Climate

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his cabinet ministers pose for a photo in Tokyo, Japan.

REUTERS/Issei Kato

Moonies out of the Japanese government

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday removed all cabinet ministers linked to the controversial Unification Church from South Korea, whose members are known as Moonies (after founder Sun Myung Moon). The ruling Liberal Democratic Party came under intense scrutiny over its ties to the church following the shocking assassination last month of former PM Shinzo Abe, whose assassin blamed the church for his family’s financial ruin. Abe was not a member but praised the conservative values of the Moonies, who campaigned on behalf of his brother — the biggest name to get a pink slip from Kishida. The PM — with no ties to the church — has had a wild ride in the polls lately. His approval rating initially skyrocketed out of sympathy for the slain leader, sweeping the LDP to a big victory in the upper house elections just days later. But now his popularity has tanked to the lowest level since he took office due to a backlash against the church, long suspected of pulling the LDP's strings. The cabinet reshuffle may help boost Kishida’s numbers a bit, but he’s not out of the woods: COVID infections keep rising, and a slim majority of Japanese citizens oppose the government-funded state funeral for Abe planned for Sept. 27.

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Luisa Vieira

US Democrats have long been gunning for a win, and they finally got one in recent days. After months of painstaking negotiations and internal party turmoil, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a key component of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

This paves the way for the $700 billion legislative package, which includes massive investments in climate change mitigation, healthcare, and tax reform, to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law. The House begins its deliberations on Friday.

The bill took many forms in recent months in efforts to win the support of fiscally hawkish Democrats. But despite ample rewrites, many climate-related provisions managed to pass the smell test. What’s in the bill, what’s not, and how might it impact everyday Americans?

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Annie Gugliotta

US Senate passes Biden's big climate bill

Following a marathon vote-a-rama session that started late Saturday, the US Senate on Sunday passed a $740 billion package aimed at fighting climate change and lowering the cost of prescription drugs by raising certain corporate taxes. Although the legislation is a trimmed-down version of the Biden administration's doomed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, it’s still the most ambitious climate legislation passed to date in America. Dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act” — though economists doubt it'll live up to its name immediately — it allocates $369 billion for climate and clean energy investments, enables the government to negotiate some prescription drug prices, and slaps a 15% minimum tax on large corporations. Republicans say the tax hikes in the bill will kill jobs and spur inflation, but politically it's the latest in a series of victories for President Joe Biden at just the right time: three months ahead of November’s midterms. The legislation now heads to the House, where it is expected to be approved in a few days, before hitting Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

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Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr storm the parliament building in Baghdad, Iraq.

REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Anti-Iran protesters storm Iraq’s parliament

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters breached Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Wednesday and stormed the parliament. The demonstrators – supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most seats in parliamentary elections last fall – chanted anti-Iran slogans as they rummaged through paperwork and took selfies. Crucially, they rallied against the candidacy of Mohammed al-Sudani, a former minister backed by a pro-Iran alliance, to become the next PM. For almost a year, Tehran-aligned parties have prevented al-Sadr from forming a new government, prompting the cleric’s 73 lawmakers to resign en masse last month in protest, and plunging the crisis-ridden country further into political and social turmoil. As a result, the pro-Iran bloc became the biggest parliamentary faction … by default. The demonstrators have since disbursed, but temperatures are rising in a country where joblessness and popular disillusionment are sky-high. What’s more, al-Sadr has proven adept at whipping his supporters into a frenzy in recent months, suggesting that instability in Iraq is likely to get much worse.

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Italy Elections: Rightist & Center-Right forces Leading Opinion Polls | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics, from the Adriatic Sea.

What's going to be the fallout of the resignation of the Draghi government in Italy?

Quite substantial. I would suspect, Mario Draghi with his government, very broad government has given Italy credibility both in terms of economic policy management, reform policies, and foreign policy not the least on Ukraine, during quite some time. He was thrown out by the populist and the rightist parties for obscure reasons. And now there will be elections on September the 25th. What's going to come thereafter? We don't know. The rightist and the center-right forces are leading in opinion polls at the moment, but all bets are off.

How is Europe handling the heatwave and the energy crisis?

Yep, that's really what's dominating. The heat wave immediately, of course, primarily in the south of Europe, but it's also in other places, emphasizing the importance of the climate transition. But also all of the issues related to our energy dependence, primarily the gas dependence of Germany and a couple of other countries on Russia, are much of the focus of the politics of Europe in the middle of the summer.

White House Climate Emergency Gives Biden New Powers To Reach Goals | US Politics :60 | GZERO Media

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his analysis on US politics:

What is President Biden doing now that his legislative agenda is all but over?

Congress is getting ready to throw in the towel on 2022, racing to pass several pieces of legislation dealing with healthcare, drug prices and subsidies for the semiconductor industry before they go on their annual recess beginning in August. Some Democrats are holding out hope they can still pass a broader bill to finance green energy investments. But others are already writing the eulogy for the 117th Congress, recognizing how hard it is to legislate in a 50-50 Senate and a narrowly divided House and looking forward to Republicans taking control of at least one branch of government next year.

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Putin Seeks Military Support From Iran, Another G7 Pariah | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60:

Is the severe heat wave sweeping across Europe the new summer normal?

Of course not. It is the coolest summer, just about you'll ever see going forward. Since we are at 1.2 degrees centigrade of warming and we're heading to 2.5, which is double where we are right now, and Europe is hit generally harder than the United States, It's going to get vastly hotter across Europe. So, I mean, enjoy it while you can. This is comparatively cool weather. Really kind of depressing to think about.

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