- Several well-known conservatives received backlash for making fun of 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been vocal about having Aspergers.
- Fox News apologized after conservative commentator Michael Knowles said she was “a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
- Fox News host Laura Ingraham also faced backlash when she compared the teen’s UN speech to the film Children of the Corn, while President Trump was criticized for a tweet about Thunberg that many felt was sarcastic.
Greta Thunberg’s UN Speech
A handful of prominent conservatives are receiving backlash for mocking and criticizing young environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
The 16-year-old Swedish girl first gained national attention last year when she started the Friday’s for Future movement. The movement encourages students and other young people all around the world to skip school on Fridays and hold climate strikes calling for global leaders to address climate change.
After leading a massive global strike this past Friday, Thunberg addressed the world in a powerful speech at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said. “Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
“And yet I’m one of the lucky ones,” she continued. “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she added towards the end of her speech.
“And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Following her speech, Thunberg, along with 15 other kids from 12 countries filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. In it, they alleged that Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey have violated child human rights by failing to adequately address climate change.
Response Applauding Greta
Many people took to social media to share the video of Thunberg and praise her.
Celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and George Takei chimed in on Twitter.
Politicians on both sides also cheered on Thunberg, like Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who referred to Thunberg’s speech as “A must watch plea to world leaders.”
Former Republican Governor John Kasich also commended the young activist in a tweet.
“She should be praised and viewed as an example of how change really happens — from the bottom up,” he wrote.
Michael Knowles Remarks
Others, however, publicly criticized Thunberg and her movement.
“The climate hysteria movement is not about science,” conservative commentator Michael Knowles said on Fox News on Monday. “If it were about science, it would be led by scientists, rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
The other guest on the show, progressive podcast host Chris Hahn, responded by condemning Knowles’ attack on Thunberg.
“You’re a grown man and you’re attacking a child. Shame on you. She’s trying to do what she thinks is right,” Hahn said.
“I’m not, I’m attacking the left for exploiting a mentally ill child,” Knowles responded.
“Now, relax, skinny boy. I got this. You’re attacking a child, you’re grown man, have some couth when you’re on television,” Hahn retorted, before asking Knowles to apologize to Thunberg.
Knowles did not apologize, instead, he continued to defend his remarks.
“I think the international left and her parents who are exploiting a girl with many mental illnesses, and her parents wrote about those mental illnesses in a book,” he said. “She has autism, she has obsessive-compulsive disorder, she has selective mutism, she had depression.”
“You are despicable,” Hahn said.
Knowles Receives Backlash
Many condemned Knowles on social media after the interview. Some pointed out that Thunberg has been very vocal about the fact that she has Aspbergers, something that she has embraced and referred to as her “superpower.”
Autism organizations also condemned Knowles’ remarks.
“It’s absolutely unconscionable to attack someone for their disability, especially when that person is a child,” Julia Bascom, executive director of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network told the Hollywood Reporter.
“History is full of autistic people and people with other cognitive disabilities who were and are compelling, credible activists and leaders,” she continued. “Greta is a part of that tradition, and our community is lucky to have her. Period.”
Fox News later apologized for the incident.
“The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on The Story tonight was disgraceful — we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” the network told The Washington Post in a statement, also adding that they had “no plans” to book Knowles again.
Knowles, however, still doubled down and defended himself in a series of tweets.
“There is nothing shameful about living with mental disorders. Your suggestion to the contrary is not only wrong but deeply offensive,” he wrote.
“Children should never be exploited for political purposes, and mentally ill children are particularly vulnerable,” he added in a later tweet.
Other Conservative Get Backlash for Remarks
Knowles was not the only well-known conservative voice who received backlash for comments they made about Thunberg.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham showed part of Greta’s speech to the UN, then compared her to the movie Children of the Corn.
“I can’t wait for Stephen King’s new sequel, Children of the Climate,” Ingraham said.
Her remarks garnered a lot of backlash from people on social media, including Ingraham’s brother, Curtis Ingraham, who condemned his sister in a tweet.
“Clearly my sister’s paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit,” he wrote. “I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger.”
Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza also received a lot of heat for comparing Thunberg to a Nazi in a tweet posted over the weekend.
Even President Donald Trump chimed in, seeming to make fun of Thunberg by sharing a video of her speech on Twitter and writing “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Thunberg appeared to mock Trump back by changing her Twitter bio to “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Daily Beast)
New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns
- The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
- The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
- The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.
CDC Issues Warning
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus.
The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.
Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.
Mitigating Spread of Variant
“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”
The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.
“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.
“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)
Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)
- Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
- By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
- Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.
Rick Snyder Charges
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.
The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.
He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.
The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.
Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.
His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.
8 Others Charged
Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.
Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:
- Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
- Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services.
- Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
- Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
- Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
- Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.
Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.
At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.
It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)
Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack
- At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.
- Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
- Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive
At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.
Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus.
On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one.
Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested.
More Cases Follow
Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions.
“Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote.
“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added.
“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown.
“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.
Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks.
Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.