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HeadlinesOctober 24, 2022

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Kherson Braces for Battle; Russian Strikes Devastate Ukrainian Energy, Water Infrastructure

Oct 24, 2022

In Ukraine, thousands of people in and around the Russian-occupied city of Kherson have fled, as Ukrainian forces battle to retake control of the strategic region located north of the Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian soldiers continued their advance over the weekend as Russia’s military continued drone and missile attacks across Ukraine, cutting off electricity to over a million homes. Russian attacks have downed some 40% of Ukraine’s power system as the winter is fast approaching.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Mykolaiv, residents have not had access to clean water for the past six months. Officials there say Russians closed off the city’s freshwater source after occupying the adjacent Kherson province, and that the pipes have been destroyed in fighting.

Borys Dydenko: “It’s a catastrophe. Everything is being damaged. We would need to change hundreds of kilometers of pipes. … We could assume that, yes, it is some kind of revenge, because even if it happened by accident, why don’t the Russians let us do the repairs and free the civilians of the so-called torture by water?”

Earlier today, officials in France, the U.K. and the U.S. rejected Moscow’s allegation that Ukraine was preparing to use a radioactive device known as a “dirty bomb” within its borders. President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia likely made the charge because its forces were planning on deploying such a weapon.

On Friday, Zelensky accused Russia of deliberately stalling passage of 150 ships carrying grain exports to countries around the world under a U.N.-brokered deal, which is set to expire next month.

In Washington, Republican leadership has split over U.S. military support for Ukraine. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged President Biden on Friday to send more military aid, and vowed a Republican Senate would continue backing the funding. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said domestic issues should be prioritized and the U.S. should not deliver “blank checks” to Ukraine. Since the start of the war, the U.S. has granted over $60 billion in military and other assistance to Ukraine.

Xi Jinping Clinches Third Term as Anti-Government Protest Quietly Spreads

Oct 24, 2022

Xi Jinping was named head of China’s ruling Communist Party as the Communist Party Congress wrapped up Saturday, ushering in a third term for Xi as China’s leader. Lawmakers abolished presidential term limits in 2018, meaning Xi can remain in power indefinitely. President Xi also announced his top political team, stacked with loyalists. This is Xi Jinping as he introduced his appointees to the press Sunday.

President Xi Jinping: “In the face of new challenges and tests on the new journey, we must be highly vigilant, always maintain the sobriety and prudence to catch up with the examinations, and promote the strict governance of the party across the board without ceasing, so that the century-old party will continue to flourish in its self-revolution and always become the most reliable and strongest backbone of the Chinese people.”

In a dramatic scene Saturday, former President Hu Jintao was abruptly escorted out of the closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress, a move that some speculated was an assertion of Xi’s dominance. Chinese state media later said it was because the former leader was “not feeling well.”

Despite Xi’s grip on power, protests against his rule have spread in China and beyond, following the display of a protest banner on a busy overpass in Beijing earlier this month. Authorities have censored news of the protest from websites and social media, but the protester’s words have since been scribbled on public restroom doors in China and on posters displayed in universities around the world. They read, in part, “dignity, not lies; reform, not cultural revolution; votes, not dictatorship; citizens, not slaves.”

Rishi Sunak to Become Next British Prime Minister After Rivals Withdraw

Oct 24, 2022

In the United Kingdom, former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will become the next prime minister after Boris Johnson and House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt pulled out of the race. Sunak will be the first British prime minister of South Asian descent. He previously worked for Goldman Sachs and is believed to be the wealthiest member of the House of Commons, with an estimated net worth of over $820 million, along with his wife. Members of the Conservative Party threw their support behind Sunak to replace Liz Truss, who resigned last week after just six weeks on the job.

Italy Swears In Far-Right Giorgia Meloni as Prime Minister

Oct 24, 2022

In Italy, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni was sworn in as prime minister Saturday. Meloni’s government will be led by a coalition of right-wing parties and figures, including Matteo Salvini, the anti-immigrant populist and former interior minister, and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has faced myriad charges of corruption, fraud and sex offenses. Meloni’s own party, Brothers of Italy, is allied with Spain’s Vox party and other right-wing and neofascist parties in Europe.

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Labor Strikes Spread Across Iran, Adding to Unrest Spurred by Mass Protests

Oct 24, 2022

In Iran, teachers are on a two-day strike as anti-government sentiment grows across the country. Labor unions have also launched strikes in the food and oil industries. This comes as protests for women’s rights have entered their second month, following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the so-called morality police. International solidarity demonstrations are also continuing. In Berlin, some 80,000 people took to the streets on Saturday.

Maru: “I feel very good, because we are here to tell, 'We are with you,' to all Iranian people. Yes. It’s Mahsa Amini’s voice.”

Ibrahim Traoré Becomes Second Coup President in Burkina Faso in Under a Year

Oct 24, 2022

In Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traoré was sworn in as interim president, just weeks after he led a coup and overthrew the country’s president. It was the second military coup in Burkina Faso in just eight months. The mounting political instability comes as Burkina Faso faces an ongoing jihadist insurgency and deteriorating humanitarian situation. The U.N. says some 5 million people in the country need emergency assistance.

WH Tells Borrowers to Keep Applying for Student Loan Relief After Judge Issues Temporary Stay

Oct 24, 2022

Here in the United States, the White House is urging student loan borrowers to keep submitting applications for up to $20,000 in federal debt relief, after an appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked Biden’s student loan relief plan. The move comes in response to a challenge by six Republican-led states that argued Biden overstepped his authority when he launched the initiative. Just hours before the court stayed the plan on Friday, Biden touted its success while speaking at Delaware State University.

President Joe Biden: “Now, in less than a week, just close to 22 million people have already given us the information to consider this life-changing relief. … And in total, more than 40 million Americans stand to benefit from this relief.”

Meanwhile, some 700,000 borrowers were left out of the student debt relief plan because their loans are overseen by private lenders and not the U.S. Department of Education. They’re urging the Biden administration to include them in the plan.

Steve Bannon Vows to Appeal After Receiving Four-Month Prison Sentence

Oct 24, 2022

A federal judge has sentenced Steve Bannon to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for criminal contempt of Congress, after he refused last year to comply with a subpoena issued by the House January 6 committee. Bannon vowed to appeal and will remain free for now. If his appeal fails, Bannon would become the first person to be imprisoned for contempt of Congress in more than half a century.

House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Donald Trump

Oct 24, 2022

The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has delivered a subpoena to former President Donald Trump, seeking documents and calling on him to testify on November 14. In a letter accompanying the subpoena, the committee writes, “we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power.”

Meanwhile, Axios is reporting a senior White House lawyer warned Trump’s team against the president signing a sworn statement with false claims of voter fraud.

Donald Trump Suggests He’ll Run for President Again in 2024

Oct 24, 2022

On Saturday, Trump railed against the subpoena during a Republican rally in Texas. He also repeated his false claims about the 2020 election being stolen.

Donald Trump: “The election was rigged and stolen, and now our country is being destroyed. I ran twice. I won twice. … And now, in order to make our country successful, safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again.”

On Friday, President Biden said during an interview it is his “intention” to run again in 2024.

Judges in Florida and Texas Rule Against GOP Voter Suppression Efforts

Oct 24, 2022

Two judges dealt a blow last week to Republican-led efforts to intimidate and suppress voters. A court in Florida’s Miami-Dade County on Friday dropped voter fraud charges against a man who was arrested in August by officers with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s Office of Election Crimes and Security. Robert Lee Wood had a felony conviction but was unaware he was not allowed to vote under Florida law. Separately, a judge in Texas dismissed a charge against Hervis Earl Rogers, who was on parole when he waited over six hours on line to vote in the 2020 primaries in Houston. In Texas, casting a ballot while still serving a sentence — including parole — is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

In other voting news, the Sheriff’s Office in Maricopa County, Arizona, is investigating voter intimidation after at least two armed people wearing masks and tactical gear camped out near a ballot drop box Friday.

Penn Student Protesters Disrupt Football Game to Demand Fossil Fuel Divestment

Oct 24, 2022

In Philadelphia, at least 19 University of Pennsylvania students were arrested after they stormed a football field and disrupted the school’s homecoming game to demand UPenn divest from fossil fuels. The group Fossil Free Penn is also urging the university to pay property taxes to support the funding of city public schools, and help save a low-income housing complex located near the university.

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