Compiled by Laura Lenz 

Laura Lenz reported that President Biden announced that the United States will aim to cut emissions in half by 2030. The Biden administration made this commitment following growing pressure from environmental advocates and nearly 300 corporations that have called on Biden to cut emissions drastically to make up for Trump administration rollbacks. 

Aside from exiting the Paris Agreement, the Trump administration also rolled back many environmental protections and reversed federal efforts to reduce carbon emissions.  

Lenz reported that according to an environmental report conducted by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Georgia Power’s parent company is not doing enough to reduce emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe. 

The report projects that coal-fired power plants won’t retire at a rate fast enough to meet their net-zero pledges over the next decade. Southern Company, which is Georgia Power’s parent company, and Duke Energy account for 40% of Southeastern carbon emissions.  

Lenz explained that the major utility companies that were studied in the report have public goals to reach zero carbon by 2050. Georgia Power has promising methods to lower emissions by switching to nuclear reactors, increasing solar power and closing coal plants, according to Southern Alliance’s Director of Utility Reform Maggie Shober. 

Joseph Aldridge reported that the Supreme Court made it easier to sentence minors convicted of murder to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This ruling, which was split along ideological lines, indicates a change in direction towards a more conservative Court. In the 6-3 decision, the court rejected previous decisions which moved gradually toward more leniency for minors convicted of murder.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority, said previous decisions only require a judge to consider “an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics” before imposing a sentence of life without parole. He rejected, however, a more demanding standard arguing that it was not in the court’s precedent.

Aldridge explained that Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that juvenile offenders who were serving life without parole wanted “the opportunity, at some point in their lives, to show a parole board all they have done to rehabilitate themselves and to ask for a second chance.” 

Thomas Ehlers reported Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport lost its title of world’s busiest airport by passenger count in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic dropped Atlanta’s airport behind Guangzhou Bai Yun Airport in China. In 2020, the Chinese airport saw 43.77 million passengers while Hartsfield-Jackson saw 42.92 million, according to data from Airports Council International. 

Hartsfield Jackson’s tally shrunk by 61.2% points. Hartsfield-Jackson did see the most worldwide aircraft movements, giving it the title for busiest airport by flight counts. Overall, the number of flights was down 39.4% points for Hartsfield-Jackson in 2020.

Lenz reported that Athens officials are considering renaming two recreational areas. Athens-Clarke County commissioners will discuss renamining the gym at Thomas Lay Park and the East Athens Community Center. 

The Thomas Lay Park gymnasium may be renamed to Willie Hull Gymnasium. Hull was the park director from 1977 to 2010. The East Athens Community Center may be renamed after Aaron Heard who was director of the center for 15 years. 

Ehlers reported that the US House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at giving Washington D.C. statehood. HR 51, created by non-voting DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, passed along party lines 216-208. Last year a similar bill passed in the House, but the Republican-majority Senate did not pass the bill. 

Delegate Norton said, “This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed. But DC residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they as American citizens must live.”  

If the bill were to pass in both houses of the legislature, it would be the first state with a Black plurality in the nation.

Aldridge reported that Australia’s cancellation of deals made with China to improve infrastructure is likely to provoke a response from Beijing officials, as tensions between the two trading partners rise.

The deals were broken off using a law allowing the government to overrule agreements that violate the national interest, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne explained in a press conference. 

“We urge the Australian side to abandon its cold war mentality,” said Wang Wenbin, Foreign Minister of China. “Not to go further down the wrong path so as to avoid making China-Australia relations, which are already facing serious difficulties, even worse.” 

Aldridge reported that the clash follows China’s ban on imports of several Australian commodities after the Australian government’s rejection of the World Health Organization’s report on the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Yara Manasrah gave an Oscars update. For the first time in history, more than one woman has been nominated for the Best Director award. Director Chloé Zhao is expected to take home the Oscar for her directing of “Nomadland,” which would make her the second woman to win the award at the 93rd Academy Awards.

The late Chadwick Boseman’s show-stopping performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” has a significant chance of winning the Best Actor in a Leading Role award. While Anthony Hopkins’ performance in “The Father” won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Boseman’s career-best performance is a strong contender for the award.

The Best Actress in a Leading Role category has several strong contenders for the prize, with Viola Davis’ performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and Carey Mulligan’s role in “Promising Young Woman” both up for nomination. CNET and Variety predict that Frances McDormand’s performance in “Nomadland” will win the award; however, Lindsay Bahr of AP predicts that Davis’ incredible portrayal of Ma Rainey will come out victorious.

Manasrah reported that Leslie Odom Jr’s role in “One Night in Miami” is predicted by some to take home the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, while others foresee Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah” to win the award.

Yuh-Jung Youn is vastly expected to take home the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in “Minari.” Her performance in the movie about a Korean family and their move to Arkansas to start a farm in the late 20th century is a performance that could take home the prize.

While sources predict “Nomadland” to take home the award for Best Picture, the category is filled with incredible nominations such as “The Father,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Promising Young Woman,” “Minari,” “Mank,” “Sound of Metal” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” all of which are strong contenders for the prize.