Tight Races in Ohio & Kansas Remain Too Close to Call

Aug 08, 2018
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On Tuesday, voters headed to the polls for a special election in Ohio and primaries in Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington.

In a surprise in Ohio, a special congressional election in a staunchly Republican district remains too close to call, although Republican Troy Balderson has claimed victory over Democrat Danny O’Connor. Balderson leads by only 1,754 votes, and thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted.

In Kansas, the Republican gubernatorial primary also remains too close to call. The race pitted the state’s new governor, Jeff Colyer, against the state’s former secretary of state, Kris Kobach. Kobach is a key architect of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts nationwide, is fiercely anti-immigrant and led Trump’s widely discredited so-called voter fraud commission.

In Michigan, former state legislator Rashida Tlaib won her Democratic congressional primary race and is poised to become the nation’s first Palestinian-American congresswoman. In Michigan’s gubernatorial primary, Gretchen Whitmer, a former leader in the Michigan state Senate, beat out progressive candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, voters overwhelmingly rejected a right-to-work law in a statewide referendum Tuesday. The result is a victory for labor unions, which organized to oppose the Republican-backed law, saying it would suppress wages and weaken collective bargaining rights.

We’ll have more on Tuesday’s primary elections after headlines.

Judge Certifies Class-Action Suit Against GEO Group over Wage Theft

Aug 08, 2018
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In a victory for immigrant rights organizers, a federal judge in Washington state has certified a class-action lawsuit alleging systematic wage theft at GEO Group’s for-profit Northwest Detention Center. Detained immigrants are paid only $1 a day to work inside the facility. Judge Robert Bryan’s ruling comes as GEO Group is facing increasing scrutiny over its role of profiting off detention and family separation. On Tuesday, the human rights group Dream Defenders held a national day of action to protest the for-profit prison company, which is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s largest contractor. At least 16 actions took place in more than a dozen cities, including in Boca Raton, Florida, where more than 100 people protested outside of the GEO Group’s headquarters.

Court Rules Family of Mexican Teen Killed by Border Patrol Can Sue Agent

Aug 08, 2018
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In more immigration news, a federal appeals court has ruled that the family of a 16-year-old Mexican boy who was fatally shot in the head by a U.S. Border Patrol agent can file a civil lawsuit against the agent and the U.S. government for damages. José Antonio Rodríguez was unarmed and walking along a sidewalk in Nogales, Sonora, when Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz shot him 10 times through the border wall from the U.S. side in 2012. In April, a federal jury acquitted agent Swartz on murder charges. He’s now facing a retrial on manslaughter charges.

Colombia: Right-Wing President Iván Duque Sworn Into Office

Aug 08, 2018
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In Colombia, right-wing politician Iván Duque was sworn in as Colombia’s next president. Duque was handpicked by former right-wing President Álvaro Uribe, and he’s vowed to roll back key parts of Colombia’s landmark peace deal with FARC rebels. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley met with Duque ahead of his inauguration to discuss U.S.-Colombia relations and the U.S.-backed drug war in Latin America. Duque opposes drug legalization. On Tuesday, protesters gathered across Colombia to protest his inauguration and to demand an end to the wave of assassinations of human rights leaders. This is Arley Valencia.

Arley Valencia: “We’re marching for life, for peace, for the democracy that was defeated on June 17, bought by the national registry and also by former conservative President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. We’re here with the threatened social leaders. Today, we’re not with newly inaugurated President Duque, because he’s not our president. He doesn’t represent us.”

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Ethiopian Gov’t Signs Deal to End Hostilities with Oromo Liberation Front

Aug 08, 2018
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Ethiopia’s government has signed a deal to end hostilities with the Oromo Liberation Front, which the Ethiopian government had previously labeled a terrorist group. The Oromo Liberation Front has been fighting for decades for the self-determination of the Oromia region, home to the Oromo people. This deal follows a historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea brokered last month.

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Bangladeshi Authorities Arrest Photographer Shahidul Alam for Covering Protests

Aug 08, 2018
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In Bangladesh, massive student protests demanding improved road safety continue in the capital Dhaka. Bangladesh authorities have shut down mobile internet nationwide in an effort to suppress the growing protests. Authorities have also attacked and arrested journalists covering the demonstrations, including the acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam, who was arrested at his home by 20 police officers only hours after doing a Skype interview with Al Jazeera about the protests. The 63-year-old photographer was reportedly beaten in custody so badly he was unable to walk by himself when he appeared in court the following day.

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California Youth Arrested at Sit-in in Gov. Brown’s Office Demanding Climate Action

Aug 08, 2018
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In California, six youth activists were arrested after holding a sit-in protest at California Governor Jerry Brown’s office to demand action on climate change.

Protester: “We need clean air!”

Protesters: “We need clean air!”

Protester: “No new oil expansion!”

Protesters: “No new oil expansion!”

Protester: “No new gas expansion!”

Protesters: “No new gas expansion!”

Protester: “Jerry Brown, this is your last chance!”

Protesters: “Jerry Brown, this is your last chance!”

The youth sit-in protest at Governor Jerry Brown’s office comes as fire officials say the Mendocino Complex fire—the largest fire in California history—is expected to burn uncontrollably for at least the rest of this month. It is currently the size of Los Angeles.

And in more climate change news, a group of leading scientists are warning that the cascading effects of melting ice, warming seas, shifting currents and dying forests could push the planet into a “hothouse” state, in which efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly futile. Their study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Puerto Rico Proposes Transporting 3,200 Inmates to Prisons on U.S. Mainland

Aug 08, 2018
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Puerto Rico is planning to transport 3,200 prisoners to private prisons on the U.S. mainland, thousands of miles away from their families on the island. The proposal is part of a slew of austerity measures being pushed by Puerto Rico’s unelected fiscal control board in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Officials say the plan will save Puerto Rico $400 million over four years. But prisoners are opposed to the plan, saying it will make it next to impossible for them to receive visits from their family members.

Tennessee: Lawyers Ask Supreme Court to Stay Execution of Billy Ray Irick

Aug 08, 2018
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In Tennessee, lawyers for death row prisoner Billy Ray Irick are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his scheduled execution Thursday. Irick was convicted in 1986 of the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in Knox County, Tennessee. He is one of 33 death row prisoners who are challenging Tennessee’s plan to use a controversial three-drug cocktail for executions, which includes the sedative midazolam, which has been used in multiple painful, botched executions in the past. The prisoners say the drug cocktail amounts to being tortured to death.

New York Becomes First Major U.S. City to Make Jail Calls Free

Aug 08, 2018
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed a new law to allow prisoners to make free phone calls from inside New York City’s jails, following a long campaign by activists demanding an end to the exorbitant and exploitative rates charged by the billion-dollar prison phone industry. Currently, the private company Securus, which manages phones in New York City’s jails, reaps $2.5 million every single year off prisoners’ phone calls. About 75 percent of the people incarcerated in New York City’s jails have not been convicted of a crime and are sitting in jail awaiting their trials.

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