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AP News Digest 6 p.m. Health Amazon China FBI Democrats

AP News Digest 6 p.m. Health Amazon China FBI Democrats

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Here are the AP’s latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org.

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NEW/DEVELOPING

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Adds: VIRUS OUTBREAK-ISRAEL; BELARUS-CRACKDOWN; US-PULITZER BOARD; BIDEN-PUBLIC-LANDS-NOMINEE; VIRUS-OUTBREAK-BRITAIN; BIDEN-CUBA; HEALTH=DEPARTMENT-FIRING; MEDICAID-EXPANSION-MISSOURI; WESTERN-DROUGHT-HAALAND; VIRUS OUTBREAK-BONUSES; OPIOID CRISIS-WEST VIRGINIA; GEORGIA-INSURANCE-COMMISSIONER-TRIAL; WASHINGTON POST-LAWSUIT; FBI-KAVANAUGH; CYBERSECURITY-KASEYA-RANSOMWARE; FEDERAL PRISONS-WARDEN; CAPITAL BREACH-INVESTIGATION, CALIFORNIA RECALL-REPUBLICANS, BORDER PATROL-NEBRASKA.

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ONLY ON AP

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AP-POLL-INFRASTRUCTURE — About 8 in 10 Americans favor plans to increase funding for roads, bridges and ports and for pipes that supply drinking water. But a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that’s about as far as Democrats and Republicans intersect on infrastructure. By Josh Boak and Hannah Fingerhut. SENT: 805 words, photos.

CHINA-LARGEST DETENTION CENTER — China’s largest detention center is twice the size of Vatican City and has room for at least 10,000 inmates. The AP was the first Western media allowed in during a state-led tour of Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in the far western region of Xinjiang. No. 3 was converted from an internment camp into a pre-trial detention facility, the AP found, in what appears to be an attempt to move Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities into a more permanent prison system justified under the law. By Dake Kang. SENT: 1,700 words, photos. An abridged version of 1,000 words is also available.

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TOP STORIES

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VIRUS OUTBREAK — Death rates are soaring across Southeast Asia as virus waves spread. Just in the last two weeks, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar have all surpassed India’s peak per capita death rate from a new coronavirus wave. By David Rising and Eileen Ng. SENT: 1,360 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-REPUBLICANS-VACCINES — Republican politicians are under increasing pressure to convince vaccine skeptics to roll up their sleeves and take the shots as a new, more contagious variant sends caseloads soaring. But it may be too late to change the minds of many who are refusing. By Jill Colvin and Brian Slodysko. UPCOMING: 1,100 words, photos by 7 p.m.

CAPITOL BREACH-INVESTIGATION — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declares that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its “deadly serious” work whether Republicans participate or not. By Mary Clare Jalonick. SENT: 910 words, photos, video.

WESTERN-WILDFIRES — Lower winds and better weather helped crews using bulldozers and helicopters battling the nation’s largest wildfire in southern Oregon while a Northern California wildfire crossed into Nevada, prompting new evacuations as blazes burn across the West. By Nathan Howard. SENT: 560 words, photos. With WILDFIRES-SMOKE EXPLAINER — As wildlife smoke spreads, who’s at risk? SENT: 880 words, photos.

HAITI-PRESIDENT-ASSASSINATED-COLOMBIA — The assassination of Haiti’s president this month has exposed an industry of retired Colombian soldiers who feed private security enterprises around the world. Haitian authorities have implicated at least 20 retired Colombian soldiers in the slaying of President Jovenel Moïse. By Regina Garcia Cano and Astrid Suarez. SENT: 1,090 words, photos. WITH: HAITI-PRESIDENT-ASSASSINATED — Hundreds of workers fled businesses in northern Haiti after demonstrations near the hometown of assassinated President Jovenel Moïse grew violent ahead of his funeral. SENT: 440 words, photos.

OPENING-CEREMONY-DIRECTOR-FIRED — The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. By Mari Yamaguchi. SENT: 650 words, photo. WITH: OLYMPIC SCANDALS– From doping, to demonstrations to dirty officials to the reluctant postponement of the Tokyo Games, the Olympics have never lacked their share of off-the-field scandals that keep the Games in the headlines long after the torch goes out. SENT: 800 words, photos.

Find more stories on the 2020-Tokyo Olympics here

AMAZON-BUZZERS — Amazon is pushing landlords around the country to give its drivers the ability to unlock apartment building front doors whenever they need to leave packages in the lobby instead of the street. The service, called Amazon Key for Business, allows delivery workers to make their rounds faster since they don’t have to ring doorbells. And fewer stolen packages could give Amazon an edge over other online retailers. But there could be drawbacks. By Joseph Pisani. SENT: 965 words, photos.

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THE OLYMPICS

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OLY-ATHLETE PROTESTS — After images of Olympic soccer players taking a knee were excluded from official highlight tapes and social media channels, the IOC says kneeling protests will be shown in the future. SENT: 400 words, photos. With EXPLAINER-PROTEST-RULE — Players from the U.S., Sweden, Chile, Britain and New Zealand women’s teams went to a knee before their games, anti-racism gestures the likes of which had not been seen before on the Olympic stage. SENT: 700 words, photo.

THE-DIRTY GAMES? — It’s one of the uncomfortable realities of the Tokyo Olympics. Not a single one of the approximately 11,000 athletes competing over the next 17 days has been held to the highest standards of the world anti-doping code over the critical 16-month period leading into the Games. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

OLY-TV-CROWD-NOISE — One of Molly Solomon’s favorite memories from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics was watching Lindsey Vonn before she skied. Cameras in the start house would focus on her, with microphones picking up her breathing while she listened to final instructions. With no spectators in the stands during the Tokyo Games, Solomon is hoping to pick up on more of those moments. SENT: 515 words, photos.

OLY-GUINEA-WITHDRAWS — The West African country of Guinea has reversed an earlier decision to pull out of the Olympics. Guinea’s sports minister said Thursday the country will send a delegation of five athletes to the Tokyo Games. SENT: 310 words, photo.

JILL-BIDEN — Jill Biden is in Tokyo on her first solo international trip as first lady. She’s leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic Games. SENT: 890 words, photos.

EXPLAINER-SURFING — Surfing is as much skill and science as instinct and timing. SENT: 980 words, photos.

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WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT

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US-PULITZER BOARD — New York Times opinion columnist Gail Collins, Associated Press Editor at Large John Daniszewski and journalist Katherine Boo have been elected as co-chairs of the Pulitzer Prize Board, SENT: 240 words, photo.

MUSIC-KANYE-WEST — Kanye West knows how to make a splash even with an upcoming listening event in Atlanta. SENT: 370 words, photo.

WASHINGTON POST-LAWSUIT — Washington Post reporter sues paper for discrimination. SENT: 430 words, photo.

INTERNET-OUTAGE — Major websites went down in what appeared to be a brief but widespread outage. The websites of Airbnb, AT&T, Costco and Delta showed error messages around midday. SENT: 75 words.

ECUADOR-PRISON-VIOLENCE — Rival gangs of inmates have fought in two prisons in Ecuador, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens. SENT: 115 words, photos.

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MORE ON THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

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VIRUS-OUTBREAK-US — Vaccinations are beginning to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are soaring. That’s according to White House officials who briefed reporters on Thursday. SENT: 670 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-BRITAIN — Retailers in England are warning of barren supermarket shelves as more and more store employees get “pinged” to self-isolate because of contact with someone who has the coronavirus. SENT: 830 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-BONUSES — Elected officials in a Michigan county gave themselves bonuses with federal relief money related to the coronavirus pandemic. The money, described as “hazard pay,” included $25,000 for Jeremy Root, chairman of the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners. SENT: 410 words.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ISRAEL — Israel’s prime minister is calling upon hundreds of thousands of citizens who have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus to get the shot. The appeal comes as new infections climbed precipitously in recent weeks. SENT: 300 words, photo.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-SMALL-BUSINESS-TOURISM — Small businesses in the U.S. that depend on tourism and vacationers say business is bouncing back, as Americans rebook postponed trips and spend freely on food, entertainment and souvenirs. SENT: 1,115 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-JAPAN — Tokyo hit another six-month high in new COVID-19 cases a day before the Olympics begin, as worries grow of a worsening of infections during the Games. SENT: 370 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-CHINA-COVID-ORIGINS — China says it won’t accept the World Health Organization’s plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19. SENT: 600 words, photos.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-VIRAL QUESTIONS-BREAKTHROUGH CASES — A small number of COVID-19 “breakthrough” cases are expected after vaccination, and health officials say they’re not a cause for alarm. SENT: 380 words, graphic.

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WASHINGTON/POLITICS

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BIDEN-ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT — President Joe Biden’s administration says it is making $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by this year’s COVID-19 relief bill. SENT: 335 words, photos.

BIDEN-PUBLIC-LANDS-NOMINEE — A bitterly divided U.S. Senate panel deadlocked on President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee vast government-owned lands in the West, as Democrats united behind a nominee whose credibility was assailed by Republicans over her links to a 1989 environmental sabotage case. SENT: 740 words, photos.

BIDEN-CUBA — The Biden administration unveils new sanctions against a Cuban official and government entity it says were involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on protests. SENT: 550 words, photos, video.

UNITED STATES-AFGHANISTAN — The U.S. military launched several airstrikes this week in support of Afghan government forces fighting Taliban insurgents, including in the strategically important province of Kandahar. SENT: 660 words, photos. With UNITED STATES-AFGHAN VISAS — House lawmakers vote overwhelmingly to allow in thousands more of the Afghans who worked alongside Americans in the Afghanistan war. SENT: 580 words, photos.

JUSTICE-DEPARTMENT-GUN TRAFFICKING — Attorney General Merrick Garland says he hopes the Senate will act quickly to confirm the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help front the federal effort against gun violence. SENT: 870 words, photos, video.

IOWA-SENATE-FINKENAUER — Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer is running for Republican Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat. The one-term former congresswoman hopes her blue-collar credentials will propel her forward in a state that has grown more conservative over the years. SENT: 625 words, photos.

FBI-KAVANAUGH — Senate Democrats raise new concerns about the thoroughness of the FBI’s background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after the FBI revealed it had received thousands of tips and had provided “all relevant” ones to the White House counsel’s office. SENT: 340 words, photo.

WESTERN-WILDFIRE-HAALAND — Confronting the historic drought that has a firm grip on the American West requires a heavy federal infrastructure investment to protect existing water supplies but also will depend on efforts at all levels of government to reduce demand by promoting water efficiency and recycling, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. SENT: 750 words, photos.

FEDERAL PRISONS-WARDEN — Federal investigators question the warden of a federal women’s prison in California and search his office after a former correctional officer at the facility was arrested on charges of sexually abusing inmates. SENT: 470 words, photo.

CALIFORNIA RECALL-REPUBLICANS — California’s recall ballot is finally set, but the state Republican party is still determining its best strategy for winning back the governor’s office in one of the nation’s most Democratic states. SENT: 930 words, photos.

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INTERNATIONAL

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PANDEMIC-AFRICA-SOUTH-SUDAN-MOTHERS — Even before the pandemic hit, South Sudanese women were accustomed to building lives on the edge of uncertainty. But COVID-19 is shaking that fragile foundation. SENT: 1,490 words, photos, video. An abridged version of 1,020 words is also available.

JERUSALEM-SHRINE-BRIDGE — A rickety bridge allowing access to Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site is at risk of collapse, according to experts, but the flashpoint shrine’s delicate position at ground zero of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has prevented its repair for more than a decade. SENT: 1,080 words, photos.

NORWAY-ATTACK-ANNIVERSARY — Church bells pealed across Norway for the 10th anniversary of the country’s worst peacetime slaughter, as leaders urged renewed efforts to fight the extremism behind the attack that left 77 people dead. SENT: 715 words, photos.

RUSSIA-WILDFIRES-EXPLAINER — A look at what’s fueling thousands of wildfires that engulf broad expanses of Russia each year, destroying forests and shrouding territories in acrid smoke. SENT: 770 words, photos.

KOREAS-US-NUCLEAR — Top U.S. and South Korean officials agreed to try to convince North Korea to return to talks on its nuclear program, which Pyongyang has insisted it won’t do in protest of what it calls U.S. hostility. SENT: 500 words, photos.

BELARUS-CRACKDOWN — The longtime leader of Belarus vowed Thursday to continue a crackdown on civil society activists he regards as “bandits and foreign agents.” SENT: 500 words, photos.

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NATIONAL

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INDIGENOUS BOARDING SCHOOLS-CHURCHES — Top officials in the Episcopal Church launch a review of the denomination’s role in operating boarding schools for Native American children for many decades in the past. The initiative follows the discoveries of unmarked graves at similar schools in Canada, and announcement of a U.S. Interior Department review of such schools by the U.S., most of which were church-run. SENT: 1,260 words, photos. Eds: An abridged version of 990 words is available.

HEALTH DEPARTMENT-FIRING — Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee is defending his administration’s firing of the state’s vaccination chief and rollback of outreach for childhood vaccines. Michelle Fiscus has repeatedly said she was terminated to appease some GOP lawmakers who were outraged over state outreach for COVID-19 vaccinations to minors. SENT: 730 words, photo.

BORDER PATROL-NEBRASKA — Nebraska State Patrol officials have defended their state-funded mission to the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas, arguing that they answered a call for help from fellow law enforcement officers amid a surge in illegal border crossings. SENT: 720 words, photo.

NASHVILLE-INTERSTATE-RACE — Tennessee state Rep. Harold Love Jr.’s father put up a fight in the 1960s against rerouting Interstate 40 because he believed it would stifle and isolate Nashville’s Black community. After his father’s prediction came true, Love Jr. is now part of a group pushing to build a cap across the highway that would create a community space to help reunify the city. SENT: 1,075 words, photos.

BRIBERY-INVESTIGATION-OHIO — The energy giant at the center of a $60 million bribery scheme in Ohio admitted to riveting new details of its role in the conspiracy as part of a settlement agreement with federal prosecutors, including how it used secret dark money groups to fund the effort and paid a soon-to-be top utility regulator to write the legislation it got in exchange. SENT: 725 words, photo.

SUPREME COURT-ABORTION-MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The office of state’s Republican attorney general made the request in written arguments filed Thursday. SENT: 390 words, photo.

GEORGIA-CHASE-DEADLY-SHOOTING — Attorneys are clashing over testimony at the upcoming murder trial of three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery. SENT: 770 words, photos.

MEDICAID-EXPANSION-MISSOURI — The Missouri Supreme Court vacated a lower court’s decision in the state’s Medicaid expansion case, agreeing that the voter-approved plan to offer Medicaid to more people should stand. SENT: 530 words, photos.

OPIOID CRISIS-WEST VIRGINIA — A potential $26 billion national settlement deal with big U.S. drug distribution companies has raised hopes that help could be on the way in places like opioid-ravaged West Virginia. SENT: 990 words, photos.

LEAKS-SENTENCING — A former Air Force intelligence analyst says his guilt over participating in lethal drone strikes in Afghanistan led him to leak government secrets about the drone program to a reporter. SENT: 560 words, photo.

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HEALTH & SCIENCE

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COCKATOOS OPEN BINS AUSTRALIA —- Clever cockatoos have figured out how to hoist open trash-can lids with their beaks. Scientists focused on animal cognition are tracking the spread of this new “foraging technique” across the suburbs of Sydney. SENT: 900 words, photos.

MED-SUPERBED-FUNGUS — U.S. health officials say they now have evidence that an untreatable “superbug” fungus has spread in two hospitals and a nursing home. SENT: 375 words, photos.

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BUSINESS/ECONOMY

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CYBERSECURITY-KASEYA-RANSOMWARE — The Florida company whose software was exploited in the devastating Fourth of July weekend ransomware attack has received a universal key that will decrypt all of the more than 1,000 businesses and public organizations crippled in the global incident. SENT: 430 words, photos.

VIRUS-OUTBREAK-UNEMPLOYMENT-BENEFITS —The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week from the lowest point of the pandemic, even as the job market appears to be rebounding on the strength of a reopened economy. SENT: 655 words, photos.

DAIMLER-ELECTRIC-CARS — Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz is stepping up its move into electric cars. It says it can see a market scenario where all sales are electric by the end of the decade. SENT: 405 words, photos.

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ENTERTAINMENT

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TRAVEL-WOODLAWN-CEMETERY — Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City is the resting place of scores of famous and influential people. One recent trolley tour of jazz and vaudeville greats included the gravesites of Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George M. Cohan and more. Other walking and trolley tours cover themes such as Black, Irish, Italian and women’s history. SENT: 800 words, photos.

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SPORTS

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FBC–NCAA-COMPENSATING ATHLETES-RECRUITING — There are plenty of questions about the impact of college athletes profiting off their celebrity. The opportunities for athletes can now be a selling point for coaches when pitching prospects on joining their programs. SENT: 830 words, photos.

FBC–CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT — If the Southeastern Conference does add Texas and Oklahoma, as is being discussed by the two schools and the powerhouse league, could that be the first domino to fall in another round or realignment that reshapes college sports? By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 700 words, photos.

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HOW TO REACH US

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The Nerve Center can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Courtney Dittmar (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://newsroom.ap.org. For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport(at)ap.org or call 844-777-2006.

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WORLD

Why Our Climate Isn’t Jumping for Joy After COP26

Why Our Climate Isn’t Jumping for Joy After COP26
Climate activists attend a protest organised by the Cop26 Coalition in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. AP Photo

Two major gains took place at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland, which concluded on November 13: the first was that there would be another COP in 2022 in Egypt, and the second was that the world leaders expressed their aspiration to keep global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. These were, however, the only gains made at the end of COP26 to address the pressing issue of climate change.

After more than two weeks of intense discussions—and many evenings of corporate-funded cocktail parties—the most powerful countries in the world left the convention center pleased not to have altered the status quo.

The focus of the discussions and negotiations by world leaders during COP26 seemed to be on the change of a word in the Glasgow Climate Pact, the final document that will be adopted by nearly 200 nations. Initially, the countries had begun to agree to the “phase-out” of coal; the final version of the document, however, merely said that the countries would “phase down” coal. During the last hours of the COP26 summit on November 13, Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga took the microphone and expressed her “profound disappointment” with the change. “The language we had agreed on coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been further watered down as a result of an untransparent process,” she said.

Sommaruga is correct. The process has been “untransparent.” Only a handful of world leaders—from the most powerful countries—had the opportunity to put pen to paper on this pact; the majority of world leaders only saw a draft of the Glasgow Climate Pact and were then provided the final document. Civil society associations were barely allowed to enter the hall, let alone to have the opportunity to sit with the pact and give their input on it. As President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen put it bluntly, “never before has a responsibility so great been in the hands of so few.” Why this “responsibility” was, however, entrusted to the “hands of so few” goes unremarked in her speech.

Words and Meanings

During the COP26, thousands of documents appeared on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, which included reports, statements and proposals relating to COP26. It would take an army of lawyers to scour through the text of these documents and make sense of them. Most of them are submissions made by a range of governments, corporations and corporate-funded platforms as well as civil society organizations.

It was clear from the first day of COP26 that the focus of achieving “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050 was going to be on coal and not on all fossil fuels. Right through the negotiations, this was the fault line, with the Western countries—which are largely non-coal reliant—putting the emphasis on coal—which is used mainly in the Global South, with India and China in the lead. To make the COP26 about coal allowed fossil fuel use in general (including oil and natural gas) to receive a breather. While pressure mounted to cut subsidies for fossil fuels, the Global North was able to gather consensus that only “inefficient” subsidies would be cut with no timetable provided for these cuts. Sommaruga, who spoke so forcefully against the phrase “phase down” when it came to coal, said nothing regarding the allowance for “efficient” subsidies to underwrite fossil fuel use. It is far easier to blame India and China for their reliance on coal than to agree to phase down all fossil fuels.

Climate Finance

On November 15, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that China “attaches high importance to energy transition.” But he specified that there are some issues that need to be looked at before that. First, no energy transition can take place without awareness that “not everyone has access to electricity and energy supply is not adequate.” Cutting coal tomorrow will condemn billions of people to a life without electricity (about 1 billion people still have no electricity connection, with most of them living in the Global South). Second, Zhao said, “We encourage developed countries to take the lead in stopping using coal while providing ample funding, technological and capacity-building support for developing countries’ energy transition.” The developed countries had agreed to fund the Green Climate Fund to the tune of $100 billion per year by 2020, but the actual amounts disbursed have been far smaller. No agreement on finance was reached at the COP26. “We need concrete actions,” said Zhao, “more than slogans.”

Glasgow’s COP26 was filled with corporate executives. They swarmed the hotels and the restaurants, holding private meetings with government leaders and with Prince Charles. The International Chamber of Commerce told governments to “wake up,” while the U.S. Business Roundtable said that “the private sector cannot shoulder the burden alone.” The implication here is that the corporations are on the right side of the climate discussion, while the governments are being hesitant. But this is partly the work of the spin doctors. Most corporations that have made “net-zero” pledges have done so in a nonbinding way and without a timetable. At the conclusion of the conference, it seemed that neither the powerful governments nor their corporations were willing to tie their hands to a real agreement to mitigate the climate crisis.

People’s Summit

Just some blocks down from the grand halls of the official summit, people’s movements, Indigenous organizations, trade unions, youth groups, migrant groups, environmentalist organizations, and many more met as part of the People’s Summit for Climate Justice from November 7 to November 10. Their message was simple: corporations and their pliant governments would not do the job, so people need to find a way to set the agenda “for system change.” The more than 200 events organized as part of the People’s Summit addressed a range of topics from the role of militarism in emissions, to building a global Green New Deal, and even holding a People’s Tribunal to put the ineffective UNFCCC on trial.

Emotions at the People’s Summit oscillated from excitement over being together in the streets after nearly two years of confinement due to COVID-19, to dread at the imminent disappearance of the low-lying island states. Participants from Tuvalu and Barbados talked about the impact of the inaction by the Global North as they see their islands disappear, their homes flood, and their present vanish. “Why are you asking us to compromise on our lives?” asked Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a climate activist from the Philippines and spokesperson for Fridays for Future.

The People’s Tribunal called for the disbanding of the UNFCCC and its reconstitution from the ground up as a Climate Forum that does not allow the polluters to make the decisions. This newly constituted Climate Forum would demand meaningful financing for a green transition as well as an end to the plunder of natural resources and to wars of aggression.

Asad Rehman of War on Want spoke to the presidency of COP26 with words that resonated far from Glasgow: “The rich have refused to do their fair share, more empty words on climate finance. You have turned your backs on the poorest who face a crisis of COVID, economic and climate apartheid because of the actions of the richest. It is immoral for the rich to talk about the future of their children and grandchildren when the children of the Global South are dying now.”


By Vijay Prashad and Zoe Alexandra

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

Zoe Alexandra is a journalist with Peoples Dispatch and reports on people’s movements in Latin America.

This article was produced by Globetrotter decide to publish on Telegraf.

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WORLD

Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next

Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next
Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport on Aug. 16, 2021. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.

The insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Here is a look at what happened and what comes next:

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN AFGHANISTAN?

The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, have again taken control.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the insurgents from power, but they never left.

After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the Western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed.

Afghans, fearing for the future, are racing to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country.

WHY ARE PEOPLE FLEEING THE COUNTRY?

They are worried that the country could descend into chaos or the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks against those who worked with the Americans or the government.

Many also fear the Taliban will reimpose the harsh interpretation of Islamic law that they relied when they ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Back then, women were barred from attending school or working outside the home. They had to wear the all-encompassing burqa and be accompanied by a male relative whenever they went outside.

The Taliban banned music, cut off the hands of thieves and stoned adulterers.

The Taliban have sought to present themselves as a more moderate force in recent years and say they will not exact revenge, but many Afghans are skeptical of those promises.

WHY ARE THE TALIBAN TAKING OVER NOW?

Probably because US troops are set to withdraw by the end of the month.

The US has been trying to get out of Afghanistan, its longest war, for several years now.

American troops ousted the Taliban in a matter of months when they invaded to root out Al-Qaeda, which orchestrated the 9/11 attacks while being harboured by the Taliban.

But it proved more difficult to hold territory and rebuild a nation battered by repeated wars.

As the US focus shifted to Iraq, the Taliban began to regroup and in recent years took over much of the Afghan countryside.

Last year, then-President Donald Trump announced a plan to pull out and signed a deal with the Taliban that limited US military action against them.

President Joe Biden then announced that the last troops would leave by the end of August.

As the final deadline drew close, the Taliban began a lightning offensive, overrunning city after city.

WHY DID THE AFGHAN SECURITY FORCES COLLAPSE?

The short answer? Corruption.

The US and its NATO allies spent billions of dollars over two decades to train and equip Afghan security forces.

But the Western-backed government was rife with corruption. Commanders exaggerated the number of soldiers to siphon off resources, and troops in the field often lacked ammunition, supplies or even food.

Their morale further eroded when it became clear the US was on its way out. As the Taliban rapidly advanced in recent days entire units surrendered after brief battles, and Kabul and some nearby provinces fell without a fight.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN?

He fled.

President Ashraf Ghani hunkered down and made few public statements as the Taliban swept across the country.

On Sunday, as they reached the capital, he left Afghanistan, saying he had chosen to leave to avoid further bloodshed.

It’s not clear where he went.

WHY ARE PEOPLE COMPARING AFGHANISTAN TO THE FALL OF SAIGON?

The Fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces in 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War.

It became an enduring symbol of defeat after thousands of Americans and their Vietnamese allies were airlifted out of the city on helicopters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has rejected any comparisons to Afghanistan, saying: “This is manifestly not Saigon.”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT IN AFGHANISTAN?

It’s not clear.

The Taliban say they want to form an “inclusive, Islamic government” with other factions. They are holding negotiations with senior politicians, including leaders in the former government.

They have pledged to enforce Islamic law but say they will provide a secure environment for the return of normal life after decades of war.

But many Afghans distrust the Taliban and fear that their rule will be violent and oppressive.

One sign that worries people is that they want to rename the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is what they called it the last time they ruled.

WHAT DOES THE TALIBAN TAKEOVER MEAN FOR WOMEN?

Many fear it could mean a severe rollback of rights.

Afghan women have made major gains since the overthrow of the Taliban.

Many are worried they will once again be confined to their homes.

The Taliban have said they are no longer opposed to women attending school but have not set out a clear policy on women’s rights.

Afghanistan remains an overwhelmingly conservative country, especially outside major cities, and the status of women often varied, even under Taliban rule.

WILL THE TALIBAN ONCE AGAIN HARBOUR AL-QAEDA?

That is anyone’s guess, but American military officials are worried.

In the peace deal signed with the United States last year, the Taliban pledged to fight terrorism and prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a base for attacks.

But the US has little leverage to enforce that.

Technological advances over the last 20 years allow the United States to target suspected militants in countries like Yemen and Somalia where it does not have a permanent troop presence.

The Taliban paid a heavy price for their role in the Sep 11 attacks and likely hope to avoid a repeat as they seek to consolidate their rule.

But earlier this year, the Pentagon’s top leaders said an extremist group like Al-Qaeda may be able to regenerate in Afghanistan, and officials are now warning that such groups could grow much faster than expected.

Afghanistan is also home to an Islamic State group affiliate that has carried out a wave of horrific attacks targeting its Shiite minority in recent years. The Taliban have condemned such attacks and the two groups have fought each other over territory, but it remains to be seen whether a Taliban government will be willing or able to suppress IS. AP

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Malala Yousafzai ‘Deeply Worried About Women, Minorities’ As Taliban Takes Kabul

Malala Yousafzai ‘Deeply Worried About Women, Minorities’ As Taliban Takes Kabul

The activist, who survived a Taliban attack, called for urgent humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Activist Malala Yousafzai voiced grave concerns for women, minorities and human rights activists after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan.

Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan when she was 15, said on Sunday she was watching on in complete shock as Taliban forces advanced into Kabul after executing a near-complete takeover of the country in a little over a week.

“I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates,” she said. “Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect. refugees and civilians.”

Yousafzai was targeted by extremists in 2012 after she spoke out publicly about the right to education for girls and women. She was shot on her school bus. She survived, went on to continue her advocacy from the UK, and in 2014, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, U.S. Embassy staff were evacuated and several other western missions worked to withdraw personnel. It comes months after the Biden administration announced the withdrawal of a decades-long U.S. military presence in the country.

Many fear the insurgents will roll back decades of gains by women and ethnic minorities, reimposing the brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, the Associated Press reported. AP

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Video Shows Afghans Clinging To U.S. Military Plane As It Takes Off In Kabul

Video Shows Afghans Clinging To U.S. Military Plane As It Takes Off In Kabul

Seven people were reportedly killed during the chaos, including individuals who fell from a departing American transport jet.

Stunning video taken Monday at the Kabul airport shows people clinging to a U.S. military transport plane during takeoff, as well as others appearing to plunge to their death from the sky, in a disturbing scene that reportedly ended with several people dead.

The U.S. military suspended evacuation flights from the Afghan capital later on Monday due to the swarms of people blocking the airport’s tarmac, a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters.

“I understand there is no air traffic at the moment because a large number of desperate people are crowding the tarmac,” the spokesperson told journalists in Berlin, according to Reuters.

The chaos ended with seven people dead, including those who fell from a departing American military transport jet, The Associated Press reported, citing senior U.S. military officials.

Disturbing videos posted to social media appear to capture some of the deaths, and seem to show bodies falling from a plane shortly after takeoff. The authenticity of these videos has not been independently confirmed by HuffPost.

The Taliban has meanwhile attempted to reassure Afghans, saying in a statement that “life, property and honor” will be respected. But many Afghans fear that the Islamic militants will roll back basic democratic and human rights, particularly for women, journalists and nongovernment organization workers.

“Everyone is worried,” a former government employee who is hiding in Kabul told Reuters. “They’re not targeting people yet but they will, that’s the reality. Maybe in two or three weeks. That’s why people are fighting to get out now.” AP/REUTERS

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What is the Relationship Between the Taliban and ISIS?

What is the Relationship Between the Taliban and ISIS?
Taliban fighters stand guard in a vehicle along the roadside in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war. (AFP)

Who are the two groups?

The Taliban and Isis are both Sunni Islamist extremist groups seeking to form authoritarian states under strict Sharia law and prepared to use violence to achieve their aim.

The two forces are actually enemies, however, who have fought bitterly since 2015 when Isis formed the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) in Afghanistan at a time when it was first seeking to extend its geographical reach beyond Iraq and Syria.

The Taliban first came to prominence in 1994 during the Afghan Civil War, its ranks composed largely of students – from which the group derives its name in Pashto – many of whom had been mujahideen resistance fighters who had battled occupation by the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

A Deobandi fundamentalist Islamist movement originating in the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan and in northern Pakistan, the Taliban was led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and conquered first the province of Herat and then the whole country by September 1996, overthrowing the Burhanuddin Rabbani regime, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and making Kandahar the capital.

Its tyrannical rule, marked by the massacre of opponents, the denial of UN food supplies to starving citizens and the oppression of women, was brought to an abrupt end by US-led coalition forces in December 2001 in retaliation for Osama Bin Laden’s devastating al-Qaeda terror strike on the World Trade Center in New York City, which killed 2,996 people and left 25,000 injured.

Since then, Taliban fighters have regrouped as an insurgency and continued to battle to retake Afghanistan from US peacekeeping forces ever since.

Isis meanwhile was first formed by Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 before rising to global prominence when it drove Iraqi forces out of key cities in the west of the country in 2014 – having declared itself a worldwide caliphate – and later conquered swathes of eastern Syria before ultimately surrendering Mosul and Raqqa in 2017 when international forces intervened.

It established the ISKP in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan in January 2015, actively recruiting defectors from the Taliban, in particular those who were disconttented with their own leadership’s lack of success on the battlefield.

How have their respective factions interacted?

The formation of ISKP prompted Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour to write a letter to his Isis counterpart, Abu Bakr al-

More battles erupted in April 2017 when ISKP captured three drug dealers selling opium to raise funds for the Taliban in the northern Afghan province of Jowzjan and again in May 2017 when 22 militants were killed in clashes between the two sides along the Iranian border.

The Taliban launched an offensive to clear Isis out of Jowzjan the following summer, with the the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan joining in on the latter’s side, as up to 7,000 people were displaced from their homes.

That July’s conflict ended in a significant defeat for ISKP, who suffered further setbacks in skirmishes the following year before being almost entirely eradicated by the US and the Afghan military in late 2019, although the Council for Foreign Relations estimates that there are still 2,200 members of ISKP still active in Afghanistan.

In February 2020, the Donald Trump administration signed its dubious peace accord with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, which saw the latter group pledge to keep other Islamist extremists, including Isis, out of the country.

Why are we asking this now?

Afghanistan is again in a state of turmoil after the Taliban recaptured the capital city of Kabul on Sunday, declaring the country an Islamic Emirate once more after president Ashraf Ghani abandoned the presidential palace and fled to Tajikistan.

The operation followed swiftly on from the withdrawal of American troops from the country last month at the order of US president Joe Biden, their exit coming almost 20 years after the US military drove the same faction out of Kabul at the outset of George W Bush’s War on Terror in response to 9/11.

Biden expressed his determination not to hand the responsibility for policing Afghanistan on to a fifth commander-in-chief following the completion of his own tenure in the White House and trusted in the Afghan military, in whom the US had invested almost $1trn over two decades, to keep the Taliban at bay.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that that force has been unable to defend the country… and that has happened more quickly than we anticipated,” US secretary of state Anthony Blinken lamented on Sunday.

Amid the chaotic scenes in Kabul as people fled for the airports was the alarming sight of 5,000 escaped prisoners walking free from the Pul-e-Charki prison on Bagram air base, occupied by the Americans until recently, with alleged Isis and al-Qaeda fighters present among their number.

Speaking on NPR’s All Things Considered last week, former US defence secretary Leon Panetta gave this blunt assessment of the disaster unfolding: “The Taliban are terrorists, and they’re going to support terrorists. If they take control of Afghanistan, there is no question in my mind that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda, for Isis and for terrorism in general. And that constitutes, frankly, a national security threat to the United States.”

Baghdadi, calling on him to abandon his recruitment drive of the disaffected and arguing that any war for their comparable cause in Afghanistan should be carried out under Taliban leadership.

Fighting duly broke out between the two sides that June 2015 and between two separate factions of the Taliban in the Zabul Province that November over whether or not to join forces with ISIS. INDEPENDENT

 

 

 

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1/3 of Israel’s Older Population Has Received COVID-19 Booster Shot as Delta Cases Rise

1/3 of Israel’s Older Population Has Received COVID-19 Booster Shot as Delta Cases Rise
An Israeli medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine during a campaign by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality to encourage the vaccination of teenagers on July 5 in Tel Aviv. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Over one-third of Israel’s older population has received a COVID-19 booster shot, as the country rushes to administer additional vaccine doses to counter the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that over 420,000 Israelis older than 60 have so far received a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. According to government statistics, that number is expected to exceed half a million by the end of the day, the Associated Press reported.

Israel began rolling out COVID-19 booster shots to its older population last weekend, after health officials reported new data indicating a decline in vaccine protection over time. The country had previously offered a third dose of the vaccine to some people with compromised immune systems, such as individuals with cancer.

The latest rollout comes as hospitalizations and daily case counts continue to rise due to the delta variant. Last week, Israel began recording an average of more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases a day, with 250 people in serious condition. That marks its worst outbreak since April, according to Agence France-Presse.

On Saturday, the country recorded 4,211 new cases and 19 new deaths. In response to the latest outbreak, the government recently moved to reinstated its mask mandate for indoor settings and is now weighing more restrictions.

Israel quickly became a world leader in vaccinating against the virus during its initial public campaign. By Sunday, nearly 60 percent of the country’s 9.3 million population has been fully vaccinated, with more eligible people now rushing to receive a third vaccine dose.

Israel booster shot
Over one-third of Israel’s older population has received a COVID-19 booster shot, as the country rushes to administer additional vaccine doses to counter the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. In this photo, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accompanies his mother Myrna Bennett as she receives her third COVID-19 vaccine shot, at a Maccabi Healthcare Services clinic in the northern city of Haifa on August 3, 2021. POOL / AFP/Getty Images

While most vaccine makers and researchers agree that booster shots will be needed to provide additional protection against the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) last week called for a moratorium on the use of third doses until the end of September in order to address inequalities in global vaccine distribution.

In response to the moratorium, Bennett said Thursday that Israel was doing the world a “great service” by administering the booster shots.

“Israel is going ahead here with something that dramatically contributes to global knowledge,” he said in a Facebook broadcast. “Without us, the world wouldn’t know the exact efficacy levels of the booster shots, wouldn’t know the dates, how much they affect infections, how they affect severe illness,” he added.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve of the use of coronavirus vaccine boosters for the American public. However, data from the CDC indicates that an increasing number of Americans are using dishonest means to receive a third jab.

Moderna has estimated that a COVID-19 vaccine booster could ready for use in the U.S. by the winter, and Pfizer is said to be preparing a booster shot for FDA approval soon.

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