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Inside the movement to make 'ecocide' a crime, Biden's kitchen sink strategy and Kim Kardashian joins a new club

The CDC is coming under fire for mixed messaging during a critical moment in the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Children play on an abandoned oil flow station near smoke from a burning oil pipe in Kegbara Dere, Nigeria, in 2007.
Decades of oil extraction in Nigeria have contaminated the air, ground and water in parts of the country with benzene and other toxic pollutants, according to the United Nations Environment Program.George Osodi / AP file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

This morning we are looking at the movement to make "ecocide" an international crime, the CDC's muddled messaging at a critical moment in the pandemic and a bittersweet reunion.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.

'Ecocide' movement pushes for a new international crime: Environmental destruction

Image: Photo illustration of Deepwater Horizon, Amazon fires, city pollution, ocean oil spill and refinery exhaust.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images

A small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a threat to humanity, yet remains beyond the reach of international criminal law: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

They have embraced a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to makeecocide a crime before the International Criminal Court, to serve as a "moral line" for the planet.

The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for "ecocidal" acts.

"We use criminal law to draw moral lines," said Jojo Mehta, who launched the Stop Ecocide campaign in 2017. "We say something’s not accepted, your murder is not acceptable. And so, simply putting mass damage and destruction of nature below that red line actually makes a huge difference, and it will make a difference to the people that are financing what is going on."

Wednesday's top stories

Passengers wait for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport on April 2, 2021 as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released a highly anticipated update to travel guidance.
Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Experts say the CDC's messaging problem is a public health liability — especially now

Recent missteps by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have been criticized as "a mess" that have muddied public health messaging at a particularly crucial juncture in the pandemic. One key message that experts want out there: the second Covid-19 shot is non-negotiable. You must get your second vaccine shot to be fully protected. By Denise Chow | Read more

Analysis: Biden's kitchen-sink 'jobs' bill has plenty of companions

The president's decision to combine a host of issues into his single $2 trillion-plus "infrastructure" proposal — from roads, bridges and broadband to housing tax hikes and elder care — is not unusual. It is how Washington makes laws, NBC News' senior national politics reporter Jonathan Allen writes in a news analysis. Biden’s policy push received a surprise endorsement Tuesday: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Florida lawmakers reverse college scholarship cuts and changes after student, parent backlash

The plan to gut the beloved merit-based program would have left out students who wanted to study history, arts or English. Students felt like they were about to be forced to choose between scholarship money and their academic interests. By Ben Kesslen| Read more

OPINION: Shame no longer has a place in American politics. Matt Gaetz proves it.

Gaetz is the latest in a string of Republicans who have remained unrepentant in the face of sordid allegations and hung onto power. Democrats like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are likely taking note and may decide to make the same political bet. By David Mark | Read more

'Milk Tea Alliance' brews democracy among young activists across Asia

From Myanmar to Hong Kong, young people are clashing with increasingly authoritarian regimes and taking their struggles online around a unifying and popular regional drink. By Janis Mackey Frayer and Adela Suliman| Read more

BETTER: I don't want to go back to my 'pre-pandemic' life. What now?

Columnist Caroline Moss gives advice to a reader on how to hold on to the bits of quiet joy found during the year of the pandemic, even as we transition back to some of our old ways. By Caroline Moss | Read more

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One sweet thing

Karl Waitschies with his wife Donna on their wedding day.

Slowly, but surely, loved ones separated by the pandemic are being reunited.

Karl Waitschies and his wife, Donna, have enjoyed 55 years of love and marriage. But they were separated for the last year when the coronavirus pandemic restricted visitors to the nursing home where Donna, who has Alzheimer's, lives.

They were finally reunited and shared their first hug since the start of the pandemic last week.

Not many words were exchanged, but Donna held her husband's hand nearly the entire time, a non-verbal indication that the 55-year connection between the two is ever-present.

Read the story and watch a video here.

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Thanks, Petra