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HeadlinesSeptember 20, 2021

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Pentagon Admits Drone Strike Killed Afghan Civilians as Victims’ Families Demand Probe

Sep 20, 2021

The Pentagon acknowledged Friday the U.S. drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in Afghanistan in the final days of the U.S. withdrawal was a “tragic mistake.” The Pentagon previously asserted the strike prevented an imminent threat by ISIS-K fighters, but investigations quickly revealed the victims were instead aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and his family members. Ahmadi’s family is demanding a probe into the killing. This is his brother, Romal Ahmadi.

Romal Ahmadi: “They should accept and pay their damages. They should come to me and apologize and offer their condolences. They should pay blood money. We are innocent. They should evacuate us.”

In Washington, D.C., lawmakers said they would investigate the deadly strike, while activists renewed calls for an end to U.S. drone warfare.

Women and Girls Increasingly Left Out of Education, Public Life in Afghanistan After Taliban Takeover

Sep 20, 2021

Most secondary classes in Afghanistan resumed without female students, as their fate remains unclear under the new Taliban leadership, who only explicitly ordered male students to return to the classroom. Some boys refused to attend class until all students were allowed to return. Meanwhile, the new Taliban mayor of Kabul told female municipal employees not to come into work. On Sunday, women activists rallied in front of the building which used to house the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul — an agency the Taliban has done away with.

Taranum Sayeedi: “You cannot suppress the voice of Afghan women by keeping girls at home and restricting them, as well as by not allowing them to go to school. You cannot suppress the voice of Afghanistan’s women. By turning the Ministry of Women into a Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, you cannot suppress Afghanistan’s women.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports at least seven people were killed after a series of blasts in Kabul and in the eastern city of Jalalabad Saturday. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Biden Admin Starts Deporting Haitian Asylum Seekers Without Due Process as Humanitarian Crisis Mounts

Sep 20, 2021

The Biden administration sent three deportation flights to Haiti Sunday as part of its efforts to speed up the mass expulsion of over 14,000 Haitian asylum seekers, who have been staying in a makeshift camp underneath a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, for days. The flights each carried at least 145 asylum seekers. More flights are expected to depart in the coming days. Haitian officials have urged the U.S. to stop the deportations, warning they don’t have the resources to assist the incoming asylum seekers as Haiti is still reeling from last month’s catastrophic earthquake. Immigrant justice advocates blasted the Biden administration for launching what could be one of the most abrupt and largest mass deportations of asylum seekers or migrants in decades. This is a Haitian asylum seeker in Del Rio.

Alex Rosiere: “I don’t want to be deported. If I’m deported now, I’ll die in Haiti. Why? Because there’s no security in Haiti. There are bandits. There is a civil war every day, civil war with the police, with the bandits, police civil war. Very complicated, because there’s no leadership in Haiti. There’s nothing.”

Rights groups are also denouncing the U.S. government’s ongoing attempts to block Haitian asylum seekers from applying for refuge — which is a violation of international law.

Senate Parliamentarian Says Dems Cannot Use Spending Bill to Create Pathway to Citizenship

Sep 20, 2021

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Sunday Democrats cannot create a pathway to citizenship for millions of people as part of their $3.5 trillion spending bill. Democrats were hoping to pass the measure — which could grant citizenship to immigrants with temporary protected status, or TPS, essential workers, farm workers, and those brought to the U.S. as children — by passing the package through reconciliation, without Republican support. Democrats say they will keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.

FDA Panel Says Booster Shots Should Be Offered to People 65+ and High-Risk Patients

Sep 20, 2021

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older and those who are at high risk of developing severe infections. The recommendation is more limited than President Biden’s previously announced plan to offer boosters to anyone who had already received two shots. Meanwhile, Pfizer announced their COVID vaccine is safe for children aged 5 to 11 and generates a strong immune response. The company hopes to receive emergency use authorization soon.

CA Firefighters Protect Trees with Foil Blankets as Wildfire Threatens Sequoia National Park

Sep 20, 2021

In California, fire crews are battling a large wildfire in the Sierra Nevada mountains that’s threatening Sequoia National Park, home to the world’s most massive trees. Over the weekend, firefighters wrapped protective aluminum foil blankets around old-growth sequoias, including one nicknamed “General Sherman” — the world’s largest tree by volume. The KNP Complex Fire has grown to over 21,000 acres and is just 3% contained.

U.N. Warns Planet Headed Toward Catastrophic 2.7°C Warming

Sep 20, 2021

The United Nations warns the planet is on course for a catastrophic global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius, even if nearly 200 U.N. member states meet their stated goals for cutting emissions. That’s far beyond the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris climate accord and would mean a massive loss of lives and livelihoods, with whole ecosystems collapsing amid deadly heat waves, powerful storms and rising sea levels.

Biden Unveils Plan to Curb U.S. Emissions, But Climate Agenda Could Be Blocked by Manchin

Sep 20, 2021

On Friday, President Biden unveiled a plan by the U.S. and Europe to cut global methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade.

President Joe Biden: “For our part in America, I’m working to pass historic investment and to modernize our climate-resilient infrastructure, to build a clean energy future that creates millions of jobs and ushers in new industries of the future. As part of this work, the United States is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 50 and 52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.”

But it’s unclear if Biden’s pledges will be possible given the ongoing obstruction of Democrats’ infrastructure and climate plans by Republicans and conservative Democrats like Joe Manchin, chair of the energy panel and the largest Senate recipient of campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries.

Activists Demand JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America Stop Investing in Fossil Fuels

Sep 20, 2021

Dozens of climate activists were arrested in New York City Friday as they staged peaceful actions demanding big banks stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. Activists held protests in front of the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America. The actions come as world leaders gather for the U.N. General Assembly and ahead of November’s U.N. climate summit in Scotland. This is Presleigh Hayashida of Extinction Rebellion.

Presleigh Hayashida: “I would love to see people who are actually talking about the climate crisis realistically and not making, you know, 20-year plans, 30-year plans. We can’t talk about 2050 or 2030 anymore; we have to immediately stop fossil fuel investment.”

France Recalls U.S. and Australia Ambassadors Amid Row over Trilateral Nuclear Pact

Sep 20, 2021

France has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia after the Biden administration said it would provide nuclear-powered submarine technology to Australia. It’s the first time since the U.S. and France became allies in 1778 that Paris has ordered its top diplomat back to France for consultations. The White House is reportedly pushing to have President Biden call French President Emmanuel Macron in the coming days to soothe strained ties. The diplomatic row followed last week’s announcement that Australia, the United Kingdom and U.S. were forming a new military alliance known as ”AUKUS.” Just ahead of the announcement, Australia canceled a $65 billion deal to purchase French-built diesel-electric submarines.

Russian Parliamentary Election Hands Victory to Putin as Critics Allege Voting Fraud

Sep 20, 2021

In Russia, preliminary results show President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party on track to retain its majority in the lower house of parliament, after an election that saw near record-low turnout of just 45%. Opposition groups blasted the results, alleging large-scale vote rigging. Ahead of the election, police arrested thousands of activists, including supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

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Canadians Vote in Snap Election Called by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Sep 20, 2021

In Canada, voters are casting ballots today in a parliamentary election that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hoping will deliver a clear mandate to his Liberal Party. But the Liberals have been in a tight race with the Conservative Party, with the progressive New Democratic Party polling in third place. The leaders of the two main challenging parties accused Trudeau of calling the snap election amid a Delta-fueled fourth wave of COVID infections.

Ex-Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika Dies at 84, Two Years After He Resigned Amid Protests

Sep 20, 2021

In Algeria, former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika died Friday at the age of 84. His burial Sunday was a muted affair, even though he held power longer than any other Algerian president. Mass protests led to Bouteflika’s resignation in 2019 and resumed earlier this year demanding an end to Algeria’s entrenched political elite and military rulers.

Tunisian Protesters Decry “Autocracy” of President Kais Saied, Who Suspended Parliament

Sep 20, 2021

In Tunisia, protesters took to the streets in the first major demonstration since President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended parliament in July, assuming executive authority. Protesters are demanding democratic rule in Tunisia, which was the birthplace of the Arab Spring one decade ago.

Abdelnnaser Bou Abid: “We followed a revolutionary path for 10 years, in which there were negatives and positives. But what happened on July 25th took us back 50 years to autocracy.”

Supporters of January 6 Insurrectionists Outnumbered by Police at Capitol Hill Rally

Sep 20, 2021

Back in the U.S., in Washington, D.C., police in riot gear surrounded the U.S. Capitol grounds Saturday, outnumbering an estimated 200 protesters who rallied in support of the pro-Trump mob that attacked Congress on January 6. The so-called Justice for J6 rally failed to draw the large crowds organizers had been hoping for. Ahead of the event, crews reinstalled a high metal fence around the Capitol.

Nabisco Workers Approve New Contract, Ending Weeks-Long Strike

Sep 20, 2021

In labor news, Nabisco workers in five states have ended a weeks-long strike after union members overwhelmingly approved a new contract that includes a 60-cent-an-hour annual wage increase for the next four years, a $5,000 bonus for all employees, and blocks proposed cuts to workers’ healthcare. Nabisco workers say they had been forced to work grueling 12- to 16-hour shifts during the pandemic, often including on weekends.

New York Gov. Hochul Signs “Less Is More Act” to End Jail Time for Nonviolent Parole Violations

Sep 20, 2021

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less Is More Act Friday, which ends jail time for most nonviolent parole violations, including technical violations and marijuana use. Hochul said nearly 200 people would be released from city jails under the new policy, which comes amid mounting outrage over the crisis at Rikers.

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