Headlines for November 01, 2021 – Democracy Now!
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World leaders and activists have arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, a critical United Nations summit aimed at averting the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. A recent U.N. Emissions Gap Report showed that current contributions and commitments by nations to reduce emissions aren’t nearly enough to avert a planetary disaster. This is U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “There is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver. Several recent climate announcements might leave the impression of a rosier picture. Unfortunately, this is an illusion. The current nationally determined contributions, formal commitments by governments, still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase. … There are serious questions of credibility. We see dangerous levels of mistrust among the big powers, among members of the G20, between developed and developing countries.”
Some 30,000 people are expected to take part in the two-week summit, which was postponed for a year by the pandemic. Climate activists have been gathering in Glasgow to push world leaders to take more drastic action, like ending government subsidies for fossil fuels and divesting from coal, oil and gas.
Lewis Coenen-Rowe: “So, we know that our whole financial system at the moment is embroiled with the fossil fuel industry, and we need to find a way to get out of that and to move the money into climate solutions rather than the causes of climate change.”
President Biden and others traveled to Glasgow after attending this weekend’s G20 summit in Italy, where world leaders agreed to a minimum corporate tax rate of 15%. The deal also raises additional revenue for most countries and shifts profits to the countries where companies sell products to consumers, rather than where the companies are based. Studies indicate the deal will benefit high-income countries, including the U.S., the most.
On the climate front, G20 members agreed to work toward ending coal financing overseas and pledged to “pursue efforts” to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, as per the Paris Agreement, but made no firm commitments to that end. Activists held protests in Rome throughout the weekend.
Edoardo Mentrasti: “We are holding a demonstration on environmental and social issues and against the G20, which continues undaunted on a path that has almost led us to social and ecological failure.”
G20 members also backed an extension of debt relief for poorer nations and pledged to vaccinate 70% of the global population against COVID-19 by the middle of next year. G20 countries have received three times more vaccine doses per person than all other countries combined and 15 times more COVID vaccine doses per person than sub-Saharan African nations.
Over 5 million people around the world have died from COVID-19, according to a tally of reported deaths kept by Johns Hopkins University, though some estimates put the actual death toll at more than twice that number. The staggering milestone comes roughly 20 months after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and amid persistent global vaccine inequality and a hugely uneven recovery.
Here in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine in children 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to swiftly sign off on the move, making the shots available for some 28 million children as early as this week.
In legal news, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a religious objection to Maine’s vaccine mandate by healthcare workers. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in New York ruled the state could move ahead with its vaccine mandate for health workers. This comes as over 26,000 New York City government workers, including firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers, missed a deadline to get vaccinated and are facing unpaid leave starting today. Over 2,000 firefighters have taken medical leave in the past week as the vaccination deadline approached.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for the coronavirus Sunday, five days after her last in-person meeting with President Biden. She says she and Biden met outside, were both wearing masks and were socially distanced. Psaki is fully vaccinated and is reporting only mild symptoms.
In immigration news, the Biden administration has issued a new memo in an attempt to end the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” which forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases make their way through U.S. courts. After taking office, Biden rescinded the program, but a court ruling revived the policy in August.
In related news, a caravan of mostly Central American and Caribbean asylum seekers traveling from southern Mexico to the northern border had to take a brief pause on their journey as a number of travelers, including young children, face health problems and exhaustion from the arduous journey. This is a Cuban migrant.
Juan Pérez: “The health of the migrants is terrible. People have a fever, sores on their feet. We are receiving medical attention. Many pregnant women have miscarried on the way and have received medical assistance. The trek is challenging.”
Mexican authorities have attempted to negotiate with members of the caravan, but many turned down so-called humanitarian visas in exchange for ending their trek, saying they didn’t trust the offer due to past mistreatment.
In Mexico, a gunman shot and killed journalist Fredy López Arévalo at his home in the southern state of Chiapas. The longtime reporter worked for a number of outlets, covering politics in Central America and the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, among other topics. He is at least the ninth journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico.
In Yemen, at least 10 people were killed and over two dozen injured Sunday — including children — after Houthi rebels fired ballistic missiles into a religious school and mosque in the central province of Marib. The attack came one day after a powerful explosion tore through the gate to Aden International Airport, killing at least 12 people and wounding many others. Witnesses said the source of the blast was a small truck carrying fuel; it’s not known if the explosion was intentional.
Ali Ba Isheen: “The explosion occurred after the Maghrib prayer and injured my two cousins in this grocery store. We have a library and a pharmacy behind the shop, and they killed children and women and terrified passersby and frightened safe people.”
The latest violence comes as the United Nations warns more than 20 million Yemenis — or two-thirds of the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In Sudan, protesters continue to take to the streets calling for a reversal of last Monday’s coup, which saw Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok deposed and arrested, his Cabinet fired and a joint civilian-military council dissolved. On Saturday, Sudanese soldiers shot and killed three protesters in the city of Omdurman. Hundreds of thousands marched in the capital Khartoum, and other massive rallies were held in cities throughout Sudan.
In Uganda, a bomb attack has killed two children. The explosive was reportedly shaped like a jackfruit and was given to the children while they were playing. It’s the third bomb attack targeting civilians in Uganda within the past week. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for at least one attack in Kampala last weekend, which killed one person and wounded three others. Ugandan officials say they are investigating a group called the Allied Democratic Forces, which is suspected of ties to ISIS.
In Texas, a San Antonio-area homeowner will use the state’s “stand your ground” laws to defend himself against a murder charge, after he shot and killed a motorist who pulled into his driveway — apparently because the driver was lost. Sixty-five-year-old Terry Turner, who is white, fatally shot unarmed 31-year-old Adil Dghoughi, who was of Moroccan origin, through the driver’s side window of his car as Dghoughi was turning around in Turner’s driveway. Turner said in an affidavit he believed Dghoughi was armed and that he fired his handgun in self-defense. Dghoughi’s family and attorney say it took nearly two weeks of calls to the Texas Rangers and the state’s Department of Justice before police finally arrested Terry Turner.
Philadelphia has become the first major U.S. city to ban police from stopping cars for low-level traffic violations in an effort to reduce dangerous interactions between racist police officers and motorists of color. Police data from 2018 and 2019 showed Black drivers represent 72% of traffic stops in Philadelphia, even though Black residents only make up 42% of the city’s population.
A recent study by The New York Times found police officers across the U.S. have killed over 400 drivers or passengers who were not armed with a deadly weapon in the past five years. Only five of those officers have been convicted of crimes.
Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York, have won a significant victory against the coffee chain giant after the National Labor Relations Board ruled three separate Buffalo stores can hold elections on whether to form a union. Starbucks fought to make the whole Buffalo region vote in just one election. Mail-in voting is scheduled to start next week and will run through December 8. If successful, the three coffee shops would be the first unionized Starbucks stores in the country.
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on Texas’s new law outlawing most abortions. The majority-conservative court is considering challenges from abortion providers and the Biden administration on the nation’s strictest anti-choice law, which deputizes private citizens to enforce the ban and violates the constitutional right to an abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade.