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HeadlinesOctober 22, 2021

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Report Reveals U.S. Immigration Officers’ Violent and Sexual Abuse of Asylum Seekers 

Oct 22, 2021

A damning new report reveals the scope of the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border. Human Rights Watch uncovered over 160 harrowing reports of abuse faced by asylum seekers at the hands of U.S. immigration officials over the past five years. The internal reports, obtained through a public records request, were made by asylum officers within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services using testimonies that detail the brutal conduct of Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. This is part of a video accompanying the report published by Human Rights Watch.

Asylum seeker 1: “He put a gun to my head, and he said, 'Shut up, or I'll shoot you.’”

Asylum seeker 2: “The officer said if I gave him sex, I would be set free.”

Asylum seeker 3: “He told me, 'I enjoy when I capture people like you,' and then kicked me.”

Asylum seeker 4: “They called us sons of bitches, dogs, parasites, trash.”

Asylum seeker 5: “They said that because my child was a U.S. citizen, they would take him from me.”

In one account, a man from Honduras said a Border Patrol agent told him that he would be denied asylum in the U.S., and when the Honduran man refused to sign paperwork, the agent said he would be sent to jail, where he would be raped. Another incident involves an officer who forced a migrant girl to undress and then inappropriately touched her. In a statement, Human Rights Watch warned that “assaults, sexual abuse, and discriminatory treatment by US agents are an open secret within DHS.”

National Guard Troops Helped Texas Law Enforcement Arrest Over 70,000 Asylum Seekers

Oct 22, 2021

In more immigration news, a spokesperson for Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott says National Guard troops deployed to the southern border have helped Texas law enforcement officers detain over 7,700 migrants. They’re among more than 70,000 asylum seekers who’ve been arrested by Texas law enforcement since Abbott launched the anti-immigrant program “Operation Lone Star” back in March.

In related news, the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration Thursday in a bid to force the U.S. to resume border wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, the group Human Rights First has tracked over 7,600 reports of kidnappings and other brutal attacks against asylum seekers who were blocked from applying for refuge in the U.S. or expelled under Title 42 since President Biden took office. Many of those barred under the Trump-era policy were Haitian asylum seekers.

Haiti Gang Threatens to Kill Missionary Hostages Amid Dire Security & Economic Conditions 

Oct 22, 2021

In Haiti, the leader of a gang suspected of kidnapping 16 American and one Canadian missionary members is threatening to kill the hostages if the $17 million ransom is not paid. Haiti’s National Police Chief Léon Charles resigned Thursday after the video featuring the threat surfaced.

This comes amid a worsening economic and security situation in Haiti. On Monday, workers went on a general strike to protest gang violence and insecurity following the kidnapping. Meanwhile, demonstrators blocked the streets of Port-au-Prince Thursday to protest widespread fuel shortages.

Protester: “We are protesting because we want authorities to listen to our demands. If we cannot work, we cannot fulfill our responsibilities. We are citizens who are working for the community. There’s no gasoline, and our children are hungry.” 

Just 14% of Vaccines Pledged to Poorer Nations Have Been Delivered as Rich Countries Hoard Doses

Oct 22, 2021

A new report by the People’s Vaccine Alliance found that only about 260 million of the 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine donations promised to poorer nations by drug companies and wealthier countries have been delivered to date. That’s just 14% of what was pledged. Gordon Brown, the World Health Organization’s ambassador for global health financing, said rich countries are on pace to have almost a billion spare vaccines stockpiled by February. 

Gordon Brown: “To have the vaccines available in one half of the world, and yet to deny them to the other half of the world, is one of the greatest international public policy failures imaginable, and it’s a moral catastrophe of historic proportions that will shock future generations.”

The WHO estimates between 80,000 and 180,000 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic through May of this year. Just two out of five healthcare workers worldwide are fully vaccinated.

Climate Crisis Set to Drive Public Health Crisis and Threaten National Security 

Oct 22, 2021

The British medical journal The Lancet warns in a new report that without dramatic action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the climate crisis is on track to become the defining narrative of human health in the 21st century. The Lancet warns of the spread of mosquito-borne diseases and growing mass migration due to flooding, drought, intense storms, wildfires and soil and water salinification.

On Thursday, the Biden administration warned that climate catastrophe poses a widening threat to national security, with the mass displacement of whole populations and increased competition over dwindling resources driving political instability around the globe. 

Wealthy Nations Tried to Dilute U.N. Climate Report Ahead of COP26 Global Summit

Oct 22, 2021

A major leak of documents published by Greenpeace reveals how Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and OPEC tried to water down a key United Nations scientific report ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. In one comment, a senior Australian government official rejected the conclusion that coal-fired power plants should be phased out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK.

John Sauven: “They asked to be deleted the fact that they’re a major coal producer. Now, this is particularly bizarre, because I think Australia is about the fifth-largest coal producer in the world. It’s also first or second, with Indonesia, the largest coal exporter in the world. And obviously it also has a big coal industry in terms of power from coal inside Australia itself, and no plans, actually, to phase out coal during the course of the next three decades. So, I think it’s quite extraordinary that Australia should say, 'Please delete this.'”

House Votes to Hold Steve Bannon in Contempt for Defying Capitol Insurrection Subpoena

Oct 22, 2021

Back in the U.S., the House of Representatives voted Thursday to declare former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack. The vote was 229 to 202. Just nine Republicans joined Democrats in support of the resolution to recommend the Justice Department open a criminal prosecution of Bannon. This is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “Steve Bannon’s refusal to appear, even when subpoenaed, is, A, a demonstration of his contempt not only for Congress, but his contempt of the Constitution and his contempt for the law. It is unacceptable and obstructive to this process of uncovering the full story of that day’s attack on the Capitol.”

On January 5, one day before the violent insurrection, Steve Bannon predicted that January 6 would be a game-changer in U.S. politics, telling his radio audience, “All hell is going to break loose.” If convicted, Bannon faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

J&J Spinoff Company Files for Bankruptcy to Stem Damage from Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits

Oct 22, 2021

Johnson & Johnson is under fire for using a legal trick to avoid liability over its asbestos-laced talcum powder, which has been linked to cancer. Thanks to a Texas loophole, J&J spun off a separate company to absorb nearly 40,000 lawsuits, then filed that entity for bankruptcy, putting all those cases on pause pending a bankruptcy settlement. J&J heavily marketed its baby powder to African American women for years, with the knowledge its product contained asbestos.

Alec Baldwin Fires Prop Gun on Set, Killing Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and Injuring Director

Oct 22, 2021

In New Mexico, actor Alec Baldwin was questioned by police after he discharged a prop firearm on a movie set, killing the director of photography Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. The cast and crew were filming a Western called “Rust.” The news was met with shock in Hollywood and an outpouring of tributes for 42-year-old Hutchins, a rising star in an industry where women cinematographers are still vastly underrepresented. Halyna Hutchins was from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle. Earlier this week, Hutchins reposted a photo on Instagram of the “Rust” crew on set, with a message of solidarity with the IATSE union struggle.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer Endorses India Walton for Buffalo Mayor Ahead of Nov. Election

Oct 22, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has endorsed India Walton in the race to become the next mayor of Buffalo, New York, calling her an “inspiring community leader.” Walton, who identifies as a socialist, stunned the Democratic establishment in June by beating four-term incumbent Mayor Byron Brown in the Democratic primary. Despite this, Brown is now waging a write-in campaign in the November 2 general election, and other prominent New York Democrats, like Governor Kathy Hochul and Congressmember Brian Higgins, who represents Buffalo, have refused to back Walton, as has the New York Democratic Party. India Walton appeared on Democracy Now! earlier this week.

India Walton: “Buffalo is 65% Democrats. So, anyone who’s going to run a successful campaign for mayor here pretty much has to be a Democrat. But the values of our current administration have not displayed the values that I believe Democrats hold, which is putting people and workers and families first.”

Click here to see the rest of our interview with India Walton.

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