Tag Archives: Political activism

5 things to know today


Here are a few things to know about the day’s news from The Associated Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. FEDERAL MONEY FOR PANDEMIC TRICKLING DOWN Congress has allocated trillions to ease the coronavirus crisis. A joint Kaiser Health News and AP investigation finds many communities with big outbreaks have spent little of that money on local public health departments.

2. GOLDEN STATE KILLER’S VICTIMS TO SPEAK Nearly three-dozen victims or survivors plan to tell their stories before Joseph James DeAngelo is formally sentenced to life in prison.

3. TRUMP RALLIES DEMOCRATS As the party gathers virtually this week to nominate Joe Biden for the presidency, party leaders and activists across the political spectrum agree on one unifying force: their desire to defeat the president.

4. VERDICTS UPCOMING IN ASSASSINATION OF FORMER LEBANESE PM A U.N.-backed tribunal in the Netherlands is announcing verdicts this week in the trial of four members of the militant group Hezbollah who were allegedly involved in the killing of Rafik Hariri.

5. CORONAVIRUS GROUNDS AIR TRAVEL Airlines are trying to convince a frightened public that measures like mandatory face masks and hospital-grade air filters make sitting in a plane safer than other indoor settings, but it isn’t working.


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Students push universities to stop investing in fossil fuels


NEW HAVEN, Conn. —
Students alarmed by climate change are stepping up pressure on universities to pull investments from fossil fuel industries, an effort that is gaining traction at prestigious schools like Georgetown, Harvard and Yale.

The push that is underway at hundreds of schools began nearly a decade ago, and student activists increasingly have learned from one another’s tactics and moved to act amid worsening predictions about the effects of climate change on the planet.

Georgetown University’s board of directors announced this month that it will end private investments in coal, oil and gas companies within the next decade, and some faculty at Harvard have called for a similar shift. There were sit-ins and demonstrations last week at dozens of schools, including Gonzaga University, the University of Wisconsin, University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University.

Several dozen schools have stopped investing at least partially in fossil fuels, but there is debate over how much the move slows the effects of climate change or affects the bottom line of companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

Many schools have defended their investments, citing a duty to preserve and grow the income they receive from donations, while touting efforts to use investments as leverage to engage energy companies, find solutions for climate change through research and make campuses carbon neutral by not causing any net increases in heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

For student activists, it’s about taking a moral and political stand.

At Yale University, which has a $30.3 billion endowment, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate on Thursday will discuss the university’s ethical obligations regarding fossil fuel investments. It became a big issue partly due to a widely covered student protest that disrupted a November football game between Harvard and Yale.

“Yale has to take it seriously. We forced them to take it seriously. The faculty discussions are evidence of that,” said Ben Levin, a student leader with the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition. “They’re also evidence of the fact that the faculty are incredibly concerned because they don’t want to be working for a university that’s on the wrong side of the most pressing issue of our time.”

Yale says it has supported shareholder resolutions calling for companies to reveal what they’re doing to address climate change and asked endowment managers not to invest in companies that fail to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but student activists want a clean break.

The campus actions are part of a broader push for insurers, pension funds and governments worldwide to end fossil fuel investments.

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben, a leader of the movement to stop such investments, said students have played a huge role.

“They’ve kept it up through two generations of undergraduates. Administrators hoped they’d graduate and that would be the end of the pressure, but instead it keeps building,” said McKibben, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College, which announced last year it would divest its $1.1 billion endowment from fossil fuels.

Student government leaders from the Big Ten Conference called last month for their 14 schools to begin divesting from fossil fuels, passing a resolution that cited the conclusion of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change.

A challenge for institutions is the prevalence of investments in index funds, which makes it difficult to separate out the roughly 4 percent of energy stocks in such funds, said John Jurewitz, a lecturer in economics at Pomona College. Colleges pulling their investments also wouldn’t likely hurt oil companies, which have their own internal cash flows, he said.

“It’s mainly a political statement about what the university is willing to invest in,” Jurewitz said. “It may be a worthwhile statement if you believe it will help get the ball rolling toward getting some realistic, meaningful policy like a carbon tax or cap and trade, something that will put a price on the carbon in some practical way.”

The Independent Petroleum Association of America has pushed back with its own campaign, arguing divestment would cost university endowments millions a year with little impact on carbon emissions.

At Harvard, which has a $40.9 billion endowment, President Lawrence Bacow said he would take a faculty motion to the Harvard Corporation, the university’s executive board. In the past, administrators have outlined steps Harvard is taking to address climate change while arguing that ending fossil fuel investments wouldn’t have a big effect and that it makes little sense to sever ties with energy companies that heat and light the campus.

Connor Chung, a first-year student and organizer for Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, said the group hopes the university will reconsider.

“At the end of the day, our goal is environmental justice,” he said. “Divestment is our tactic for getting there, but it’s not going to work unless we have a broader movement around the country and around the world of students demanding that their institutions end their complicity in the climate crisis.”

A group of Harvard students also want to stop investments in prisons and companies that contract with them. They sued Wednesday, arguing the school is violating state law by investing in an industry they describe as “present-day slavery.” Harvard officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.

At George Washington University, sophomore Izy Carney said a student campaign has taken inspiration from the activism of students elsewhere, including in the University of California system, which announced a plan to end fossil fuel investments in 2019.

After hearing from student activists, George Washington’s board of trustees announced a task force this month on managing environmental responsibility. But it did not mention divestment as a possibility.

Carney, a member of Sunrise GW, a student group dedicated to fighting climate change, said they would keep up the pressure.

“Right now, it sounds like profits is what our university is after,” Carney said. “We just want to make sure our school is doing everything it can to make sure it is not contributing to the climate crisis.”


Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.


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Digital actuality used to focus on uranium contamination


Activists are utilizing digital actuality expertise to give attention to areas of the Navajo Nation affected by uranium contamination.

The humanities collective Bombshelltoe has collected 360-degree footage of land close to Churchrock, New Mexico, to indicate how folks and the land have modified since a 1979 uranium mill spill, the Gallup Unbiased stories .

The movie, titled “Methods of Figuring out,” was directed by artist Kayla Briet.

The undertaking began 4 years in the past after Washington, D.C.-based nuclear coverage program supervisor Pretty Umayam met Navajo activist Sunny Dooley at an occasion in Santa Fe. Filmmaker Adriel Luis can also be a co-producer of the film.

“Sunny requested us throughout this assembly, ‘The place is your coronary heart?’ And it caught my – together with everybody else’s – consideration,” Umayam mentioned.

In 1979, a dam on the Navajo Nation close to Church Rock broke at a uranium mill’s evaporation pond, releasing 94 million gallons (356 million liters) of radioactive waste into the Puerco River.

It was the biggest unintended launch of radioactive materials in United States historical past and thrice the radiation launched on the Three Mile Island accident.

The radiation contaminated not solely water however the meals chain. Cattle in western New Mexico later confirmed greater ranges of radiation.

Dooley, who lives in Chi Chil Tah, New Mexico, mentioned she has felt the direct results of the massive spill that went down the Rio Puerco and contaminated the water and soil in her group.

Throughout a latest presentation of the digital actuality footage, Dooley talked about her day by day lifetime of not having the ability to have working water in her dwelling as a result of it’s contaminated. “I’ve to come back to Gallup to get my water and take it again dwelling,” she mentioned.

Umayam mentioned the group wished to make use of the brand new expertise of digital actuality with the tales to deliver a real expertise and present the affect of uranium mining.

She mentioned the undertaking is near being completed, however with each presentation they get extra info and make tweaks to the system.


This story has been up to date to say that the movie is titled “Methods of Figuring out” and was made by artist Kayla Briet. The story additionally has been revised to say that the footage is of land close to Churchrock, New Mexico.


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Local weather of fir: German forests wrestle with warmth


Germany’s forests — lengthy a supply of satisfaction and nationwide id — are feeling the warmth.

A second consecutive 12 months of unusually dry and heat climate has left swaths of forest useless or dying, fueling fears that the woods that impressed many a Grimms’ fairytale could possibly be heading for an sad finish. Officers say droughts, wildfires and hungry beetles destroyed 110,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of forest in Germany in 2018 and the harm this 12 months could possibly be even worse.

The sight of naked timber has stoked debate in Germany in regards to the affect of local weather change and what measures this closely industrialized nation needs to be taking to adapt to and forestall international warming.

A ballot launched Friday by public broadcaster ZDF discovered 62% of German voters say it is essentially the most urgent drawback, increased than every other difficulty.

And whereas tackling local weather change has broad public help throughout the political spectrum, the environmentalist Inexperienced get together seems to be benefiting most, with the ZDF survey displaying it could take 25% of the vote if there have been a basic election, greater than doubling its consequence from 2017. The consultant phone ballot of 1,307 voters performed Aug. 6-Eight had a margin of error of as much as three share factors.

The Inexperienced get together, which was based 40 years in the past at a time when Germans had been witnessing the consequences of acid rain on their forests, has demanded drastic steps to curb greenhouse fuel emissions, placing stress on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats, which at present kind a coalition authorities. The Cupboard has responded by pledging to agree a bundle of measures subsequent month that would embody some type of carbon cost and tax breaks for rail tickets to chop home air journey — although proposals to boost the worth of bratwurst and different meat had been swiftly dismissed.

The conservative governor of Bavaria not too long ago proposed bringing ahead the deadline for shutting down Germany’s coal-fired energy crops and instructed local weather safety needs to be included within the nation’s structure.

Final week, state forestry ministers from the Union bloc known as for 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to be spent over the approaching years to revive ailing forests and make them match for a hotter future.

In the meantime, hard-line environmentalists have pointed to the continued dispute over an historical forest in western Germany that is prone to being destroyed for a close-by mine.

Hambach Forest sits subsequent to an enormous open-cast lignite pit operated by utility large RWE. An professional proposal to finish using coal in Germany by 2038, accepted by the federal government, was meant to save lots of the forest, however activists say RWE is endangering what’s left of the woods by pumping out valuable groundwater.

Swedish local weather activist Greta Thunberg on Saturday visited the forest, the place she met with environmentalist protesters and demanded that “our warfare in opposition to nature should finish at present,” the activist group Finish of Story stated in a press release.

The 16-year-old, whose protest motion has mobilized tens of hundreds of scholars throughout Europe every week calling on leaders to do extra in opposition to international warming, stated seeing the mine disturbed her deeply and that the time had come to cease speaking and take motion.

Thunberg, who’s planning to set sail subsequent week for a U.N. local weather summit in New York, in March devoted an award she obtained from German media to “these defending the Hambach Forest and the local weather activists who struggle to maintain the fossil fuels within the floor all over the place.”

Merkel has acknowledged feeling the stress coming from Thunberg and her largely younger supporters, however cautioned that “we’re additionally taking new instructions, and these new instructions should after all be thought by.”

Specialists say whichever course the federal government takes, Germany’s forests are in for a change.

Spruce timber, as soon as well-liked for his or her timber, have been affected by rising temperatures for a number of years now, stated Andreas Bolte, head of Germany’s Thuenen Institute of Forest Ecosystems.

“What’s new this 12 months is that we had actual issues with beech in some areas,” he stated, noting that pines and oaks are additionally starting to harm.

Scientists are hoping that timber extra immune to warmth, comparable to Douglas firs, can change native varieties, which is able to proceed to thrive at increased altitudes.


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Teen climate activist gets Normandy’s first Freedom Prize


Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg has received the first Freedom Prize awarded by France’s Normandy region, which last month commemorated the 75th D-Day anniversary.

Thunberg, 16, received the award in Caen on Sunday, posing alongside D-Day veterans Charles Norman Shay and Léon Gautier.

Thunberg said that “I think the least we can do to honor them is to stop destroying that same world that Charles, Leon and their friends and colleagues fought so hard to save.”

She sent out a warning that “we are currently on track for a world that could displace billions of people from their homes, taking away even the most basic living conditions … making areas of the world uninhabitable for parts of the year.” But she added, “We can still fix this.”


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