Skip Navigation
Breaking News
Breaking News
from Washington and beyond

Almost Every Country Signed a Historic Deal To Protect Nature. America Wasn’t One of Them.

Republicans helped take America out of the global conversation at the COP15 U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity.

ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images
Marco Lambertini (2nd from right), the director general of WWF International, speaks during a press conference following the release of new COP15 text during the United the Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on December 18, 2022.

On Monday, nearly 200 countries agreed to rein in the ongoing global loss of nature, pledging to protect 30 percent of the planet—land and oceans—by 2030. The goal, known as 30x30, was agreed to at the COP15 U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) summit in Montreal, Canada. The United States was one of two countries not signing.

Currently, about 17 percent of land and 8 percent of oceans on the planet have some form of conservation measures in place. The global effort to increase those figures comes three years after a 2019 U.N. report showed 75 percent of land-based environments and 66 percent of marine environments have been “severely altered” by human actions—leading to some 1 million animal and plant species at risk of extinction.

The massive environmental cost translates to an equally large financial cost. Between 1997 and 2011 alone, the world is estimated to have lost up to 31 trillion U.S. dollars per year from biodiversity loss spurred by degrading action and preservatory inaction.

The United States was one of two countries not involved in shaping and signing the agreement. Citing threats to commercial interests and infringements on American and land sovereignty, Republicans have blocked the U.S. joining the CBD since its conception in the 1990s. A two-thirds Senate majority is required for ratification. (The only other country to not sign the agreement was the Holy See.)

President Biden has yet to make a case that Republicans are blocking America’s involvement on the global stage as they side with financial interests and make abstract claims for “sovereignty,” while America’s actual natural landscape deteriorates.

While the U.S. did not sign onto the U.N. agreement, the Biden administration has announced its own 30x30 plan. But with the U.S. refusing to join the 30x30 goal alongside other nations, there is less collaboration and trust shared to actualize the goal.

The worldwide push to stem environmental degradation is only one step towards reversing the damage humans have caused, and replacing those systems with something better. And as has been evident with the Paris Agreement’s stalled climate goals, an agreement is just words until proven otherwise.

This article was updated.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Poll Results Are In: The People Don’t Want Him as CEO

Musk asked in a Twitter poll if he should step down as CEO. People overwhelmingly said “yes.”

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Since taking over Twitter, Elon Musk has made a habit of governing by poll. But he may wish he had held off on the latest one.

Musk asked his followers Sunday night if he should step down as head of Twitter, promising to “abide by the results” of the poll. The poll closed Monday morning, and the results are clear: More than 17.5 million people voted, with 57.5 percent saying “yes” and only 42.5 percent saying “no.”

Musk’s purchase of Twitter in late October has been rocky, to say the very least, and many analysts assumed the deal started as a joke that then went too far. It’s been rumored that Musk never wanted to take the company’s reins in the first place and has been looking for a way out.

Since taking over, Musk has fired almost all of the top executives and the entire board of directors, as well as nearly half the company’s workforce. Many other employees have quit. Advertisers have left the platform in droves due to Twitter’s increasingly lax content moderation rules.

Meanwhile, hate speech has flourished and Nazis are being allowed back on the platform. Musk seems to be governing by whim rather than following a business plan.

It’s gotten so bad that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter over the weekend to the board chair of Tesla, which Musk founded, questioning whether he was qualified to continue leading the electric vehicle company.

In her letter, Warren cited reports that Musk had improperly reallocated Tesla funds and employees to Twitter to keep the social media platform afloat, and warned that he could have Tesla overpay for advertising space on Twitter to fill the void left by other companies.

And on Friday, the European Union threatened to impose sanctions on Twitter after Musk suspended multiple journalists’ accounts.

Unfortunately More on Elon

Congress Has Days to Prove Whether It Cares About Afghans

The Afghan Adjustment Act would help tens of thousands of Afghans who remain in legal limbo. And the deadline for Congress to pass it is coming up.

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Veteran James Powers talks with young Afghan refugees during an event promoting the Afghan Adjustment Act on October 23, in Billlings, Montana.

As the government scrambles to put together final touches on a bill to fund the government, the fate of countless Afghans hangs in the balance.

Tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees residing in the United States remain in limbo, without a certain path to permanent residency. Even more Afghan allies have been left behind since the U.S. military withdrawal last August.

Advocates have spent the better part of about a year and a half lobbying for the Afghan Adjustment Act, a bill that would expand the special immigration visa program to include previously omitted groups of people who aided the U.S. military, establish pathways to resettle allies still trapped in Afghanistan, and provide a pathway to permanent legal residency for the tens of thousands of evacuees now in the U.S. Advocates now seek to attach the bill to the government’s omnibus spending package.

The bill boasts bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress but has stalled for months, to much-warranted frustration. “Afghans have been let down by the entirety of this war,” said Arash Azizzada, co-founder of Afghans for a Better Tomorrow.

It took one year for Congress to even introduce the Afghan Adjustment Act, but it was produced promisingly, with bipartisan support out of the gate. But five months later, Congress has not included the bill in the continuing resolution or the defense spending bill, nor has it just passed the bill on its own. Even before the act was a standalone bill, advocates lobbied Congress to attach the measures to a May Ukraine-focused spending bill to no avail.

Despite bipartisan support in both chambers, the bill still falls short of a guaranteed filibuster-proof majority. This week, The Wall Street Journal editorial board endorsed the bill, and numerous other senators came out in support of the act: Republicans Roger Wicker and Jerry Moran and Democrats Patrick Leahy and Jeanne Shaheen. All this signals the last-second momentum that could perhaps finally push the legislation over the top—not a moment too soon.

On Thursday, the Senate passed another one-week continuing resolution to keep the government afloat through December 23. Final spending allocations for the government omnibus are said to be unveiled as soon as Monday.

“If there’s a failure to keep the promise to Afghans, it will be a bipartisan failure. Both parties own what comes next,” said Azizzada.

January 6 Panel Considering at Least Three Criminal Charges Against Trump, Including Insurrection

The January 6 committee will soon vote on recommending the charges to the Department of Justice.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol will vote Monday on whether to recommend three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice.

According to Politico, the panel will be considering a report from a subcommittee that recommended at least three possible charges against Trump: insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

The panel could conceivably recommend other charges as well, but there is no indication one way or the other for the time being.

Monday’s decisions follow the continual crime circus surrounding and trailing Trump. Earlier this month, Trump’s namesake organization was found guilty on numerous charges of tax fraud and related crimes connected to a 15-year scheme that gave top executives off-the-books lavish perks, enabling them to evade taxes.

Congress legally can’t force the Justice Department to pursue prosecutions, but the department has ramped up its own investigations into the former president. Trump is also still under investigation for seizing classified documents after he left the White House.

Meanwhile, the New York attorney general is also pursuing a $250 million civil lawsuit into whether Trump’s asset valuation statements were indicative of fraud. Among financial penalties, Trump and his family could be barred from leading business operations in New York ever again.

Even Trump’s Allies Think His NFTs Are Dumb: “I Can’t Take This Anymore”

Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Steve Cortes, all former Trump advisers, criticized the NFT announcement.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After former President Donald Trump announced his latest venture into NFTs in a very odd grade-school-styled infomercial, many across all the political spectrum have been clowning the former president’s new pursuit.

Trump wasn’t even safe from his most stringent fans: his ever-loyal former advisers.

On his show The War Room, former chief strategist Steve Bannon led a discussion with former Trump operatives Steve Cortes and Sebastian Gorka on the announcement. “I can’t do this anymore,” Bannon started.

Bannon insisted Trump is “one of the greatest presidents in history,” and that he still loves the people working for Trump, but urged that whoever signed off on Trump’s NFTs project be fired (assuming Trump himself didn’t gun for it).

“We’re at war. They ought to be fired today,” Bannon asserted. “And hey, you don’t have three harder-corers than Cortes, Bannon, and Seb Gorka.”

Gorka echoed Bannon, saying that “whoever wrote that pitch should be fired” before continuing that “I don’t want them making the presidential napkins for Mar-a-Lago.”

Gorka continued on his tirade, describing Trump in kingly terms. “The president’s war chest is pretty strong right now. We’ve got two years until the actual, you know, inauguration.”

“We don’t have time to waste. If you want to do this kind of stuff, have a peon do it—get somebody who’s recognized in the MAGA world to put their face to this thing and do it,” Gorka said, as if he and his company were all not themselves simply playthings and tools at Trump’s disposal.

Trump’s allies notably avoided assigning any real culpability to Trump. In the same breath they hail Trump as the best (and presumably brightest and strongest and maybe even handsomest) president ever, so too do they suppose his NFT project is a recommendation from nameless aides or advisers rather than the man himself.

If the NFTs really were Trump’s idea, it’s hard to imagine him being pleased by his most loyal minions saying the idea is so bad that it warrants getting “fired.”

EU Threatens Sanctions After Twitter Bans Journalists: “There Are Red Lines”

After Elon Musk’s Twitter banned several journalists, the European Union is threatening to introduce sanctions.

Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Spending his Thursday banning accounts he didn’t like, lying about why, and tweeting more cry-laughing emojis in response to users who support him, it was just another day for Elon Musk.

And just another day for Musk means another case of legal trouble. On Friday, Věra Jourová, the European Commission’s vice president for values and transparency, put Musk on notice for his suspensions of journalists, warning that “there are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”

The warning comes after Musk on Thursday banned several journalists for an unclear new standard against doxxing (one that doesn’t seem concerned with, for example, LibsOfTikTok targeting schools, teachers, individuals, and children’s hospitals).

On Wednesday, Twitter had suspended @elonjet, an account tracking Musk’s private jet.

Musk accused the banned journalists, most of whom were reporting on this news, of “doxxing” him, or using private information to identify his real-time location.

“As I’m sure everyone who’s been doxxed would agree, showing real-time information about somebody’s location is inappropriate, and I think everyone on this call would not like that to be done to them,” Musk said on a live Twitter Space call hosting tens of thousands of listeners Thursday night.

Musk has muddied the waters on this supposed doxxing standard, as those who reported on the @elonjet story were not explicitly sharing any real-time location data on Musk, nor is the location of a private jet necessarily connected to an individual’s “real-time” location.

The Space was hosted by a handful of journalists, including now-banned Drew Harwell of The Washington Post. After Harwell pointed out that he never shared Musk’s real-time location, so it’s not clear why he was banned, Musk abruptly left the Twitter Space.

Soon thereafter, Musk nuked the Twitter Spaces feature entirely, cutting off the conversation journalists were having about his action. (Musk claimed it was just in response to a “Legacy bug,” and that it “should be working” Friday.)

All the while, Musk faces numerous other self-imposed legal problems. Musk has garnered a San Francisco city complaint after he allegedly turned office space into bedrooms. He faces numerous class-action lawsuits related to mistreatment and haphazard layoffs of employees.

Outside of Twitter, Musk’s medical device company Neuralink is under investigation for vicious animal abuse, and Tesla is under criminal investigation over the company’s “self-driving” cars that keep crashing.

What Was Trump Thinking With That NFT Video?

Critics are enamored: “Very … unique.” “Wow.” “Incredible.”

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Thursday, former President and now–2024 candidate Donald Trump announced his next big pursuit: NFTs of himself, cheaply superimposed onto valorous figures like Superman or astronauts.

“This is Donald Trump,” the video announcement begins, following an animation of him shooting lasers out of his eyes, ripping open his shirt to reveal a Superman-inspired T. “Hopefully your favorite President of all time—better than Lincoln, better than Washington.”

Trump then introduces the “Trump Digital Trading Cards” as “the really incredible artwork pertaining to my life and my career—it’s been very exciting,” words suggesting Trump has had real-life experience serving as Superman and exploring space.

The video alternates mostly between two views: one with Trump narrating in a box, as samples of the cards are displayed in another box, with a circle showing off the low price of $99 pinned to the corner of Trump’s box; the other of a high-res close-up of Trump. stands prominently in each oscillating screen view. Fittingly for a man who has embraced Dr. Oz’s snake-oil alternative-medicine hustle, as well as Male Vitality tincture–proffering Alex Jones, Trump now seems to have found his true metier promoting artificially valued self-glorifying drawings in an overhyped infomercial.

Throughout, Trump’s voice dissonantly overlays a swelling refrain of string instruments. Around the 34-second mark, Trump says, “You can collect your Trump Digital Cards just like a baseball card …” with the music comically climaxing as Trump finishes “or other collectibles.”

The discordance of the noble music with Trump’s narration feels almost self-aware. As if Trump recognizes how unimaginably dull this venture is, or how deeply pathetic it is to be running for president for the third time in a row just to be pawning off digital copies of boyhood dream–ified versions of yourself while you haven’t even locked up as many congressional endorsements as Cory Booker, who dropped out before the Iowa caucuses, had upon announcing.

Trump notes that each purchase comes with an entry into sweepstakes to win prizes like dinner or a Zoom call with him, or a round of golf at one of his golf courses, or even autographed memorabilia. “Remember, Christmas is coming, and this makes a great Christmas gift,” he adds by way of conclusion. In the fashion of a grade-school video project, the music hastily cuts as an abrupt voiceover notes, “No purchase necessary, void where prohibited,” over another animation of SuperTrump shooting lasers out of his eyes.

The much-hyped announcement seems to have left Trump’s fans disappointed or speechless. For everyone else, the ad is simply meme-able. Trump’s announcement of these NFTs, and his note that they can be purchased using cryptocurrency, comes while Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire burns and the market overall struggles to tread water.

Trump Has Raised Way Too Much Money on Those Weird NFTs

Someone created a real-time tracker of Donald Trump’s NFT sales, and it’s wild.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sometimes the internet is a wonderful place. It looks like someone or some users at, a website that allows users to make their own analytical tools, have created a real time tracker of former President Donald Trump’s NFT sales. 

As of my typing this, Trump has made more than $1 million off of nearly 4,000 holders and over 12,000 mints, according to the tracker. (A holder is someone who buys NFTs, and a mint is the NFT itself.)

To recap, Trump had been hyping up a big announcement over the past few days. Turns out it was a new series of NFT of Trump dressed up as a superhero... because of course it was.

It’s not immediately clear what Trump plans to do with the money, if the buyers think they’re actually effectively funding his latest presidential campaign, or really if Trump even knows what an NFT is. On the Collect Trump Cards website, it says that anyone who buys 45 cards gets a guaranteed “ticket to a dinner with the president.”

Under the website’s FAQ question, one question asks if profits from the NFTs will go to Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign. In a jargony response, the website says no.

“NO.  These Digital Trading Cards are not political and have nothing to do with any political campaign,” the FAQ section says. “NFT INT LLC is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Digital LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates. NFT INT LLC uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Digital LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

On Trump’s Truth Social social media site, he wrote that “These limited edition cards feature amazing ART of my Life & Career! Collect all of your favorite Trump Digital Trading Cards, very much like a baseball card, but hopefully much more exciting.”

Anyway, you can monitor these sales here.

House Approves Bill To Let Puerto Rico Decide Its Own Future

The House of Representatives voted to let Puerto Rico hold a binding referendum on whether to gain independence or become the 51st U.S. state.

ERIC ROJAS/AFP via Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to let Puerto Rico hold its first-ever binding referendum on whether to gain independence or become the 51st U.S. state.

The bill passed 233-191. Puerto Rico voters will be able to choose whether to join the United States as a full state, to gain independence, or to gain independence with free association, meaning it would operate as a sovereign nation but receive certain benefits and funding from the U.S.

New York Representative Nydia Velazquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House, hailed the bill’s passage.

“It is an embarrassment to the United States—the United States that holds itself up as a leader of the free world, that stands up to the imperialist tyrants abroad, while keeping colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific,” she told The New York Times. “Congress has the moral obligation to provide the necessary tools to transition to a new, postcolonial order.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to pass. Even with the Democrats keeping control of the chamber, the legislation will need 60 yes votes to advance, and Republicans have expressed opposition to the island nation gaining statehood.

Although the GOP’s official party platform supports statehood for Puerto Rico, the platform has not been updated since 2016. In the six years since, Republican legislators have backed away from the issue over concerns that Puerto Rico would elect more Democrats to Congress.

They may not have anything to worry about, though. Puerto Rico politics have seen a recent push in social conservatism. The island has also already held seven non-binding referendums on its political status, and none has produced a clear preference.

The last non-binding referendum was held in November 2020. Only about half of registered voters participated, with 53 percent voting for statehood and 47 percent voting against.

Trump Is Selling NFTs of Himself Dressed Up As Superman and Shooting Lasers Out of His Eyes

No, this isn't a joke.

Donald Trump raising a fist and making a weird face with a bunch of US flags in the background
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Donald Trump unveiled a series of digital trading cards of his face, his first foray into NFTs, on Thursday, just in time for the holidays.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a form of digital artwork that exist solely online and come with proof of ownership. You can buy one of Trump’s for the low price of $99.

Trump had teased a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT” Wednesday, leaving many scratching their heads. He already announced he’s running for president. What could be more major than that?

Turns out, it’s digital collectibles!

The cards feature artistic renditions of scenes from Trump’s “Life & Career,” such as the time he stood outside Trump Tower, ripping off his suit to reveal a superhero suit à la Clark Kent/Superman and shooting lasers out of his eyes.


Or the time he stylishly paired a red, white, and blue space suit with aviator sunglasses (watch out, Joe).


And who can forget the time he fist-pumped while riding a red, white, and blue elephant?


In a video message, Trump also said that there would be prizes given out including dinner or a Zoom call with him, autographed memorabilia, or a golf session at one of his clubs.

Trump announced you can buy the cards “with your credit card or crypto.” It’s an interesting time to decide to get into the cryptocurrency arena, however, considering the industry has been rocked by the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded what was supposed to be a stable exchange, has been arrested and charged by the U.S. government with fraud.

Cryptocurrency’s value has dropped sharply across the board in recent months. Democratic Representative Brad Sherman on Tuesday described the sector as a “garden of snakes,” rife with opportunities for fraud and bad actors.