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HeadlinesDecember 19, 2022

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House Jan. 6 Cmte. Expected to Refer Trump for Criminal Charges as Proud Boys Trial Kicks Off

Dec 19, 2022

In the nation’s capital, the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is holding its final public hearing today, ahead of the expected release of its report Wednesday. The committee is reportedly expected to issue criminal referrals against Donald Trump and others.

Also today in Washington, D.C., jury selection begins in the federal trial of former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other senior members of the white nationalist group nearly two years after the deadly insurrection. Prosecutors charged the defendants with seditious conspiracy, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, and other offenses.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Douglas Jensen of Iowa was sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in the Capitol attack. Separately, another rioter, Tennessee man Edward Kelley, was charged with plotting to assassinate the federal agents who investigated him. Kelley was already facing charges for assaulting a police officer.

El Paso Declares State of Emergency Amid Growing Number of Asylum Seekers as Title 42 Set to End

Dec 19, 2022

In Texas, the mayor of El Paso has declared a state of emergency over concerns the city won’t be able to provide shelter and resources to the growing number of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. An average of over 2,400 daily asylum seekers have been apprehended by border authorities in El Paso in recent days. Local shelters are beyond capacity, with many asylum seekers forced to sleep on the streets in freezing winter temperatures. This is El Paso’s Democratic Mayor Oscar Leeser.

Mayor Oscar Leeser: “I said from the beginning that I would call it when I felt that either our asylum seekers or our community was not safe. And I really believe that today our asylum seekers are not safe, as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets. And that’s not the way we want to treat people. And by calling a state of emergency, it gives us the ability, today, to be able to do things we couldn’t do until we called it, and that’s our shelters, and put people in shelters and make sure that they’re safe.”

This comes as the Trump-era pandemic policy Title 42 is set to end on Wednesday, after a federal appeals court refused to postpone this week’s deadline following challenges from Republicans. Title 42 has been used to expel over 2 million migrants from the southern border, blocking them from seeking asylum and pushing them back into Mexico, where migrants face dangerous and inhumane conditions, including torture and kidnappings. The policy forced asylum seekers to use deadly routes along the U.S.-Mexico border to enter the U.S. as many are fleeing violence, poverty and the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Thousands are now hoping they’ll be safely allowed into the U.S., after Title 42 ends, to finally pursue asylum.

COP15: Nations Reach Landmark Deal to Protect Earth’s Biodiversity

Dec 19, 2022

In Montreal, Canada, delegates from nearly 200 nations have wrapped up the U.N. biodiversity summit, known as COP15, with an agreement to protect at least 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans for wildlife by 2030. The landmark agreement seeks to halt the Earth’s sixth major mass extinction event, currently underway due to human activity. As part of the deal, Indigenous communities will have an increased role in protecting wildlife. Lands inhabited by Indigenous peoples hold 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. The World Wildlife Fund called the agreement “a win for people and planet.” But the Wildlife Conservation Society criticized it for focusing on 2050 deadlines, writing, “That will be far too late for us to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and address related challenges such as climate change.”

Ministers Resign to Protest Ouster and Jailing of Peruvian President Pedro Castillo

Dec 19, 2022

In Peru, mass protests continue following the ouster and jailing of President Pedro Castillo, with at least 25 protesters killed by the police and military. The Peruvian education and culture ministers have resigned in protest of the killings. Patricia Correa, Peru’s outgoing education minister, said on Twitter, “The death of compatriots has no justification. State violence cannot be disproportionate and cause death.”

Peru remains under a nationwide state of emergency suspending many constitutional rights and imposing curfews. Newly installed Peruvian President Dina Boluarte is resisting calls to step down.

President Dina Boluarte: “I’m only fulfilling the constitutional mandate. There’s a group saying, 'Dina to step down.' But what will be solved by my quitting? Is the problem solved? The problem won’t be solved. We will be firm until Congress approves to bring forward elections.”

Acclaimed Actress Taraneh Alidoosti Arrested in Iran over Support for Protests

Dec 19, 2022

Iranian authorities have raided the home of one of Iran’s most famous actresses and arrested her, after she expressed solidarity with a man recently put to death for crimes allegedly committed during nationwide protests. Taraneh Alidoosti faces charges of publishing “false and distorted content” that incited riots. Her Instagram page has since been suspended. Before her arrest, she shared a photo of herself with her hair uncovered, in violation of Iran’s mandatory hijab law. Alidoosti is best known internationally for her starring role in “The Salesman,” which won an Oscar in 2017 for Best Foreign Language Film.

Calls Mount for Tunisia’s President to Resign over “Legislative Coup” Amid Record-Low Voter Turnout

Dec 19, 2022

In Tunisia, calls are mounting for President Kais Saied to step down after a record-low turnout in Saturday’s parliamentary elections, which were boycotted by 12 political parties. Tunisia’s election authority updated a previous estimate of 8.8% turnout to just over 11%. The lack of voter participation comes after months of protests against Saied, who has been widely accused of a legislative coup as he has worked to consolidate power over the past year and a half.

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Mexican News Anchor Ciro Gómez Leyva Survives Assassination Attempt

Dec 19, 2022

Renowned Mexican radio and television journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva survived an assassination attempt Friday in Mexico City. Leyva said two gunmen shot at him near his home but that the armor of his truck stopped the bullets. In 2022 alone, at least 15 journalists have been killed in Mexico, according to the Associated Press, making it the deadliest country for reporters outside war zones.

Elon Musk Loses Twitter Poll Asking, “Should I Step Down as Head of Twitter?”

Dec 19, 2022

Elon Musk could be resigning as Twitter CEO after a poll on Twitter closed this morning with 57.5% voting “yes” to Musk’s question, “Should I step down as head of Twitter?” Twitter’s embattled CEO said he would abide by the results when he posted the poll Sunday evening. The latest twist comes after another chaotic week for Twitter. On Sunday, a new policy banning users from sharing accounts on other platforms received swift backlash — the move was apparently undone just hours later. Earlier in the day, Musk was pictured with Jared Kushner as the pair watched Argentina’s victory over France in the World Cup final in Qatar.

Twitter Reinstates Accounts of Journalists Who Reported on Elon Musk

Dec 19, 2022

Twitter reinstated the accounts of most of the journalists it suspended on Thursday. On Friday, Elon Musk posted a Twitter poll in which a majority responded that the suspensions should be lifted immediately. Musk had accused the reporters of endangering his life by linking to an account that provides a live tracker to his private jet. Twitter, however, required the journalists to either remove the offending tweets or lodge an appeal before they could start tweeting again. This is one independent journalist, Aaron Rupar, who was suspended by Twitter for one day, speaking on MSNBC after his account was restored.

Aaron Rupar: “I think what this will end up doing, which is unfortunate, is have a chilling effect on coverage of Elon Musk, because now, you know, if I’m in a position to either publish a newsletter or tweet that is looking at him harshly, I have to think twice and wonder if he can manipulate the terms of service kind of on the fly to come up with a reason to ban me.”

One reporter, Business Insider’s Linette Lopez, is still blocked on Twitter; she has reported critically for years on Elon Musk and his businesses. Meanwhile, officials from France, Germany, the U.K., the EU and the United Nations condemned Twitter’s crackdown on journalism.

AG Garland Orders Federal Prosecutors to End Disparities in Cocaine Sentencing

Dec 19, 2022

In criminal justice news, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday instructed federal prosecutors to end disparities in the way they handle offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Rights groups hailed the news. The ACLU called it “an important move toward ending the racist, unjust sentencing disparity that has devastated Black communities.” Advocates are urging the Senate to pass the EQUAL Act, which provides retroactive relief to previously convicted people. The bill has already overwhelmingly passed the House.

New York Bans Puppy Mills and Sale of Cosmetics Tested on Animals

Dec 19, 2022

Here in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has signed new animal rights legislation into law. One bill bans the sale of cats, dogs and rabbits in pet stores in a crackdown on so-called puppy mills — high-volume breeding centers that churn out animals for profit.

Another new law bans the sale of cosmetics that have been newly tested on animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and other rodents. The bill’s co-sponsor, state Senator Alessandra Biaggi, said, “No animal should ever have to face abuse or unsafe conditions, and this legislation makes it clear that New York will not tolerate their mistreatment.”

Judge Grants Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Lawyers 60 Days to Examine New Evidence Ahead of Possible New Trial

Dec 19, 2022

In Philadelphia, a judge granted Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawyers 60 days to examine all the evidence uncovered in recent years, that supporters say could finally help release the journalist and former Black Panther, who has spent 41 years in prison after being convicted of murdering a police officer. This is professor and filmmaker Johanna Fernández, who has been campaigning for years to free Mumia.

Johanna Fernández: “There are documents that emerged recently, as early as January 2019, which clearly suggest that the main witnesses in this case were bribed. A letter by Robert Chobert, the star witness in the case, who said that he saw what happened, and he allegedly saw Mumia, he wrote a letter, with his handwriting, asking the lead prosecutor in the case, Joe McGill, 'Where is my money?'”

Starbucks Workers at 100 Locations Hold Three-Day Strike

Dec 19, 2022

Over 1,000 Starbucks workers from 100 stores went on a three-day strike from Friday through Sunday to protest the megachain’s union-busting efforts. It’s the largest coordinated labor action by Starbucks employees. Two hundred seventy locations have voted to unionize in just one year. But the company has waged an escalating anti-union campaign and has refused to bargain with its workers in good faith. This is a former Starbucks worker in Anderson, South Carolina, who was fired along with five other employees in retaliation for their organizing efforts.

Aneil Tripathi: “Starbucks is doubling down on its union-busting tactics, so we are out here doubling down on our strikes. Starbucks continues to withhold benefits from its union stores like credit card tipping, but gives it to nonunionized stores. They also are cutting our hours and targeting union employees by cutting their hours and withholding benefits from them so they can’t receive Starbucks benefits. We’re out here together in solidarity standing against the company as they make billions of dollars but as our employees fail to scrape by and struggle to pay their bills. So we’re out here standing up against a billion-dollar corporation.”

Unionized workers are asking customers to refrain from buying Starbucks gift cards this holiday season in a show of support for their organizing campaign.

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