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HeadlinesDecember 20, 2022

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House Jan. 6 Committee Recommends Criminal Charges for Donald Trump

Dec 20, 2022

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has wrapped up its 18-month probe by recommending criminal charges against former President Donald Trump. At the committee’s final public hearing Monday, Maryland Democratic Congressmember Jamie Raskin said Trump betrayed his oath of office by assisting in an insurrection against the constitutional order.

Rep. Jamie Raskin: “The committee believes that more than sufficient evidence exists for a criminal referral of former President Trump for assisting or aiding and comforting those at the Capitol who engaged in a violent attack on the United States. The committee has developed significant evidence that President Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer — transition of power under our Constitution.” 

Proud Boys Stand Trial for Seditious Conspiracy over Jan. 6 Violence

Dec 20, 2022

Jury selection got underway Monday in the trial of the former leader of the far-right Proud Boys organization and four of his associates. Enrique Tarrio and the others each face nine counts including seditious conspiracy against the United States, after they heeded then-President Donald Trump’s call to “fight like hell” at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. All five men have pleaded not guilty; their attorneys have argued their actions were constitutionally protected “free speech.”

Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Lifting of Title 42 Restrictions on Asylum Seekers

Dec 20, 2022

In immigration news, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending the contested Trump-era Title 42 pandemic policy that was set to end Wednesday. Roberts gave Biden officials until this afternoon to respond to an emergency appeal filed by several Republican-led states challenging the policy’s termination. Title 42 has been enforced since March 2020, used to expel over 2 million migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border, blocking them from seeking asylum. Thousands have been forced to wait in Mexico, where they hoped they would be finally allowed to safely enter the U.S. to apply for relief when Title 42 was lifted this week. This is Emily Rivas, an asylum seeker from Venezuela, who’s been stuck in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Emily Rivas: “Please, soften the heart of the president. Let all the people cross into the U.S. We have suffered a great deal — a great deal — since we left Venezuela. We traveled through the jungle and all those countries we have been through. I ask them from the bottom of my heart that they allow us to cross.”

U.K. Court Upholds Policy Allowing Deportation of Asylum Seekers to Rwanda

Dec 20, 2022

Human rights groups in the United Kingdom have vowed to keep fighting an immigration policy that allows the British government to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. On Monday, a court ruled the program is legal under British and international law. The policy was first announced in April. Paul O’Connor of the Public and Commercial Services Union denounced the ruling.

Paul O’Connor: “We were clear right from the outset that our members didn’t want to carry out this policy, on the basis they thought it was unlawful, morally reprehensible and utterly inhumane. The judges today may well have found that decision to be lawful, but it remains morally reprehensible and utterly inhumane, and we will continue to do what we can to fight this policy.” 

Body of Iranian Protester Who Died in Police Custody Showed Signs of Torture

Dec 20, 2022

In Iran, the body of a 23-year-old protester who recently died in police custody showed signs of severe torture, according to his family. The body of Hamed Salahshoor, who was a taxi driver, was exhumed by his family after security forces buried him, claiming he died of a heart attack after he was detained in late November and disappeared for four days. After viewing his remains, Salahshoor’s family said his face was smashed; his nose, jaw and chin broken; and that he had stitches going from his neck to his navel and over his kidneys. 

This comes as the parents of a young man are pleading for their son’s life as he faces execution over his involvement in anti-government protests. The father of Mehdi Mohammad Karami appealed to Iranian officials in a video posted on social media.

Mashallah Karami: “I’m pleading desperately for judicial authorities, for Mr. Ejei himself, to remove this death sentence from my son’s case.”

Amnesty International warns that at least 26 people are at risk of being executed for participating in the mass protests that have taken over the streets of Iran since September.

Palestinians Hold One-Day Strike to Mourn Prisoner Who Died of “Medical Neglect”

Dec 20, 2022

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have declared a one-day general strike to mourn the death of prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid. The 49-year-old Palestinian had been held in an Israeli prison since his arrest in 2002 for his involvement in an armed wing of the ruling Fatah party. He was diagnosed from prison with late-stage lung cancer in August 2021. His family says Israeli prison authorities ignored his medical complaints for months, leading him to die of medical neglect. Human rights groups say dozens of other Palestinian prisoners have died of preventable illnesses due to a lack of routine health checks.

U.N., France and Rights Groups Condemn Israel’s Deportation of Palestinian Activist

Dec 20, 2022

Israel has deported French-Palestinian activist and lawyer Salah Hamouri to France in a move condemned by human rights groups and the French Foreign Ministry. Before his deportation on Sunday, Hamouri had been held without charges under Israel’s so-called administrative detention law since his arrest in March. Hamouri is a longtime resident of East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967. U.N. human rights spokesperson Jeremy Laurence said in a statement, “Deporting a protected person from occupied territory is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constituting a war crime.”

Thousands Protest Against Military Rule in Sudan’s Capital on Anniversary of Revolution

Dec 20, 2022

In Sudan, security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades Monday to disperse thousands of people protesting against military rule. The protest in the capital Khartoum came on the third anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled the longtime authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir. It came two weeks after Sudan’s ruling military junta and pro-democracy groups signed a deal to gradually prepare Sudan for its first election and transition to civilian rule after the October 2021 military coup. Protesters who took to the streets Monday rejected that agreement, saying it would leave coup leaders in power for at least two more years. 

Protester: “The revolution will continue and will not stop. Our basic demand is to live a decent life in this country, and we will not give up our rights in any way. Even if agreements were signed between politicians and soldiers, this is not what the Sudanese people want.”

In Minsk, Vladimir Putin Says Russia Has No Interest in Absorbing Belarus

Dec 20, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the capital of Belarus Monday for talks with his counterpart Alexander Lukashenko amid growing fears that Russia is preparing to launch a new invasion from Ukraine’s neighbor to the north. Lukashenko has allowed the Kremlin to use Belarus as a staging ground throughout Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. On Monday, Putin dismissed concerns that Russia might annex Belarus, a former Soviet republic.

President Vladimir Putin: “Russia is not interested in absorbing anyone. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

In Washington, D.C., State Department spokesperson Ned Price called Putin’s statement the “height of irony,” pointing to Russia’s unilateral annexation of four territories of Ukraine last September.

Mass Shooting Leaves Six Dead in Toronto Suburb

Dec 20, 2022

In Canada, six people are dead, including the gunman, after a man with a semiautomatic handgun opened fire on the suburban Toronto condominium building where he lived. Three of the victims were members of the condominium board. The gunman, a 73-year old with a history of harassing property managers and his neighbors, was shot dead by police.

NYC Uber Drivers Hold 24-Hour Strike to Protest Blocked Pay Raises

Dec 20, 2022

In labor news, thousands of Uber drivers in New York City led a 24-hour strike Monday after the ride-hailing corporation blocked pay raises the drivers were scheduled to receive this month. This is Ibrahim Gory, a Lyft and Uber driver and a member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Ibrahim Gory: “We should be able to spend time with our families, get vacation with our kids, because you go out there every single day to make that happen. We want to take our kids to college, give them the education they need in the near future. That’s why this fight is for us, for all drivers across the country.”

NYTimes Investigation Reveals GOP Rep.-Elect George Santos Lied About Credentials

Dec 20, 2022

A New York Republican newly elected to Congress appears to have fabricated key parts of his education and employment history. That’s according to an investigation by The New York Times, which found Congressmember-elect George Santos lied when he told voters he’d worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The IRS says an animal rescue group Santos claims to have led called Friends of Pets United did not file any records indicating it had tax-exempt status, as Santos claimed. The Times also found Santos faced criminal charges for check fraud in Brazil at a time when he’d claimed to be attending classes at Baruch College — which has no enrollment records for Santos. And Santos falsely claimed that his company “lost four employees” at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016. In November, Santos made history as the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a nonincumbent, representing a district in Long Island and Queens that previously favored Democrats. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has yet to comment on the Times’s investigation. Many House Democrats are calling on McCarthy to block Santos from being seated when the 118th Congress is sworn in next month.

L.A. Jury Convicts Harvey Weinstein on Charges of Rape and Sexual Assault

Dec 20, 2022

In Los Angeles, Harvey Weinstein has been convicted on additional three charges of rape and sexual assault. The convictions were related to one survivor, an Italian model identified only as Jane Doe #1, who testified Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in 2013. The jury acquitted Weinstein of one charge and was deadlocked on three other charges involving two other survivors: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the partner of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Lauren Young. The District Attorney’s Office will determine whether it will retry Weinstein on those counts. This is attorney Gloria Allred speaking about her client Lauren Young after the verdict was announced Monday.

Gloria Allred: “She’s very happy that there were convictions in this case. And she also indicates that if, as in when, the prosecution decides to prosecute Mr. Weinstein again, she is willing to testify again in a third criminal trial against Mr. Weinstein.”

Weinstein is already serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and criminal sexual assault in New York, though he is appealing those convictions.

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