Indigenous protesters rally against fossil fuels | First Thing

Hundreds of Native Americans and other environmental activists rallied against fossil fuels on Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Washington. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

First Thing

Demonstrators want Biden to declare the climate crisis a national emergency. Plus, meet the time millionaires

Tue 12 Oct 2021 11.09 BST

Good morning.

Hundreds of protesters led by Indigenous activists from across the country demonstrated in front of the White House on Monday to demand that Joe Biden stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare the climate crisis a national emergency.

The rally marks the start of five days of demonstrations calling for greater attention to climate injustices as Native American leaders and tribal members head to the capital to publicize their demands.

The demonstrations are part of People v Fossil Fuels protests, organized by a coalition of groups known as Build Back Fossil Free, who are urging the Biden administration take further action to reduce carbon-producing fossil fuel projects.

Monday’s demonstrations fell on a federal holiday in the US that until recently was officially dedicated to Christopher Columbus but that is now widely known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

  • What did the organisers of the protest say? “We have had enough of your empty words,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said. “If President Biden was committed to honoring the treaties and strengthening sovereignty, he would act swiftly to mitigate the climate chaos that has engulfed our communities.”

  • Was the rally peaceful? Yes but demonstrators were subjected to police use of a long-range acoustic device, which emits a piercing sound, according to video footage captured by Indigenous campaigners.

Lauren Cho: human remains found in search for missing woman in California

Lauren Cho, who friends called El, had quit her job as a music teacher in New Jersey to move to California after a cross-country road trip in late 2020. Photograph: Morongo Basin sheriff’s department

Officials searching for a missing 30-year-old New Jersey woman in the California desert said they had found human remains this weekend.

“The San Bernardino county sheriff’s department conducted an additional search and rescue operation in the ongoing search for Lauren Cho,” the San Bernardino county sheriff’s department said in a press release on Sunday. “During the search, unidentified human remains were located in the rugged terrain of the open desert of Yucca Valley.”

The department has conducted ground searches with dogs and used aircraft to survey remote mountains while looking for Cho, who disappeared on 28 June after walking away from a home where she was staying in Yucca Valley, near Joshua Tree national park and Palm Springs.

Cho’s disappearance received fresh national attention last month after the killing of Gabby Petito, which prompted a national conversation about the unequal treatment of missing person cases by police.

  • When will officials announce if the remains are Cho’s? The San Bernardino county sheriff’s department said identifying the remains and determining the cause of death could take weeks.

  • What has Cho’s family said? Her sister told CNN on Monday: “The family is just holding our collective breaths. We so badly desire answers, but already feel the heartbreak of what the answer could be.”

New treatment destroys head and neck cancer tumours in trial

The immunotherapy treatment triggered far fewer side-effects than chemotherapy. Photograph: Alamy

A new cancer treatment can wipe out tumours in terminally ill head and neck cancer patients, scientists have discovered.

In a landmark trial, a cocktail of immunotherapy medications harnessed patients’ immune systems to kill their own cancer cells and prompted “a positive trend in survival”, according to researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, and the Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust.

One patient, who was expected to die four years ago, told the Guardian of the “amazing” moment nurses called him weeks after he joined the study to say his tumour had “completely disappeared”. The 77-year-old grandfather is now cancer-free and spent last week on a cruise with his wife.

Scientists found the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab medications led to a reduction in the size of tumours in terminally ill head and neck cancer patients. In some, their cancer vanished altogether, with doctors stunned to find no detectable sign of disease.

  • Combining the two immunotherapy drugs could prove an effective new weapon against several forms of advanced cancer, experts believe.

  • Terminally ill kidney, skin and bowel cancer patients could also be helped, results from other trials of the drug combination have previously suggested.

In other news…

Bolsonaro is a former paratrooper who has presided over what critics call a historic onslaught against the Amazon and its indigenous inhabitants. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

  • The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, must be held criminally responsible for a “ruthless” assault on the Amazon that has exacerbated the climate emergency and imperilled humanity’s very survival, activists have argued.

  • After Robert Durst’s first murder conviction last month – the culmination of an extraordinary trial in Los Angeles featuring close to 40 years of devastating evidence – prosecutors and civil litigators are working at lightning speed to haul him back to court any way they can.

  • Jon Gruden has resigned as Las Vegas Raiders head coach after further emails emerged in which he used misogynistic and homophobic language. The messages were sent during his time as an ESPN analyst. “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone,” he said.

  • The Texas governor, Greg Abbott, issued an executive order Monday to prohibit any entity, including private businesses, from enforcing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate on workers despite the state approaching 70,000 deaths.

Stat of the day: rotting Red Sea oil tanker could leave 8m people without water

Houthi rebels have prevented the UN from inspecting the ship and three-way talks with the Yemeni government have stalled. Photograph: Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Tech/AFP/Getty Images

The impact of an oil spill in the Red Sea from a tanker that is rotting in the water could be far wider than anticipated, with the prospect of 8 million people losing access to running water and Yemen’s Red Sea fishing stock being destroyed within three weeks. Negotiations are under way to offload the estimated 1.1m barrels of crude oil that remain onboard the FSO Safer, which has been deteriorating by the month since it was abandoned in 2017. The vessel contains four times the amount of oil released by the Exxon Valdez in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989, and a spill is considered increasingly probable.

Don’t miss this: meet the time millionaires pursuing the pleasure of leisure

‘I just want to do what I’m doing for now. Live a lot more presently.’ Illustration: MARK LONG/The Guardian

First named by the writer Nilanjana Roy in a 2016 column in the Financial Times, time millionaires measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation. “Wealth can bring comfort and security in its wake,” says Roy. “But I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts – because how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.”

Climate check: world poised for big leap forward on climate crisis, says John Kerry

Kerry has said there is ‘still a lot of distance to travel in the next four weeks’. Composite: Bernat Armangué/AP/Guardian Design

The world is poised to make a big leap forward at the UN Cop26 climate summit, with world leaders “sharpening their pencils” to make fresh commitments that could put the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement within reach, John Kerry has said. Kerry, Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, gave an upbeat assessment of the prospects for Cop26, which begins in Glasgow at the end of this month, saying he anticipated “surprising announcements” from key countries. However, he added that the progress he anticipated was not yet “signed, sealed and delivered”.

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Last thing: Japan’s island-shaped curry inflames tensions with Korean neighbours

Japan has been accused of using a ‘typical cheap trick’ to promote its claims to the islands. Photograph: Okinoshima-Town

A simple bowl of curry is at the centre of the latest row in a long-running territorial dispute between Japan and the Koreas. Media in North and South Korea reacted angrily after an online media report about a seafood curry sold in Japan that includes mounds of rice shaped to resemble the Takeshima islands, which Koreans refer to as Dokdo. The rocky islets are administered by South Korea, but Japan insists they are an integral part of its territory. The dish features a Japanese flag planted in one of the mounds of rice, which are surrounded by a “sea” of curry sauce.

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Nicola Slawson