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Wildfires in northern California

Photo by Andrea Booher / FEMA (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new report on Monday from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group dedicated to climate science, warns that drastic and immediate effort is needed to slow climate change. Congressional Republicans are simply ignoring it.

A review of social media posts by House and Senate Republicans on Monday found zero mentions of the report or its findings. Only two lawmakers even mentioned the climate, mocking efforts to protect it.

The Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis report, the sixth assessment by the international body, relied on more than 14,000 studies. It reached the "unequivocal" conclusion that humans are inducing global warming and that it can "have profound consequences for the world's social, economic, and natural systems."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged immediate action to limit warming in the face of a "code red for humanity."

"If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe," he predicted. "But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses."

Several Democratic lawmakers seized on the report to urge the U.S. to take immediate action.

"Today's new @IPCC_CH report makes clear that acting on climate can't wait," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "Democrats promised bold climate action—and we're making it a vital part of infrastructure legislation."

"Climate action is coming, because it must," agreed Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.

"Today's IPCC report on climate change is an urgent call to action. We must take climate action now," wrote New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, adding that in her state, "we already know this urgency—it's time to act!"

Much of New Mexico is facing a dense layer of smoke from the massive wildfires currently burning in California — which experts say are being fueled by climate change.

But congressional Republicans — most of whom deny the science that humans are causing climate change — said nothing.

The lone GOP mentions of the climate on Monday came from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson. Both mentioned it in the context of opposing Democratic proposals to address the environment.

Hinson bashed "out of control spending by the far-left" that would fund "a civilian climate corps."

Greene warned that Democratic proposals to promote electric vehicles are really just a scheme to "enslave America to China."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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