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HeadlinesOctober 05, 2021

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Hollywood Crew Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

Oct 05, 2021

Tens of thousands of Hollywood crew workers have voted to authorize a strike over disputes with studio producers on the work conditions and pay for crew working on streaming productions for Netflix, Apple, Amazon and others. The workers are represented by IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. This is Rebecca Rhine, the union’s executive director.

Rebecca Rhine: “We have some members in our crafts that are so underpaid that they can’t possibly survive in the cities where they provide services, and so we’re looking for a liveable wage for them. And we’re looking for the employers to keep their long ago made promise that when new media moved from experimental to successful, that our members would then be paid industry standard rates for doing that work. And I don’t think there’s anyone that thinks Apple and Amazon and Disney need a break in order to produce their product.”

Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen to Urge Congress to Take Action

Oct 05, 2021

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is testifying on Capitol Hill today and is expected to call on lawmakers to take action against Facebook for the harm it poses to its users and the world. According to her prepared remarks, she will say, “When we realized tobacco companies were hiding the harms it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer with seat belts, the government took action. And today, the government is taking action against companies that hid evidence on opioids. I implore you to do the same here.” Haugen’s testimony comes a day after Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram suffered a six-hour outage disrupting online communication across the globe.

Johnson & Johnson Seeks FDA OK for Booster Shot

Oct 05, 2021

Johnson & Johnson has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize booster shots for its coronavirus vaccine. An FDA advisory panel will review the request at a meeting next week when it might also consider a booster shot from Moderna. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca has requested emergency use authorization from the FDA for its coronavirus antibody therapy, which the company claims reduces the chances of developing COVID by 77%.

New York Healthcare Provider Fires 1,400 for Refusing to Get Vaccinated

Oct 05, 2021

In other pandemic news, the largest healthcare network in New York state, Northwell, has fired about 1,400 workers who refused to get vaccinated — that’s less than 2% of its staff. The state is mandating vaccines for all hospital and nursing home workers. While COVID cases continue to fall in much of the country, many areas remain in crisis. In California, the National Guard has been deployed to help overwhelmed hospitals in rural areas. In Alaska, doctors have been forced to ration care, essentially deciding which patients can live and die.

Biden Accuses GOP of Playing “Russian Roulette” with U.S. Economy

Oct 05, 2021

President Biden has accused Senate Republicans of playing “Russian roulette” with the U.S. economy for blocking efforts to raise the U.S. government’s debt limit. Biden warned the Republican move could be catastrophic for the economy.

President Joe Biden: “A meteor is headed to crash into our economy. Democrats are willing to do all the work stopping it. Republicans just have to let us do our job. Just get out of the way. If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way, so you don’t destroy it.”

Activists Confront Sen. Sinema in Arizona Bathroom

Oct 05, 2021

Grassroots pressure is growing on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to back a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package to expand the nation’s social safety net and combat the climate crisis. On Sunday, a group of activists followed Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University — where she teaches — urging Sinema to back Biden’s economic agenda. Video of the incident was posted online by the group Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA.

Activist 1: “Right now is a real moment that our people need in order for us to be able to talk about what’s really happening. We need a Build Back Better plan right now.”

Activist 2: “We knocked on doors.”

Activist 3: “First we need solutions. The Build Back Better plan has the solutions that we need.”

Activist 2: “We knocked on doors for you to get you elected. And just how we got you elected, we can get you out of office if you don’t support what you promised us.”

State Department Lawyer Blasts Biden for “Inhumane” Expulsions of Haitians

Oct 05, 2021

A senior lawyer at the State Department has blasted the Biden administration for continuing to mass expel asylum seekers without due process under the Trump-era policy Title 42. The attorney Harold Koh described the expulsions as “illegal” and “inhumane.” In a memo, Koh wrote, “I believe this Administration’s current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti.” Koh is leaving the Biden administration soon to teach at Oxford.

California Declares State of Emergency After Offshore Oil Pipeline Spill

Oct 05, 2021

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Orange County following what’s been described as California’s worst oil spill in nearly three decades. Officials now say as many as 144,000 gallons of oil have leaked from a pipeline connected to an offshore oil platform off the coast of Huntington Beach, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Investigators are looking into whether a ship anchor punctured the pipeline. Beaches in the area are expected to be closed for months. This is Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

Todd Spitzer: “Orange County District Attorney’s Office is deeply concerned about the wildlife impact that has occurred on our shores and the economic impact to our community. And somebody’s going to pay for that, criminally or civilly.”

Environmental groups are calling on authorities to ban offshore oil drilling. Monica Embrey of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign said, “How many of these oil disasters do we have to witness before our elected leaders understand that there is no safe way to drill or transport dirty fossil fuels?”

Biden Administration to Open Up 80 Million Acres for Drilling in Gulf of Mexico

Oct 05, 2021

The Biden administration is moving ahead with a plan to open up 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to new oil and gas drilling. An auction for drilling rights is scheduled for mid-November, but a coalition of environmental groups has sued to block the sale from moving forward.

Report: 14% of World’s Coral Reefs Lost Since 2009 Due to Climate Emergency

Oct 05, 2021

In climate news, a major new U.N.-backed study has found the world lost about 14% of its coral reefs between 2009 and 2018 due to rising temperatures. Researchers say coral reefs face an existential crisis.

Biden Reverses Trump-Era Domestic Gag Rule on Title X Family Planning Clinics

Oct 05, 2021

The Biden administration has reversed a Trump-era ban that blocked federally funded family planning clinics from referring patients for abortions or even mentioning abortion as an option. The so-called domestic gag rule had threatened healthcare for millions who rely on Title X health centers for primary and preventive care. Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said the lifting of the Trump rule was “a huge victory for patients and a huge victory for sexual and reproductive health care.” Click here to see our full interview with Alexis McGill Johnson.

Judge Ignores Federal Prosecutors and Sentences Insurrectionist to Jail

Oct 05, 2021

A federal judge has sentenced a participant in the January 6 insurrection to 45 days in jail — a far harsher sentence than requested by federal prosecutors, who asked for three months of home confinement. Matthew Mazzocco flew from Texas to join others in Washington who were trying to overturn the 2020 election. Judge Tanya Chutkan said, “If Mr. Mazzocco walks away with probation and a slap on the wrist, that’s not going to deter anyone from trying to do what he did.”

Commission Estimates 330,000 Children Sexually Abused in French Catholic Church

Oct 05, 2021

A major investigation in France is estimating 330,000 children were sexually abused by Catholic clergy or lay members of the church since 1950. The head of the inquiry said the church had “showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims.” Jean-Marc Sauvé, who headed the independent commission, spoke earlier today.

Jean-Marc Sauvé: “A major point that must be underlined is that until the early 2000s, there was deep, total and even cruel indifference for years toward the victims. The victims were not believed, were not listened to. When they were listened to, they were considered to have perhaps contributed to what had happened to them.”

Masked Jewish Settlers Attack Palestinians in “Pogrom” as Settler Violence Surges

Oct 05, 2021

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting there has been a surge in Jewish settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over the past two years. There were more cases of anti-Palestinian violence in the first half of 2021 than in all of 2019. Last week, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released a video of dozens of masked settlers escorted by Israeli security forces attacking Palestinian residents. B’Tselem said the settlers invaded Palestinian homes, smashed windows and damaged equipment and vehicles. A 3-year-old Palestinian boy was later hospitalized with a fractured skull. B’Tselem described the attack as a pogrom.

Bangladesh Probes Murder of Prominent Rohingya Activist

Oct 05, 2021

Bangladesh is continuing to investigate last week’s murder of one of the most prominent figures in the Rohingya refugee community. Mohib Ullah was gunned down in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. He had spent years gathering evidence about the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing campaign targeting Rohingya Muslims. Six men have been arrested in his murder so far.

Duterte Announces Plan to Retire from Politics Amid ICC Probe

Oct 05, 2021

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he is retiring from politics after his term ends next year. He had previously said he would run for the vice presidency. Duterte is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court for overseeing the mass killing of up to 30,000 people in his so-called war against drugs. On Monday, Duterte said he will be involved in preparing for his defense in the ICC probe. Meanwhile, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the former Filipino dictator, has announced he will run in next year’s elections. There is also speculation that Duterte’s daughter may run, as well.

U.N. Investigators Document Possible War Crimes in Libya by Warring Factions

Oct 05, 2021

The United Nations is saying over 5,100 refugees have now been detained in western Libya as part of a sweeping crackdown. The detained include over 200 children. This comes as U.N. investigators accuse multiple sides in the Libyan conflict of committing possible war crimes, including torture, enslavement and extrajudicial killings. Many of the crimes targeted refugees who were trying to flee to Europe.

National Women’s Soccer League in Crisis Amid Coach Abuse Scandal

Oct 05, 2021

U.S. Soccer has hired former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to investigate abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League. Last week, North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was fired after he was accused of coercing a player into having sex with him. The coach of the Washington Spirit was also fired last week over allegations of verbal and emotional abuse. On Friday, the commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League resigned, and the league canceled all of its weekend games.

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart on Trial for Opioid Epidemic

Oct 05, 2021

Some of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, including CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, are on trial in Cleveland, Ohio, for recklessly selling painkillers, fueling the deadly opioid epidemic. The pharmacies were sued in 2018 by two counties in Ohio. If convicted, the pharmacies could be on the hook to pay billions of dollars to help end the epidemic. The trial began on Monday.

Missouri Prepares to Execute Ernest Lee Johnson, an Intellectually Disabled Black Man

Oct 05, 2021

Congressmembers Cori Bush and Emanuel Cleaver are calling on Missouri’s Republican governor to halt today’s scheduled execution of Ernest Lee Johnson, an intellectually disabled Black man. In 2008, Johnson lost about 20% of his brain during a surgery to remove a tumor. In their letter, Bush and Cleaver wrote, “Like slavery and lynching did before it, the death penalty perpetuates cycles of trauma, violence and state-sanctioned murder in Black and brown communities.”

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