In Brief: June 11, 2021

G-7 nations expected to pledge 1B vaccine doses for world

ST. IVES, England — The Group of Seven nations are set to commit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with the world, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday, with half coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K. as President Joe Biden urged allies to join in speeding the pandemic’s end and bolstering the strategic position of the world’s wealthiest democracies.

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Johnson’s announcement on the eve of the G-7 leaders’ summit in England came hours after Biden committed to donating 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere.

“We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that on Friday the G-7 nations would join the U.S. in outlining their vaccine donation commitments. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The prime minister’s office said the first 5 million U.K. doses would be shared in the coming weeks, with the remainder coming over the next year. Biden’s own commitment was on top of the 80 million doses he has already pledged to donate by the end of June.

“At the G7 Summit I hope my fellow leaders will make similar pledges so that, together, we can vaccinate the world by the end of next year and build back better from coronavirus,” Johnson said in a statement referencing the U.S. president’s campaign slogan.

UN: Don’t forget to save species while fixing global warming

To save the planet, the world needs to tackle the crises of climate change and species loss together, taking measures that fix both and not just one, United Nations scientists said.

A joint report Thursday by separate U.N. scientific bodies that look at climate change and biodiversity loss found there are ways to simultaneously attack the two global problems, but some fixes to warming could accelerate extinctions of plants and animals.

For example, measures such as expansion of bioenergy crops like corn, or efforts to pull carbon dioxide from the air and bury it, could use so much land — twice the size of India — that the impact would be “fairly catastrophic on biodiversity,” said co-author and biologist Almut Arneth at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Policy responses to climate change and biodiversity loss have long been siloed, with different government agencies responsible for each, said co-author Pamela McElwee, a human ecologist at Rutgers University.

The problems worsen each other, are intertwined and in the end hurt people, scientists said.

Fight over Canadian oil rages on after pipeline’s demise

BILLINGS, Mont. — The Keystone XL is dead after a 12-year attempt to build the oil pipeline, yet the fight over Canadian crude rages on as emboldened environmentalists target other projects and pressure President Joe Biden to intervene — all while oil imports from the north keep rising.

Biden dealt the fatal blow to the partially built $9 billion Keystone XL in January when he revoked its border-crossing permit issued by former President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, sponsors TC Energy and the province of Alberta gave up and declared the line “terminated.”

Activists and many scientists had warned that the pipeline would open a new spigot on Canada’s oil sands crude — and that burning the heavily polluting fuel would lock in climate change. As the fight escalated into a national debate over fossil fuels, Canadian crude exports to the U.S. steadily increased, driven largely by production from Alberta’s oil sands region.

Even before the cancellation, environmentalists had turned their attention to other projects, including Enbridge Energy’s proposal to expand and rebuild its Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, the target of protests this week that led to the arrest of some 250 activists.

“Don’t expect these fights to go away anytime soon,” said Daniel Raimi, a fellow at Resources for the Future, an energy and environmental think tank in Washington. “This is going to encourage environmental advocates to do more of the same.”

Trump DOJ seized data from House Democrats in leaks probe

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department under former President Donald Trump seized data from the accounts of at least two members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2018 as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters, according to a committee official and two people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors from Trump’s Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for the data, according to the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss the secret seizures first reported by The New York Times.

The records of at least twelve people connected to the intelligence panel were eventually shared, including Chairman Adam Schiff, who was then the top Democrat on the committee. California Rep. Eric Swalwell was the second member, according to spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein. The records of aides, former aides and family members were also siezed, including one who was a minor, according to the committee official.

Apple informed the committee last month that their records had been shared, but did not give extensive detail. The committee is aware, though, that metadata from the accounts was turned over, the official said. The records do not contain any other content from the devices, like photos, messages or emails, one of the other people said. The third person said that Apple complied with the subpoena, providing the information to the Justice Department, and did not immediately notify the members of Congress or the committee about the disclosure.

While the Justice Department routinely conducts investigations of leaked information, including classified intelligence, opening such an investigation into members of Congress is extraordinarily rare.

From wire sources

Israel’s Netanyahu lashes out as end of his era draws near

JERUSALEM — In what appear to be the final days of his historic 12-year rule, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not leaving the political stage quietly.

The longtime leader is accusing his opponents of betraying their voters, and some have needed special security protection.

Netanyahu says he is the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy. He speaks in apocalyptic terms when talking about the country without his leadership.

“They are uprooting the good and replacing it with the bad and dangerous,” Netanyahu told the conservative Channel 20 TV station this week. “I fear for the destiny of the nation.”

Such language has made for tense days as Netanyahu and his loyalists make a final desperate push to try to prevent a new government from taking office on Sunday. With his options running out, it has also provided a preview of Netanyahu as opposition leader.

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Mystery over claim world’s 1st ‘decuplets’ born in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has been gripped by the mystery of whether a woman has, as has been claimed, actually given birth to 10 babies, in what would then be the world’s first recorded case of decuplets.

Gosiame Thamara Sithole from the Tembisa township near Johannesburg gave birth to the babies on Monday, according to the Pretoria News newspaper which quoted the parents. The babies — seven boys and three girls — have not made a public appearance or been captured on camera, although they were born prematurely, the newspaper reported.

The South African government said it is still trying to verify the claim.

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That’s led to South Africans obsessing on social media over whether the story of the “Tembisa 10” is indeed true.

The father, Teboho Tsotetsi, told the paper his wife had given birth in a hospital in the capital Pretoria. He said it was a big surprise for the parents after doctors only detected eight babies in pre-natal scans.

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