Mass protests in Sri Lanka have forced the country’s president and prime minister to agree to resign as the country faces a dire economic crisis. On Saturday, thousands of protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home and set fire to the prime minister’s residence. Protesters have vowed to keep occupying the president’s home until he formally resigns. Many people were filmed swimming in the president’s pool. Demonstrators condemned the president for living in luxury while Sri Lanka faces an economic crisis.
Fiona Sirimana: “To get rid of the president and the prime minister and to have a new era for Sri Lanka. Also, I feel very, very sad that they didn’t go earlier, because had they gone earlier, there wouldn’t have been any destruction. And it’s time that we got all our stolen money back to this country. And also, the air conditioners are running in that presidential palace while people don’t have electricity in their homes.”
Voters in Japan went to the polls for parliamentary elections on Sunday, two days after a gunman assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while he was campaigning for a candidate. In Sunday’s election, Abe’s right-wing Liberal Democratic Party won in a landslide, gaining enough seats with its coalition partners to form a supermajority in the upper house. By picking up more seats, the LDP appears poised to rewrite the country’s pacifist constitution, which bars Japan from using — or threatening to use — military force. The rewriting of the constitution was a longtime goal of Shinzo Abe.
Ukrainian officials say at least 18 people have died after Russian rockets hit a five-story apartment complex in the town of Chasiv Yar in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk. Rescuers say they fear two dozen people may be trapped in the rubble. Meanwhile, Ukraine is also accusing Russia of bombing a school and children’s health center in Kharkiv.
A meeting of foreign ministers of the G20 ended in Indonesia on Friday without any new agreements on the war in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended the talks and said he was open to negotiations with the West over Ukraine, but accused the United States of abandoning talks with Russia. At the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who refused to hold a formal meeting with Lavrov — accused Russia of not engaging in what he called “meaningful diplomacy.”
The WNBA held its annual all-star game Sunday as one of its biggest superstars, Brittney Griner, remains locked up in a Russian jail. After halftime of Sunday’s game, every player came out of the locker room wearing shirts with Griner’s name and her number, 42, on the back. ABC News is reporting former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is expected to travel to Russia soon to attempt to secure the release of Griner, as well as Paul Whelan, who has been held since 2018.
A former spokesperson for the far-right Oath Keepers is set to testify publicly on Tuesday at the next hearing of the House January 6 committee. Jason Van Tatenhove worked with the Oath Keepers from 2014 to 2017. Tuesday’s hearing is expected to focus on the role of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in the deadly insurrection. Justice Department prosecutors have accused members of the Oath Keepers of bringing explosives to Washington, D.C., and for maintaining a death list of election officials in Georgia to target. This comes as Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon has informed the committee he is willing to testify publicly. Bannon was due to be tried this month for contempt of Congress. On Friday, the January 6 committee spent eight hours privately questioning former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. One member of the committee, Democrat Zoe Lofgren, said Cipollone “did not contradict” the testimony of previous witnesses.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has barred the use of absentee ballot drop boxes anywhere in the state outside of election offices. In her dissent, Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote, “the majority/lead opinion blithely and erroneously seeks to sow distrust in the administration of our elections and through its faulty analysis erects yet another barrier for voters to exercise this 'sacred right.'”
The Biden administration is facing pressure to scrap plans to build a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem after a Palestinian legal group revealed the proposed embassy is located on land that was illegally confiscated by Israel from Palestinians in 1948. The historical documents were made public by the Palestinian legal group Adalah ahead of President Biden’s trip this week to Israel and the occupied West Bank. The group’s legal director, Suhad Bishara, said, “This plan is a serious escalation in U.S. legitimization of Israeli expropriation of land from Palestinians. If the Biden administration doesn’t abandon it, then there is no other way to interpret the move than siding with Israel’s racist policies.”
President Biden is looking into possibly declaring a public health emergency to expand abortion access after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Biden was asked about the issue Sunday while taking questions ahead of a bike ride.
Reporter: “One of the things they are asking for is a public health emergency. Is that something you’re considering? Or” —
President Joe Biden: “That’s something I’ve asked the folks to — the medical people in the administration to look at, whether that is — whether I have the authority to do that and what impact that would have. OK?”
Biden’s comments came on the same day as some 10,000 reproductive rights activists rallied in Washington to urge the administration and lawmakers to do more to protect abortion.
Chantelle Piper: “We’re demanding that the federal government do something to legalize abortion now, that waiting ’til November is not enough.”
On Friday, Biden signed an executive order to ensure access to abortion medication and emergency contraception, while urging Congress to pass legislation to codify abortion rights. The White House has defended Biden’s response so far to the Supreme Court ruling. Outgoing White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said in a statement Saturday, “Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party.”
Louisiana has become the 10th state to ban almost all abortions following the Supreme Court’s ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. On Friday, a judge in Louisiana lifted a temporary stay on the state’s trigger law from going into effect.
Environmental and Indigenous groups are expressing concern the Biden administration may approve a massive oil and gas development in northern Alaska known as the Willow project. On Friday, the Biden administration issued a new environmental analysis for ConocoPhillips’s multibillion-dollar plan. One key backer of the project, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, said she hopes construction can begin this winter. Kristen Miller, conservation director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said, “If approved the Willow project would be bigger than any other proposed oil and gas project on our nation’s public lands, and it poses an unparalleled climate and biodiversity threat that puts President Biden’s climate legacy at risk.”
In California, a fire near Yosemite National Park has grown to over 1,600 acres. It is threatening the park’s Mariposa Grove, which is the home to over 500 giant sequoia trees. As of Sunday, the fire was 0% contained. Meanwhile, in Utah, the Halfway Hill Fire has grown to nearly 8,000 acres.
Deforestation in the Amazon in Brazil has reached a new record during the first half of the year. According to the Brazilian Space Agency, nearly 4,000 square kilometers have been deforested this year — that’s an area five times the size of New York City. Deforestation has surged under the right-wing presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. This is Manoela Machado, a wildfire and deforestation researcher at Oxford University.
Manoela Machado: “This is very bad. The first semester in the Amazon is when we have the rainy season, so we shouldn’t be seeing these high numbers. This historically is not — the peak of deforestation shouldn’t be happening while it’s raining. So, we have a combination of a drier climate with more motivation to deforest. So this is extremely bad news.”
Scientists say preserving the Amazon is crucial in addressing the climate crisis.
A supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro shot dead a local official of the opposition Workers’ Party on Saturday. The attacker reportedly shouted words of praise for Bolsonaro as he shot Marcelo Arruda, who was at a party celebrating his birthday. The Workers’ Party is led by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is running against Bolsonaro in this year’s election.
In business news, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has notified Twitter he wants to withdraw from a $44 billion deal to buy the social media company. Twitter’s board, which initially opposed Musk’s purchase, is expected to sue Musk for pulling out.
A major new investigation by The Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has revealed how Uber secretly lobbied governments and flouted laws to ruthlessly grow and expand across the globe. The probe is based on 124,000 leaked internal documents, including many from France which show how Emmanuel Macron signed a secret deal when he was the French economy minister to help Uber’s lobbying efforts. The leaked documents also show Uber helped evade government regulators by using a “kill switch” during raids to prevent police from obtaining internal data.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a 15-year-old Black teenager named Brett Rosenau died Thursday from smoke inhalation after a police SWAT team fired multiple rounds of munitions into a house during a standoff targeting another individual. Authorities are investigating whether police officers started the house fire by firing tear gas canisters into the home. The target of the SWAT team escaped the fire and has been hospitalized with burn wounds.
In South Africa, at least 15 people have died in a mass shooting at a bar in the Soweto township in Johannesburg. Nine people were critically injured. There are reports a group of men carried out the attack. Four other people died Saturday in a separate shooting at another tavern in the South African city of Pietermaritzburg. The incidents come just weeks after 21 South African teenagers died under mysterious circumstances at a bar in the city of East London.