Deb Haaland Faces Republicans in Historic Confirmation Hearing & Global News

by Debra Brown

Deb Haaland

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


Deb Haaland Faces Republicans in Historic Confirmation Hearing

Deb Haaland, seeking to make history as the first Native American to hold a cabinet secretary position in the US, has weathered a torrent of hostile questioning from Republicans during her confirmation hearing as secretary of the interior.

A Laguna Pueblo member, Haaland, 60, said she had learned about her culture from her grandmother’s cooking and participating in traditional ceremonies, and had learned about the importance of protecting the environment from her grandfather. Haaland said “our climate challenge must be addressed” but conceded that fossil fuels would play a role in the US for “years to come”. As interior secretary, Haaland would oversee the management of lands that make up nearly a third of America’s landmass, including tribal lands.

Haaland is considered a progressive on the climate crisis and has spoken out on the impact of fossil fuel development upon the environment and Native American tribes, positions that Senate Republicans were keen to attack during a sometimes contentious confirmation hearing.

Haaland’s nomination has been vigorously supported by environmental and Native American groups as a landmark moment to confront the climate crisis while addressing widespread inequities experienced by tribes. 


Fashion for All Foundation + NAACP Partner with Empire State Building for BHM 

In Partnership with Fashion for All Foundation & NAACP NY State Chapter, The Empire State Building tower lights will black, red and green in honor of Black History Month.

This will be the second year in a row that Fashion for All Foundation, founded by Hannah Stoudemire, will light the Empire State Building in the colors representing the Pan African flag.

The lighting will take place on Thursday February 25, 2021 and will be lit starting at dusk and will shine all evening throughout the night until dawn. There will also be a live virtual event, hosted by author and television and radio personality, Bevy Smith. The time of the lighting is at dusk, 6:07pm EST.


Japan Has Appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness’ 

Japan has appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” to take try and reduce loneliness and social isolation among its residents as the country deals with rising suicide rates, Tomohiro Osaki reported for the Japan Times.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is already a minister in charge of dealing with Japan’s declining birthrate and promoting regional revitalization, to oversee government policies to deal with loneliness and isolation.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with people more socially isolated than ever, Japan saw a rise in suicides for the first time in 11 years.

In October, more people died from suicide than had died from COVID-19 in Japan in all of 2020. There were 2,153 suicide deaths that month and 1,765 total virus deaths up to the end of October 2020, per the Japanese National Police Agency.

Studies show that loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of health issues like heart disease, dementia, and eating disorders.

Women in Japan, in particular, have contributed to the uptick in suicides. In October, 879 women died by suicide in Japan, a 70% increase compared to the same month in 2019. 

The United Kingdom was the first country to appoint a loneliness minister in 2018, after a 2017 report found that more than nine million people in the UK said they often or always felt lonely.


Top U.S. Capitol Officials Say They Did Not See FBI Warning of Calls for Violence

Top Capitol law enforcement officials said they did not see intelligence from the FBI the night before the U.S. Capitol riot that warned of calls for violence online and said groups were “preparing for war.”

Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said the report was received at Capitol Police headquarters the night before the Jan. 6 riot, but leadership did not see it.

Assistant FBI Director Steven D’Antuono said the intelligence report, prepared by the bureau’s Norfolk, Virginia, office, included a “thread from a message board” that described an array of preparations for an assault, including a map of Capitol-area tunnels and staging areas in in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

D’Antuono said that while the information could not be attributed to an actual suspect, the information was shared within “40 minutes” with law enforcement partners, including the Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which includes the U.S. Capitol Police, the law enforcement agency that led the failed response.


One Year Later: Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arberry & Martin Gugino

An independent investigation finds Aurora, Colo., police had no reason to contact Elijah McClain, a young Black man who died in their custody last summer. City leaders are looking at next steps.

Elijah McClain died in August 2019, three days after he was stopped by Aurora police, put in a carotid hold, and injected with ketamine. No charges were brought against the officers because, District Attorney Dave Young wrote in a June 2020 letter, prosecutors lacked evidence to prove the officers caused McClain’s death or that their force was unjustified.

Martin Gugino, 76, whose skull was fractured after he was shoved to the ground by police officers at a protest in Buffalo last year has filed a lawsuit against the city and members of its police force.

Gugino, claims in the lawsuit that he was “forcibly assaulted” by the police at the protest, and that other officers walked by as he “lay unconscious on the sidewalk, blood pouring from his fractured skull.” The suit, filed on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, also alleges that the defendants tried to conceal the assault.

The filing, which claims that Mr. Gugino’s constitutional rights were violated, was the latest development in an episode that was captured on video and widely shared on social media last year. It added outrage to a period of protests over police violence after the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who was chased and gunned down by a group of white men in Glynn County, Ga., while jogging, has filed a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against several people involved in the killing or the subsequent investigation.

The lawsuit filed by Wanda Cooper on Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia comes exactly one year after her son’s killing.


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