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HeadlinesMay 11, 2022

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Palestinian American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Shot Dead While Covering Israeli Raid

May 11, 2022

Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank shot and killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran Palestinian American journalist working for Al Jazeera, as she covered an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp early this morning. That’s according to Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Health Ministry. Video released by Al Jazeera shows the moments after Abu Akleh was shot in the head. 

A spokesperson for the Israeli army told a military radio station Abu Akleh was likely killed by Palestinian fire, though he offered no evidence. Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief said Abu Akleh was targeted by “direct shot” from an Israeli sniper. A second Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samudi, was hospitalized in stable condition after he was shot in the back. Speaking from a hospital in Jenin, al-Samudi said he was among four journalists pinned down by Israeli snipers.

Ali al-Samudi: “The occupation is murderous and criminal. They shot us for no reason. We, a group of journalists, were there wearing our full press uniforms, in addition to the helmets with the word 'press' written on them in large letters, as big as the whole world. We were obvious.”

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it holds the Israeli government and its troops responsible for the killing, condemning it as a “heinous crime, which intends to only prevent the media from conducting their duty.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called for an investigation, tweeting that he was “Very sad to learn of the death of American and Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”

House Approves $40 Billion in Weapons and Economic Aid to Ukraine

May 11, 2022

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved $40 billion in new military and economic assistance to Ukraine. The measure passed on a vote of 368 to 57 with the support of the entire Democratic caucus. The aid package now heads to the Senate, where it also has broad bipartisan support, and President Biden has pledged to sign the bill later this week. It’s by far the largest foreign aid bill to move through Congress in at least two decades. Its swift advance through Congress comes after the White House separated the Ukraine aid package from a request for $10 billion in COVID relief funds. That request is now stalled amid Republican opposition, along with other parts of Biden’s legislative agenda, including an extension of a child tax credit that pulled millions out of poverty and money to combat the climate emergency.

As Protests Rage, Sri Lanka’s Embattled President Orders Troops to Shoot to Kill

May 11, 2022

In Sri Lanka, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered troops to shoot to kill anyone spotted damaging public property. The order failed to stop a second night of protests calling on Rajapaksa to resign. Protesters have burned down the homes of dozens of politicians, including a luxury holiday resort owned by the president’s nephew. At least eight people have been killed since government supporters attacked protesters on Monday, and more than 200 others have been injured.

WHO Criticizes China’s Zero-COVID Strategy as “Unsustainable”

May 11, 2022

The World Health Organization is calling on China to abandon its “zero-COVID” strategy, citing the toll that weeks of lockdowns have taken on human rights and the economy. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke Tuesday from Geneva.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “When we talk about the 'zero-COVID' strategy, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behavior of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future.”

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing called the WHO chief’s comments “irresponsible,” and his remarks were censored on Chinese social media. 

Study Warns China Faces “Tsunami” of Omicron Coronavirus Infections 

May 11, 2022

On Tuesday, the journal Nature Medicine published a new study finding China faces a “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases if it abandons its zero-COVID policy. Researchers at a university in Shanghai estimate that, left unchecked, the Omicron variant could cause over 110 million cases of disease through July, with over 5 million hospital admissions and 1.6 million deaths. Public health officials warn just six in 10 older adults in China have gotten a booster shot. Also, the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines widely used in China are significantly less effective than the mRNA shots produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

Treasury Secretary Yellen Says Reversing Roe Would Be “Very Damaging” to U.S. Economy

May 11, 2022

Lawmakers in California and New York are seeking to expand abortion access in response to last week’s leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion showing the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. In California, lawmakers have proposed over a dozen bills as the state prepares to receive a growing number of people from out of state in need of abortions if Roe is struck down. Meanwhile, in New York, new legislation would help people pay for abortions, giving taxpayers an option to contribute to abortion funds.

On Capitol Hill, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday that the elimination of reproductive rights would have very damaging effects on the U.S. economy and would set women back decades.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen: “Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, helped lead to increased labor force participation. It enabled many women to finish school. That increased their earning potential. It allowed women to plan and balance their families and careers. And research also shows that it had a favorable impact on the well-being and earnings of children.”

Honduran Ex-President Juan Orlando Hernández Pleads Not Guilty to U.S. Drugs Charges

May 11, 2022

Here in New York, former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has pleaded not guilty to drug and gun charges, including conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and using and carrying machine guns. Protesters gathered outside the federal court where Hernández appeared Tuesday after he was extradited to the U.S. last month.

José Cruz: “I took part in the protests before this man was behind bars. And it makes me happy that all our community is here celebrating. He caused much destruction in Honduras. The decisions he took were not correct. You can see the millions of Honduran migrants who are here. During his time in office, there were thousands who left as a result of his decisions and injustices.”

Hernández was arrested in February, less than a month after his presidential term ended. He was a longtime U.S. ally who received backing during his entire eight-year term despite mounting reports of serious human rights violations and accusations of corruption and involvement with drug smuggling.

Elon Musk Prepares to Reverse Twitter’s Ban on Trump: “It Was a Morally Bad Decision”

May 11, 2022

Billionaire Elon Musk said Tuesday he’s prepared to reverse Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump once his $44 billion purchase of the social media company is complete. Musk spoke at an event hosted by the Financial Times newspaper.

Elon Musk: “It was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice. … I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.”

Twitter banned Trump after the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, citing the risk he would further incite violence ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. In a statement, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, “Giving someone who tried to overturn an election and helped incite an insurrection a major forum to continue undermining democracy is dangerous.” But ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said Trump should be allowed back on Twitter, writing, “Like it or not, President Trump is one of the most important political figures in this country, and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech.”

Labor Board Sues Starbucks to Reinstate Fired Union Organizers 

May 11, 2022

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a lawsuit in federal court to immediately reinstate seven Memphis Starbucks workers who say they were illegally fired in retaliation for their union efforts. The group became known as the “Memphis 7.” This comes as the NLRB issued a complaint against Starbucks for 29 unfair labor practice charges, including over 200 violations of federal workers’ protections, stemming from retaliation claims made by members of the Starbucks Workers United in Buffalo, New York, where Starbucks workers’ union organizing effort began in August. 

House of Representatives Votes to Allow Congressional Staffers to Unionize

May 11, 2022
Image Credit: Instagram: @congressional_workers_union

The House of Representatives has voted to allow about 10,000 of its employees the right to form a union and bargain collectively without the threat of retaliation. Democratic Congressmember Andy Levin of Michigan, who introduced the resolution in February, said in a statement, “It’s just outrageous that our own staffers had to wait 26 years after collective bargaining rights were afforded to everybody else on Capitol Hill. This is the temple of our democracy, and if workers don’t have their rights here, it’s kind of hollow to say that we’re standing up for the rights of people everywhere.”

In more labor news, workers at a Target in Christiansburg, Virginia, have filed for a union election with the NLRB. Workers at about a half-dozen other Target stores across the country are also looking to unionize. 

Georgia Police Accused of Racial Profiling over Warrantless Search of HBCU Team Bus

May 11, 2022
Image Credit: Youtube: Sydney Anderson

Delaware State University is denouncing the treatment of its women’s lacrosse team after their bus was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies in Georgia and their belongings searched with a drug-sniffing dog.

Sheriff’s deputy: “If there is anything in y’all’s luggage, we’re probably going to find it. OK? I’m not looking for a little bit of marijuana, but I’m pretty sure you guys’s chaperones are probably going to be disappointed in you if we find any.”

The university, which is a historically Black institution, says the team was racially profiled. The stop took place in April as the team drove back to Delaware after a game in Florida.

Delaware State University President Tony Allen said the incident left him feeling “incensed.” He said in a letter to the campus community, “To be clear, nothing illegal was discovered in this search, and all of our coaches and student-athletes comported themselves with dignity throughout a trying and humiliating process.” Allen added, “We do not intend to let this or any other incident like it pass idly by. We are prepared to go wherever the evidence leads us. We have video. We have allies. Perhaps more significantly, we have the courage of our convictions.”

Former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli To Be Released After Half-Century in NJ Prison

May 11, 2022

Sundiata Acoli — the oldest former member of the Black Panthers still incarcerated — will be released from prison after nearly half a century. He is 85 years old and suffers from dementia. The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Acoli is not a risk to public safety. He was convicted of killing a state trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. Acoli has long said police ambushed his car, which was also carrying two fellow members of the Black Liberation Army: Zayd Malik Shakur, who was shot to death, and Assata Shakur, who was imprisoned over the incident but later escaped to Cuba, where she has political asylum.

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