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HeadlinesAugust 30, 2022

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Muqtada al-Sadr Tells Supporters to End Protests After Violence in Baghdad Kills 30

Aug 30, 2022

In Iraq, at least 30 people are dead and hundreds more injured, after fighting intensified in the capital Baghdad between supporters and opponents of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The violence came after al-Sadr’s announcement Monday that he’s quitting politics. Gunshots and rocket fire erupted overnight as Iraqi security forces, Iran-backed militias and supporters of al-Sadr clashed in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone — an area that houses Iraq’s parliament and foreign embassies.

Kadhem: “Before, we were committed to the orders of Muqtada al-Sadr. Now he took his hand away from us. He withdrew from politics. He is letting the people take the lead in their own revolution. … We are not going back. We will die here. We are ready to die. We have nothing to lose.”

The formation of a new Iraqi government has been paralyzed since parliamentary elections in October, where al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement won the most seats but failed to win an outright majority. Al-Sadr’s supporters had occupied the Iraqi parliament since late July in an effort to block lawmakers from choosing a new prime minister.

Pakistan Appeals for International Aid as Record Rainfall Brings “Climate Dystopia”

Aug 30, 2022

Pakistan’s government has launched a major appeal for international aid, after unprecedented monsoon rains fueled by the climate crisis swept away homes and bridges, destroyed crops and displaced tens of millions of people. On Monday, Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman declared, “it is climate dystopia at our doorstep.”

Sherry Rehman: “One-third of Pakistan is underwater, and 33 million are affected. Please tell me how that is not catastrophic. That is the size of a small country.”

Pakistan’s planning minister estimated the cost of rebuilding at over $10 billion and said that figure is likely to rise once rescue crews are able to access remote areas cut off by floodwaters.

Residents of Jackson, Mississippi, Warned “Do Not Drink the Water” as Floodwaters Rise

Aug 30, 2022

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has declared a state of emergency in the capital Jackson and will mobilize the National Guard, after torrential rains caused the Pearl River to overtop its banks, flooding a water treatment plant. Governor Reeves said Monday evening that emergency workers were scrambling to deliver potable water to 180,000 people around Jackson who lack enough water to flush toilets or fight fires.

Gov. Tate Reeves: “Please, stay safe. Do not drink the water. In too many cases, it is raw water from the reservoir being pushed through the pipes. Be smart.”

It’s the latest crisis to impact aging infrastructure in Jackson, where officials estimate the cost of fixing the city’s water system could top $2 billion. In early 2021, Jackson residents spent more than a month under “boil water” orders after winter storms caused pipes and water mains to burst. Eighty-two percent of Jackson’s residents are Black.

“Doomed” Greenland Ice Will Add Nearly a Foot to Global Sea Level Rise

Aug 30, 2022

A new study finds Greenland’s melting ice sheet will likely contribute almost a foot to global sea level rise by the end of the century. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers found that even if the world were to halt all greenhouse gas emissions today, rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have already doomed 120 trillion tons of Greenland’s ice to melt. Without urgent action to mitigate the damage, researchers warn, the amount of sea level rise could be far higher. 

U.N. Ocean Treaty Talks Aimed at Protecting Marine Wildlife End in Failure

Aug 30, 2022

Here in New York, a fifth round of talks aimed at protecting the world’s marine wildlife has ended in failure. On Saturday, negotiations on an updated United Nations ocean treaty ended without an agreement after wealthy countries, including the U.S. and Canada, rejected a plan to establish “marine protected areas” spanning 30% of the world’s oceans.

Ukraine Begins Counteroffensive to Retake Russian-Occupied Kherson

Aug 30, 2022

Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive aimed at retaking the city of Kherson and other parts of southern Ukraine occupied by Russia. On Monday, Ukraine’s military said it had broken through Russia’s first line of defense and that Russian proxy forces and paratroopers had fled the battlefield. Russia acknowledged the counteroffensive but claimed it had failed and that Ukraine had suffered heavy losses. 

Meanwhile, a team of inspectors with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency has arrived in Kyiv ahead of their planned visit to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant — Europe's largest nuclear power station. Fighting continues to rage near the site, with reports of artillery fire and a missile strike overnight. New satellite images show damage from an artillery attack on the roof of a building right next to Zaporizhzhia’s six nuclear reactors.

Biden Will Ask Congress to Approve $1.1 Billion Weapons Sale to Taiwan

Aug 30, 2022

President Biden will ask Congress to approve $1.1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan. That’s according to Politico, which reports the weapons deal will include 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles for Taiwan’s U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets. The planned weapons sales come after China staged large-scale military war games around Taiwan in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

Federal Judge Rejects 9/11 Families’ Bid to Seize Billions from Afghan Central Bank Funds

Aug 30, 2022

A federal judge has recommended against efforts by victims of the September 11 attacks to seize $3.5 billion from Afghanistan’s central bank. After the Taliban regained power last year, the Biden administration froze $7 billion in Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and then set aside half of the money for 9/11 families who sued the Taliban. But some 9/11 families have opposed such efforts. Leila Murphy of the group September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows said, “I am relieved that the judge has taken a step toward the only legally and morally correct approach — making the entire $7 billion available to Afghans to deal with the economic crisis we helped to cause.”

U.S. to Stop Shipping Free COVID-19 Tests as Funding Dries Up

Aug 30, 2022

The Biden administration has announced it can no longer provide U.S. residents with free COVID-19 home tests, blaming congressional Republicans for blocking the passage of more COVID relief funds that would allow tests to be stockpiled. Public health advocates have warned this could add to a surge of COVID infections during the autumn and winter. Since January, the government has mailed some 600 million tests through a program that allowed households to request a total of 16 home tests. People now have until Friday to make their final order on the federal online portal.

Moderna Sues Pfizer, Claiming COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Rights

Aug 30, 2022

Moderna has sued Pfizer, claiming the company illegally used mRNA technology patented by Moderna to develop its COVID-19 vaccine. The two companies have made record profits off the vaccine. Pfizer has projected $32 billion in COVID vaccine sales this year, while Moderna is forecasting at least $19 billion in sales. Tim Bierley of the group Global Justice Now said in response to Moderna’s lawsuit, “It’s grotesque but unsurprising to see pharma fighting among themselves over who has the right to profiteer the most from the pandemic.” Many public health campaigners have argued the vaccines should be publicly owned since billions of dollars in public funding helped develop them.

Capitol Rioter Who Menaced Sen. Chuck Schumer Gets 55-Month Prison Term

Aug 30, 2022

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has sentenced 40-year-old Joshua Pruitt to 55 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release over his role in the Capitol insurrection. Pruitt is an aspiring member of the far-right Proud Boys organization who was among the first to push past police lines and into the Capitol crypt on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors say Pruitt came face to face with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during the attack on Congress. Video of the incident shows Schumer and his security team turning and running in the opposite direction after they saw Pruitt approaching.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Must Testify to Grand Jury About Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election

Aug 30, 2022

In Georgia, the judge overseeing the grand jury probe into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election has rejected a bid by Republican Governor Brian Kemp to quash a subpoena for his testimony. However, the Fulton County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that Kemp will not have to testify until after November’s midterm elections, where he faces Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. The special grand jury was requested by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis earlier this year. Last week, Willis sought grand jury subpoenas for Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former Trump legal adviser Sidney Powell.

20-Year-Old Gunman with Assault Rifle Kills Two at Grocery Store in Bend, Oregon

Aug 30, 2022

In Oregon, a 20-year-old gunman wielding a semiautomatic assault rifle and a shotgun opened fire inside a Safeway grocery store in the city of Bend Sunday, killing two people before taking his own life. Witnesses say one of the victims, 66-year-old Safeway worker Donald Ray Surrett, likely saved the lives of many others by confronting and attacking the gunman.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Law Barring Adults Under 21 from Carrying Handguns

Aug 30, 2022

In Texas, a federal judge has struck down a state law that banned adults under the age of 21 from carrying a handgun, arguing the statute violated the Second Amendment. The ruling came just three months after an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in the city of Uvalde — Texas’s deadliest school shooting. The lawsuit was filed last November by the Firearms Policy Coalition. 

Families of Gun Violence Victims Lead Rally at Texas Capitol Demanding Gun Controls

Aug 30, 2022

In Austin, dozens of gun control advocates, including the families and loved ones of victims of the Uvalde mass shooting, rallied outside the Texas state Capitol over the weekend, demanding the state raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 to 21 years old. This is Maggie Mireles, whose sister Eva Mireles was one of the teachers killed at Robb Elementary in May.

Maggie Mireles: “These weapons belong in the military. They belong in a war, not in the classroom. My sister did not have to die for this. It was too easy for this punk to buy these weapons and easily do what he did, because of the laws that are in place. These laws should have changed a long time ago.”

Today President Biden is visiting Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he’s calling on Congress to pass a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Biden is also requesting more money for police as part of what the White House calls its “Safer America Plan.”

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