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U.S. rejoins Paris Climate Accord

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The United States officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement today, according to a statement released by Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken.

“On January 20, on his first day in office, President Biden signed the instrument to bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement. Per the terms of the Agreement, the United States officially becomes a Party again today,” the statement reads.

Under the agreement’s rules, a country can formally re-enter the pact 30 days after it gives notice to the United Nations. Today is end of the 30-day period.

The statement continues, “Addressing the real threats from climate change and listening to our scientists is at the center of our domestic and foreign policy priorities.

The statement goes on to say that re-joining the agreement is “momentous.”

“Now, as momentous as our joining the Agreement was in 2016 — and as momentous as our rejoining is today — what we do in the coming weeks, months, and years is even more important.”

The Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the Paris agreement in 2019 saying it was in the United States’ “economic interest to do so.” Because of provisions in the agreement, Trump’s order did not go into effect until Nov. 4, 2020 – one day after Biden won the presidential election.

Once Biden took office, he appointed former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – who helped negotiate the Paris deal in 2015 – as the first-ever presidential envoy on climate and made him a part of his National Security Council.

“Today’s the day. We’re officially back in the Paris Agreement – again part of the global climate effort. No country can fight this fight on its own. We look forward to a productive year and a successful #COP26 in Glasgow. #GoodToBeBack,” Kerry wrote on Twitter.

Kerry will join the U.N. chief on Friday for an event to mark the U.S. return to the pact.

Biden has also said his administration will hold a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, as part of its climate diplomacy.

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TX farmers fight to block USDA from using race in distributing farm aid

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“When natural disasters strike, they don’t discriminate based on race and sex. Neither should the Department of Agriculture.” That’s the message from a group of farmers written in a court filing made public Monday.

Just The News reports on a group of white farmers in Texas who are asking a federal judge to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits to determine who gets disaster and pandemic farm aid and how much, arguing the agency’s current administration of eight emergency funding programs is unconstitutionally discriminatory.

According to Just the News, the USDA’s program appears to be rooted in an executive order that President Joe Biden signed. The lawsuit names the USDA and Biden Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The farmers bringing the action include Rusty Strickland, Alan and Amy West and Bryan Baker, all of Texas.

The farmers, represented by the nonprofit legal firm called the Southeastern Legal Foundation, asked a judge to issue an emergency injunction from the U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, to stop any additional awards from being made on the basis of race and gender or other liberal standards.

“Enjoining USDA from using race, sex, or progressive factoring when administering the programs is warranted because Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that: (1) the programs, as currently administered, are unconstitutional; (2) USDA lacks statutory authority to run the programs in their current form; and (3) USDA failed to adequately explain changes in calculating payments when implementing progressive factoring,” the motion stated.

The farmers said the Biden administration has taken roughly $25 billion in disaster and pandemic aid approved by Congress for farmers in eight programs and devised a system to make awards based on race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits. Such decision-making violates the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The Constitution promises equal treatment to all Americans regardless of their race or sex,” the court filing also reads. “It also promises the separation of powers. USDA broke both promises through the disaster and pandemic relief programs challenged here.”

The farmers said they can prove that “USDA gives more money to some farmers based on” race, gender or other factors never approved by Congress.

“USDA does this by first defining farmers who are black/African-American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or a woman as ‘socially disadvantaged,’” the court filing said. “Then, it provides farmers who qualify as socially disadvantaged more money for the same loss than those it deems non-underserved, along with other preferential treatment”

Just the News explains the request for an injunction relies in part of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year banning racial preferences in college admissions. It even quoted from the high court’s declaration that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”.

“Disasters don’t discriminate and neither should USDA. In fact, the Constitution prohibits it,” the lawyers said in a statement. “That is why our brave clients – a group of Texas farmers that includes three white men who received significantly less money in disaster relief funds from USDA than if they had been of a different race or sex – filed this case and are asking the court to stop USDA’s blatant discrimination.”

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