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
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
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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Also in the news ...
- McConnell warns corporate America to 'stay out of politics' — but says donations are OK
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- Arkansas legislators override Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto, enact transgender youth treatment ban
- 'Thank God I'm safe, nobody can get me here': NRA's Wayne LaPierre sought refuge from mass shootings on a friend's luxury yacht
- Don't underestimate her: Kim Kardashian joins the billionaire club, according to Forbes
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One sweet thing
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.
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