Australian Youth Climate Activists File Landmark Class Action Suit & Global News

by Debra Brown

Youth climate activists

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.

 

Australian Youth Climate Activists File Landmark Class Action Suit

In Australia, eight youth climate activists and a nun have filed a landmark class action lawsuit that would force the Australian federal government to stop approving new fossil fuel projects. The suit was filed in response to a proposal by a coal corporation to extend its mine in northern New South Wales. Sixteen-year-old climate justice advocate Anjali Sharma is the lead plaintiff in the suit.

The 16-year old lead complainant Anj Sharma warned the project would burn roughly 370 billion tonnes of carbon emissions over its lifetime if it went ahead.  Anjali says, “This is a crisis that disproportionately affects people of color, young people and marginalized people around the world.”. 

If successful, their case could set a precedent preventing the federal government from approving future coal mines.

A similar case brought by teenagers in the Netherlands was successful in 2019 when a Dutch court ordered the government to curb emissions by 25 per cent.

It was the first time a nation was ordered to take action on climate by its courts.

It followed a group of Colombians, aged between seven and 26, successfully suing their government in 2018 over its failure to halt deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

The ruling also established the Amazon rainforest itself had rights, which the government was duty bound to protect.

 

U.S. House Passes Equality Act

The House has passed the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect people from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and other services as well as access to public accommodations such as restaurants.

Supporters say that the Equality Act simply extends basic, broadly accepted tenets of the Civil Rights Act to classes of people that the bill doesn’t explicitly protect.

Three Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the bill. The Republican legislators that voted with Democrats on this vote, did so when the legislation passed in the House in 2019 as well. The House vote was largely along party lines. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is unclear.

The bill would be national, covering states that do not have LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws. According to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, 27 states do not have those laws.

 

Jackson, Mississippi Without Water for More Than 2 Weeks

Thousands of residents in the predominantly Black city of Jackson, Mississippi have gone without running water for nearly two weeks after an icy winter storm swept through the deep South, knocking out power and water in some areas. Jackson is currently under a boil water alert, which means most residents are struggling to find ways to bathe, cook and use the bathroom.

In anticipation of the storm, Mississippi Governor Reeves and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann declared a state of emergency. The storm left thousands in the state without power, which has since been nearly fully restored.

A representative for the city of Jackson told CBS News that it is unclear how many people were without water, as the system — which services 43,000 customers — is old. The way the city counts and records water outages is by people calling them in.

Jackson mayor said, is an “aging city with an aging budget” with about a $300 million annual budget and “more than likely, a more than $2 billion issue with our infrastructure.” He did not specify a timeline for when water would be restored.

The non-profit Shower Power, a mobile shower unit brought to cities in need  will be in Jackson to provide clean showers to people without water.

 

Massachusetts’ Progressive Lawmakers Push Congress to Abolish Qualified Immunity

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren (Democrats of Massachusetts) are introducing a bill to fully end qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that protects police and law enforcement officials from civil liability in cases where they are accused of violating someone’s constitutional rights.

This precedent would apply to future civil litigation, in addition to cases that are pending once passed. The full list of sponsors includes Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Pressley and former Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich, first introduced a bipartisan version of the bill last summer. As an amendment to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a package of sweeping police reforms developed in response to nationwide protests against police brutality. Pressley and Amash’s amendment did not make it into the version of the JPA that was passed by the House in June.

The bill was shared exclusively with The Intercept

 

Myanmar Police Fire Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets at Protesters

Police in Myanmar repeatedly used tear gas and rubber bullets against crowds protesting last month’s coup, but the demonstrators regrouped after each volley and tried to defend themselves with barricades as standoffs between protesters and security forces intensified.

Authorities have escalated their crackdown on the protests in recent days. The United Nations said it believed at least 18 people were killed when security forces fired into crowds, while a rights group said more than 1,000 people were detained over the weekend, including an Associated Press journalist. A lawyer for the journalist said he has been charged with an offense that could see him imprisoned for up to three years.

The weekend crackdown drew international condemnation. In addition to the use of force, authorities also detained more than 1,000 people, according to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

 

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