Not urgent enough: Two weeks of United Nations climate talks ended with a statement on the “urgent need” to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but without the specificity needed to force wealthier countries to shift to renewable energy sources, Frank Jordans and Aritz Parra report for The Associated Press. Delegates from the U.S.  strongly opposed any attempt to hold big polluters liable for the damage caused by their emissions. They even blocked a nonbinding measure that would have encouraged countries to adopt more ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next year. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis,” United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said on Twitter. European countries are contemplating levying carbon tariffs on products from the U.S. and other countries that lag behind on climate regulation, Zack Colman reports for Politico. “It’s not whether it’s going to happen — it’s going to happen,” predicted former Secretary of State John Kerry,  who helped negotiate the Paris climate accord during the Obama administration. Because President Trump has announced U.S. withdrawal from the  accord, effective next November, the U.S. will be excluded from much of the next round of talks in November in Glasgow.

  • Also: The four largest American freight railroads have funded a decades-long campaign to discredit climate science and oppose federal climate policy, Robinson Meyer writes for The Atlantic. Why? Because coal makes up almost one third of American rail freight. One of the studies Meyer’s reporting is based on was done by four undergraduates at Brown University, who weren’t even alive when the railroads’ climate denial campaign began. Two of the four railroads provided statements that explicitly rejected the premise that they fostered climate denial.

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Greener agribiz: The global fertilizer and pesticide market is under pressure from consumers, big retailers, and regulators to reduce the amount and number of chemicals used in agriculture,  Lydia Mulvany and Susan Decker report for Bloomberg. As a result, the industry is investing more in natural and sustainable alternatives to weed and bug killers and fungicides. The industry is also under legal pressure to pursue alternatives. There are thousands of pending lawsuits against Bayer AG alleging its glyphosate-containing weed killer, Roundup, causes cancer, which could result in billions of dollars in settlements and judgments.

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Trophy hunt:  This summer,  both the U.S. and Mongolia governments provided support for Donald Trump Jr.’s hunting trip in a remote region of Western Mongolia, where he shot and killed an endangered argali sheep, Jake Pearson and Anand Tumurtogoo report for ProPublica. Both governments provided security services for Trump Jr., who did not obtain a permit from the Mongolian government until after he had made the kill and left the region. Mitch Merry, from the Endangered Species Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, started a petition to prevent the president’s son from importing his trophy to the U.S., on grounds that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers whether laws were broken and the impact on wildlife conservation before granting an import permit. In a blog post, Merry said that because Trump obtained the permit “after he had killed the imperiled species and was likely only able to do so because of his father’s position, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service should investigate.”

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It gets uglier: Documents released at a House committee hearing last week revealed that the Federal Aviation Administration  allowed flights on Boeing 737 MAX jets to continue after the fatal Lion Air crash in late 2018, despite an internal analysis predicting that the MAX jets would experience up to 15 fatal crashes over the next 30 – 45 years, Andy Pasztor and Andrew Tangel report for The Wall Street Journal. Even after a second fatal crash in Ethiopia in March, Boeing tried to keep the planes aloft, and the FAA did not order them grounded until other countries did so first. On Monday, the beleaguered airplane manufacturer announced that it would suspend production of new 737 MAX jets in January, a move that could hit hard at suppliers and ripple through the economy. Boeing had been churning out around 40 planes a month at its plant near Seattle since the model was grounded in March.

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New smoking age: Congress seems poised to ban the sale of tobacco products to under-21s as part of a year-end spending bill that will likely pass this week, according to The Washington Post, but critics say the measure won’t do much to stop a rampant increase in teen vaping. Anti-smoking advocates want Congress to ban flavored e-cigarettes entirely, and to stop most online sales of tobacco products. In September, President Trump said his administration would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but he backed away after lobbyists and advisors warned it might hurt him at the polls.

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Domestic terror: The shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City that resulted in the deaths of one police officer and three bystanders is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism, Michael Gold reports for The New York Times. New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, said that the attack was “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.” The couple responsible were killed at the scene by police officers. USA Today reported that the man was a former Army veteran with a criminal record and was once arrested for threatening to kill a former girlfriend. Mass shooters often have a history of domestic violence, as Mother Jones and others have reported.

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Boxed in: Dollar Tree stores around the country get shipments of new merchandise based on sales data, despite a lack of storage space, and the resulting pile-up of boxes  blocks emergency exits and creates falling hazards at many of the stores, Amy Martyn reports for Fair Warning. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited four of the chain’s stores in Idaho earlier this year for a number of safety violations, but that’s the tip of the iceberg: In a recent 12 month period, the discount chain racked up citations at 34 stores around the country. Several employees, at least, have been injured by falling boxes.

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Contractor sentenced: Following an OSHA investigation into the collapse of a trench that killed two workers in Boston in 2016, the owner of Atlantic Drain Service Co., Kevin Otto, was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter, CBS Boston reports. The OSHA investigation found that Otto and Atlantic Drain Service failed to provide basic safeguards against collapse, even though the company had been cited by OSHA for the same hazardous conditions previously, and failed to train employees to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards. “Nothing’s going to bring my son back,” the father of a victim said at the sentencing. “By giving him the maximum sentence you can give, you’re going to show other contractors they aren’t going to do that in this city or this state, or they’re going to pay for it.”

  • Also: OSHA has cited Ohio steel plant ArcelorMittal Cleveland, LLC, for failing to protect workers from falls after an employee suffered multiple fractures and a partial amputation of his right leg from a fall in June 2019. The agency has proposed $222,579 in penalties.

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Child labor: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found nearly 40 Western Michigan fast food restaurants and manufacturing facilities violated child labor and wage laws. More than 100 minors between 14- and 15-years-old were found to be employed outside permissible work hours. Others had performed work barred by occupational standards for their age group, or were assigned hazardous tasks prohibited for minors, such as operating hoists, meat slicers and trash compactors. Altogether, the agency assessed $94,000 in penalties and $33,000 in back wages and damages.–In Simpsonville, South Carolina, the Mad Cuban Café was found to have violated child labor laws involving a minor under 16,  and the restaurant also paid $12,587 in back wages to 12 employees for violations of overtime and other wage rules.

Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.