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HeadlinesSeptember 21, 2020

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87, Sparking a Deluge of Tributes and a Fierce Succession Battle

Sep 21, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at the age of 87. She passed away Friday at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family, after succumbing to complications from pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg served on the Supreme Court for 27 years. She was just the second woman to join the court, after she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the most prominent member of the court’s liberal wing, a strong supporter of reproductive rights, women’s rights, expanding LGBT rights and preserving President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Ginsburg’s death came just 46 days before the November election, setting off a fierce succession battle and sparking fears over the future of Roe v Wade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to hold a vote on a new justice, even though he refused to hold confirmation hearings in 2016 for President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia died.

Days before her death, Ginsburg dictated a final statement to her granddaughter. It read, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

If the Senate confirms Trump’s nominee, it will give conservatives a 6-to-3 advantage on the court. In 2017, Ruther Bader Ginsburg spoke to the BBC about the current state of the U.S., and its future.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I am optimistic, long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle, it is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.”

Mourners paid tribute to Ginsburg around the country with vigils and gatherings. A makeshift memorial formed in front of the Supreme Court.

U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Poised to Top 200,000

Sep 21, 2020

The confirmed death toll from COVID-19 in the United States is poised to surpass 200,000 — the highest of any nation by far. On Sunday, the Washington National Cathedral marked the sobering milestone by tolling its bell 200 times, once for every thousand lives lost. In New York, families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 led a march, chanting “Trump lied. Two hundred thousand died.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reversed course and now says people who are asymptomatic but have had contact with an infected person should be tested. The earlier recommendation by the CDC that such individuals do not need testing was reportedly not written by scientists and was published over their strenuous objections.

Congressmember Jahana Hayes, the first African American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress, has become the latest lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19.

U.N. Says 150 Million More Children May Face Poverty as Global Coronavirus Death Toll Nears 1 Million

Sep 21, 2020

Global coronavirus cases have topped 31 million, and the reported death toll is approaching 1 million. UNICEF says the pandemic may have led to 150 million more children living in poverty, a 15% increase in the overall number, which is now nearly 1.2 billion children who lack sufficient access to education, housing, nutrition, healthcare, sanitation or water.

India remains second in overall COVID-19 cases, behind the U.S., with over 5.4 million infections. Brazil has the second-highest death toll after the U.S. at nearly 137,000.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the fourth Latin American head of state to contract the infection.

In Europe, Madrid reimposed a partial lockdown as cases there continue to surge. Cases in Belgium surpassed 100,000 following a recent spike.

Meanwhile, the British health minister says the U.K. is at a tipping point and that a second national lockdown is possible if people do not respect containment measures. Under tough new penalties, people who refuse to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 or coming into contact with an infected person can be fined up to $13,000.

California Grapples with Evacuations, Toxic Air as Record-Breaking Wildfires Continue to Blaze

Sep 21, 2020

Wildfires are still raging across California and the West Coast. The Bobcat Fire, which started two weeks ago, has become one of Los Angeles County’s largest ever, scorching over 100,000 acres, with just 15% containment, prompting evacuation orders in communities near the Angeles National Forest. California’s largest wildfire ever recorded, the August Complex fire in Mendocino County, has burned over 830,000 acres and continues to grow. Doctors in Oregon and California say they are concerned by a surge in hospital visits as toxic smoke envelopes the region.

Trump Announces $13 Billion for Puerto Rico, as Elections Near and 3 Years After Hurricane Maria

Sep 21, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved $13 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid — three years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, killing at least 3,000 people. Trump announced the news days after Joe Biden introduced his own recovery plan for Puerto Rico, and less than two months away from the election. Thousands of Puerto Ricans relocated to the critical swing state of Florida following Hurricane Maria. Trump has previously called Puerto Rico “one of the most corrupt places on Earth.”

In other election news, early voting has already begun in Virginia, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming, where residents faced long lines to cast their ballots Friday. Poll workers say the turnout in many locations was exceptionally high compared to previous elections, despite the pandemic.

Leaked Docs Show Major Banks Helped Criminals Launder Billions of Dollars

Sep 21, 2020

A huge trove of leaked documents reveals how global banking giants helped to launder vast sums of money for drug traffickers, Russian oligarchs, weapons dealers and criminal networks around the world. BuzzFeed News obtained more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports filed by banks with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, accounting for some $2 trillion in suspicious transactions.

Among the new revelations: HSBC laundered over $880 million for Latin American drug cartels, Barclays helped Vladimir Putin’s associates avoid financial sanctions on Russian oligarchs, and JPMorgan Chase helped Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort move millions of dollars between shell companies — even as Manafort faced charges of money laundering and corruption.

International Community Counters Trump over U.N. Iran Sanctions

Sep 21, 2020

The Trump administration will reportedly announce sanctions on over two dozen people and entities related to Iran’s nuclear program as early as today. This comes after the U.S. unilaterally declared the reimposition of all U.N. sanctions against Iran. But the U.N., including fellow Security Council members and allies Britain, France and Germany, all say international sanctions against Iran have not resumed, and the U.S. has no legal standing to enforce such a move. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018.

Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Attempt

Sep 21, 2020

In Peru, President Martín Vizcarra survived an impeachment vote Friday as the country grapples with a major economic crisis and one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks. Vizcarra was accused of intervening in the allocation of government contracts and then obstructing the government’s investigation.


Belarus Protests Continue Amid Mass Arrests, Leak of Police Officer Data

Sep 21, 2020

In Belarus, police arrested hundreds of women demonstrators on Saturday as an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Minsk in the latest protest demanding President Alexander Lukashenko resign following his highly contested reelection last month. The protests came as hackers leaked the names and personal details of over 1,000 Belarusian police officers. Police and security forces have engaged in a violent crackdown on demonstrations since the uprising began in August.

Thai Youth Call for General Strike as They Ramp Up Anti-Gov’t, Anti-Monarchy Protest

Sep 21, 2020

In Thailand, protesters are calling for a general strike as they continue to demand democratic reforms and constraints on the power and budget of the monarchy. The months-long, student-led, anti-government protest movement has seen some of the largest turnout in years, despite the pandemic. On Sunday, protesters laid a plaque in cement near the royal Grand Palace that said, “This country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us.”

Cameroonian ICE Prisoner Who Was Subjected to Forced Sterilization Granted Humanitarian Release

Sep 21, 2020

In U.S. immigration news, Pauline Binam, a Cameroonian mother who says she was involuntarily sterilized while held at the privately owned Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, has been granted humanitarian release. Binam’s attorney says Binam’s fallopian tube was removed without her knowledge by the same doctor who’s accused of performing forced hysterectomies on a number of other prisoners, and who is reportedly not a board-certified OB-GYN. Last week, Binam’s deportation was halted at the last minute after pressure from immigration rights advocates and members of Congress.

NYPD Arrests 86 Anti-ICE Protesters in Times Square

Sep 21, 2020

Here in New York City, police arrested 86 people in Times Square Saturday as they gathered for a nonviolent protest demanding the abolition of ICE. Video of the mass arrest shows officers pulling apart demonstrators who linked arms and sat in the street, while violently arresting bicyclists who had temporarily blocked traffic. The protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Climate Activists Unveil Climate Clock in NYC Ahead of Global Climate Strike

Sep 21, 2020

In other news from New York City, climate activists unveiled a massive Climate Clock, counting down the critical time left for action to prevent the most destructive effects of the climate catastrophe from becoming irreversible. The countdown was revealed on the Metronome in Union Square as Climate Week as well as the U.N. General Assembly kick off. This is Gan Golan, who originated the project.

Gan Golan: “I hope that when people see the clock, it helps them think about what are the things that are most important to them in this world, the things that they love and want to protect and defend from climate catastrophe, because these next seven years are our best shot to do that. And every day, every hour and every second counts.”

This Friday, September 25, the youth-led Global Climate Strike will hold actions in over 2,500 locations around the world.

TikTok Ban Averted After Oracle-Walmart Deal Approved; Judge Blocks Trump WeChat Ban

Sep 21, 2020

A planned ban of TikTok was averted Sunday after Trump approved a deal that will see Oracle and Walmart own 20% of the popular video-sharing app’s U.S. operations. The rest will still be owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Oracle will host U.S. user data. Trump said he wanted $5 billion from the deal to go toward his so-called patriotic education commission. Meanwhile, a federal judge blocked Trump’s attempt to shut down the Chinese app WeChat, also planned for Sunday, ruling that Trump’s executive order represents a violation of free speech.

Stephen Cohen, Noted Author and Historian of Russia, Dies at 81

Sep 21, 2020

Noted historian Stephen Cohen died Friday at 81 of lung cancer. Cohen was a writer and professor at New York University and Princeton University who studied Russia, including the rise and fall of communism and Russian leadership. Stephen Cohen appeared on Democracy Now! many times. Here he is in December 2016, speaking about U.S.-Russia relations following the election of Donald Trump.

Stephen Cohen: “We now have three Cold War fronts that are fraught with hot war, the possibility of hot war — the Baltic area, Ukraine and Syria — between two nuclear powers. Things are very, very dangerous. We desperately need in this country a discussion of American policy toward Russia. We can’t keep saying an untruth, that this new Cold War is solely the fault of Putin.”

That was Stephen Cohen, who died Friday. He is survived by his three children, four grandchildren and his spouse, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation.

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