As world leaders meet in New York City for the UN Climate Action Summit, 16 children have filed a complaint with the United Nations arguing that, by failing to adequately address climate change, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey have failed to uphold their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. CNN reports that the complaint was filed shortly after Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s speech at the summit, saying, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words — and yet, I'm one of the lucky ones… People are suffering, people are dying." Carl Smith, a member of the indigenous Yupiaq tribe who lives in Akiak, Alaska, explained how warming has imperiled the subsistence hunting and fishing that his community depends on. He blamed the inaction from leaders on greed. "I think they're acting slowly because they don't want to lose money," Smith said. "And I think they should go see what [climate change] is doing to little villages and cities."”
Reggie Moore, director of the Milwaukee Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention, testified before a subcommittee of the US House Judiciary Committee this week on the impact of gun violence in his city and the need to invest in comprehensive violence prevention strategies: “We have an opportunity right now to invest in policies and programs that could literally save lives or continue to ignore the slow mass-murder happening on the streets of our cities every day across this country.” Moore also read from an essay written by a young Milwaukee girl, Sandra Parks, who was later killed in her home by a stray bullet: “Sometimes, I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. I put my headphones on and let the music take me away. I move to the beat and try to think about life and what everything means. When I do, I come to the same conclusion … we are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence.”
As concerns about e-cigarettes grow, Juul, the San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker, replaced its CEO this week, bringing in new leadership from the tobacco company Altria. The Associated Press reports that “Juul devices went on sale in 2015, and the company quickly propelled itself to the top of the market with a combination of high-nicotine pods, dessert and fruit flavors, and viral marketing. The San Francisco company now controls roughly 70% of the U.S. e-cigarette market. In the last year, Juul tried to reposition itself as a brand for middle-age smokers looking to wean themselves off cigarettes. But the FDA warned the company this month that its product hasn’t yet been approved to help smokers quit. Juul has tried to head off a crackdown with a series of voluntary steps, including halting retail sales of several flavors and shutting down its social media presence. But political pressure has only increased.”
Both houses of Congress have approved a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through mid-November, likely averting a government shutdown. President Trump is expected to sign the continuing resolution.
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examines potential contributors to infant mortality in two impoverished US regions: Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta. The Washington Post reports: “’The most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.’ That’s how global health researchers characterized the United States in a January 2018 report published in Health Affairs that sounded alarm bells about the country’s high infant mortality rate. U.S. babies, they found, were three times as likely to die of premature birth and 2.3 times as likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome than infants in comparably rich countries.
The New York Times editorial board looks at the trend of making corporations take action on issues like gun safety and climate change—especially at a time when the federal government is failing to act or rolling back protections: “Companies also are under pressure from customers and shareholders to demonstrate a broader sense of responsibility for the long-term health of the communities in which they operate. Proponents say the longer view is good for the companies, too: PepsiCo, for example, needs clean water to make drinks; Walmart’s sales depend on the economic health of the middle class; climate change threatens broad disruptions in the business models of any number of companies. But companies are being forced to change even if they are not among the beneficiaries. In an earlier era, people who wanted to constrain corporations mostly sought to act through the political process, pressing governments to write and enforce health, safety and environmental regulations. This approach has the obvious advantage of scale — it’s better to win one big battle, if you can. But such political victories have grown more difficult to win… One approach making great progress in recent years has been persuading institutional investors — including state pension funds and university endowments — to work for changes in corporate behavior. Supporters make the argument that these funds have a particular interest in long-run outcomes, because they are responsible for delivering returns into the distant future. Corporations that use their money should be pressed to heed their concerns.”