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HeadlinesDecember 14, 2022

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Activists and Lawmakers Gather to Celebrate as Biden Signs Marriage Equality Bill

Dec 14, 2022

President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law Tuesday, enshrining federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. Biden spoke at the celebratory event, which featured musical performers and a White House illuminated in rainbow colors.

President Joe Biden: “Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia — they’re all connected. But the antidote to hate is love.”

The new law would not prevent states from banning same-sex marriage if the conservative-led Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, but it would force those states to recognize marriages from another state. It also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Among the speakers at the White House ceremony were Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith, plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to marriage equality in Massachusetts. This is Heidi Nortonsmith.

Heidi Nortonsmith: “It takes the efforts of many to bend the arc of history toward justice. Even now there are so many places where people in our community are under attack. The work will continue. But look at how far we’ve come.”

Iran: At Least 400 Sentenced Up to 10 Years for Anti-Gov’t Protest; Soccer Player Reportedly Faces Execution

Dec 14, 2022

In Iran, at least 400 people have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for their involvement in anti-government protests, according to officials. Human rights groups say over 14,000 people have been arrested across Iran since mobilizations began in mid-September, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the so-called morality police.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Iranian soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani has reportedly been sentenced to death for his involvement in the demonstrations. At least two protesters have already been executed. FIFPRO, the International Federation of Professional Footballers, said it was “shocked and sickened” by the reports that Nasr-Azadani faces execution.

Somalia at Precipice of Famine as Hundreds of Thousands Suffer Catastrophic Hunger

Dec 14, 2022

The U.N. warns Somalia could be facing famine within months, while as many as half a million children under the age of 5 could die by mid-2023. Hunger has already claimed many lives, with 200,000 people facing catastrophic food shortages due to a protracted drought, rising food costs and violent insurgent attacks. Three million people have been displaced. Some analysts say Somalia is already experiencing famine and are urging an official declaration to help garner urgently needed aid and attention.

DRC Flood Victims Blame Poor Infrastructure, Gov’t Inaction as 120 People Killed in Heavy Rains

Dec 14, 2022

Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 120 people have been killed and dozens of others injured by floods and landslides caused by torrential rains in the capital Kinshasa. Major roads were submerged in muddy water or destroyed by sinkholes, while homes collapsed. Rescue efforts to find survivors continue. Local residents placed blame on government neglect.

Odia: “We have elected a government that is unable to give its people what they need. This road has been in threat of collapse for a long time. We have alerted the authorities to this situation, but here is the pure reality. It’s really difficult for them to even build a gutter.”

South African Parliament Votes Against Impeaching Ramaphosa over Hidden Money Scandal

Dec 14, 2022

In South Africa, lawmakers have voted against impeaching President Cyril Ramaphosa over a report that says he hid undeclared, stolen money at his game farm. The report prompted calls by opponents for Ramaphosa to resign, but lawmakers from the ruling African National Congress party mostly supported the president in their vote. It comes as Ramaphosa will seek reelection as leader of the ANC at its national conference starting Friday.

Bernie Sanders Puts Brake on Yemen War Powers Vote as UNICEF Report Details War’s Impact on Children

Dec 14, 2022

A new UNICEF report finds that over 11,000 children have been killed or injured in the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen since 2015. A six-month ceasefire between warring parties expired in October. Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders withdrew an expected vote on his Yemen War Powers Resolution Tuesday evening, saying he was in talks with the Biden administration. Sanders said he would bring the resolution back if they could not reach an agreement on ending U.S. support for the war.

U.S. Could Soon Supply Patriot Missiles to Ukraine; Bakhmut Residents Face Utter Destruction

Dec 14, 2022

In Ukraine, officials say their air defenses shot down 13 Russian drones earlier today targeting the capital Kyiv. Meanwhile, the U.S. is reportedly finalizing plans to send its long-range Patriot air defense system to Ukraine.

The eastern city of Bakhmut has been nearly decimated as Russian forces have continued to ramp up its attacks. This is a 70-year-old resident who this week decided to flee her hometown after months of intense shelling.

Valentyna: “I did not think that the situation in Bakhmut would go this far. I thought it would not be that terrifying, and I could not imagine that the whole city would be destroyed.”

France Convicts 8 People over 2016 Nice Terror Attack That Killed 86 People

Dec 14, 2022

A French court convicted eight people over the 2016 terror attack in Nice, when a man plowed a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds. The driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, was shot dead on the scene by police. The other men convicted Tuesday for helping the mass killer received prison terms ranging from two to 18 years.

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At Least 4 Asylum Seekers Drown After Boat Capsizes in British Channel

Dec 14, 2022

Another boat carrying dozens of asylum seekers has capsized in the English Channel, with reports early today of at least four people dead in the freezing temperatures and icy waters. At least 40 asylum seekers have been rescued so far as U.K. and French authorities continue search efforts. The tragedy comes a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to enact even harsher policies to block asylum seekers from entering Britain through the channel.

New Zealand Passes Cigarette Ban for Younger Generations in Hopes of Achieving “Smoke-Free” Future

Dec 14, 2022

New Zealand passed the world’s first lifetime tobacco ban, barring anyone born after 2008 from ever buying cigarettes, and dramatically reducing the availability of tobacco. The percentage of the population that cannot buy tobacco will increase each year, with the goal of a “smoke-free” future. This is Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.

Ayesha Verrall: “There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it. And I can tell you that we will end this in the future as we pass this legislation.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Commutes Death Sentences of 17 Prisoners Before Leaving Office

Dec 14, 2022

Back in the U.S., outgoing Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown has commuted the sentences of all 17 people on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Governor Brown called the death penalty “dysfunctional and immoral.”

Louisville Settles with Breonna Taylor’s Partner Kenneth Walker

Dec 14, 2022

In Kentucky, the city of Louisville has agreed to pay $2 million to settle two lawsuits filed by Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her own home during a 2020 police raid. Walker was with Taylor the night of the fatal shooting and fired a shot at police as they burst into Taylor’s home while serving a no-knock warrant. Walker had said the officers never identified themselves before entering the home, and never attempted to save Taylor as she lay dying after she was struck by a hail of gunfire. Charges against Walker, including attempted murder of a police officer, have been dropped.

Coterra Energy Given Green Light to Resume Fracking in Dimock After Admitting It Contaminated Water

Dec 14, 2022

In Dimock, Pennsylvania, residents expressed outrage after the Department of Environmental Protection lifted its drilling moratorium on Coterra Energy just weeks after the fracking company pleaded “no contest” to polluting the community’s water. Coterra, formerly known as Cabot Oil & Gas, also agreed to pay $16 million to build a new public water system and pay local water bills for 75 years. Food & Water Watch said allowing Coterra to drill again was an unconscionable “betrayal of suffering communities,” and urged incoming Governor Josh Shapiro to undo the deal when he takes office.

Breakthrough Nuclear Fusion Experiment Could Contribute to Clean Energy Future

Dec 14, 2022

Scientists and U.S. officials have hailed a major milestone in nuclear fusion technology, igniting hopes the breakthrough could help lead to a clean energy future. Researchers at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory last week successfully achieved net energy gain through fusion ignition, generating more power than is used to create the reaction. Unlike fission, which is currently used by nuclear power plants, fusion does not produce long-lasting nuclear waste or carbon emissions.

However, scientists say it will likely be decades before the technology is perfected enough to begin producing energy at scale. The experiment is likely to more immediately benefit the U.S. military and its nuclear weapons arsenal. This is Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm: “Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century. … This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon, abundant fusion energy powering our society.”

Dec. 14 Marks 10th Anniversary of Sandy Hook Massacre

Dec 14, 2022

Today marks 10 years since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, which claimed the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six educators. The children would have been high school juniors today.

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