July 6, 2021

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The Headlines

The Edge

Exxon Lobbyists “Look out for Shareholders” as Planet Burns (The Edge)

Why Antitrust Bills Are Taking on Big Tech (The Edge)

More from The Edge

Corporate Media Ignores Filibuster’s Ties to White Supremacy (The Edge)

Structural and Political Violence Are ‘All Related’ (The Edge)


‘Vaccine Equity Is Urgent,’ Say Experts as Delta Variant Ravages Poor Nations (Common Dreams)


Human Rights Investigators Probe Deadly Colombian Government Crackdown on Protests (Democracy Now!)

Canada’s Indigenous Genocide Is Ongoing (Truthout)

Climate Emergency

America’s Schools Are Crumbling. Fixing Them Could Save Lives — and the Planet. (Grist)

The Edge

Exxon Lobbyists “Look out for Shareholders” as Planet Burns

Just days before an undersea gas pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in a fiery vortex that was all too symbolic of the current climate emergency, it was made public that a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist unwittingly revealed how the oil company uses its political influence to undermine climate action. In the secretly recorded video call, courtesy of Greenpeace UK, lobbyist Keith McCoy admitted to “aggressively fight[ing] against” climate science and working with “shadow groups” to combat political action on climate change. All of this was done to maximize profits and “look out for [their] shareholders.”

During the undercover Zoom call that took place in May 2021, the senior Exxon lobbyist divulged a series of manipulative tactics that have effectively prevented any major climate legislation from being passed since Biden took office. These tactics have resulted in devastating climate inaction from Congress.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Why Antitrust Bills Are Taking on Big Tech

Four tech giants have been consolidating wealth and media control over the past several years, and especially during the pandemic. Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google have cemented their platforms in businesses from social media to movies as critics argue their practices harm consumers and online information.

After a 16-month investigation completed last fall by the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, House lawmakers in June introduced six antitrust bills intended to curb the power of these companies to acquire or undercut competitors.

After a debate and vote that spanned two days and showed divisions among lawmakers, the Judiciary Committee advanced the bills on June 24. Though the bills will face challenges gaining bipartisan support in the Senate, antitrust legislation is essential to securing healthier markets and information online.

Read the full report on The Edge.

More from The Edge

Corporate Media Ignores Filibuster’s Ties to White Supremacy

In recent weeks, the filibuster has been the subject of vitriol from both Democratic members of Congress and the American public. On May 28, Senate Republicans used the filibuster rule to block a commission into the January 6 insurrection.

Less than four weeks later on June 22, Republicans used the filibuster to block the For the People Act, a progressive voting rights bill that would have countered the increased voter suppression bills being passed on a state level. In response, many are calling for the abolition of the filibuster, which is now coming to be viewed as a method to undermine democracy in the United States.

While controversy around the rule has gained national attention, mainstream news coverage is leaving one major issue with the filibuster: its ties to white supremacy.

Structural and Political Violence Are ‘All Related’

On June 24, the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights hosted an expert local group to discuss violence in Ithaca and across the U.S. Director Ken Clarke moderated the panel, which interrogated root causes and coverage of violence.

Dr. Sabrina Karim, Assistant Professor in Government at Cornell University, described how structural violence can account for much of the violence we see, and how lack of opportunity can “ripple out to criminal violence.”

Community Organizer Richard Rivera emphasized that “this violence doesn’t come out of nowhere.” He also detailed how discussions tend to focus on crime committed by Black youth.

PCIM Director Raza Rumi criticized coverage by mainstream news outlets, saying they “default to evading law enforcement accountability” and fail to inform the public of the real crisis of gun violence.

And Travis Brooks, Deputy Director of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, touched on how reframing healthy masculinity can contribute to reducing violence against women.

Read more and watch the full discussion here.


‘Vaccine Equity Is Urgent,’ Say Experts as Delta Variant Ravages Poor Nations

The rapid spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is now present in almost 100 countries, prompting public health experts and advocates to demand immediate international action to distribute vaccines to unprotected populations. Concerns are growing that the virus is mutating faster than nations can distribute shots.

Common Dreams reports coronavirus cases are surging in Asian nations such as Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia—all countries that have fully vaccinated less than 6% of their populations. Experts are attributing the rising infections in Asia, Africa, South America, and other regions to the Delta variant, believed to be 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha mutation.

Sanjeev Kafely, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Bangladesh delegation, stressed that “mass vaccination is the key to ending the spiraling deaths, infections, and hardships caused by this virus in Bangladesh and everywhere around the world.”


Human Rights Investigators Probe Deadly Colombian Government Crackdown on Protests

Colombia’s right-wing government has brutally cracked down on protesters after a general strike was called in April, leading to over 80 deaths, with many at the hands of police and paramilitary forces. An international human rights commission has since arrived in Colombia to investigate the crackdown.

Democracy Now! speaks with award-winning journalist Mario Murillo, who says the current violence is “a continuation” of a right-wing backlash to the 2016 peace accords between the government and FARC guerrillas, which ended more than 50 years of conflict.

Canada’s Indigenous Genocide Is Ongoing

On June 5, found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School were the buried remains of 215 children. The recovery of this and other unmarked mass graves have sent waves of grief and outrage across Canada.

As Siku Allooloo writes for Truthout, “I say recoveries because these are not new discoveries; this particular form of genocide unleashed against Indigenous children has been aggressively instituted and actively concealed by Canadian governments, churches and the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] since 1831.”

The crimes include murders of children and deadly acts of negligence and mistreatment that could have been avoided. “The high death rates, inhospitable conditions and preventable causes of death were known.”

Climate Emergency

America’s Schools Are Crumbling. Fixing Them Could Save Lives — and the Planet.

Before the pandemic, ventilation experts rarely tested the airflow of U.S. schools. As Grist reports, that was probably a mistake, as outdated ventilation systems allow the rise of CO2 levels. But replacing the HVAC systems that were invented in the 1970s with new versions of the same model won’t help much to improve health or efficiency. 

Ventilation could be one of dozens of improvements U.S. schools have a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix with funding from Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. With money from this infrastructure proposal, most districts in the U.S. could have a chance to make their buildings greener and cheaper to operate.

In Other News

1. Pentagon cancels $10bn Jedi cloud computing contract at centre of Amazon and Microsoft dispute (The Independent)

2. The 3 Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta (The Atlantic)

3. Tropical Storm Elsa Crosses West Cuba And Heads For Florida (HuffPost)

4. US left Bagram Airbase at night with no notice, Afghan commander says (BBC)

5. Nicaragua police arrest six opposition leaders under sweeping ‘treason’ laws (The Guardian

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The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.