Colombia to End New Government Contracts for Oil and Gas Drilling
Colombia’s government has pledged it will no longer award new contracts to drill for oil and gas, as President Gustavo Petro seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to transition Colombia away from fossil fuels. Colombia’s Energy and Mines Minister Irene Vélez spoke Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Irene Vélez Torres: “We have decided that we are not going to enter into new gas and oil exploration contracts. This has, of course, been very controversial at the national level. But, for us, this is a clear sign of our commitment to the fight against climate change, because we know that this decision is a planetary decision that is absolutely urgent and needs immediate action.”
Over 1 Million March Across France as Unions Strike to Oppose Cuts to Pensions
In France, over 1 million people marched on the streets of cities including Paris, Marseille and Nice on Thursday, as labor unions held a nationwide strike against plans by President Emmanuel Macron to raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64. In Paris, more than three dozen people were arrested after police used tear gas to clear protesters from Bastille Square. This is trade union leader Laurent Escure.
Laurent Escure: “We want to have a good retirement. We don’t want to retire broke, tired, broken. We want to enjoy our last years with our children, our grandchildren, maybe with our parents, who have to be taken care of. So it is a message of social justice that we want today. If the government does not come to its senses, there will be more strikes to follow. That is why we appeal to reason and not to make the choice of irresponsibility, and to choose the voice of reason.”
U.K. Public Sector Unions Plan Work Stoppage over Proposed Anti-Strike Law
In the United Kingdom, unions have condemned a bill proposed by Conservatives that would allow the state to break strikes of public sector workers by ensuring they maintain “minimum services” during work stoppages. Workers violating the bill could lose their jobs, and their unions could be sued. Labor leaders have condemned the bill as “undemocratic, unworkable and illegal.” They’re planning to mobilize over 100,000 civil servants in a one-day strike on February 1.
Two Indigenous Pataxó Land Defenders Shot Dead in Brazil
In Brazil, two Indigenous Pataxó land defenders were murdered Tuesday in the municipality of Itabela. Seventeen-year-old Nawir Brito de Jesus and 25-year-old Samuel Cristiano do Amor Divino were traveling to a farm when gunmen on a motorcycle shot them in the back, according to witnesses. The Pataxó people have faced intense conflicts with local ranchers who’ve invaded their land. This comes as the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has launched a series of raids in search of illegal loggers and ranchers in the Amazon rainforest in an effort to halt deforestation, which skyrocketed under the far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro. This is the anti-deforestation mission’s leader, Givanildo Dos Santos.
Givanildo Dos Santos: “The rhetoric of the former government created a mindset among people that led many to invade areas and deforest them, planting farms and thinking that the government would eliminate Indigenous lands and legalize these invasions for cattle production.”
SCOTUS Fails to Identify Leaker of Dobbs Decision, Which Overturned Roe v. Wade
Back in the United States, the Supreme Court said Thursday it was unable to identify the person responsible for leaking the draft opinion on Dobbs last year, which overturned Roe v. Wade, or the constitutional right to an abortion. The court conducted over 100 interviews as part of the investigation into one of the worst breaches in its history. At least 90 people had access to the opinion before it was publicly released. This weekend would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe. v Wade. Since the ruling was overturned, 12 states have enacted total abortion bans.
Texas Prisoners in Second Week of Hunger Strike Protesting Solitary Confinement
In Texas, prisoners across the state have been on a hunger strike for 10 days to protest indefinite solitary confinement. In some cases, people have been held in solitary confinement for decades. Human rights groups, including the U.N., have said the practice amounts to torture.
Alec Baldwin, “Rust” Armorer to Face Manslaughter Charges in Death of Halyna Hutchins
In New Mexico, prosecutors in Santa Fe are charging Alec Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over the killing last year of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by a loaded prop gun on the set of the film “Rust.” The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will also be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Baldwin’s lawyers vowed to fight the charges; SAG-AFTRA, the union representing many Hollywood actors and other film and media professionals, also condemned the decision to hold Baldwin — who was also a producer on the film — responsible for Hutchins’s death, saying, “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert.”
Google Lays Off 12,000 Workers Amid Steep Job Cuts in Tech
Google has announced plans to lay off 12,000 workers with immediate effect — affecting about 6% of the company’s workforce. Google’s CEO announced the layoffs this morning, just two days after Amazon and Microsoft announced layoffs affecting a combined 28,000 people.
David Crosby, Legendary Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 81
The legendary musician David Crosby has died at the age of 81. The singer, guitarist and songwriter was a pivotal member of two of the most influential bands of the 1960s: The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. In 2011, David Crosby came into the Democracy Now! studio with longtime collaborator Graham Nash shortly after they performed at Occupy Wall Street in New York. He talked about his longtime opposition to nuclear power.
David Crosby: “The second part is that human beings make mistakes. That gave us Chernobyl. That gave us Three Mile Island. Mother Nature can kick our butts anytime she wants to. That gave us Fukushima. It’s not safe. There are two plants in California right on the beach. One of them is on a fault line. It’s 50 miles to, windward, my house. I keep — I sort of look that way to make sure I spot the plume when it happens. There’s nothing safe about it, and there’s nothing green about poisoning your country.”
During their appearance on Democracy Now!, David Crosby and Graham Nash also performed part of Crosby’s song “What Are Their Names.”
David Crosby and Graham Nash: [singing] “Who are the men Who really run this land? And why do they run it With such a thoughtless hand? What are their names? And on what streets do they live? I’d like to ride right over This afternoon and give Them a piece of my mind About peace for mankind. Peace is not an awful lot to ask.”
David Crosby and Graham Nash in our Democracy Now! studios in 2011. Click here to see the whole interview. David Crosby has died at the age of 81.