Saturday Snippets: UN chief calls for climate emergency declarations; Trump to pick foreign aid logo
Saturday Snippets is a regular weekend feature of Daily Kos.
• The Climate Ambition Summit has been taking place virtually today: Although it’s smaller than COP26, the UN climate change conference that was originally on the schedule this year but has been postponed to November 2021 because of COVID-19, the virtual summit still matters. Co-hosted by the UK, France, and the United Nations, and held in partnership with Chile and Italy, the Climate Ambition Summit represents provides an opportunity for countries to set an agenda for next year. The summit also marks the five-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, which set in motion a global aspiration to keep the planet from rising above 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures by 2100. They mean it when they say “virtual.” The summit is heavy on video clips of some of the 70 world leaders, eco-activists, business CEOs, and city mayors letting the world know exactly what they plan to do to fulfill their climate pledges under the Paris agreement. An expert talks about the summit in an interview here. You can view live proceedings here.
U.N. Secretary General, António Guterres, told the summit that governments should all declare a state of climate emergency until the world has reached net zero emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas warming the Earth. So far, 38 countries have already made such a declaration. Several governments have set deadlines for reaching net zero emissions by around 2050, but detailed plans on how to do so are rare. “Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Guterres said. But many countries are spending 50% more in their economic stimulus packages on fossil fuels and CO2-intensive sectors than they were on low-CO2 energy, he said, adding, “This is unacceptable, The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations. This is a moral test. We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.”
• Twitter authorities now labeling numerous Trump tweets as “disputed.” That’s an improvement over just letting him put the authority of his office behind dangerous, even lethal tweets. But Trump statements like “I won by a landslide” aren’t “disputed” by anyone with fully operational brain cells. They are outright lies. Why not label them as such?
• Scientists find mass extinctions of land-dwelling animals occur every 27 million years: Their study, published in the journal Historical Biology, found mass extinctions of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds follow a cycle that coincides with previously reported mass extinctions of ocean life. They also occurred at the same times as major asteroid impacts or gargantuan volcanic outpourings of lava called flood-basalt eruptions. “It seems that large-body impacts and the pulses of internal Earth activity that create flood-basalt volcanism may be marching to the same 27-million-year drumbeat as the extinctions, perhaps paced by our orbit in the galaxy,” said Michael Rampino, a professor in New York University’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author. In the extinction best known to the general public, most scientists believe the non-avian dinosaurs were among the 75% of all life on land and sea that suddenly died out after an asteroid calculated to be 7-50 miles in diameter struck the Earth 65 million years ago. Scientists hypothesize that these extinctions happen during periodic comet showers every 26 to 30 million years as our solar system travels through the crowded mid-plane of the Milky Way galaxy.
• For six months of the pandemic, South Dakota had no abortion care: South Dakota has some of the worst forced-birther laws in the nation—38 restrictions added since Roe v. Wade was decided—and just one abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, the southeast corner of the state. Physicians who perform the procedure aren’t South Dakotans, however. Before the pandemic, Planned Parenthood flew doctors to Minnesota each week. In March, however, they stopped that travel because of the coronavirus. Thus did South Dakotans have zero in-state abortion access for an extended period of time, giving us a taste of what things could be like if the U.S. Supreme Court were to reverse Roe. It wasn’t until October that the clinic was able to offer abortion care one day per month because a Minnesota doctor was willing to drive at least four hours each way. The clinic can’t treat patients virtually with the abortion pill because the state bans the practice, being one of the 19 states that bans telemedicine for the procedure. “It would be a perfect solution if we could use telemedicine abortion but we can’t,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which represents Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota..
• Want to buy authentic Native-made gifts this holiday season? Here are a few sources: Pretendians have long been a problem for American Indians, and this time of year these fakers are eager to sell stuff that supposedly has an indigenous imprint. The commerce in those goods—no matter how artistic they may be—makes life more difficult for Native-owned small businesses and Native artists employing their vision and skills to design and create genuine American Indian goods. Indian Country Today has posted a roster of Native individuals and businesses in its “40+ holiday gift ideas that are Indigenius.” Check it out.
• Trump issues executive order to rebrand U.S. foreign assistance: Signed Thursday, the order mandates that 22 government agencies ditch their various logos and adopt the same single logo to attach to foreign aid-related goods. Trump gave himself 30 days to personally select a logo that “embodies the values and generosity of the American people.” White House officials say the move is meant to “foster goodwill between the recipients of United States foreign assistance and the American people, and to encourage the governments of nations that are receiving foreign assistance to support the United States.” John Barsa, Acting Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, commended the order in a statement: “By requiring U.S. Government Departments and Agencies to use a single logo for all U.S. foreign assistance, the President has taken an important step in promoting awareness about the compassion and generosity of the American people around the world.”
• Defense bill includes mandate to recommend name changes for military bases named for Confederates: Both houses of Congress passed the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act this week. The bill includes 3% pay raises for military members. It also included a major new initiative. Five Democrats and one independent voted against the bill, including three who ran in the presidential primaries: Cory Booker of New Jersey; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Ron Wyden of Oregon; and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The bill also creates a commission requiring that the Defense secretary must within three years come up with recommendations for removing from military bases names, symbols, displays, monuments, and various paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America. Among other things, that would affect 10 military bases named for Confederates, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Originally called Camp Bragg when it was built in 1918, it was converted to a fort in 1922, named for Braxton Bragg, a general who fought in the Mexican-American War and joined the Confederacy when the South launched the Civil War. Bragg had a “reputation for incompetence, for wantonly shooting his own soldiers, and for losing battles,” according to the summary of Earl J. Hess’ 2016 biography of Bragg, which is subtitled “the most hated man of the Confederacy.” Donald Trump vowed to veto any defense bill that included the renaming mandate, but Congress passed it with a veto-proof majority.
• NYT staffer who edited Sen. Tom Cotton’s notorious “Send in the Troops” column has resigned: The op-ed column published six months ago in The New York Times called on federal authorities to deploy U.S. troops to suppress protesters challenging police brutality. The column spurred a staff-wide revolt and the resignation of opinions editor James Bennet. News about the resignation of Adam Rubenstein, the young editorial assistant who the Times reported had edited Cotton’s inflammatory piece, wasn’t announced officially but appeared in an internal message on Slack, the business communication platform. Rubenstein had previously worked at the right-wing The Weekly Standard.