The U.S. has renewed credibility on global climate issues and will be able to inspire other nations in their own efforts, experts say, after the Democrats pushed their big economic bill through the Senate on Sunday. The legislation is the single biggest investment in climate change in U.S. history, putting about $375 billion towards climate change-fighting strategies such as investments in renewable energy production and tax rebates for consumers to buy new or used electric vehicles. The impending passage of the first ever significant climate legislation in the U.S. changes the outlook internationally, including in China, India and other high-emitting nations, several experts said.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams says it's time for Georgia to use its budget surplus to invest in its residents. Abrams said in an Atlanta speech Tuesday that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has been hurting the state by prioritizing low taxes and low spending. She's also backing legalizing sports and casino gambling to fund an expansion of college scholarship programs. Abrams also argues that abortion restrictions and loose gun laws threaten Georgia's economy, weaving in multiple themes. Kemp hopes the economy is an especially potent issue for him in Georgia as he points to billions of new investment in the state under his administration. He plans to unveil his own plans for Georgia’s surplus on Thursday.
-U.S. Rep. Scott Perry says his cellphone was seized Tuesday by FBI agents carrying a search warrant. The circumstances surrounding the seizure were not immediately known. The Pennsylvania Republican says three agents visited him while he was traveling Tuesday with his family and “seized my cell phone.” Perry has been a figure in the congressional investigation into President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Former senior Justice Department officials have testified Perry had “an important role” in Trump’s effort to try to install Jeffrey Clark — a top Justice official who was pushing Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud — as the acting attorney general.
President Joe Biden’s legislative victories have aimed to position the U.S. to “win the economic competition of the 21st century,” but his investments to boost the nation’s technology, infrastructure and climate resilience over the next decade are set against a 90-odd-day clock until the midterms. From turbocharging the U.S. computer chip sector to shifting the nation to a greener economy, the achievements from Biden will take years to come to fruition. Yet Democrats are gambling that the rapid clip of recent accomplishments will persuade a downcast electorate to vote in their party’s favor. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii says, “It’s a vibe, and the vibe is winning."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to speed up the state's transition to non-carbon electricity sources and accelerate its timeline for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Both are among proposals the Democratic governor has delivered to state lawmakers as they hash out how to spend $19.3 billion on climate-related proposals. Newsom also wants to create a policy for permitting carbon dioxide removal projects and ban new oil and gas wells near homes and schools. He would put the state's 2045 carbon neutrality goal into law.
Atlantic City casino dealers opposed to smoking indoors are rejecting an idea being floated among state legislators to create designated outdoor smoking areas that employees could opt out of staffing. Pete Naccarelli, a Borgata dealer and a leader of a group of Atlantic City casino workers pushing for a full indoor smoking ban, says the opt-out suggestion is not the solution to protecting workers and customers. A bill to ban smoking inside casinos has sat untouched in the state Legislature since February. An identical bill died in last year’s session, even though Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will sign it.
The fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill will pay $20 million to current and former workers at its New York City restaurants for violating city labor laws. The settlement between the city and Chipotle was announced Tuesday. It covers about 13,000 employees who worked at the chain’s New York City outlets between 2017 and this year. The $20 million deal is the largest worker protection settlement in New York City history. Scott Boatwright, Chipotle’s chief restaurant officer, said the restaurant chain is pleased to be able to resolve the issues. He said Chipotle has taken steps to improve compliance.
The mother of a man fatally shot by a North Carolina police officer during an attempted car theft has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the officer broke the law when he shot her unarmed son several times, called in the incident, then fired again. Attorneys say Brandon Combs died after he was shot while behind the wheel of Concord Officer Timothy Larson’s police SUV in February. The Charlotte Observer reports that attorneys for Virginia Tayara filed the complaint Tuesday in Winston-Salem federal court accusing Larson and the City of Concord of excessive force, assault and battery, wrongful and intentional death and gross negligence. Attorney Harry Daniels says the complaint seeks “some form of justice for the Combs family.”
Missouri voters are set to decide whether to allow recreational marijuana use in the state. The secretary of state's office on Tuesday announced the campaign received enough voter signatures to go on the November ballot. Missouri already allows medical marijuana use. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana have failed to pass in the Republican-led Legislature, so advocates are turning to voters for approval. Recreational marijuana is already legal in 19 states, and legalization proposals are on the ballot this fall in South Dakota and Maryland. Another Missouri proposal that would allow ranked-choice voting failed to make it on the ballot.
The state of Georgia is asking a federal appeals court to put elections for public service commissioners back on the November ballot. The appeal came Monday after a federal judge last week found statewide election of Georgia’s five commissioners illegally dilutes Black votes. The state argues that the trial court judge was wrong in concluding that race and not Democratic partisanship drives defeat of candidates preferred by Black voters. The judge ruled Black-favored candidates would have a better chance if only voters in a district voted on candidates. The state asked the 11th Circuit to issue a stay by Friday. That would allow ballots with two commission elections to be printed.
Estonia and Finland want European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians amid the war in Ukraine. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Tuesday that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” Her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, says Russians traveling in Europe is "not right.” Estonia and Finland both border Russia and are members of the European Union, which banned air travel from Russia after it invaded Ukraine. But Russians can still travel by land to both countries and then take flights elsewhere in Europe. Finnish broadcaster YLE reports that Russian companies have started offering car trips to airports in Finland, which have direct connections to several Europe destinations.
Many pieces of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda have been jettisoned over the last year, but his proposals on climate change remain largely intact. The legislation passed by the Senate over the weekend is expected to receive a vote in the House on Friday. The White House says its success reflects an approach to climate policy that's rooted more in incentives than regulations. The measure includes nearly $400 billion for clean energy initiatives, the country’s largest-ever investment in fighting global warming. Biden tells The Associated Press the bill changes secures America's future more than almost anything Washington has done in decades.
Chinese authorities have closed Tibet's famed Potala Palace after a minor outbreak of COVID-19 in the Himalayan region. The response underscores China's continued adherence to its hard-line “zero-COVID” policy, mandating lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions, even while most other countries have reopened. A notice on the palace's social media site said the palace that was the traditional home of Tibet's Buddhist leaders would be closed from Tuesday, with a reopening date to be announced later. Tibet's economy is heavily dependent on tourism and the Potala is a key draw. China announced over 800 new cases of domestic transmission, 22 of them in Tibet. More than 80,000 travelers remain stranded on the southern resort island of Hainan but a first planeload left Tuesday.
Russia has announced a freeze on U.S. inspections of its nuclear arsenals under a pivotal arms control treaty. It cited Western sanctions that hampered similar tours of U.S. facilities by Russian monitors. Moscow’s move reflects soaring tensions with Washington over Russia’s military action in Ukraine. It's the first time Russia halted U.S. inspections under the New START nuclear arms control treaty. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Western sanctions on Russian flights and visa restrictions effectively have made it impossible for Russian military experts to visit U.S. nuclear weapons sites, giving the U.S. “unilateral advantages.” The ministry claimed that the freeze is temporary and is allowed by the pact “in exceptional cases.”
Arkansas lawmakers are meeting this week for a special session on tax cuts and school safety grants that's been spurred by the state's $1.6 billion surplus. The House and Senate are set to meet starting Tuesday for the session. The leadup to the session has been dominated by a push by Democratic lawmakers to raise teachers salaries. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for teacher raises earlier this year but said he wouldn't put it on the session agenda. The tax cut package on the session agenda includes accelerating reductions the majority-GOP Legislature approved last year.
The Senate has approved Democrats' big election-year economic package. The legislation is less ambitious than President Joe Biden’s original domestic goals. But it embodies deep-rooted party dreams of slowing global warming, moderating pharmaceutical costs and taxing big corporations. Debate began Saturday and went around the clock into Sunday afternoon. Democrats had swatted down some three dozen Republican efforts to torpedo the legislation. Biden is urging swift House passage, and the House seems on track to provide final congressional approval when it returns briefly from summer recess on Friday.
A divided Senate has voted to start debating Democrats’ election-year economic bill. The sprawling measure contains many of President Joe Biden’s climate, energy, health and tax goals. United Democrats pushed the 755-page measure toward Senate approval early Sunday. Before reaching final passage, senators plodded through a nonstop pile of amendments that seemed certain to last hours. The package is a dwindled version of earlier multitrillion-dollar bills from Biden that Democrats failed to advance. The measure has become a partisan battleground over inflation, gasoline prices and other issues that polls show are driving voters. The House, where Democrats have a slender majority, could give the legislation final approval next Friday.
Eli Lilly and Co. and the administration of President Joe Biden have condemned Indiana’s new ban on abortions. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement Saturday said Indiana's Republican legislators have “put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians rather than women and their doctors.” Lilly says it's concerned the law will hinder the company's and Indiana’s “ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.” The law lifts the ban in cases of rape or incest and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. It takes effect Sept. 15.
China has cut off climate talks with the U.S. — imperiling future global climate negotiations, but not necessarily blunting the impacts of significant climate actions at home in both countries. The move from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs came Friday in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, along with cancellations in strategic and military talks. The move came less than three months before the next key international climate summit in November. Meanwhile, the U.S. is poised to pass its most ambitious ever clean-energy legislation later this year. Experts say that could influence China's future climate actions more than any negotiations.
Two crashes involving Teslas apparently running on Autopilot are drawing scrutiny from federal regulators and point to a potential new hazard on U.S. freeways: The partially automated vehicles may not stop for motorcycles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent investigation teams to two crashes last month in which Teslas collided with motorcycles on freeways in the darkness, and the riders were killed. In both cases, the agency suspects that Tesla’s partially automated driver-assist system was in use. The agency says that once it gathers more information, it may include the crashes in an broader probe of Teslas striking emergency vehicles parked along freeways. Messages were left seeking comment from Tesla.
The developer of a major pipeline system has pleaded no contest to criminal charges that it systematically polluted waterways and residential water wells across hundreds of miles in Pennsylvania. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Operating agreed Friday to independent testing of homeowners’ water and promised to remediate contamination. The settlement involves two separate criminal cases brought by the Pennsylvania attorney general. Under a plea deal, the company will pay $10 million to restore watersheds and streams along the Mariner East pipeline network. Mariner East has been one of the most penalized projects in Pennsylvania history. Energy Transfer had no immediate comment.
Supporters of a recreational marijuana initiative are asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to order election officials to put the measure on the November ballot. Responsible Growth Arkansas asked the court on Thursday to reverse the State Board of Election Commissioners' rejection of their proposed constitutional amendment. The group needed the panel's certification to put the proposal on the ballot and said the group's refusal violated the Arkansas constitution. The lawsuit also challenges a 2019 law granting the board authority to certify ballot measures. Arkansas voters in 2016 approved an amendment legalizing medical marijuana.
State regulators have approved an application from Dominion Energy Virginia to build an enormous offshore wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach and recover the cost from ratepayers. The State Corporation Commission issued its order in the case Friday. The 176-turbine project is slated to be built about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. No parties to the monthslong proceeding had opposed its approval. But many had raised concerns about affordability. Friday's order included several provisions aimed at protecting ratepayers, including a performance standard. Dominion says it is pleased with the approval but is reviewing the specifics of the order, including the performance requirement.
A federal judge has ruled that Georgia’s statewide election of its five public service commissioners illegally dilutes Black voting power. The judge on Friday ordered the state to not prepare ballots for two races that had been scheduled in November. If the ruling stands, state lawmakers would have to draw single-member districts for the body that regulates Georgia Power Co. and other other utilities. An election would be held later. However, the state could appeal, or at least seek a delay until after this year's elections. At-large voting has long been subject to legal attack as racially discriminatory. But most cases have focused on local elections.
Amazon on Friday announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire the vacuum cleaner maker iRobot for approximately $1.7 billion. It's a move that will allow Amazon to scoop up another company to add to its collection of smart home appliances amid broader concerns about its market power. iRobot sells its products worldwide and is most famous for the circular-shaped Roomba vacuum. Amazon says it will acquire the company for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction that will include iRobot’s net debt. The deal is subject to approval by shareholders and regulators. Upon completion, iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle, will remain in his position.