News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

The United Nations has released a major new report on climate change finding a devastating lapse in reaching emissions goals set 4 years ago at the COP 21 UN climate conference in Paris, France. According to the Emissions Gap report, “The summary findings are bleak. Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global [Greenhouse gas] emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.” Specifically researchers estimate, “By 2030, emissions would need to be 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2018 to put the world on the least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to below 2 ̊C and 1.5°C respectively.”

In other climate news, a new wildfire has broken out in Santa Barbara, California, coming at a highly unusual time of year. The so-calledCave Fire grew overnight to more than 4,000 acres and prompted the evacuation of thousands. California has been experiencing hotter and drier weather fueling more serious wildfires for many more months through the year than before.

In news from Washington DC, a federal judge late on Monday ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn is required to respond to a subpoena from House Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. In her ruling Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson pointedly called Trump out writing, “Presidents are not kings. They do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.” Justice Department lawyers immediately moved to appeal the ruling and asked Judge Jackson to put her decision on hold. McGahn has said he is willing to comply with the ruling. House committees hoped  that the ruling would sway Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify but Bolton has joined another lawsuit filed by his former aide Charles Kupperman saying that McGahn’s case did not include matters of national security. That parallel case continues to wend its way through courts. The courts may move too slowly for the House committees though, as a report may be expected as early as next week. According to Associated Press, “hundreds of pages from Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff’s intelligence committee were being compiled into an exhaustive report that will begin to outline whether President Donald Trump engaged in ‘treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors’ by withholding $400 million in aid as he pushed Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.”

In another court ruling related to the impeachment inquiry, a judge has ordered the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to release documents related to the delay in military funds to Ukraine. The documents in question are more than 200 pages of correspondence between the Pentagon, the Pentagon’s Comptroller, and the OMB that are required to be released by mid-December. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Public Integrity.

New polls on impeachment show that public support for removing the President from office remains steady at just under 50%. A Politico-Morning Consult poll on Tuesday concluded that 43-48% of the public supported the impeachment inquiry. A new CNN poll found very similar results.

And in the latest chapter on the release of Trump’s tax returns, the Supreme Court has stepped in to block a ruling by an appeals court ordering Mazars International to hand over the returns to House committees. The Supreme Court’s actions came without comment and allows Trump’s legal team until December 5th to submit their appeal. The New York Times explained that, “The court could announce whether it will hear the case in the coming weeks and, if it does, issue a decision by June.”  

The House Oversight Committee has sued Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over their continued refusal to turn over documents related to decision making on the 2020 US Census. Both Barr and Ross have ignored all subpoenas from House committees to turn over documents and earlier this year the House voted to hold them in criminal contempt for their defiance.

The organization Economic Roundtable released a major new report on the online retail giant Amazon.com focusing specifically on its warehouses where orders are fulfilled and found that, “Amazon’s warehouse jobs are grueling and high-stress.” Additionally, “For every $1 in wages paid by Amazon, warehouse workers receive an estimated $0.24 in public assistance benefits,” and, “57 percent of Amazon warehouse workers live in housing that is overcrowded and substandard.”

Another tech giant is in the news: Google. The world’s largest search engine has reportedly fired four workers who had been involved in pressuring their employer to not work with Customs and Border Protection. The workers, whose contracts were not renewed on the Monday before the long holiday, have been dubbed the “Thanksgiving Four.” In a statement of support for their fellow workers, Google employees wrote, “Four of our colleagues took a stand and organized for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: ‘And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right–speak up.’” The signatories added, “When they did, Google retaliated against them.”

Senate Democrats this week unveiled a new bill aimed at protecting internet users’ privacy. The bill, which is being touted as a set of “Miranda rights” for the internet, is called the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act and was introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state. According to the Washington Post the bill, “would allow people to see the personal information that is amassed about them and block it from being sold. The measure also promises steep fines and opens the door for web users to bring lawsuits, if social media sites, retailers and others engage in harmful practices and break the rules.”

A new study on life spans, death and suicide in the US published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found a troubling reversal of longevity in direct contrast to other developed nations. The Los Angeles Times summarized the findings like this: “the nation’s lifespan reversal is being driven by diseases linked to social and economic privation, a healthcare system with glaring gaps and blind spots, and profound psychological distress.”

Palestinians on Tuesday marked a “day of rage” with thousands protesting the US’s reversal of its policy on illegal Israeli settlements. As estimated 2,000 people gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah and burned US and Israeli flags and posters of President Donald Trump. The Trump administration recently reversed long-standing US policy that agreed with United Nations’ assessments of settlements in Palestinian territories as forbidden under international law. One official with the ruling Fatah party said at the protests, ““The biased American policy toward Israel, and the American support of the Israeli settlements and the Israeli occupation, leaves us with only one option: To go back to resistance.”

And finally in Iraq, anti-government protests have continued and even escalated. This week Iraqi security forces fatally shot 9 protesters in the capital Baghdad and other areas of southern Iraq. The government response to the protests, which began in October, has so far resulted in nearly 340 deaths.

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