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HeadlinesOctober 02, 2023

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Kevin McCarthy Reverses Course, Passes Deal with House Democrats to Avert Gov’t Shutdown at 11th Hour

Oct 02, 2023

The U.S. Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown Saturday, just hours before a midnight deadline. In an unexpected reversal, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed to a plan with Democrats and a majority of Republicans to keep the government running until November 17. The bill does not include aid for Ukraine, but it does earmark $16 billion for disaster relief funds. The measure quickly passed through the Senate and was signed by President Biden late Saturday. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries claimed victory for “the American people” after the bill’s passage, saying it followed a “complete and total surrender by right-wing extremists.” Biden castigated Republicans for once again manufacturing a crisis over funding the government.

President Joe Biden: “The brinkmanship has to end, and there should be another — there shouldn’t be another crisis. There’s no excuse for another crisis. Consequently, I strongly urge my Republican friends in Congress not to wait. Don’t waste time as you did all summer. Pass a yearlong budget agreement. Honor the deal we made a few months ago.”

Florida right-wing Congressmember Matt Gaetz said Sunday he would move to oust McCarthy as House speaker following passage of the Democrat-backed bill. Far-right Republicans had demanded steep spending cuts and funds to further militarize the southern border.

Meanwhile, New York progressive Congressmember Jamaal Bowman has apologized after he pulled a fire alarm as House Democrats considered McCarthy’s bill before a rushed vote on the stopgap measure. Bowman said he thought pulling the alarm would open a door and that he was not trying to delay the vote. House Republicans and the Capitol Police have launched investigations into the incident.

Gavin Newsom Picks EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler to Fill Dianne Feinstein’s Senate Seat

Oct 02, 2023

California Governor Gavin Newsom has tapped Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate seat of Dianne Feinstein after her death last week. Butler is a former labor leader at the Service Employees International Union and current president of EMILY’s List, which helps elect pro-abortion Democratic women to public office. Laphonza Butler would be the first openly gay U.S. senator representing California and fulfills Newsom’s pledge to appoint a Black woman to the post.

But despite her union background, Butler more recently advised Uber as it fought the California law requiring app companies to grant workers employee benefits. Newsom had ruled out naming a current U.S. Senate candidate for the seat, including progressive hopeful Barbara Lee, though Laphonza Butler could decide to join the race as interim senator.

Dianne Feinstein, Longest-Serving Woman Senator, Dies at 90 After Months of Declining Health

Oct 02, 2023

The body of late Senator Dianne Feinstein was flown back to California Saturday. She will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall Wednesday, ahead of funeral services Thursday. Tributes continued to pour in for Feinstein over the weekend.

Raised in an abusive home, she went on to become a pioneering figure in U.S. politics, becoming the first woman mayor of San Francisco, as well as the first woman to lead the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees. She spearheaded the 1994 assault weapons ban. Feinstein remained to the right of the Democratic Party, from her time as a “law and order” mayor of San Francisco through her support of U.S. wars and invasions, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 1982, she killed a bill that would have allowed domestic partner benefits for same-sex public employees in San Francisco.

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter said on X this weekend that he briefed Feinstein on the lack of evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, yet she went on, like most of the Democratic Party, to back George W. Bush’s illegal invasion in 2003. Ritter added, “The blood of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis stains her soul.” In 2014, Dianne Feinstein insisted on releasing a report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation torture program following 9/11, calling the CIA’s practices a “stain on our values and on our history.”

More recently, Feinstein drew ire after she condescended to children in her district who came to her office asking her to sign on to the Green New Deal. She chided the young activists, telling one 16-year-old, “You didn’t vote for me.”

Record Rains Turn NYC Streets into Rivers as Gov. Hochul Warns Extreme Weather Is “New Normal”

Oct 02, 2023

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Friday as torrential rains brought flash flooding to the Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City streets. The deluge turned highways into raging rivers and brought half of New York’s subway system to a halt. More than eight inches of rain fell on JFK Airport in just 24 hours — an all-time precipitation record that Governor Hochul blamed on the climate crisis.

Gov. Kathy Hochul: “And, of course, we know this is a result of climate change. This is, unfortunately, what we have to expect as the new normal. It makes us be more prepared than ever before. And it requires us to focus on resiliency to head off the horrific impacts that could be there if we’re not ready for the next storm.”

Meanwhile, New York is under another air quality alert today, triggered by smoke from record-shattering wildfires in Canada.

Labor News: UAW Ramps Up Strike; Kaiser Permanente Health Workers Inch Closer to Major Strike

Oct 02, 2023

In labor news, United Auto Workers ramped up their strike Friday, as union president Shawn Fain called on 7,000 more workers at a Ford and a General Motors plant to walk off the job.

Shawn Fain: “We’re still talking with all three companies, and I’m still very hopeful that we can reach a deal that reflects the incredible sacrifices and contributions our members have made over the last decade. But I also know that what we win at the bargaining table depends on the power we build on the job. It’s time to use that power.”

It’s the second escalation since the strike against Ford, GM and Stellantis began two weeks ago. Amid skyrocketing CEO compensation, workers are asking for a 40% raise, better benefits and an end to tiered wages. Separately, some 4,000 UAW members who work for Volvo’s Mack Trucks plants in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida agreed to a tentative deal, staving off a possible strike.

Meanwhile, 75,000 healthcare workers for Kaiser Permanente could go on strike from Wednesday through the end of the week, after their contract expired over the weekend. Talks have failed to yield a new agreement as workers seek higher pay, better staffing and improvements in their pension plans and other benefits. The strike would affect Kaiser workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Migrants Killed Near U.S. Border; Traffic Deaths Expose Dangers for Migrants Traveling Through Mexico

Oct 02, 2023

In Mexico, two Mexican migrants were killed Friday in a shooting near the border city of Tecate in Baja California state. Three others were wounded. The group of 14 migrants were crossing the Cuchuma Hill in the middle of the desert, a site that’s sacred to local Indigenous communities and a common route used by drug traffickers and human smugglers. Mexican officials said the cause of the shooting is not known. Harsh border policies have forced migrants heading to the U.S. border to rely on smugglers and crossing through remote and dangerous areas, where they’re vulnerable to extortion and violence from Mexican law enforcement and drug groups.

In related news, at least 10 Cuban migrants were killed and over a dozen others injured Sunday after the freight truck they were riding in crashed on a highway in the state of Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala. Another migrant from Ecuador also died in a crash in the city of Mexicali, across the border from Calexico, California, after being taken into custody by Mexican immigration officials, whose van hit a bus and then a utility pole. At least 10 other migrants from Guatemala and Colombia were also wounded in Saturday’s accident.

Russia-Friendly Candidate Wins Slovakia’s Parliamentary Election

Oct 02, 2023

In Slovakia, former Prime Minister Robert Fico emerged as the leading candidate to head a coalition government after his Russia-friendly party won the largest share of votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election. Fico has called for negotiations to end Russia’s war in Ukraine and campaigned on a pledge to halt arms shipments from Slovakia to Kyiv. He previously said allowing Ukraine to join NATO would “mean the beginning of World War III.” On Sunday, Fico said a top priority of the new government should be to crack down on asylum seekers and migrants crossing Slovakia’s border with Hungary.

Robert Fico: “One of the government’s first decisions must be a government regulation to restore border controls with Hungary. And yes, that’s all there is to it, and I stand by it. It won’t be pretty pictures. Force may be needed to solve the migrant problem.”

The liberal Progressive Slovakia party, which came in second and supports arming Ukraine, said it will try to form a coalition to prevent Fico from taking power.

Right-Wing Opposition Leader Loses Bid to Form New Spanish Government

Oct 02, 2023

In Spain, right-wing opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo has failed in his bid to form a new government, clearing the way for acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to win four more years in power. In order to clinch another term, Sánchez will need to win the support of two Catalan parties who are demanding amnesty for hundreds of Catalan separatist activists arrested during mass protests in 2017. This is a pro-independence student in Barcelona.

Eloi Redon: “If he wants to respect the Catalan nation, he has to do some steps to go for the amnesty and for the self-determination. So he has to choose if he wants to put Spain back to the right and the extreme-right parties in the power or he wants to progress and go for the future and respect the Catalan people.”

Mohamed Muizzu Wins Runoff Election to Become Maldives President

Oct 02, 2023

Voters in the Maldives have elected opposition leader Mohamed Muizzu as president of the Indian Ocean archipelago. Muizzu won 54% of the vote in Sunday’s runoff election, defeating incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who cultivated strategic ties with India. Mohamed Muizzu oversaw several Chinese-funded infrastructure projects in the Maldives and is more closely aligned with Beijing.


Protesters Rally to Oppose Police Training Center in San Pablo, CA

Oct 02, 2023

In California, protesters gathered in the city of San Pablo Saturday to condemn the proposed construction of a $43 million police training center and shooting range. The city northeast of San Francisco has already fenced off a massive piece of land where the complex will stand — directly across the street from the San Pablo City Hall. Protesters invoked the fight to Stop Cop City in Atlanta, where dozens have been charged with domestic terrorism over their opposition to that site. This is a San Pablo demonstrator speaking anonymously for safety.

Protester: “It’s no wonder that after 2020 and the most massive sort of upsurge of anti-police antagonism in the United States, that the proposed plans for police training facilities are popping up all over the country, right? So they want to better prepare, basically, for counterinsurgency, better prepare to police and murder Black and Brown communities and people who seek to establish their freedom.”

Donald Trump Arrives in New York for Start of Civil Fraud Trial

Oct 02, 2023

Donald Trump arrived in New York City Sunday night, ahead of his appearance in court today for the start of his civil fraud trial. A judge last week agreed with New York Attorney General Letitia James that Trump, members of his family and the Trump Organization unlawfully inflated the value of their assets to obtain favorable loans and lower insurance rates. James is seeking $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Scott Hall, one of Trump’s co-defendants in his election interference case, pleaded guilty to five criminal counts related to efforts to remove and tamper with election equipment. Hall, a Georgia bond bailsman, is the first co-conspirator to plead guilty. As part of a deal with Fulton County prosecutors, he has agreed to testify in future proceedings and received five years probation, along with a fine of $5,000.

Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Scientists Whose Work on mRNA Led to COVID Vaccines

Oct 02, 2023

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to doctors Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, whose work led to the development of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. That technology is now being used in research for other illnesses, including cancer.

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