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Nearly 1.5 Million Protest in Kids Climate Strikes Worldwide

An estimated 1.5 million students in more than 120 countries came out to protest the lack of action politicians have taken to mitigate climate change. The movement, known as Friday For Future, was started by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. The protests were almost entirely student-led, and mark one of the biggest environmental […]

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  • An estimated 1.5 million students in more than 120 countries came out to protest the lack of action politicians have taken to mitigate climate change.
  • The movement, known as Friday For Future, was started by a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg.
  • The protests were almost entirely student-led, and mark one of the biggest environmental demonstrations ever.

Kids Climate Strike

Students all over the world skipped school on Friday to protest for stronger climate change policies during a kids “climate strike.”

The strike is already being described as one of the largest environmental demonstrations ever. More than 2,000 protests were held in over 120 countries, with general estimates saying that nearly 1.5 million people came out to protest worldwide.

The highly organized protests were lead almost entirely by teenagers who believe politicians need to do more to address climate change at an international level.

Several of the young leaders of the protest published an article in The Guardian about their movement and why they are striking. In the article, they kep repeating the line: “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.”

The leaders cite a report published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) back in October. The report argued that the planet would warm by over 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) without coordinated international policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

It also stated that the impacts of that temperature increase could be much more devastating than previous studies had shown.

Most significantly, the IPCC report said that the international community needed to curb emissions by 2030, or risk runaway warming.

The students who came out to protest have already seen these impacts in their homes and all over the world.

One of the main themes of the protest was the fact that the students feel like their future is in the hands of adults who are not doing enough to stop climate change.

In the article, the leaders write: “If those in power today don’t act, it will be our generation who will live through their failure.”

The fact that they chose to do this on a school day rather than a weekend is also important because the students believe that skipping school to strike proves a powerful point.

According to the website for the strike:

“School children are required to attend school. But with the worsening Climate Destruction this goal of going to school begins to be pointless. Why study for a future, which may not be there? Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?”

The leaders also reiterated this point in their article, writing: “We think organising against an existential threat – and figuring out how to make our voices heard – is teaching us some important lessons.”

They continue later, “We strongly believe that we can fight off the most damaging effects of climate change – but we have to act now.”

Friday for Future

Given the sheer size of the demonstrations, many have wondered how a protest of this magnitude came about.

It all started back in August, when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat in front of the Swedish parliament to protest the lack of action being taken to address climate change. Thunberg sat in front of parliament every school day for three weeks.

She also posted what she was doing on Instagram and Twitter, and eventually, she started to go viral.

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Then in September, Thunberg decided that she would continue striking every Friday until Sweden implements policies that would lower climate change by 2 degrees Celsius.

Thunberg continued to post pictures on social media using the hashtags #FridaysForFuture and #Climatestrike.

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Those hashtags spread so much that many students began to protest outside of their parliaments and city halls all over the world, effectively starting the Fridays For Future movement.

According to the Fridays For Future website, it is: “A peoples movement following the call from @GretaThunberg to school strike.”

The website also provides materials on how to strike, links to social media accounts, and contact information for affiliated strikes all around the world.

Greta Thunberg

Not only has Thunberg inspired a worldwide environmental movement, she has also found a place for herself.

In an interview with the New York Times, Thunberg said: “All my life I’ve been invisible, the invisible girl in the back who doesn’t say anything.”

She also discussed dealing with clinical depression as a child that was so severe she stopped eating, growing, and going to school. On her Twitter account, she writes in her bio that she has Aspbergers.

Thunberg told the Times that she was inspired to take action after learning about the effects of climate change in school, saying: “I became very affected. I began thinking about it all the time and I became very sad […] Those pictures were stuck in my head.”

Now, what started as a one-woman protest has become a global movement, and Thunberg has been championed as its leader.

However, her activism does not just begin and end with the student’s strikes.

In November, Thunberg gave a TED talk on climate action at TEDxStockholm

Back in December, she attended a United Nations climate conference, where she criticized negotiators and said: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is […] Even that burden you leave to us children.”

In January, she attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she told a group of wealthy elites they made “unimaginable amounts of money” at the expense of the planet’s future.

On Thursday, a group of Norwegian lawmakers nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her own words, Thunberg told the Times: “I’m happier now […] I have meaning. I have something I have to do.”

Debate & Response

Thunberg’s movement seems highly organized, and it is clear it is gaining traction.

However, there are still some who believe it is pointless for students to skip school to protest.

In February, the office of British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the school strikes in Britain were a distraction that “wastes lesson time.”

Thunberg responded on Twitter, writing “political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

Meanwhile, others like Leonardo DiCaprio, have expressed support for the movement, writing in a Tweet: “I stand in solidarity with those who participated in yesterday’s youth organized climate strike.”

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The New York Times) (National Geographic)

International

200 Children Seeking Asylum in the U.K. Are Missing 

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The missing include at least 13 children under the age of 16. 


Children Missing From Hotels

There are 200 asylum-seeking children missing from government care in the United Kingdom according to the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office.

When children are seeking asylum in the U.K. alone or separated from their parents, the government puts them up in hotel rooms for temporary accommodation. They have done so since 2021 and have temporarily accommodated 4,600 children in that time. However, Simon Murray, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office, said that 200 of the children placed in those hotels are missing, including at least 13 who are under the age of 16.

In response to this information, a collection of more than 100 charities sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding the end of the procedure of placing kids in hotels over safety concerns. The letter says that these children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation by staying in these hotels alone.

Other officials have echoed these concerns, claiming these hotels are targets for organized crime where people use these vulnerable children for labor or trafficking.

Parliament Calls Incident “Horrific”

Murray told the House of Lords on Monday that despite the media reports, his department does not know of any kidnapping cases, though they are investigating. He went on to say there are many reasons why children go missing. 

However, lawmakers were not appeased by Murray’s assurances. In a later debate, one member of Parliament called the missing cases “horrific” and another said that it was “putting children at risk.”  The children’s commissioner for England also reportedly chimed in asking for, quote “assurances on the steps being taken to safeguard the children.” 

Murray went on to say that the use of hotels for asylum-seeking children will hopefully be phased out as soon as possible but did not give a timeline. 

The nonprofit Refugee Council called on the government in a tweet to spare no expense in the location of these missing kids.

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (The Telegraph)

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International

100,000 U.K. Nurses Launch Biggest Strike in NHS History

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Opposition leader Keir Starmer called the strike “a badge of shame on this government.”


The NHS Grinds to a Halt

Some 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the United Kingdom’s largest nursing union, launched a historic 12-hour strike Thursday after the government refused to negotiate on higher pay.

The work stoppage, which spans England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is only the second in the RCN’s 106-year history and the largest the NHS has ever seen. It marks the breaking point for many underpaid nurses and the culmination of a years-long decline in the NHS’s quality of care, put under increasing stress by severe staffing shortages.

Although most NHS staff in England and Wales received a pay rise of around £1,400 this year, worth about 4% on average for nurses, they say it has not kept up with inflation as Britain plunges deeper into a cost-of-living crisis.

When inflation is accounted for, nurses’ pay dropped 1.2% every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Health Foundation.

Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for care has reached a record 7.2 million in England, or over one in eight residents, more than double what it was seven years ago.

In July, the cross-party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee estimated the staffing shortfall could be as high as 50,000 nurses and 12,000 doctors, what one MP called the “greatest workforce crisis in history.”

Many nurses argue that boosting pay will help hospitals recruit more staff.

The RCN demanded a pay raise 5% above the retail rate of inflation, which amounts to a 19% increase, but both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the government’s health secretary have claimed that’s not affordable.

During Thursday’s strike, partial staffing continued to remain open for urgent care such as chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, and children’s accident and neonatal units.

Sunak and Starmer Brawl in Parliament

Labor leader Keir Starmer grilled Sunak during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on the upcoming strike.

“Tomorrow will be the first-ever nationwide nurse’s strike,” he said. “All the Prime Minister has to do to stop that is to open the door and discuss pay with them. If he did, the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief. Why won’t he?”

“We have consistently spoken to all the unions involved in all the pay disputes that there are,” Sunak replied. “Last year, when everyone else in the public sector had a public sector pay freeze, the nurses received a three-percent pay rise.”

Starmer fired back: “Nurses going on strike is a badge of shame for this government. Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health.”

Sunak called Starmer’s demand that he reopen negotiations with the RCN “just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”

“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so,” Sunak said. “If he thinks it’s right that pay demands of nineteen percent are met, then he should say so. What’s weak, Mr. Speaker, is he’s not strong enough to stand up to the union.”

While Starmer has called on Sunak to negotiate with the RCN, he has not explicitly backed the 19% pay raise himself.

Unless the government returns to the bargaining table, the RCN plans to launch a second round of strikes on Dec. 20 to be followed by ambulance strikes that Wednesday and the next.

If the government still refuses to budge, the union said in a statement that nurses will strike for longer periods in more places starting in January, disrupting more health services.

Other industries are also set to see work stoppages this month, including workers on railways, buses, highways, and borders, as well as teachers, postal workers, baggage handlers, and paramedics.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNN) (The Guardian)

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International

Fortnite Developer Sued By Parents for Making the Game as “Addictive as Possible”

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One child mentioned in the lawsuit played over 7,700 rounds of Fortnite in two years.


Epic Games Sued 

A Quebec City judge recently approved a 2019 class-action lawsuit accusing Fortnite developer Epic Games of deliberately making Fortnite addictive.

The parents who brought forward the lawsuit claim their children have become so obsessed with the game that in some cases, they’ve stopped eating, showering, or socializing. The lawsuit claims that these kids have played thousands of games since Fortnite’s release in 2017. In one example, a teenager played over 7,700 games in less than two years. 

If the lawsuit succeeds, players addicted to Fortnite living in Quebec since September 2017 could receive compensation. The plaintiff’s attorney, Philippe Caron, reports that over 200 parents outside the lawsuit have reached out to him, saying their child’s well-being has diminished since downloading Fortnite. He told The Washington Post that they are very confident about their case. 

Epic Games Responds

“We plan to fight this in court,” Natalie Munoz, a spokesperson for Epic Games said to The Post, “We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.” 

Munoz also said that Fortnite does allow parents to supervise their child’s playtime and require permission for purchases.

The parents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that they were not aware of the dangers playing Fortnite could pose for their children. 

“If she had been informed by the defendants of the risks and dangers associated with the use of FORTNITE,” the lawsuit says of one guardian. “She would have categorically refused to allow the game to be downloaded.” 

See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Washington Post) (Deadline

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