HeadlinesMay 19, 2021

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Israeli Assault Has Killed at Least 222 Palestinians and Displaced Tens of Thousands

May 19, 2021

Israeli forces are continuing their deadly strikes on the Gaza Strip, killing at least four Palestinians today, including radio journalist Yousef Abu Hussein. Residential buildings have been leveled as the number of people who have had to flee from their homes reached at least 72,000. This is a man who was forcibly displaced from his home in Beit Lahia and is now sheltering in a U.N.-run school.

Ihab El-Attar: “We all moved out, except for the wife of my brother and three of her children. They died at home. We left them there. Then the ambulance service arrived and moved them from under the rubble, dead. … They sleep on the ground in the shelter. There is not enough water. And if we are out of water, especially during the corona pandemic, it will be worse. It is crowded here. There are 30 to 40 people in each classroom.”

The Israeli bombing campaign has killed at least 222 Palestinians in Gaza, including 63 children.

Biden Addresses Rashida Tlaib, Jokes About Running Over Reporters Who Ask Questions on Israel-Palestine

May 19, 2021

President Biden landed Tuesday in Detroit, Michigan, where he was greeted on the tarmac by Congressmember Rashida Tlaib. An aide to the Palestinian American congressmember said she urged the president to protect Palestinian human rights and told Biden that U.S. military funding to Israel was being used to commit crimes against Palestinians. Later, speaking at the Ford plant, Biden addressed Tlaib.

President Joe Biden: “I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people. And it’s from my heart I pray that your grandmom and family are well. I promise you I’m going to do everything to see that they are, in the West Bank. You’re a fighter. And God thank you for being a fighter.”

Also during his Michigan trip, Biden joked he would run over reporters who asked about the escalating crisis as he test-drove an electric truck in the city of Dearborn.

Protests Continue Across U.S. in Solidarity with Palestinians

May 19, 2021

Multiple protests took place in Dearborn, Michigan — which has the nation’s highest percentage of Arab American citizens — during President Biden’s visit. Protests continued elsewhere in the U.S., as well. Here in New York City, people rallied in front of the U.N., Senator Schumer’s office and the offices of AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. This is a protester at a Los Angeles rally Tuesday.

Sammer Sahhar Abahanat: “The message to the U.S. government is to stop funding Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid a year. The message to Israel is that you cannot have a two-state plan and be preaching peace while you have people behind walls and being bombed and murdered and land stolen from them. That is not the way to peace.”

60% of U.S. Adults Have Received One COVID Vaccine Dose; Tri-State Area Reopens

May 19, 2021

Sixty percent of U.S. adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as data shows cases are declining by 5% or more in almost every state. Over 3.5 million kids and teenagers aged 12 to 17 have also received at least one dose.

New York is relaxing many of its coronavirus restrictions today and is lifting its statewide mask mandate for fully vaccinated people. Houses of worship and businesses, including restaurants, can open at 100% capacity but must allow for six feet of distance between groups or use partitions if social distancing is not possible. New Jersey and Connecticut are also lifting many of their restrictions starting today though New Jersey is keeping its indoor mask mandate.

IEA Says No New Fossil Fuel Projects Can Be Permitted in Order to Avert Worst-Case Climate Scenario

May 19, 2021

A major new report from the International Energy Agency says licensing for new fossil fuel projects needs to end after this year if the world is to reach net zero targets by 2050. Oil, gas and coal projects would need to be phased out as quickly as possible in order to have a chance of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and averting the worst effects of the climate catastrophe. Climate activists say the report should act as a wake-up call. Oil Change International said, “Today’s report should herald the end of any excuses for continued fossil fuel expansion.”

Protests in North Carolina After DA Says Officers Who Killed Andrew Brown Jr. Were “Justified”

May 19, 2021

In North Carolina, protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City after the Pasquotank County district attorney said the deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man, were justified in their actions and that Brown endangered them by “recklessly” driving in their direction. DA Andrew Womble said the men will not face charges and will be reinstated. The prosecutor showed for the first time a portion of the bodycam video to the press, but advocates say it was cherry-picked, and calls are mounting to release all bodycam tape. Video seen by Brown’s family show he did not drive toward deputies, and an autopsy confirmed Brown was killed by a shot to the back of his head. We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast with Bakari Sellers, attorney for the family.

House Passes Legislation Addressing Hate Crimes Against AAPI Community

May 19, 2021

The House passed legislation Tuesday to address hate crimes against Asian Americans, which have increased exponentially during the pandemic. This is New York Congressmember Grace Meng, who first introduced the bill over a year ago.

Rep. Grace Meng: “Asian Americans are tired of living in fear and being frightened about their kids or elderly parents going outside. People often ask what Congress is doing about this. And we are here today to say that Congress is taking action.”

The legislation tasks the Justice Department with expediting the review of hate crimes, facilitates the creation of hate crime hotlines, and provides funding for law enforcement to train officers in identifying hate crimes. A bill has already passed the Senate, and President Biden is expected to sign the measure.

57 Refugees Drown Off Coast of Tunisia

May 19, 2021

At least 57 refugees drowned off the coast of Tunisia after their boat capsized Monday. Thirty-three people, originally from Bangladesh, were rescued. The tragedy comes just days after another shipwreck on the same route from Libya to Europe killed at least 17 refugees.

Humanitarian, Diplomatic Crisis Between Spain and Morocco Deepens as Spain Expulses 1000s from Ceuta

May 19, 2021

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez traveled today to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the northern tip of Morocco, after 8,000 refugees entered the area earlier this week. Spain has sent troops to the enclave’s border and has already returned thousands of people, but groups say officials may be expelling people who legally should be processed as asylum seekers, including children, sick people or anyone who is not a Moroccan national. Many say Morocco recently loosened immigration controls in retaliation for Spain giving Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front, treatment for COVID-19. The Polisario movement is fighting to establish an independent state in Western Sahara, which was colonized by Spain in the 19th century and annexed by Morocco in 1975.

Allies of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele Named in State Dept. Report on Drug Trafficking, Corruption

May 19, 2021

At least five top Salvadoran officials, including political allies of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, have been named in a confidential U.S. State Department report as suspects in drug trafficking or corruption schemes. Among the officials are Bukele’s current chief of cabinet and his former minister of security. The report was sent to Congress Monday at the request of California Democratic Congressmember Norma Torres.

Biden Admin Approves Release of 3 Guatánamo Prisoners Held Without Charge for 20 Years

May 19, 2021

The New York Times is reporting the Biden administration has approved the release of three prisoners who have been held at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay without charge for two decades. The men, who are from Pakistan and Yemen, will reportedly be released to countries that have agreed to impose surveillance measures on them. While advocates welcomed Biden’s move, they say it’s not enough and continue to call for shutting down Guantánamo. The ACLU said, “An end to almost two decades of military detention of Muslim men without charge or trial is a human rights obligation and a national security necessity.” At least nine of the 40 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo have been approved for release; some have been waiting for years for another country to take them in.

Mexican President López Obrador Apologizes for 1911 Massacre of 300 Chinese People

May 19, 2021

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has formally apologized for a 1911 massacre in which over 300 Chinese people were killed by Mexican revolutionary troops in the northern city of Torreón. Among the victims were children and agricultural workers. The massacre took place during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920 and was part of a wave of anti-Chinese violence in the region. There are no monuments acknowledging the massacre, and it’s been largely excluded from most accounts of Mexican history. This is López Obrador at a ceremony Monday, days after the massacre’s May 13 anniversary.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “Mexico apologizes to the families of the victims of this authoritarian repression that was committed by movements, organizations and governments of our country. … The Mexican state will not allow ever again racism, discrimination and xenophobia.”

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Larry Krasner Wins Dem Primary for Philly DA; Ed Gainey Set to Become Pittsburgh’s 1st Black Mayor

May 19, 2021

In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner handily won the Democratic nomination against his challenger Carlos Vega Tuesday. Vega is a former homicide prosecutor who was fired by Krasner after he took office in 2018. Krasner is credited with lowering Philadelphia’s prison population, halting the prosecution of drug possession and other low-level offenses, and reversing around 20 wrongful convictions. But he has also come under fire for opposing the appeals of political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal. Krasner will face a Republican defense lawyer, Charles Peruto Jr., in the November general election.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, state Representative Ed Gainey defeated incumbent Bill Peduto for the Democratic mayoral nomination. Tuesday’s win means Gainey is likely to become Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor.

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Opposes Bipartisan Insurrection Inquiry as House Votes on Commission

May 19, 2021

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he will oppose the bipartisan deal to form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy suggested a congressional inquiry was not needed, and said he would not support it since it will not examine “political violence” on the left — which is unrelated to the insurrection. The Biden administration has voiced support for the bipartisan commission.

Amazon Worker Says Security Guards Had Keys to USPS Ballot Mailboxes During Bessemer Union Vote

May 19, 2021

An Amazon worker at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse testified last week he saw Amazon security guards use keys to open a U.S. Post Office box that was used to collect ballots on the historic union vote. The mailbox was unlawfully installed by the USPS at Amazon’s request. The labor union that organized the workers in Bessemer has accused Amazon of anti-union threats, firing an employee for distributing union cards, and creating an “impression of surveillance” during the voting period. The National Labor Relations Board continues its hearing on the case this week.

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