Three dozen states file new antitrust suit against Google over its app store practices


(NEW YORK) — A coalition of 36 states and the District of Columbia are suing Google, alleging the tech giant illegally wields monopoly power over its app store.

The suit, filed late Wednesday in California federal court, is the latest in a spate of bipartisan attacks on Big Tech’s dominance from lawmaker and regulators. It is the fourth antitrust suit filed against Google by government agencies in the past year.

The latest lawsuit specifically takes aim at Google’s Play Store app store. In a complaint that is nearly 150 pages, the state attorneys general argue that “Google has taken steps to close the ecosystem from competition and insert itself as the middleman between app developers and consumers.”

“Unbeknownst to most consumers who own a mobile device running Android, every time they purchase an app from the Google Play Store, or purchase digital content or subscriptions within an app, up to 30% of the money they pay goes to Google,” the complaint said. Moreover, the complaint states that to collect and maintain this commission, “Google has employed anticompetitive tactics to diminish and disincentivize competition in Android app distribution.”

Many of the arguments in the court documents echo similar sentiments expressed by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, which has repeatedly taken aim at Apple and Google for their app store commissions. A federal judge’s decision regarding Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple is expected to be announced soon.

Wilson White, Google’s senior director of public policy, called the latest lawsuit “meritless” in a company blog post.

“We built Android to create more choices in mobile technology. Today, anyone, including our competitors, can customize and build devices with the Android operating system — for free,” White wrote. “We also built an app store, Google Play, that helps people download apps on their devices. If you don’t find the app you’re looking for in Google Play, you can choose to download the app from a rival app store or directly from a developer’s website.”

“So it’s strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others,” White added.

White argues that the lawsuit’s allegations that consumers and developers have no option other than to use Google Play is “not correct,” noting that device makers and carriers can preload competing app stores alongside Google Play on their devices and that most Android devices ship with two or more app stores preloaded.

Moreover, White stated that developers have earned over $80 billion through the Google Play app store and nearly two million American jobs have been created through the “Android app economy.”

“We understand that scrutiny is appropriate, and we’re committed to engaging with regulators,” he added. “But Android and Google Play provide openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t. This lawsuit isn’t about helping the little guy or protecting consumers. It’s about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been taking aim at the dominance of America’s tech companies in recent years as their size and influence rises. Last month, an outspoken critic of Big Tech’s dominance, Lina Khan, was sworn in as the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission, leaving many to speculate if a new crackdown on the industry could be imminent.

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Biden to discuss Afghanistan withdrawal amid increasing instability in region


(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the drawdown of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan Thursday, providing an update as the withdrawal nears completion, and as instability and violence ratchet up in the region.

Prior to delivering the speech, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will receive a briefing on the drawdown from their national security team.

The White House has stood firm in defense of Biden’s decision to pull out, citing internal analysis concluding that a military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan is unlikely.

But the Taliban are coming closer to achieving one, with an aggressive summer offensive through northern provinces in recent weeks that has seized control of dozens of districts.

Biden administration officials have also defended the military withdrawal by saying that U.S. intelligence indicated the threat to U.S. forces from Taliban militants would have significantly increased throughout summer.

“When he announced our drawdown, he made clear that the Taliban would have been shooting at U.S. troops again after May 1. And the withdrawal deadline negotiated by the previous administration kind of set that timeline,” Psaki said July 2, adding that an administration review of options to advance U.S. interests in Afghanistan “did not sugarcoat what the likely outcomes would be” with continued engagement in the region.

The withdrawal, which Biden said would wrap up by Sept. 11, unfolded ahead of schedule. Bagram Air Base, the main hub of military operations in Afghanistan for the past two decades, was handed over to Afghan forces July 2. In a July 5 statement, U.S. Central Command indicated the withdrawal is about 90% complete. A small force of about 650 will remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal to protect the U.S. Embassy and, for now, the Kabul airport.

“Our presence is small, both materially and physically,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.

But since U.S. troops began pulling out of Afghanistan, security has rapidly deteriorated. Taliban militants have swept through dozens of districts, seizing control and either slaughtering Afghan troops or winning their surrender. Hundreds of Afghan forces also fled across the northern Afghan border into Tajikstan when faced with the growing Taliban threat, although they are now expected to return to the country. Some have already been flown back into Afghanistan.

Amid the recent clashes, the Biden administration is still emphasizing a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Those talks, hosted in Doha, Qatar, have been all but dead since they launched last September and reached an agenda in November.

The two sides met again Wednesday in Tehran and agreed that “war is not the solution to Afghanistan’s problems,” according to the Taliban spokesperson in Doha.

In those districts retaken by the Taliban last month, militants have evicted families and looted and torched their homes, according to Human Rights Watch, allegedly in retaliation for working with the Afghan government.

There is also concern for the safety of thousands of translators, drivers and other Afghans who assisted U.S. forces and diplomats during the war, and are now targets of Taliban militants. While the Biden administration has confirmed it is working to move some of the affected Afghans out of the country to safe locations to await special immigrant visas that would allow them to move to the U.S., the administration has not specified how many will be moved, how quickly or where.

A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News on Friday that the group may be moved to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — three of Afghanistan’s northern neighbors in Central Asia — but stressed the planning was still early and no decisions had been made. A second U.S. official confirmed Thursday the list also includes Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

President Biden hosted his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani, and High Council for National Reconciliation Chairman Abdullah Abdullah at the White House June 25.

Sitting down with the pair of Afghan leaders, Biden shared an optimistic message.

“The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending. It’s going to be sustained. And, you know, our troops may be leaving, but support for Afghanistan is not ending, in terms of support and maintenance of their — helping maintain their military, as well as economic and political support,” Biden said.

But Biden grew visibly agitated Friday when reporters peppered him with questions about the future of Afghanistan.

“Look, we were in that war for 20 years, 20 years. And I think — I met with the Afghan government here in the White House, in the Oval. I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government. There are going to have to be, down the road, more negotiations, I suspect,” Biden said. “But I am — I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government.”

Prior to the Fourth of July weekend, Biden groused about continued questions on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

“I want to talk about happy things, man,” Biden complained.

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McCarthy expected to appoint Republicans to Jan. 6 select committee


(WASHINGTON) — After playing coy on the subject, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is planning to appoint Republicans to the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Republican sources familiar with his plans tell ABC News.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that Democrats would move forward with creating the select committee after Senate Republicans blocked a proposal for an independent, bipartisan commission.

McCarthy — who will get five appointments to the committee — hadn’t initially decided whether he would appoint anyone at all and reportedly privately threatened Republicans who would accept an appointment by Pelosi.

When asked at a press conference last week about his intentions he said: “When I have news on that, I’ll give it to you.”

A senior GOP aide familiar with the process said there are ongoing efforts to decide which members to appoint, with some likely being allies of former President Donald Trump who have attempted to downplay the rioting and attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Some Republicans expect McCarthy to use the appointments to undermine what they see as the key aim of Pelosi in creating the commission — to politically damage Trump and other allies who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.

However, McCarthy is also getting pressure from some in the party to appoint more moderate Republican lawmakers. The timing of an announcement is unclear, but is likely to happen within the next two weeks, sources say.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., one of the Democrats Pelosi has already tapped for the committee, told on CNN on Thursday that Republicans “have an obligation to put in a good-faith effort to get all the facts.”

“We’re going to start with having law enforcement officers testify to share their experiences that day,” she said when asked whether Trump would be called to testify.

Pressed whether McCarthy himself could be called to testify, as it’s known that he and Trump shared a phone call while rioters stormed the building, Murphy didn’t rule it out.

“I think that members of congress could be and will be probably called to testify under oath about their different perspectives on that day,” she said.

Pelosi last month introduced the measure to from the committee comprising 13 members after a bipartisan 9/11-style commission failed to pass the Senate. Eight committee members are to be selected by Pelosi and the other five chosen by McCarthy must be picked in consultation with the House speaker, the measure dictates.

Pelosi announced last week her selections for the committee, with much of the spotlight on Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an outspoken critic of Trump who was stripped of her No. 3 GOP leadership role earlier this year.

Pelsoi also said House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., will chair the committee, which will include Murphy and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Pete Aguilar, Jamie Raskin and Elaine Luria.

Following Pelosi’s press conference, McCarthy denied reports that he threatened GOP members with taking away committee assignments if they were to accept a select committee position but took the chance to question Cheney’s place in the Republican Party.

“I was shocked that she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi. It would seem to me, since I didn’t hear from her, maybe she’s closer to her than us,” McCarthy said.

The resolution to form the House committee to investigate the attack passed last month mostly along party lines — other than Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who broke from Republicans to vote for its passage.

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Kamala Harris to announce DNC investing additional $25 million in voting rights initiative

Official White House t by Lawrence Jackson

(WASHINGTON) — The Democratic National Committee is investing an additional $25 million in its voting rights initiative, Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce Wednesday, underscoring the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to a cause that has become a rallying cry for the party.

“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters. That your vote matters,” Harris plans to say, according to excerpts of her prepared remarks shared with ABC News. “I want to make clear that this is about all voters. It doesn’t matter to us if you are a Democrat or not. We want to help you vote, and we want to help make sure your vote is counted. Why? Well, because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and it is weaker when people are left out.”

DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison previously announced a $20 million initial commitment to the initiative, called “I Will Vote.” Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs that litigated over 15 voting-centric cases, has also committed $20 million to fighting efforts to curtail access to the ballot box.

Harris will announce the investment when she gives remarks at Howard University in Washington at 1 p.m. President Joe Biden and Harris are also meeting with civil rights leaders at the White House at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and will discuss this issue and the effort to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Representatives from the NAACP, National Urban League and National Action Network, among others, will attend.

The $25 million will be used to fund voter education and protection efforts, targeted voter registration and technology to increase voting accessibility and combat “Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts,” according to the DNC.

“Republicans know that their policies are unpopular — and that the only way for them to hold on to power is to attack the constitutional right to vote, held by the people they swore to serve. That’s why the Republican Party has made unprecedented efforts to keep people from voting,” Harrison said in a statement. “I’ve said time and again that the ‘D’ in Democrat stands for deliver, and today we are delivering innovative and historic resources to protect this fundamental part of our democracy.”

The investment comes amid a nationwide Republican effort to pass what they call “election integrity” laws that often tighten voting restrictions and restrict access to the ballot box. Republicans endorsing these bills often point to the diminished trust among voters in U.S. elections but fail to address former President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to undermine the 2020 election by falsely claiming there was mass voter fraud and that he actually won in November.

In the 2021 legislative sessions alone, state lawmakers across the country introduced nearly 400 bills that include restrictive voting provisions, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice’s analysis. At least 17, mostly GOP-led states, have enacted 28 new laws this year that at least in part restrict voter access.

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Nikole Hannah-Jones says UNC tenure fiasco indicative of broader racial inequality in higher learning

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards

(NEW YORK) — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was offered tenure at the journalism school of her alma mater, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, but she won’t be taking it.

Instead, she will go to Howard University after her tenure was initially blocked for months at North Carolina. The school’s board of trustees declined to vote twice in November and January on her tenure but finally voted in favor of it just last week.

Hannah-Jones would’ve been the first Black Knight Chair at the school and the first not to have been granted tenure.

“I think it showed that there was not a respect for what Black faculty go through on campus. We know that the University of North Carolina lost some recruits over this, other Black faculty are considering leaving the university,” she told ABC News Wednesday. “If they were able to do this to me — I work at the New York Times. I have a huge megaphone, I have a huge platform — what do they think they could get away with when it came to lesser-known scholars?”

Reports swirled in May that her application for tenure had been blocked at the last minute by several politically conservative trustees.

Those who publicly voiced their disapproval at her tenure included a donor for whom the university’s school of journalism is named. However, the donor, Walter Hussman, insists he “never pressured anybody.”

Hussman has spoken out against Hannah-Jones’ landmark work with the New York Times, “The 1619 Project,” for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. The project examines the role of slavery in the birth of the United States. Critics, including prominent historians, took issue with the portrayal of the American Revolution and requested corrections be made.

The project was backed by support from the New York Times’ executive editor, publisher and magazine editor. She said in a statement her tenure controversy was tied to “the political firestorm that has dogged me since The 1619 Project published” two years ago.

“Tenure matters for exactly the reason that I didn’t initially receive it. …oftentimes, academics are doing research and producing work that could be seen as controversial, or that challenges the status quo, and this protects the ability to pursue work that may not be popular with people who are politically powerful,” Hannah-Jones told ABC News. “The fact that initially I was denied tenure, largely because of the nature of my works, specifically around conservative objections to The 1619 Project speaks to why I could not come to the university without it.”

UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said he is “disappointed” that Hannah-Jones won’t be joining the faculty.

“We wish her the best,” he said in a statement. “I remain committed to recruiting and retaining the world-class faculty that our students deserve at Carolina. Members of my leadership team and I are actively engaged with student, faculty and staff leaders to continue working together toward a more inclusive and equitable campus living, learning and working environment where everyone knows they belong.”

Hannah-Jones admonished Guskiewicz and other leaders at the school for not addressing the deadlock of her tenure.

“The Board of Trustees not voting was one thing. But to also have the chancellor and the provost of the university fail to speak out publicly, fail to say that the board of trustees should’ve treated me like every other professor who came in under the Knight Chair, I think that sent the message to other faculty on campus that they would not have the protection and the support of the administration if it came down to a fight with political appointees,” she said.

Hannah-Jones will be the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Reporting at Howard University, a historically Black institution of higher education (HBCU). The Knight Foundation’s $5 million investment in the university includes $500,000 for the Knight Chair to help strengthen journalism teaching across HBCUs.

“Instead of fighting to prove I belong at an institution that until 1955 prohibited Black Americans from attending, I am instead going to work in the legacy of a university not built by the enslaved but for those who once were,” she said in her statement.

Hannah-Jones said she was approached by the dean of UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Susan King, to become the school’s Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Reporting. Hannah-Jones said the request came during last year’s racial reckoning, and she saw a need for “journalists to have the knowledge, training, historical understanding and depth of reporting to cover the changing country and its challenges.”

She said she accepted, underwent a rigorous tenure process, and passed two votes, first by all professors, then the Promotion and Tenure Committee, which both overwhelmingly approved her tenure.

UNC’s Board of Trustees were meant to vote in November for her start in January 2021.

Then, “we learned that my tenure application had been pulled but received no explanation as to why. The same thing happened again in January,” Hannah-Jones said. “Both the university’s Chancellor and its Provost refused to fully explain why my tenure package had failed twice to come to a vote, or exactly what transpired.”

She said she was told they would not consider her tenure at that time, and offered her a five-year contract for tenure consideration at a later, unspecified date. She reluctantly agreed, becoming both the first Black Knight Chair at the school, and the first not to have been granted tenure.

After a report from NC Policy Watch about her tenure process and ensuing student protests, the board of trustees finally voted on Hannah-Jones’ tenure, and approved it in a split vote.

“I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, who used his wealth to influence the hires and ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my credentials, all of my work, because he believed a project that centered Black Americans equaled denigration of white Americans,” she said of Hussman. “Nor can I work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has done nothing to disavow it.”

Hussman told Poynter this week that he hoped to meet with Hannah-Jones and Dean Susan King, but the meeting never came together. After reading The 1619 Project, Hussman said he voiced concerns about his belief that the report exaggerated the role of slavery as a possible cause for the American Revolution, and insisted his objections were with the scholarship, not Hannah-Jones.

“I don’t have any judgment about her (personally) — I’ve never met her,” Hussman told Poynter. “I feel certain I did what I should appropriately have done. I didn’t lobby against her appointment.” He added that he had no objection to the latest UNC vote to offer Hannah-Jones tenure.

She said she still has not received answers about what happened in her tenure process. She called on UNC to provide transparency, apologize to student protestors, and address demands for recruiting, supporting and retaining Black faculty.

Hannah-Jones told ABC News the lack of Black tenured faculty in schools across the country can be traced back to a system where previously-tenured professors, often white, offer tenure to others and can be “self-replicating.” Also, she said Black scholars are studying issues of inequality and race, which are “not often valued as other types of scholarship.”

“I hope that other universities who might find it easy to point at the board of trustees in North Carolina and say ‘They’re just backwards,’ will do some real, internal introspection on the way that they are also blocking so many other talented Black faculty who dedicated their life to academia.”

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Surfside building collapse latest: Death toll rises to 60 as rescue efforts shift to recovery

Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(SURFSIDE, Fla.) — At least 60 people have now been confirmed dead and 80 others remain potentially unaccounted for since a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County last month.

The disaster occurred on June 24 around 1:15 a.m. local time at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex’s 136 units were destroyed, according to officials. The rest of the building was demolished on Sunday night, due to concerns about its structural integrity and an incoming tropical storm.

For two weeks, hundreds of first responders carefully combed through the pancaked piles of debris in hopes of finding survivors. But no one has been found alive in the wreckage of the building since the morning it partially collapse, and officials announced Wednesday evening that the search and rescue operation, in its 14th day, would shift to a recovery mission.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters that the decision was “a result of a consensus by those closest to the rescue efforts that the possibility of someone still alive is near zero.”

“And while there seems to be no chance of finding life in the rubble, a miracle is still possible,” Burkett said during a press conference Wednesday evening.

To mark the somber move, a moment of silence was held in honor of all the victims, of whom 35 have been identified thus far. A candlelight vigil was held later that night at the memorial site for the victims.

Reflecting on the transition the next day, U.S. Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told reporters: “When that happened, it took a little piece of the hearts of this community.”

Crews paused their work atop the piles early Thursday “for a brief moment of silence to honor the two-week mark since the collapse,” according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“We have now officially transitioned from search and rescue to search and recovery,” Levine Cava said during a press conference Thursday morning. “The work continues with all speed and urgency. We are working around the clock to recover victims and bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can.”

“We are taking as much care as ever to proceed to find victims in the rubble,” she added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters that crews “will identify every single person” who is found. Officials will also continue to help the survivors and the families of the victims get back “on their feet as best as we possibly can,” even after the media attention wanes, DeSantis said.

Meanwhile, 200 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe, according to Levine Cava, who has repeatedly stressed that the figures are “very fluid” and “continue to change.”

Crews have hauled away more than 7 million pounds of debris from the vast scene, but large piles of rubble still remain. Officials said it could take several weeks to get to the bottom of the wreckage. Crews have been working virtually nonstop, with help from teams who came from across Florida and elsewhere in the United States as well as from abroad. However, their efforts were halted for almost an entire day last week due to safety concerns regarding the still-standing structure, prior to the demolition. Poor weather conditions have also forced them to temporarily pause working.

The cause of the partial collapse to a building that has withstood decades of hurricanes remains unknown and is under investigation. Built in the 1980s, the Champlain Towers South was up for its 40-year recertification and had been undergoing roof work — with more renovations planned — when it partially collapsed, according to officials.

“This tragedy shook our community and the world,” Levine Cava told reporters Thursday.

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Hidden ways big brands are making you pay at the grocery store


(NEW YORK) — You may have noticed that prices for some goods at the grocery store are going up. But now, there’s another type of inflation that consumers should be on the lookout for — it’s called “shrinkflation.”

The term has be coined by experts to describe when manufacturers shrink package sizes but make shoppers pay the same price. And, they warn, the practice is on the rise.

ABC News’ Becky Worley appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to let consumers know what to look out for:

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How heat waves, climate change put people with disabilities at risk


(NEW YORK) — It was more than 90 degrees in Moranda Rasmussen’s Portland, Oregon, apartment during a historic heat wave late last month when the 27-year-old began to panic. They have cerebral palsy and depression and rely on Supplemental Security Income while they work on their degree.

They said they couldn’t afford an air conditioner and couldn’t charge their electric wheelchair battery because it could easily overheat. Taking antidepressants also wasn’t an option, because it makes it difficult to regulate their body temperature.

Rasmussen said they were left scrambling for a solution to escape the searing heat, which reached a high of 115 degrees. In Portland, the average high temperature in June is around 74 degrees.

“We don’t get temperatures like that in the Pacific Northwest,” Rasmussen said. “I was just really frantic. What if we have more days like this? When am I going to be able to take my medication again? When am I going to be able to charge my wheelchair again?”

With heat waves battering the Northwest and Northeast and heatwave season extending and intensifying, people with disabilities like Rasmussen are preparing for the worst. Though climate change is impacting communities across the globe, experts say disabled people will likely be adversely affected by global weather extremes, including events where evacuation is needed.

It is unclear how many of the 106 people who are believed to have died due to the heat wave in Oregon were disabled. In Multnomah County, many of those who died were found alone and without air conditioning or a fan, according to the county medical examiner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the people who die from hyperthermia-related causes, when the body is unable to cool itself, had an underlying cardiovascular condition.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury has since demanded that local agencies work to open three 24-hour cooling centers and nine cooling spaces, reach out to seniors, people with disabilities and pregnant women directly, and coordinate with 60 outreach groups focused on people without housing or shelter.

Rasmussen, along with climate and disability activists, is calling on policymakers to not only remember disabled residents in their emergency plans but to turn the tide on climate change in an effort to mitigate the plights of people with disabilities in the future.

“Disabled people are the first people to be set aside,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of policy around disabled folks needs to change.”

1 in 4 adults in the US

In a study by the United Nations, the organization affirmed that climate change will continue to have direct and indirect impacts on the human rights of people with disabilities. In climate emergencies, disabled people disproportionately experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality, and are typically the least able to access emergency support, the study said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a disability as any mental or physical condition that makes it “more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities” or “interact with the world around them.” Some 61 million adults, or 1 in 4, have a disability in the United States, and roughly one billion people across the globe have some kind of disability.

The diverse population includes people with mental illnesses, chronic health conditions, physical or visual impairments and others.

“I cannot sweat to cool down my body — if it’s a very hot day, I don’t have that thermoregulation,” said Alex Ghenis, a disability and climate activist who founded Accessible Climate Strategies, a disability consulting organization, who has a severe spinal cord injury and lives in Oakland, California. “Anybody really with a cardiovascular or chronic health condition is going to be disproportionately affected by extreme heat events on the physiological level.”

However, the way that climate change affects people with disabilities is as diverse as the population.

“With folks experiencing the effects of wildfire smoke, a lot of disabilities have respiratory components to them,” Ghenis said. “Someone with asthma is going to have a hard time with smoke, and someone who uses a ventilator is going to have a hard time with the smoke.”

Director of the Disability Mobility Initiative Anna Zivarts said her organization aims to help people who don’t have transportation or accessible forms of public transportation to get around.

Transportation is vital to escaping wildfires, heading to a cooling shelter, stockpiling goods during an emergency, or getting to a health professional. Even when they arrive, many public facilities are inaccessible to people with mobility impairments, service animals and more.

Almost 14% of disabled people have a mobility disability, with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs, according to the CDC.

Disabled people are also more likely to be impoverished and experience high unemployment rates, according to the National Council on Disability, an independent U.S. agency.

“Many folks in the disability community are poor,” Zivarts said. “So they can’t afford to flee, to relocate, to get air conditioners, to have a car, to hire an Uber. There’s so many reasons that people get trapped or stuck in situations that are really, really harmful.”

This often gives them a disadvantage when it comes to fighting, escaping, or living with the consequences of climate change.

A way forward

Climate activists, in agreement with the United Nations’ findings, recommend collaborations with leaders of the disability rights movement to create accessible and disability-inclusive solutions to climate change and emergency events.

“We are constantly having to move and live in a world that doesn’t exist for us,” Marlena Chertock said. “People are forced to create workarounds and build things that work for themselves and come up with creative solutions. So, there’s a lot that people could learn from people with disabilities.”

Columbia University’s Climate Adaptation Initiative states that protections for people with disabilities are essential in emergency planning and that as long as much of the country’s infrastructure remains inaccessible, it prioritizes the non-disabled and puts disabled people at risk.

Ghenis said that the solutions range from simple fixes — like, making emergency shelters accessible and providing quality public transportation — to structural changes that could lift disabled people out of poverty and ensure that they’re protected in an emergency.

Rasmussen went online to vent about their poor living conditions — and after their plea for help went viral, they were able to crowd-fund an air conditioner. They want lawmakers to know that disabled activists are prepared to hold them accountable.

“One of the biggest things that lawmakers and policymakers can do is really put pressure on these corporations to do better,” Rasmussen said. “Things definitely need to change.”

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Tropical Storm Warning for Northeast, more tornadoes and flash flooding expected

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Elsa is moving through the Carolinas on Thursday morning with heavy rain and gusty winds and winds currently at 40 mph making it a weak tropical storm which could weaken into a tropical depression anytime.

There have been four reported tornadoes in three states thanks to Elsa with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all reporting damage.

Elsa is now moving up the East Coast with a tropical storm warning issued from Georgia to Massachusetts, including Boston.

Elsa is expected to move through the Carolinas Thursday with a tornado threat, flash flooding and gusty winds.

Later Thursday night, Elsa will move into the mid-Atlantic states and approach Long Island, New York by Friday morning with gusty winds of up to 40 to 50 mph possible across the region and heavy rain and flash flooding possible for major cities in the Northeast, including Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

The highest winds gusts will be along the coast from the Jersey Shore to eastern Long Island and into Cape Cod, Massachusetts and coastal Maine.

Elsa will then move into coastal New England in the late morning on Friday and will be out of the United States and into Canada by Friday night.

A flash flood watch has also been issued from North Carolina to Maine due to all of the heavy rain forecast in a short period of time across the region.

A tornado watch will also continue Thursday morning for South and North Carolina all the way from Charleston to Wilmington.

Some areas in the Northeast could see up to 5 inches of rain with heavy rain bands from Elsa starting Thursday night into Friday morning as flash flooding is expected along the I-95 corridor.

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Elsa churns up deadly tornadoes as it charges up East Coast: Latest path

ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Tropical Storm Elsa is now charging up the East Coast after making landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast Wednesday, causing at least one death and miles of destruction, according to officials.

Elsa made landfall at about 11 a.m. Wednesday in Taylor County, in Florida’s Big Bend region.

Elsa, which slammed Florida and Georgia with gusty winds and heavy rain, strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday night before weakening back to a tropical storm before landfall.

The storm churned two tornadoes Wednesday evening and tornado watches were issued from Jacksonville, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night.

One person was killed after a tornado was reported in Jacksonville, according to Mayor Lenny Curry. A tree fell on the victim when the storm swept through the city, Curry said.

Curry said there were no other major injuries reported as of Wednesday evening but several homes and businesses were damaged and over 11,000 households were without power.

“Just be ready,” he told the public.

A second tornado was reported to have caused serious damage at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia. Photos and video showed motorhomes flipped on their sides and trees uprooted.

A spokesperson for the base told ABC News about 10 people were injured. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening, but they were serious enough to be transported off the base, according to the spokesperson.

Slow-moving bands of heavy rain along the Georgia coast triggered dangerous flash flooding. Central Glynn County reported between 3 to 6 inches of rain Wednesday evening.

A boat capsized near Key West as Elsa blew through on Tuesday, according to the Coast Guard. Nine people remain missing.

Elsa is now barreling up the East Coast, set to bring heavy rain and flash flooding from Georgia to Maine through Friday.

The latest path shows Elsa moving over Georgia Wednesday night, South Carolina Thursday morning and North Carolina Thursday night.

Elsa is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by Thursday morning as it brings rain and wind to Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington.

By Thursday night Elsa will be blowing through Virginia, Maryland and Delaware with heavy rain, gusty winds and flooding. Elsa will hit New Jersey overnight Thursday into Friday.

On Friday morning, Elsa will head up the Interstate 95 corridor with heavy rain and gusty winds from New York City to Boston.

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