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HeadlinesSeptember 15, 2022

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U.S. Rail Workers Win Tentative Union Contract, Averting Nationwide Strike

Sep 15, 2022

Unions representing railroad workers have reached a tentative agreement with their employers to avert a potential strike that was set to start just after midnight tonight, threatening to bring passenger and freight rail service across the U.S. to a halt. The White House announced the agreement in a statement early this morning, calling it an “important win for our economy and the American people.” The deal must still be ratified by union members. The breakthrough came after Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders blocked a bid by Senate Republicans to pass a bill that would have imposed contract terms on the unions.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Right now if you work in the freight rail industry, one of the most grueling and dangerous jobs in America, you are entitled to a grand total of zero sick days. … Part of the contract negotiations, the rail workers are asking for 15 paid sick days. This is not a radical idea.”

The Washington Post reports the proposed contract meets one of the workers’ key demands: “the ability to take days off for medical care without being subject to discipline.” We’ll get the latest after headlines.

15,000 Minnesota Nurses Return to Work After 3-Day Strike over Pay and Staffing Levels

Sep 15, 2022

In Minnesota, 15,000 nurses are returning to work today after three days spent on picket lines in the largest private sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history. The nurses want pay increases to keep ahead of spiraling inflation, and they say dangerously low staffing levels — and pandemic burnout — have led to low morale that’s driving nurses from the profession. Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner joined picketers outside a children’s hospital in Minneapolis Wednesday.

Mary Turner: “This is a fight for our very profession. And if you guys haven’t heard the study out of Illinois University, 51% of the nurses potentially will leave the bedside as of next year. Fifty-one percent! That is a public health crisis. And so, we’re pushing for a contract that will draw nurses back to the bedside, because we have plenty of nurses, but we have nurses that don’t want to work in the conditions that are out there. And I can say this message to every nurse in every state, and they’d understand what I’m talking about.”

U.S. Transfers $3.5B in Frozen Afghan Central Bank Funds to Swiss Trust

Sep 15, 2022

The Biden administration says it will transfer $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds to a trust fund in Switzerland, which will use the money to help stabilize Afghanistan’s economy. This comes just weeks after a federal judge recommended against efforts by victims of the September 11 attacks to seize half of the $7 billion in Afghanistan’s foreign reserves frozen by the U.S. Humanitarian aid groups are calling for all the assets seized by the U.S. to be returned to Afghanistan’s central bank, saying the money is critical to mitigating a humanitarian crisis. The U.N. says some 6 million Afghans are at risk of famine, and more than 95% of the population is not getting enough to eat.

Reports of Russian Torture Emerge in Territory Reclaimed by Ukraine 

Sep 15, 2022

In Ukraine, more than 100 homes in the city of Kryvyi Rih were damaged by floodwaters after Russian missiles struck a dam Wednesday, causing a river to overflow its banks. Elsewhere, reports of torture are emerging in formerly Russian-occupied areas reclaimed by Ukraine’s military this month. One former prisoner told the BBC he was held by Russians for more than 40 days, tortured with electrocution and forced to hear the screams of other prisoners.

This comes amid growing signs of dissent in Russia. More than 30 Russian municipal deputies have signed a petition demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, some public officials are now calling Russia’s invasion a “war” instead of a “special military operation” — as the Kremlin demands. 

U.N. Secretary-General Warns Ukraine Ceasefire Is “Nowhere in Sight” 

Sep 15, 2022

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres spoke by phone with Putin. After the call, he said the near-term chances of a peace deal are minimal and that a ceasefire is nowhere in sight. 

Today President Putin is meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan in a summit meant to showcase growing ties between Moscow and Beijing. 

Indiana Abortion Ban Takes Effect; Ohio Judge Temporarily Halts 6-Week Ban

Sep 15, 2022

Back in the United States, a sweeping abortion ban goes into effect in Indiana today, making only extremely narrow exceptions for medical emergencies, rape and incest. The ban is being challenged in court by the ACLU and several abortion care providers, with hearings set to start September 19.

In Ohio, a judge has temporarily blocked the state’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, saying that the right to abortion is protected under Ohio’s Constitution. The decision restores broad abortion access for at least the next two weeks in Ohio.

Woman Whose Fetus Lacked Skull Travels to NYC for Abortion After Louisiana Bans Procedure

Sep 15, 2022

A Louisiana woman who was barred from aborting a nonviable fetus in her home state has received an abortion in New York. Nancy Davis traveled from her hometown of Baton Rouge to a New York City clinic, a nearly 2,500-mile round-trip journey, after learning that her fetus had a fatally flawed skull and would be unable to survive. Davis spoke to reporters ahead of her trip.

Nancy Davis: “The doctors told me that my baby would die shortly after birth. They told me that I should terminate the pregnancy. Because of the state of Louisiana’s abortion ban, they could not perform the procedure. Basically, they said I had to carry my baby to bury my baby. I want you to imagine what it’s been like to continue this pregnancy for another six weeks after this diagnosis. This is not fair to me, and it should not happen to any other woman.”

R. Kelly Found Guilty of Child Pornography Charges

Sep 15, 2022

In Chicago, a federal jury has voted to convict R. Kelly on six charges of coercing minors into sexual activity and of producing sex tapes involving a minor. Kelly is already serving a 30-year prison sentence after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering and sex trafficking charges last year. Each of Kelly’s convictions in Chicago will add a minimum of 10 years to his existing sentences. This conviction comes 14 years after Kelly was infamously acquitted on similar charges.

Sex Trafficked Teen Who Killed Alleged Rapist Ordered to Pay His Family $150,000

Sep 15, 2022

A teenage girl who killed her alleged rapist has been sentenced by an Iowa court to five years’ probation and ordered to pay his family $150,000. Pieper Lewis was 15 when she stabbed 37-year-old Zachary Brooks to death. Police and officials agree that Lewis was forcibly trafficked to men for sex after running away from home, including at knifepoint. Lewis says that one of those men was Brooks, who raped her multiple times in the weeks before his death. Lewis, who is now 17, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury last year, charges punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Iowa does not have so-called safe harbor laws in place that give underage trafficking victims at least some level of criminal immunity. 

Andrew Cuomo Sued by Former Aide Charlotte Bennett for Sexual Harassment

Sep 15, 2022

An ex-aide to Andrew Cuomo has sued the former New York governor for sexual harassment. Charlotte Bennett filed the lawsuit Wednesday in a federal court in New York City, alleging Cuomo repeatedly made inappropriate sexual advances, then sought to smear her reputation when she publicly revealed the harassment. Bennett’s lawsuit is the second from at least 11 women who say Cuomo unlawfully groped, kissed or otherwise sexually harassed them. 

Sweden’s New Government Will Be Led by Far-Right Party Founded by Neo-Nazis

Sep 15, 2022

In Sweden, four right-wing parties have agreed to form a new coalition government after winning a narrow majority in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. The anti-immigrant far-right Sweden Democrats Party won 73 seats with more than 20% of the vote, becoming the second-largest party in Sweden’s parliament. The party emerged out of Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement in the late 1980s. Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced her resignation after her government’s defeat.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson: “The election result also shows us that the Sweden Democrats, with a big margin, is Sweden’s second-biggest party, and I know that many Swedes are worried. Many have already met hatred and threats, and even more are worried about becoming a target and hesitate to express themselves in public. I see your concern, and I share it.”

Meanwhile, in Italy, polls show a coalition led by the far right is poised to win national elections on September 25. That has the leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party, Giorgia Meloni, positioned to become Italy’s first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini. 

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