HeadlinesApril 29, 2021

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Biden Urges Congress to Back Vast Expansion of Social Safety Net & New Taxes on Rich

Apr 29, 2021

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Biden urged lawmakers to support his plan to spend trillions of dollars on the nation’s infrastructure and to expand the social safety net — and funding it with new taxes on the rich. Speaking on the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden unveiled his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.

President Joe Biden: “The American Families Plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care. We guarantee — we’re not proposing in the legislation; we guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5. The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime. Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave and medical leave — family and medical leave.”

Biden also condemned systemic racism and called on lawmakers to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. On the foreign policy front, Biden repeated his vow to end what he called the “forever war in Afghanistan.” He also referenced China four times.

President Joe Biden: “We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century.”

The evening also marked a historic first, with two women sitting behind President Biden on the dais: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris. To mark his 100th day in office, President Biden is heading to Georgia today, where he will meet with former President Jimmy Carter.

India in Public Health Catastrophe as Deaths & Infections Reach New High

Apr 29, 2021

India is facing a growing public health catastrophe. Officials have announced about 3,600 people died of the coronavirus Wednesday, but that figure is believed to be a vast undercount. Another 380,000 new cases were confirmed as India’s health system is nearing collapse with a massive surge in patients and a shortage in oxygen. In New Delhi, makeshift crematoriums are being set up in parks and parking lots. Despite the surge, elections are going ahead in West Bengal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held large political rallies despite warnings from public health experts. COVID cases are also rising in neighboring Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

Hate Crimes Charges Filed Against Georgia Men in Ahmaud Arbery Murder

Apr 29, 2021

Federal prosecutors have indicted three white men in Georgia for hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased down by the men and shot to death while out for a jog last year. The men — retired police officer Greg McMichael, his son Travis and their friend William Bryan — already face numerous charges in Georgia, including felony murder.

NC Judge Delays Release of Police Footage of Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting

Apr 29, 2021

In North Carolina, a state judge is refusing to release bodycam footage of the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. for at least 30 days, but he did order more footage to be shown to Brown’s family. The family has only seen a 20-second snippet of video, which they say shows Brown had his hands on the steering wheel of his car when he was shot dead while police were carrying out an arrest warrant. An independent autopsy showed Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head. Harry Daniels, an attorney for the Brown family, called for the police footage to be released.

Harry Daniels: “Let’s not get distracted. An innocent man was gunned down, shot in the back of the head, vehicle riddled with bullets from the rear. Now, I heard statements being made: 'Well, he might have hit the deputies,' or 'He might have did that.' Well, show us the video. Show us the video. Show us the tape. Show the tape.”

Video: Chicago Police Shot Anthony Alvarez Dead as He Was Running Away

Apr 29, 2021

In Chicago, newly released video shows police killed 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez last month while he was running away during a foot chase. Police have not said why they initially confronted and then chased Alvarez. At one point in the video, Alvarez is heard saying, “Why you shooting me?” The officer said, “You had a gun!” Alvarez was killed on March 31, two days after Chicago police shot dead another young Latino male, 13-year-old Adam Toledo, also after a foot chase. At the time of his death, the seventh grader had his empty hands up in the air.

FBI Raid Rudy Giuliani’s Home & Office

Apr 29, 2021

FBI agents have raided the New York home and office of Rudy Giuliani and seized his electronic devices as part of a probe into the attorney’s dealings with Ukraine. Giuliani is the former mayor of New York and the personal attorney of Donald Trump. The FBI also seized the cellphone of conservative attorney Victoria Toensing, who has worked closely with Giuliani.

Mass Protests in Colombia Held to Protest Iván Duque & Proposed Tax Reform

Apr 29, 2021

In Colombia, tens of thousands of people took to the streets Wednesday after trade unions called for a national strike to protest against the government of Iván Duque and a proposed tax reform bill. At least two protesters were killed. Union leaders said protests occurred across Colombia.

Diógenes Orjuela: “This march is the biggest display of outrage against this government, against the tax reforms and against the labor and pension reform. The government has gone against the country, and the country is responding, in more than 500 cities in the country.”

U.S. Contractors Are Still Helping Maintain Saudi Warplanes Used in Yemen War

Apr 29, 2021

The Pentagon has confirmed to the news outlet Vox that U.S. contractors are continuing to help Saudi Arabia maintain its warplanes despite President Biden’s pledge to end offensive support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating six-year war in Yemen. The Pentagon defended the role of the contractors, saying the U.S military relationship with Saudi Arabia is “important to the region.”

Israel Faces Call to Free Alaa al-Rimawi, Palestinian Journalist on Hunger Strike

Apr 29, 2021

Press freedom groups are calling on Israel to release Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Rimawi, who was detained a week ago when Israeli authorities raided his home. According to Reporters Without Borders, the Al Jazeera reporter has been on a hunger strike for the past week and is being held in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, another Palestinian journalist, the freelance photographer Mohammed Atiq, is being held in an undisclosed location after being arrested at an Israeli checkpoint last week.

Scientists: Glaciers Are Melting 31% Faster Than 15 Years Ago

Apr 29, 2021

Scientists have found glaciers are melting 31% faster than they did just 15 years ago. The most impacted glaciers have been in Alaska, Iceland, the Alps and the Himalayas. Robert McNabb of Ulster University linked the melting glaciers to human-induced climate change.

Robert McNabb: “On the global scale, the main driver of that is temperature. And it’s hard to separate the fact that the temperature is what is causing the melt with the fact that humans are, by and large, causing the increase in temperature.”

Senate Votes to Reimpose Regs on Methane Emissions

Apr 29, 2021

In other climate news, the Senate has voted to reimpose Obama-era regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas wells. The vote reverses a move by the Trump administration to weaken the rules on methane, which is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Houston Sheriff Who Criticized Trump’s Immigration Policies Is Nominated to Head ICE

Apr 29, 2021

President Biden has nominated Houston-area sheriff Ed Gonzalez to be the next head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez was a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, speaking out against ICE raids and the separation of families at the borders. In 2017, Gonzalez ended Harris County’s involvement in ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents within local jails.

Arizona Governor Signs Sweeping Anti-Abortion Law

Apr 29, 2021

In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey has signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that makes it a felony for doctors to terminate pregnancies because of a fetal genetic defect such as Down syndrome. The bill’s language is so broad it could also lead to charges against nurses and other staff at health centers. Arizona state Representative Diego Espinoza blasted the new law, saying it is “anti-families, anti-woman and anti-doctor.”

Meanwhile, in Ecuador, pro-choice activists celebrated in Quito Wednesday after Ecuador’s high court decriminalized abortion in cases of rape.

Native American Groups Call on CNN to Fire Rick Santorum over Embrace of Genocide

Apr 29, 2021

Native American activists are calling on CNN to fire commentator and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum over remarks he made to an ultra-conservative student conference.

Rick Santorum: “We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but, candidly, that — there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

The National Congress of American Indians criticized CNN for not firing Santorum. The group’s president, Fawn Sharp, said, “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust.”

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