Overseas

Joe Biden in ‘bottom ten’ worst US Presidents

US President Joe Biden will finish his term in the “bottom ten” worst presidents the nation has had in its history, says Curtin University Political Analyst Joe Siracusa.

He said Mr Biden has promised a “great deal” but “hasn’t been able to deliver”.

“He’s been running around the world now for two years telling everybody America’s back but nobody believes a word he says,” Mr Siracusa told Sky News Australia.

US Senate passes ‘boldest clean energy package in American history’ to tackle climate change

The US Senate on Sunday passed a sweeping $622 billion bill intended to fight climate change, lower drug prices and raise some corporate taxes, a major victory for President Joe Biden that Democrats hope will aid their chances of keeping control of Congress in this year’s elections.
After a marathon, 27-hour weekend session of debate and Republican efforts to derail the package, the Senate approved the legislation known as the “Inflation Reduction Act,” by a 51-50 party line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking ballot.

The action sends the measure to the House of Representatives for a vote expected Friday that could forward it, in turn, to the White House for Mr Biden’s signature.

“The Senate is making history,” an elated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, after pumping his fists in the air as Democrats cheered and their staff members responded to the vote with a standing ovation.
“To Americans who’ve lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” he said. “This bill is going to change America for decades.”

Mr Schumer said the legislation contains “the boldest clean energy package in American history” to fight climate change while reducing consumer costs for energy and some medicines.

Democrats have drawn harsh attacks from Republicans over the legislation’s $622 billion in new spending and roughly $1.07 trillion in new revenue.
Nevertheless, Democrats hope its passage, ahead of an August recess, will help Democratic House and Senate candidates in the 8 November midterm elections at a time when Mr Biden is suffering from anaemic public approval ratings amid high inflation.
The legislation is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and shifting consumers to green energy, while cutting prescription drug costs for the elderly and tightening enforcement on taxes for corporations and the wealthy.
Because the measure pays for itself and reduces the federal deficit over time, Democrats contend that it will help bring down inflation, an economic liability that has also weighed on their hopes of retaining legislative control in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.
Republicans, arguing that the bill will not address inflation, have denounced the measure as a job-killing, left-wing spending wish list that could undermine growth when the economy is in danger of falling into recession.

Democrats approved the bill by using a parliamentary manoeuvre called “reconciliation,” which allows budget-related legislation to avoid the 100-seat chamber’s 60-vote threshold for most bills and pass on a simple majority.

Senate Votes On Amendments To Inflation Reduction Act Over The Weekend

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives for a news conference on the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act at the US Capitol on Sunday, 7 August, 2022 in Washington, DC. Source: Getty / Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

After several hours of debate, the Senate began a rapid-fire “vote-a-rama” on Democratic and Republican amendments on Saturday evening that stretched into Sunday afternoon.

The bill passed after Democrats defeated a Republican effort to extend a cap on state and local tax deductions that could have undermined support among Democrats from northeastern states.

Democrats also repelled more than 30 Republican amendments, points of order and motions, all intended to scupper the legislation. Any change in the bill’s contents wrought by an amendment could have unravelled the Democrats’ 50-senator coalition needed to keep the legislation on track.

No cap on insulin costs

But they were unable to muster the votes necessary to retain a provision to cap soaring insulin costs at $50 a month on the private health insurance market, which fell outside the reconciliation rules. Democrats said the legislation would still limit insulin costs for those on Medicare.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, offered a number of amendments to expand Medicare, create a civilian conservation corps and reduce child poverty, only to be defeated by lawmakers from both parties.

In a foreshadowing of the coming fall election campaign, Republicans used their amendment defeats to attack vulnerable Democrats who are seeking reelection in November.

“Democrats vote again to allow chaos on the southern border to continue,” read a statement from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell that named Democratic Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Raphael Warnock of Georgia. All four are facing tight contests for reelection.
That followed the defeat of a Republican proposal to codify into law a Trump administration policy stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic that effectively closed down the U.S. asylum system for immigrants.

The Biden administration has struggled in court to replace the “Title 42” policy with what it described as a more humane and orderly system for migrants crossing the border with Mexico.

Senate Democrats pass sweeping healthcare, tax, climate bill

Senate Democrats on Sunday passed a sweeping healthcare, tax and climate change bill that will allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs — a significant political win as the party tries to send a message before the midterm election that it is delivering on its promises.

The drug-price plan is the centerpiece of the Democrats’ bill, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The measure would also establish incentives to combat the climate crisis, impose new taxes on corporations and provide $4 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation to combat drought in the West — a last-minute addition.

The bill, approved via a fast-track legislative procedure that didn’t allow for a Republican filibuster, passed on a 50-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

No Republicans supported the bill. It will now go before the House, where a vote is expected Friday.

Before passage, senators slogged through dozens of unsuccessful votes on amendments put forward mainly by Republicans to try to stop the bill or at least make it politically difficult for Democrats.

Republicans succeeded in killing one provision that violated Senate budget rules. It would have capped the price of insulin at $35 a month in the private insurance market.

President Biden and congressional Democrats sorely need the legislative victory as they head toward the midterm elections, which traditionally favor the party out of power.

The package comes at the end of a remarkably productive sprint for the closely divided Senate. In recent weeks, the chamber has enacted a bipartisan gun bill, a boost for semiconductor manufacturing and aid for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

The enactment of the Medicare drug negotiation policy — which Democrats have been pushing for nearly two decades — would mark a significant accomplishment that is likely to be popular with voters who are eager to go after drugmakers.

It amounts to the most substantial change in healthcare policy since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. But it will initially have a limited impact on the pocketbooks of the nearly 64 million seniors in Medicare.

Negotiations between Medicare and drugmakers wouldn’t start until 2026, and would at first be limited to 10 drugs, adding more over time.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime proponent of Medicare price negotiations, called that portion of the bill “pretty weak.”

But Democrats rejected his amendment Sunday to strengthen the Medicare provisions.

Under the plan, Medicare will be able to negotiate over some of the most expensive drugs on the market, saving the federal government an estimated $288 billion over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Likely targets for negotiations include Eliquis, an atrial fibrillation medication used by well over 2 million Medicare beneficiaries; the diabetes drug Januvia, the prostate cancer drug Xtandi; and the rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia, according to industry players who are tracking the legislation. That list could change if pricier drugs enter the market in the next four years.

Chris Condeluci, founder of CC Law & Policy and a former staff member for Senate Finance Committee Republicans, predicted negotiations would not have a significant impact on the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries, because most don’t use the most expensive drugs and are therefore unlikely to see direct savings.

“Unless your premiums go down, it doesn’t matter if Medicare is spending less” overall, he said.

But the bill would also cap Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket drug expenses at $2,000 per year, a policy that could help the approximately 1.4 million enrollees who hit that amount each year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Drugmakers generally like the out-of-pocket cap because the federal government will pick up the tab after patients spend the maximum.

The measure would also impose a cap on drugmakers’ price increases, though Democrats had to scale back the inflationary cap on Saturday when the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian ruled that it didn’t adhere to Senate rules.

The inflationary cap isn’t a huge hit for the pharmaceutical industry because “companies have been self-policing,” said Ipsita Smolinski, a health policy advisor and managing director of Capitol Street, a research and consulting firm.

“They know they’d be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times if they obnoxiously price hike their products,” she said.

But drug manufacturers have strongly fought negotiating their prices with Medicare. Drugmakers and Republicans warn that allowing negotiations would stifle innovation of new drugs that pharmaceutical companies suspect would be affected. They also say the prospect of negotiations could prompt drugmakers to charge more when drugs first come on the market.

Medicare was barred from negotiating drug prices in 2003, with the establishment of the Medicare Part D drug program. The ban essentially allows pharmaceutical companies to set their own costs for Medicare, even though other government programs, such as Veterans Affairs, may negotiate for lower prices.

Drugmakers once had one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and still lead the pack in terms of spending to influence lawmakers. But their political power has waned in recent years amid high-profile price hikes, such as former Turing Pharmaceuticals Chief Executive Martin Shkreli’s decision to raise the price of one older drug by 5,000%.

The legislation is a fraction of what Democrats had originally hoped to enact — a $3.5-trillion proposal that would have rewritten much of the nation’s social safety net, including home healthcare, child care and universal pre-K programs. That effort ended when Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said in December he would not go along with such an ambitious plan.

But after secret negotiations between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), they resurrected portions of the bill last month.

The bill also seeks to address climate change. In an attempt to reduce emissions, it offers incentives for consumers to buy energy-efficient appliances and cars, and for manufacturers to make such products. According to Democrats, the climate policies would reduce emissions by roughly 40% by 2030.

About $9 billion would go to consumer home energy rebate programs. Lower- and middle-income people would be eligible for a $4,000 tax credit for buying a used clean car and up to $7,500 for buying a new one. Billions more would be spent to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, electric vehicles and other clean products.

Finally, the bill would impose new taxes on wealthy corporations and their stock buyback programs — and would send new funding to the Internal Revenue Service, which the agency says it will use to crack down on wealthy tax cheats.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s rocket barrages on Israel trace back to ‘Iran’s regional tentacles,’ experts say

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The world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism – the Islamic Republic of Iran – is behind Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s firing of over 600 rockets at communities in Israel over the weekend, according to top military experts. 

Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, a former deputy commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division, told Fox News Digital that there is “more than a slight possibility that Iran ordered [PIJ attacks] or it was supported by Iran.”  

Israel launched a preemptive mission—Operation Breaking Dawn—on Friday to stop “PIJ from firing anti-tank missiles from northern Gaza into Israel,” said Avivi.   

Avivi stressed the importance of connecting the dots between Iran’s regime and its proxies in the region. “It was no accident that the PIJ [attacks] happened as the secretary-general of PIJ, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, was meeting with [the Islamic Republic’s President Ebrahim] Raisi in Iran.”    

IRANIAN OFFICIALS OPENLY DISCUSS COUNTRY’S ABILITY TO MAKE NUCLEAR WEAPON

Raisi, who was sanctioned by the Trump administration for his role in the massacre of Iranian dissidents and protestors, said regarding the current violence that Israel has “once again showed its occupying and aggressive nature to the world.”   

Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted by the Sepah News website as saying on Saturday: “Today, all the anti-Zionist jihadi capabilities are on the scene in a united formation working to liberate Jerusalem and uphold the rights of the Palestinian people.”  

The Trump administration designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization. The IRGC and its militias in the Middle East are responsible for the murder of over 600 American service personnel.  

President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington.

President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Avivi said that he sees a connection among Iran’s aggressive posture at the nuclear talks in Vienna; the hostile statements of the pro-Iran regime leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, against a Lebanon-Israel maritime deal; and the PIJ jingoism.  

“This is an indication of Iran’s regional tentacles and how dangerous they are and how they can destabilize the area. Israel needs to remain strong and resolute to deter Iran’s advance,” Avivi said.   

Both Republican and Democratic administrations have classified Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.   

STATE DEPT OFFICIAL: IRAN’S COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH CHINA ‘IS DEFINITELY NOT GOOD FOR THE REGION’

“As the nuclear negotiations were going on in Vienna, PIJ’s leader was meeting with the Iranian president, the head of the IRGC and others in Tehran, taking orders for terrorist attacks against Israel,” Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, who commanded the British troops in Afghanistan, told Fox News Digital. “PIJ is an Iranian proxy and is funded by Iran to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead of discussing sanctions relief and normalization with Iran, the West should be doing everything it can to cut off the cash flow to all its terrorist proxies.”   

If, as the Biden White House desires, a renewed nuclear deal is reached, the administration is slated, according to media reports, to deliver over $100 billion to the Islamic Republic as part of sanctions relief in exchange for temporary restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.    

This image taken from video footage aired by Iranian state television on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, shows the launch of a rocket by Iran's Revolutionary Guard carrying a Noor-2 satellite in northeastern Shahroud Desert, Iran.

This image taken from video footage aired by Iranian state television on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, shows the launch of a rocket by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard carrying a Noor-2 satellite in northeastern Shahroud Desert, Iran.
(Iranian state television via AP)

The theocratic state declared last week that it can develop atomic weapons. 

Kemp continued, “The scandal of the negotiations with Iran is summed up by the fact that the representative of Russia, which is assaulting Ukraine while threatening the world with nuclear attack, and the representative of Iran, whose proxy is viciously attacking Israel, have been meeting with British, EU and other world powers, with American endorsement, as though none of this is happening. Such immoral behavior might be excusable if these negotiations could lead to prevention of Iran’s nuclear capability. But even in the best case they can only achieve the opposite: paving the way to Iran becoming a legitimate nuclear armed state while also enabling Iranian terrorist aggression across the region.”  

“The decision making of the PIJ changed and deviated from the rules of engagement,” Avivi, who serves as the CEO of the Israel Defense and Security Forum, said. “The IDF did not really do anything different. The IDF has [long] been conducting arrests [of terrorists] in Judea of Samaria.”  

IRANIAN OFFICIALS OPENLY DISCUSS COUNTRY’S ABILITY TO MAKE NUCLEAR WEAPON

Based on IDF intelligence, the Islamic Jihad deviated from the standard rules of engagement because it was set to fire anti-tank missiles into Israel. “This was the first time that PIJ planned to take action [in reaction] to something that happened in Judea and Samaria,” a reference to Israel’s arrest of the head of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank last Monday.    

The former British commander, Kemp, said Israel’s attack to knock out the PIJ leadership is justified.   

“Israel had no choice other than to launch a preemptive strike against PIJ to prevent an imminent lethal attack on Israeli civilians. Their initial military operation and subsequent strikes to stop terrorist rocket fire were lawful, necessary and proportionate. Israel operates within international law at all times, while every rocket launch by PIJ is a double war crime, attacking from behind human shields and firing indiscriminately at civilians,” Kemp said.  

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian officials, participants of the 31st International Islamic Unity Conference and ambassadors from Islamic countries, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. 

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian officials, participants of the 31st International Islamic Unity Conference and ambassadors from Islamic countries, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. 
(Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The IDF on Saturday tweeted video footage of PIJ misfiring missiles into a Palestinian civilian area in the Gaza Strip. “Watch this failed rocket launch which killed children in Gaza,” the IDF wrote. “This barrage of rockets was fired by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Gaza last night. The rocket in the red circle misfired, killing Palestinian civilians—including children—in Jabaliya in northern Gaza.” 

The Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas, which the U.S. and the European Union have designated a terrorist organization. Similarly, the U.S. and EU classify PIJ as a terrorist entity. Iran’s chief strategic partner in Lebanon, Hezbollah, is also a US-designated terrorist organization.   

PELOSI TAIWAN TRIP: IRAN, SYRIA JOIN LIST OF COUNTRIES CONDEMNING CONTROVERSIAL VISIT

PIJ rockets on Sunday caused warning sirens to sound for the first time in the current round of violence in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.  

Israel’s government said 450-470 rockets fired by PIJ entered Israel and 120 failed in their mission and crashed into the Gaza Strip.  

Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 97% of the PIJ rockets heading toward civilian population centers.  

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According to the Eshkol Regional Council, a PIJ missile struck a home in a community under its jurisdiction near the southern Gaza Strip. The family was in a bomb shelter at the time. 

Manchin’s Donors Include Pipeline Giants That Win in His Climate Deal

BLACKSBURG, Va. — After years of spirited opposition from environmental activists, the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a 304-mile gas pipeline cutting through the Appalachian Mountains — was behind schedule, over budget and beset with lawsuits. As recently as February, one of its developers, NextEra Energy, warned that the many legal and regulatory obstacles meant there was “a very low probability of pipeline completion.”

Then came Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and his hold on the Democrats’ climate agenda.

Mr. Manchin’s recent surprise agreement to back the Biden administration’s historic climate legislation came about in part because the senator was promised something in return: not only support for the pipeline in his home state, but also expedited approval for pipelines and other infrastructure nationwide, as part of a wider set of concessions to fossil fuels.

It was a big win for a pipeline industry that, in recent years, has quietly become one of Mr. Manchin’s biggest financial supporters.

Natural gas pipeline companies have dramatically increased their contributions to Mr. Manchin, from just $20,000 in 2020 to more than $331,000 so far this election cycle, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission and tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Manchin has been by far Congress’s largest recipient of money from natural gas pipeline companies this cycle, raising three times more from the industry than any other lawmaker.

NextEra Energy, a utility giant and stakeholder in the Mountain Valley Pipeline, is a top donor to both Mr. Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, who negotiated the pipeline side deal with Mr. Manchin. Mr. Schumer has received more than $281,000 from NextEra this election cycle, the data shows. Equitrans Midstream, which owns the largest stake in the pipeline, has given more than $10,000 to Mr. Manchin. The pipeline and its owners have also spent heavily to lobby Congress.

The disclosures point to the extraordinary behind-the-scenes spending and deal-making by the fossil fuel industry that have shaped a climate bill that nevertheless stands to be transformational. The final reconciliation package, which cleared the Senate on Sunday, would allocate almost $400 billion to climate and energy policies, including support for cleaner technologies like wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, and put the United States on track to reduce its emissions of planet-warming gases by roughly 40 percent below 2005 levels by the decade’s end.

A spokesman for Mr. Manchin said the Mountain Valley Pipeline “will help bring down energy costs, shore up American energy security and create jobs in West Virginia.” An official in Mr. Schumer’s office said the pipeline deal “was only included at the insistence of Sen. Manchin as part of any agreement related to this reconciliation bill.”

Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Equitrans, said the company maintained a “high standard of integrity” while engaging with policymakers. She declined to say whether Equitrans had pressed either senator on the pipeline. NextEra Energy did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite concessions like the pipeline deal, major environmental groups as well as progressives in Congress have praised the legislation. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the country to enact meaningful climate legislation.

But in Appalachia, where the Mountain Valley Pipeline cuts through steep mountainsides and nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands, the deal has highlighted the economic and social tensions in a region where extractive industries over the generations have produced jobs in coal mines and on fracking rigs but have also left behind deep scars on the land and in communities.

For years, environmental and civil rights activists as well as many Democratic state lawmakers have opposed the pipeline project, which would carry more than two billion cubic feet of natural gas per day out of the Marcellus shale fields in West Virginia and through southern Virginia. Construction on the pipeline was supposed to be complete by 2018, but environmental groups have successfully challenged a series of federal permits in court, where judges have found the pipeline developers’ analyses about the effects on wildlife, sedimentation and erosion lacking.

The pipeline deal means Appalachia is again becoming a “sacrifice zone” for the greater good, said Russell Chisholm, an Iraq war veteran and a member of Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, a coalition of groups that oppose construction.

He was visiting on Friday with a neighbor, Jammie Hale, who held up a jar of cloudy tap water. It was thick with sediment that Mr. Hale suspected had been dislodged by construction along the pipeline’s route, which runs alongside his property near Virginia’s border with West Virginia. Both men have clashed with the police at protests. They spoke beneath an American flag that Mr. Hale had hung upside down ever since workers started laying down pipe.

“If working people, poor people reaped the benefits, this bill could really help,” Mr. Chisholm said. “But it’s all beyond us, because it turns out they’ve been negotiating behind the scenes. It turns out the pipeline was on the negotiating table, and we weren’t at that table.”

“There’s a tendency to write off our region as a red state that got what was coming to them,” he added.

The concerns in Appalachia underscore the real-world fallout of the Democrats’ concessions to fossil fuels. The climate bill requires the federal government to auction off more public lands and waters for oil drilling as a prerequisite for more renewable energy sources like wind and solar. It expands tax credits for carbon capture technology that could allow coal- or gas-burning power plants to keep operating with reduced emissions.

Mr. Manchin has also secured pledges for a follow-up bill that would make it easier to greenlight energy infrastructure projects and make it tougher to oppose such projects under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

Those provisions could encourage further construction of pipelines, gas-burning power plants and other fossil fuel infrastructure to the detriment of low-income neighborhoods, which already disproportionately host these industries and often have fewer resources to negotiate with developers.

“People like me who are just trying to survive don’t have the time to attend hearings and meetings,” said Crystal Mello, who has cleaned homes for a living in southwest Virginia for two decades. She listened in on local hearings on her earbuds as she swept floors, and found whatever time she could to support “sit-ins” in trees in nearby Elliston to stop pipeline workers from felling them. She is now a community organizer even as she continues to clean houses.

“These mountains are meant to have trees protecting them,” she said. “People are saying this is a good deal, but at what cost?”

The concessions to natural gas pipelines come amid what has been a dramatic turnaround in the industry’s fortunes. For years, a glut of natural gas had depressed prices, and the coronavirus pandemic further cut demand. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the U.S. economic rebound, has pushed prices higher.

As a result, natural gas pipelines and export terminals have become a key growth opportunity as Europe looks for ways to wean itself from Russian gas. And even as the United States takes steps to add more renewable sources of energy, natural gas and oil remain the bedrock of the U.S. economy, and much of that fuel moves around the country through pipelines.

Gov. Jim Justice, Republican of West Virginia, has said that the pipeline should be finished and has called on the Biden administration to encompass all forms of energy. “This country needs to be totally energy independent,” he said at a briefing in February. “Without any question, if it were, we would feel better, stronger and better off.” Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Republican of Virginia, has also said the pipeline is vital to his state.

Supporters point to other benefits that the legislation would bring to West Virginia. It would cement a federal trust fund to support coal miners who have black lung disease, for example, and offer incentives for building wind and solar farms in areas where coal mines or coal plants recently closed.

“If you look to the future, it’s going to help,” David Owens, a retired local firefighter, said after he had filled up his S.U.V. outside Blacksburg, Va. Pipeline opponents were only “delaying the inevitable,” he said. “It’s going to happen.”

It remains unclear precisely how Mr. Manchin’s pipeline deal will work. According to terms released by the senator, the agreement requires federal agencies to take “all necessary actions” to permit the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction and operation. The terms of the agreement, which would be included in the follow-up bill, would also give the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit jurisdiction over all future legal challenges, rather than keep that authority with the Fourth District in Richmond, Va., where environmentalists had found success.

The Fourth District has overturned permits issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, saying that their analyses about adverse effects on wildlife, sedimentation and erosion were flawed. The pipeline project has particularly struggled to get approval to cross streams or wetlands in a part of the country with so many of them.

Joseph M. Lovett, an attorney at the legal nonprofit Appalachian Mountain Advocates who is fighting the pipeline, said that any change in legal jurisdiction mandated by Congress “was ridiculous.”

“We’re a nation of laws. The powerful people don’t have the right to choose judges,” he said, adding, “If rich people can pay to get a better day in court, that’s just corruption.”

Mr. Manchin has made clear his view that fossil fuels will continue to be necessary. He became a millionaire from his family coal business and has taken more campaign cash from the oil and gas industry than any of his colleagues have.

Mr. Manchin has attracted more contributions in part because he is the chairman of the Senate energy committee. Major pipeline companies that have made contributions include Enterprise Products Partners, Energy Transfer LP, Plains All American Pipeline and Williams Companies.

David Seriff, who has long opposed the pipeline, looked out on Saturday from Brush Mountain, where the pipeline would cross half a mile from his home. With construction stalled, sections of the thick pipe have laid exposed on the ground for years. “I don’t come out here much anymore because I hate to see this,” he said.

Mr. Seriff said he was encouraged by Congress’s action on climate. “But the Democrats and people who say they’re environmentalists are ready to build the pipeline, too,” he said.

Israel maintains border blockades hospital supplies dwindle



Gaza’s top hospital director warned Sunday that medics are facing multiple crises amid deadly violence between Palestinian militants and Israel, with drugs and electricity supplies urgently needed to keep treating patients.

Muhammad Abu Salmiya said wounded people were arriving “every minute” at Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

“There is a crisis in medicine, a crisis in drugs, a crisis in electricity,” said Salmiya, the hospital’s director general.

Thirty-one Gazans have been killed and 275 others wounded in fighting since Friday, when Israel fired on Islamic Jihad positions and the militant group retaliated by launching rockets across the frontier.

Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Saturday due to a lack of fuel, four days after Israel closed its crossings with the territory citing security concerns.

“The situation is very bad,” said Salmiya. “We need urgently to open the borders to bring in drugs, (fuel for) electricity.”

Diesel for the power plant is usually trucked in from Egypt or Israel, which has maintained a blockade of the enclave since the militant group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The depleting electricity supply will see “a cessation of health services” on Tuesday afternoon, as power generators are running out of fuel, Gaza’s health ministry projected.

Potentially life-saving facilities such as operating rooms and ventilators in hospitals need power to continue running.

There are also concerns that the fuel shortage across the Palestinian territory could affect ambulances, said the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said there is “deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

The enclave’s 2.3 million residents experience regular power shortages and last month received only an average of 11 hours of power per day, according to OCHA data.

The UN agency warned Saturday that without a boost to the electricity supply, Gaza will soon see “the reduction of water supply from the water wells and desalination plants”.

Ahad Ferwana, a Gaza resident, said people become sick when the water supply is interrupted.

The power cuts “affect all areas of life in Gaza Strip,” he told AFP.

“It disrupts people’s lives especially under the intense heat that hits the region,” he said.

“That forces people to leave their homes, which puts their lives at risk because of the continued bombardment.”

© Agence France-Presse