Headlines for October 12, 2021 – Democracy Now!
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The World Health Organization is warning climate change is “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” In a new report released ahead of next month’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, the WHO is urging world leaders to act with urgency to combat the climate emergency.
Dr. María Neira: “But we know very well that climate change is affecting the pillars of our health: food, water, the quality of the air, and shelter. So, as you can imagine, all of that will represent a major risk for our health, and therefore we need to invest in adaptation to climate change and more resilient healthcare facilities and systems and a more resilient society.”
New research in the journal Nature Climate Change finds 85% of the world’s population has already been negatively impacted by the climate crisis. In China, at least 15 people have died in heavy flooding this week in Shanxi province. Nearly 20,000 homes have been destroyed, forcing over 120,000 people to relocate.
In Washington, D.C., over 135 people were arrested outside the White House in an action on Monday to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day and to call on President Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel projects. Indigenous water protectors and tribal leaders helped lead the action. Participants included Joye Braun, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Indigenous Environmental Network, who criticized President Biden.
Joye Braun: “You need to be held accountable. You made promises to the Indigenous communities across this land that you were going to uphold. But you haven’t upheld those promises. You’ve been speaking with a forked tongue, just like that one that was before you.”
More climate protests are planned in Washington throughout the week as part of a mobilization dubbed “People vs. Fossil Fuels.” Click here to see all our interviews on Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In London, at least seven members of Greenpeace were arrested Monday after shutting down traffic outside 10 Downing Street by installing a 12-foot mock statue of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson splattered in oil. Greenpeace is calling on Johnson to halt plans to drill for oil off the Scottish coast in what’s known as the Cambo oilfield.
Doctors Without Borders is accusing the United States of hoarding nearly 500 million excess doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The group estimates nearly a million lives could be saved over the next year if the United States and other wealthy nations begin rapidly distributing excess doses to low-income nations. In related news, leaders from the Global South criticized vaccine inequity on Monday at the launch of a two-day summit in Belgrade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement. Speakers included Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.
President Nana Akufo-Addo: “Sixty years later, the great powers have not disarmed. Neither has the threat of nuclear war receded. They are still as powerful as they were then. This has been highlighted by the COVID pandemic and the unsavory politics of vaccine nationalism we are currently witnessing. We are observers of global power play and are subject to the benevolence of powerful countries who give out their hoarded supplies at their own pace, not necessarily in tandem with our realities.”
A new parliamentary report out of England has faulted the government’s initial response to COVID-19 as “one of the most important public health failures” in the country’s history. The report says thousands of lives could have been saved if the U.K. had imposed an earlier lockdown and took other steps.
In news from Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order banning any entity in the state — including private businesses — from enforcing a vaccine mandate. This comes as the COVID death toll in Texas approaches 70,000.
In Iraq, preliminary results show the party of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday’s election, where just 41% of Iraqis cast ballots. Al-Sadr is a populist leader who has long opposed the U.S. military presence in Iraq. He spoke on Monday in Najaf.
Muqtada al-Sadr: “We welcome all embassies that do not interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs, so long as they do not interfere in Iraq’s affairs, as well as the formation of government. With any intervention, we will have a diplomatic response, or perhaps a popular one, which is suitable to the offense. Iraq is only for Iraqis. Iraq is only for Iraqis.”
Several pro-Iranian parties in Iraq have questioned the early election results, which show them losing a number of parliamentary seats. We’ll have more on the Iraqi elections later in the broadcast.
Leaders of the G20 nations are holding a virtual meeting today to discuss ways to help address the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. After the Taliban seized power, the United States, IMF and World Bank cut off funds to Afghanistan, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid. The United Nations estimates 1 million Afghan children are at risk of starvation. On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged the foreign community to address the crisis.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “Right now with assets frozen and development aid paused, the economy is breaking down, banks are closing, and essential services, such as healthcare, have been suspended in many places. We need to find ways to make the economy breathe again, and this can be done without violating international laws or compromising principles.”
Lawmakers in Ecuador have voted to open an investigation of Ecuador’s right-wing President Guillermo Lasso into whether he broke the law by keeping money in overseas tax havens. According to the recently published Pandora Papers, the former banker had ties to 10 offshore companies and trusts. In 2017, Lasso moved assets from Panama to two trusts in South Dakota, which has become a popular tax haven in the United States.
In Guatemala, there has been a shake-up in the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office. The office’s lead prosecutor, Hilda Pineda, has been transferred, sparking criticism from human rights groups. Pineda led the prosecution against former U.S.-backed dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and has investigated other cases of forced disappearances, torture and crimes against humanity. She will now be working in a new office focused on crimes targeting tourists visiting Guatemala. Her transfer comes just months after the ousting of Guatemala’s top anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, who was then forced to flee the country.
In Honduras, a mayoral candidate for the progressive Libre party has been assassinated less than two months before the November elections. Nery Fernando Reyes was shot dead on Friday in the town of Yusguare. Hours later, Honduran Congresswoman Olivia Marcela Zúniga Cáceres was beaten by four men inside her own home. Cáceres is the daughter of the assassinated Lenca Indigenous land and water protector Berta Cáceres. She is also a member of the Libre party.
Donald Trump has paid tribute to Ashli Babbitt, the 35-year-old Trump supporter who was shot dead inside the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection. Babbitt was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to climb through a window to the Speaker’s Lobby, where lawmakers had sought refuge from the violent mob. Babbitt was an Air Force veteran and supporter of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory. In a prerecorded video message to mark what would have been her birthday, Trump called Babbitt a “truly incredible person.”
In sports news, Jon Gruden, the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team, has resigned after an NFL investigation uncovered a series of racist, sexist and homophobic emails he had written prior to becoming the coach of the Raiders. In one email, Gruden used racist terms to attack the head of the NFL players union, DeMaurice Smith, who is Black. Gruden was the third-highest-paid coach in the NFL, earning $10 million a year.
One of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, GLAAD, is denouncing Netflix for its decision to keep airing a new comedy special by Dave Chappelle which contains a number of anti-trans jokes. In a statement, GLAAD said, “Netflix has a policy that content 'designed to incite hate or violence' is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that.” Meanwhile, Netflix has suspended three workers, including a trans employee who had publicly criticized the Chappelle special. Netflix claims the suspensions were for an unrelated reason.
The longtime peace activist Sister Megan Rice has died at the age of 91. In 2012, at the age of 81, Rice and two other peace activists broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the United States processes uranium for hydrogen bombs. The activists, known as the Transform Now Plowshares, cut holes in the fence to paint peace slogans and throw blood on the wall. One message read: “The Fruit of Justice Is Peace.” In 2015, Sister Megan Rice appeared on Democracy Now! after being released from prison. She talked about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Sister Megan Rice: “Why have we spent $10 trillion in 70 years, when that could have been used to transform not just the United States, but the world, into life-enhancing alternatives? Instead, we make something that can never be used, should never be used, probably will never be used, unless we want to destroy the planet.”
Sister Megan Rice, speaking to Democracy Now! in 2015. She died on Sunday at the age of 91.