Headlines: December 3, 2018
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 10:46 — 9.9MB)
The United Nations climate conference has opened in Katowice, Poland, the heart of the Polish coal-industry. The meeting will continue until December 14th and is focused on progress in implementing the 3-year old Paris Accord. But Poland’s President Andrzej Duda vowed in his opening remarks that Poland would never fully stop mining and burning coal – highlighting the continued resistance to efforts to curb global warming. Also addressing delegates was Sir David Attenborough, the internationally renowned British natural historian, who warned that human civilization could be facing a collapse.
Ahead of COP24, an estimated 65,000 people marched in Brussels, Belgium, the heart of the European Union, to push for swift action on climate change. Climate protest called “Claim the Climate” in Brussels. An estimated 65,000 people marched ahead of the COP24 in Poland to demand action on climate change.
The G-20 summit wrapped up on Saturday in Buenos Aires, Argentina where the leaders of 20 wealthy nations met and discussed their continued collaboration on various issues. One of the more awkward topics of discussion was Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s role in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to Associated Press, “French President Emmanuel Macron was captured on video seemingly lecturing bin Salman, at one point being heard saying, ‘I am worried,’ ‘you never listen to me,’ and, ‘I am a man of my word.’ Macron said the crown prince only, ‘took note’ of his concerns.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin was captured on film giving the Crown Prince a high five while smiling broadly. Reuters described the conundrum of G-20 leaders like this: “How to deal with the crown prince, who is dogged by controversy over the murder of a Saudi journalist but is also de facto leader of a rich, oil-producing kingdom that is a major global investor.” The outlet also reported, “while leaders appeared to ignore Prince Mohammed on stage during the ‘family photo,’ many went on to have closed-door bilateral meetings with him during the two-day summit.”
Also at the G-20 summit the US and China agreed to a ceasefire of sorts in their on-going trade war – a war that was prompted by President Donald Trump. According to the New York Times, “The temporary truce, forged over a working dinner on Saturday night in Buenos Aires, does little to resolve the deep differences between the two nations and is more a political agreement than a substantive one.” What is known so far about the deal is that it leaves in place US tariffs of 10% on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and halts for now the plan to increase tariffs to 25%. The two nations plan to commit to a trade deal by March 1st.
Trump signed the new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the G-20 along with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. He announced on Saturday that he would be terminating the original agreement in 6 months, setting a deadline for the US Congress to ratify the new agreement. He threatened that if they did not ratify the deal, the three nations would return to pre-1994 trade rules. Trump has referred to the new NAFTA as the USMCA or the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.
The G-20 Summit wrapped up with the signing of a communique that included language about climate change and how 19 of the 20 nations were committed to implementing the Paris Accord with the US being the lone holdout.
In other news, former US President George H. W. Bush has died. The 41st President of the United States passed away at age 94, it was announced on Saturday. The BBC described him as, “a war hero, a congressman, an ambassador, the head of the CIA, Ronald Reagan’s number two and, between 1989 and 1993, the most powerful man in the world.” Eulogies have streamed in for the one-term Republican President with President Barack Obama calling him, “a humble servant,” and President Bill Clinton saying he was, “Honorable, gracious and decent.” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Bush was, “great in his character, leading with decency and integrity.” Some used the opportunity to contrast Bush’s conduct as President with that of Trump’s. But apparently the elder Bush made clear before his death that he wanted Trump at his funeral.
Meanwhile critics of George H. W. Bush pointed out that the glowing eulogies missed the dark aspects of his legacy. Journalist Jeremy Scahill tweeted, “George HW Bush was an unrepentant war criminal. May his many victims across the globe Rest In Peace.” In a separate tweet he gave more details saying, “I remember feeling a deep sense of shame and anger when I visited the Amiriyah shelter in Iraq. George HW Bush killed more than 400 civilians huddled there on February 13, 1991. These are the crimes we should be discussing today.” The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan reminded us, among other things, that Bush had run a racist campaign, running the infamous “Willie Horton” ads that stoked anti-black racism.
The body of the 41st President is being brought to Washington DC on Monday to lie-in-state. His funeral will be on Wednesday.
In other news, the Dallas, Texas, police officer who fatally shot a black man named Bothem Jean when she entered his apartment earlier this year, has been indicted on murder charges. District Attorney Faith Johnson, whose office apparently interviewed 300 people in connection with the killing said, “At the moment of the shooting, it was an intentional event.” Officer Amber Guyger had said she thought she was in her own apartment when she shot Mr. Jean, thinking he was an intruder.
Alaskans are recovering from a major 7.0 earthquake that took place Friday. While the quake caused no deaths or serious damage to major structures, there was serious damage to roads. Schools will remain closed for a week.
In international news, Paris, France is reeling from the damage of a serious riot that took place on Saturday as part of on-going protests against President Emanuel Macron’s proposal to increase taxes. According to AP, “Paris police said 133 people were injured, including 23 police officers, as crowds trashed the streets of the capital Saturday. Officers fired tear gas and used water cannon to tamp down the violence as protesters torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with spray paint.” Macron is apparently looking at protest security measures in the wake of the damage. There are well over 300 people in police custody at the moment. The protests are now in their third week.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing bribery and fraud charges. According to Reuters, “Authorities allege Netanyahu awarded regulatory favors to Israel’s leading telecommunications company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on a news website, Walla, owned by the company.” It is the third time Mr. Netanyahu is facing such charges. The Israeli Attorney General is considering whether or not to indict the 4-term president.