Friday, Dec. 08, 2023 |
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Elections are a respite for Biden, but show the disparity between
him and party
The Democratic victories in Tuesday’s off-year elections gave President Joe Biden’s White House some welcome breathing space just when it needed it. After days of deepening angst within the party following a demoralizing survey that showed Biden losing in five key battleground states, Wednesday morning arrived with a sense of told-you-so vindication at a White House that has long insisted that polls don’t matter; only elections do. The Biden campaign quickly issued a celebratory email. But some political strategists have concluded that the wave of Democratic success in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio really only emphasized the disparity between Biden’s public standing and the party’s.
A package of bold laws puts Michigan on a fast track to renewable energy
The Michigan Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bundle of clean energy bills, transforming a state at the center of industrial America into a leader in the fight against climate change. The legislation, which passed both chambers of the Statehouse with narrow Democratic majorities, represents a turnaround for a state that had long blocked policies to curb pollution from the factories that have underpinned its economy for generations. It is based on a 58-page “MI Healthy Climate” plan proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat with a growing national profile who has promoted progressive measures on labor, LGBTQ+ rights, guns and the environment.
Environmental groups cut programs as funding shifts to climate change
A significant shift in donor contributions to nonprofits fighting climate change in recent years has left some of the nation’s biggest environmental organizations facing critical shortfalls in programs on toxic chemicals, radioactive contamination and wildlife protection. The Natural Resources Defense Council is shutting down its nuclear mission and has laid off its top lawyer in the field, Geoffrey Fettus, who led decades of litigation against the Energy Department to force radioactive waste cleanup and halt the creation of a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Environmental Working Group are facing similar financial problems.
calls to ban TikTok
after accusations of
TikTok is back in the crosshairs of Washington, with Republican lawmakers again calling to ban the popular short-form video app amid accusations that it is amplifying pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel videos through its powerful algorithmic feed. In the past week, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri asked the Biden administration to outlaw TikTok for its “ubiquity” of anti-Israel content. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin said the app was “brainwashing” American youth into sympathizing with Hamas. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida accused Beijing officials of using TikTok, whose parent company is based in China, to spread propaganda to Americans.
Xi Jinping to address
U.S. business leaders amid rising skepticism
of China ties
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is set to meet with President Joe Biden in San Francisco next week, is expected to speak to top American business executives at a dinner following that bilateral meeting. Xi will address business leaders at a challenging moment in U.S.-China relations. The United States has expressed growing concern about China’s military ambitions and has sought to cut off Beijing’s access to technology that could be used against the United States. China’s treatment of Western companies, which are facing tougher restrictions in how they do business, have also prompted firms to question the wisdom of investing in China.
Climate change is
causing severe drought
in a volatile Mideast
zone, study finds
Human-made climate change is driving a yearslong extreme drought in Iran, Iraq and Syria, an area that encompasses a region known as the Fertile Crescent and a cradle of civilization, scientists said Wednesday. The study was put out by the World Weather Attribution initiative, an international scientific collaboration. The researchers studied the effects of climate change in the region around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and Iran between July 2020 and June 2023. The researchers found that warming caused by burning fossil fuels made the high temperatures that continue to bake the region 16 times as likely in Iran and 25 times as likely in Iraq and Syria.
Ukraine gets an encouraging sign
in Its bid to join the EU
The European Union’s executive arm recommended Wednesday that the bloc open membership talks with Ukraine, an encouraging step for the government in Ukraine in what remains a long and arduous joining process. The recommendation comes with the caveat that Ukraine must take steps to address corruption, protect minorities and limit the power of oligarchs. The process of joining the EU normally takes more than a decade. Ukraine faces a number of hurdles, and the EU would need to alter its processes and structures in order to incorporate a large, poor and conflict-affected nation. Leaders of the 27 EU member nations are expected to discuss opening the talks next month.
Workers making clothes for top brands reject a proposal: $113 a Month
Days after violent protests over wages as low as $80 a month, officials in Bangladesh said Wednesday they would increase the pay of garment workers by about 50%, a concession that appeared to fall short of satisfying thousands of workers who produce clothes for brands such as H&M and Zara. Union leaders said Wednesday that they would continue their protests after the increase in the minimum wage announced by the government fell far short of their demand for a more than 150% increase for entry-level workers. They are calling for an increase to about $200 a month to meet the rising cost of living.
By wire sources
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