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HeadlinesOctober 05, 2023

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Reps. Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise to Run for Speaker of the House After McCarthy’s Ouster

Oct 05, 2023

On Capitol Hill, two Republican leaders emerged Wednesday as top contenders to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, a day after his ouster by far-right Republicans brought Congress to a standstill. One contender is Ohio Congressmember Jim Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee and leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Former wrestlers at Ohio State University have accused Congressmember Jordan of failing to intervene as a team doctor sexually abused young men in the 1990s. Also announcing a run for the speaker’s gavel Wednesday was Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Reporter Stephanie Grace told The New York Times Congressmember Scalise once described himself to her as “like David Duke without the baggage,” referring to the former Klansman and white supremacist.

Biden Suggests He Might Circumvent Congress to Continue Arming Ukraine

Oct 05, 2023

President Biden called on Republicans to quickly elect a new House speaker and to change what he called the “poisonous atmosphere in Washington.” Biden said he’s worried congressional gridlock threatens to derail White House efforts to win new funding for U.S. aid to Ukraine — though Biden said his administration has enough funds in reserve to continue sending arms shipments for now, and suggested he has a path around Congress if it fails to approve more funding.

President Joe Biden: “We can support Ukraine in the next tranche that we need. And there is another means by which we may be able to find funding for that. But I’m not going to get into that now.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it supplied Ukraine with thousands of assault rifles and more than a million rounds of ammunition seized in the Persian Gulf by the U.S. Navy. The Justice Department says the arms were being sent by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.

11 Arrested at Protest Demanding Sen. Bernie Sanders Support Peace Talks for Ukraine

Oct 05, 2023

Peace activists are demanding lawmakers push for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine instead of sending more weapons. On Wednesday, Capitol Police arrested 11 members of the antiwar group CodePink as they occupied the office of Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders. CodePink’s Medea Benjamin read a statement Sanders delivered in February 2022 calling for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Medea Benjamin: “'So let's sit down. Let’s negotiate. And let’s come up with a diplomatic solution.’ That is the good Bernie. That’s the Bernie we want, not the other Bernie who is OK’ing billions and billions of dollars in weapons and says you can’t talk to Putin. And we have a one-word answer to Bernie when he says you can’t talk to Putin, because he’s said that to us. We say, 'Try.' Right? Try. We want to see what the result of Biden talking to Putin is, right?”

Record-Shattering September Heat Keeps 2023 on Track as Hottest Year on Record

Oct 05, 2023

In climate news, new data show global average surface temperatures last month shattered the previous record for September, rising to a staggering 1.8 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That’s well above the Paris Climate Agreement’s limit of 1.5 degrees of warming — and half a degree warmer than the previous record. This follows the hottest August and the hottest July ever recorded.

In northeastern India, at least 14 people are dead and over 100 are missing after extreme rainfall in the state of Sikkim caused a dam to partially collapse, washing away roads and bridges and flooding an army base.

In Brazil, scientists are blaming an unprecedented heat wave for the deaths of over 150 endangered pink river dolphins in a lake in Brazil’s Amazonas state, where water temperatures reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Brazilian authorities say the Amazon rainforest is facing a severe drought that could affect a half-million people by the end of 2023. This comes as a new study in the journal Science Advances finds monsoon rains that sustain the Amazon rainforest are nearing a critical destabilization point and could soon drop by 30%, leading to a dieback of the forest.

Biden Administration Waives 26 Laws to Hasten U.S.-Mexico Border Wall Construction

Oct 05, 2023

The Biden administration has waived 26 environmental laws to speed the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Texas. The waivers circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, among others. It’s the first time the Biden administration has used its authority under the REAL ID Act to waive environmental laws.

In a statement, the Center for Biological Diversity said, “Every acre of habitat left in the Rio Grande Valley is irreplaceable. We can’t afford to lose more of it to a useless, medieval wall that won’t do a thing to stop immigration or smuggling. President Biden’s cynical decision to destroy a wildlife refuge and seal the beautiful Rio Grande behind a grotesque border wall must be stopped.”

Israelis Kill Two in West Bank, Days After Settlers Destroy Farm of Palestinian American Family

Oct 05, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians and wounded dozens of others during late-night raids. Israel has killed over 200 Palestinians in 2023, including at least 27 children.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, armed Israeli settlers violently attacked a Palestinian American family farm in the town of Deir Dibwan, near Ramallah, Sunday night. The attackers set the property on fire, spray-painted the word “revenge” on a door and destroyed the family’s olive grove.

Gaza Medics See Increase in Ankle Injuries as Israeli Forces Shoot at Protesters’ Legs

Oct 05, 2023

Emergency medical workers in Gaza have reported a spike in ankle injuries among protesters. Israeli forces, including snipers, appear to be deliberately shooting at Palestinians’ legs and ankles — wounds that are extremely difficult to treat and can lead to amputations. Human rights groups also say the brutal tactic is unlawful. Recent protests in Gaza have condemned Israeli raids in the West Bank, the storming of East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound by Jewish settlers and the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Candidates Challenging Egyptian President el-Sisi Face Attacks, Intimidation

Oct 05, 2023

In Egypt, opponents of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi say they’ve faced violence and other obstacles preventing them from registering their candidates for December’s election. Under Egyptian law, candidates have until October 14 to secure at least 25,000 signatures from supporters. But dozens have been arrested attempting to submit signatures, while others have faced attacks by well-organized mobs of pro-government activists. This is Rania el-Sheik, who says her delegation was attacked by “thugs” as they attempted to register signatures.

Rania el-Sheik: “When we felt that the fight was brewing, we tried to move aside. Well, we tried. I was pulled by my hair, and they started beating my colleague on his shoulder.”

Ahmed Tantawi, an outspoken critic of President el-Sisi and the most prominent figure hoping to run against him, temporarily suspended his campaign last week after dozens of his supporters were arrested by police. Meanwhile, researchers at Citizen Lab and Google’s Threat Analysis Group found Tantawi’s personal smartphone was infected with Predator spyware — and that Egyptian authorities were likely behind the hacking attempts. Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, the head of Egypt’s Reform and Development Party and nephew of the former Egyptian president, called on Sisi’s government to reverse course to provide free and fair elections.

Mohamed Anwar Esmat Sadat: “If the election is not held in the way that the entire world expects it to be, I say that this will lead to really bad results for the reputation and credibility of this regime, and even for its future.”

Sen. Bob Menendez’s Wife Nadine Killed a Man with Her Car in 2018. She Was Then Gifted a New Car

Oct 05, 2023

Damning new information has emerged in the bribery indictment against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, his wife Nadine and two of their three co-defendants. Nadine Menendez hit and killed a pedestrian in a 2018 car crash in Bogota, New Jersey. Not only did she not suffer any legal repercussions, she received a new car following the lethal crash. According to police reports and dashcam video, Nadine Menendez claimed the 49-year-old victim jumped onto her windshield. She was not held by police or tested for drugs or alcohol after the crash. Video of police questioning her immediately after the crash shows an officer treating her deferentially.

Police officer: “Our job is to investigate everything that happens. That’s what we’re trying to do. Obviously, the more information” —

Nadine Arslanian: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Police officer: “No, no.”

Nadine Arslanian: “I — you know?”

Police officer: “Look, I understand. I understand. It does expedite our investigation when people can help us out, because” —

Nadine Arslanian: “And I wasn’t” —

Police officer: — “if we can clear you from any wrongdoing, I want to get you home and comfortable and not here anymore. You know what I’m saying? Nothing against you.”

The fatal crash took place before Nadine was married to the senator but while the two were in a relationship. She received a brand-new Mercedes-Benz four months after the crash. According to court documents in the bribery indictment, the $60,000 car was gifted to Nadine by New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Jose Uribe, two co-defendants in the bribery case. Prosecutors accuse Senator Menendez of offering to put pressure on the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to go easy on an associate of Uribe. According to the indictment, Wael Hana, an Egyptian American citizen, “worked to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials to Menendez for the purpose of establishing and solidifying a corrupt agreement.”

Senator Ben Cardin, who replaced Menendez as Senate Foreign Relations chair, just blocked $235 million in U.S. military funding to Egypt. A judge has set a trial date of May 6 in the bribery case against the Menendez couple, Hana, Uribe and another businessman, Fred Daibes.

Biden Administration Cancels Another $9 Billion in Student Loans

Oct 05, 2023

President Biden has approved another $9 billion in student loan relief, affecting some 125,000 borrowers. More than half the amount will go to 53,000 people who have been working in public service for at least a decade. The rest will be split to provide relief to those enrolled in income-driven repayment plans, and borrowers with disabilities. The latest move to lessen the burden of student debts comes months after the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for tens of millions of people. Despite the right-wing court’s ruling, the Biden administration has been able to pass $127 billion in relief for over 3.5 million borrowers. Debt activists are calling on Biden to cancel all remaining student debt. Federal loan payments resumed October 1 after a pause of more than three years during the pandemic.

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