. Special counsel David Weiss brought the charges after a federal judge in July rejected a deal that would have seen Biden plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax counts in order to escape more serious charges. Testifying to the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Garland insisted he has kept his promise to not interfere with the investigation.

Attorney General Merrick Garland: “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will add I am not Congress’s prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.”

Trial Opens for Colorado Officers Whose Violent Arrest of Elijah McClain Led to His Death

Sep 21, 2023

In Colorado, a court heard opening statements Wednesday in the trial of two Aurora police officers who attacked and violently arrested Elijah McClain in 2019, leading to his death. McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, was walking home from the store when he was tackled by police, placed in a carotid hold and later injected with the powerful sedative ketamine. He died several days later. A prosecutor told jurors yesterday, “He was just walking home.” His last words to officers Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt were “I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry.” Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including “criminally negligent homicide.”

School Book Bans Surged 33% Over Prior Year with Florida Leading the Charge

Sep 21, 2023

A new report from PEN America finds a 33% spike in the number of public school book bans during the 2022-’23 school year compared to the prior year. The report finds 40% of recent book bans occurred in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have imposed mass restrictions on books about race and LGBTQ+ issues in school libraries and classrooms.

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