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HeadlinesMarch 21, 2023

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U.N. Warns of Climate Catastrophe, Urges Immediate and Dramatic Action

Mar 21, 2023

The United Nations warns in a new report the world is on pace to blow past a critical global heating threshold by the early 2030s, unless nations take immediate and dramatic steps to mitigate the climate catastrophe. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Monday the planet is on course to warm by an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels within a decade, causing irreversible damage to human populations and ecosystems. The report warns of worsening heat waves, flooding, drought, rising sea levels, famine, mass extinction and the spread of infectious diseases. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres announced the findings Monday, saying a livable future for all is still possible, if nations take urgent action.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “The 1.5-degree limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action. This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Here in the United States, climate activists have organized a day of action today against key banks they say are fueling global heating. We’ll have more on the IPCC report and today’s protests after headlines.

Report Finds Drought Killed 43,000 People in Somalia in 2022

Mar 21, 2023

New research finds drought killed 43,000 people in Somalia last year, while leaving 5 million people with acute food shortages. Nearly 2 million children remain at risk of malnutrition. Humanitarian aid groups and climate scientists warn Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa face a sixth consecutive failed rainy season, and conditions this year are even worse than in 2011, when famine killed an estimated quarter-million people in Somalia.

Russia Says Fighter Jet Intercepts U.S. B-52 Bombers Over Baltic Sea

Mar 21, 2023

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it scrambled a fighter jet Monday to intercept a pair of U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers flying over the Baltic Sea. The Russian fighter reportedly returned to its base after the nuclear-capable U.S. bombers moved away from Russia’s border. The incident came as Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it destroyed a train carrying cruise missiles bound for Russia’s Black Sea fleet at a station in the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

In Brussels, European Union ministers agreed Monday to provide Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells over the next year, while replenishing their own stockpiles of ammunition. Meanwhile, the Biden administration approved a new $350 million military aid package for Ukraine.

U.S. Claims All Sides Committed War Crimes in Ethiopia’s Tigray

Mar 21, 2023

The U.S. State Department said Monday that all sides committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the recent conflict in northern Ethiopia. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the findings from Washington, D.C., Monday — just days after his return from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, where Blinken met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and representatives from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “The conflict in Northern Ethiopia was devastating. Men, women and children were killed. Women and girls were subject to horrific forms of sexual violence. Thousands were forcibly displaced from their homes. Entire communities were specifically targeted based on their ethnicity. Many of these actions were not random or a mere byproduct of war. They were calculated and deliberate.”

Blinken stopped short of stating that the Ethiopian government’s atrocities in Tigray constituted genocide.

Kenyan Opposition Politicians Tear-Gassed at Protests Against President William Ruto

Mar 21, 2023

In Kenya, police tear-gassed a convoy carrying opposition leader Raila Odinga in the capital Nairobi on Monday as he led protests against President William Ruto’s government and high inflation. A university student was reportedly shot dead at a demonstration in the city of Kisumu. They were some of the largest anti-government protests in Kenya since Odinga narrowly lost to Ruto last August.

South African Protesters March Against Mass Unemployment and Power Outages

Mar 21, 2023

In South Africa, thousands of protesters marched in cities nationwide Monday, demanding President Cyril Ramaphosa resign over widespread unemployment and rolling blackouts. South Africa’s national police agency said officers had arrested more than 550 protesters since Sunday. About half of all young people in South Africa are unemployed. Meanwhile, South Africa’s public electric utility continues to impose rolling blackouts of up to 10 hours a day as demand for electricity exceeds supply.

French Government Narrowly Survives No Confidence Vote After Macron Slashes Pensions

Mar 21, 2023

The French government narrowly survived a pair of no-confidence votes in Parliament Monday, after President Emmanuel Macron rammed through an unpopular law by executive fiat, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. The failure of the no-confidence votes sparked fresh protests across France, with police firing tear gas at demonstrators in Lille and Bordeaux, and protesters setting piles of uncollected trash on fire in central Paris. This is French Member of Parliament Mathilde Panot, speaking just after Monday’s vote.

Mathilde Panot: “As you could have understood, the hundreds of thousands of people who are now gathering together every day in the entire country since last Thursday and since Macron bypassed the assembly will not stop just because this motion of no confidence has barely failed, just lacking nine little votes. Nothing has been fixed in the country, and the country continues to head toward a political crisis that Macron himself started.”

Unions and French opposition parties have called a ninth nationwide day of strikes and protests on Thursday.

Four More Oath Keepers Convicted over Jan. 6 Insurrection

Mar 21, 2023

In Washington, D.C., a federal jury has found four members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group guilty of felony and misdemeanor charges — including obstructing an official proceeding — over their roles in the January 6 Capitol insurrection. The four face prison terms of up to 20 years. Their convictions on Monday came as federal prosecutors in a separate trial rested their case against former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other defendants who face charges of seditious conspiracy.

Amazon Announces More Job Cuts, Bringing Recent Layoffs Total to 27,000

Mar 21, 2023

Amazon has announced plans to lay off 9,000 more workers in the coming weeks. The layoffs build on 18,000 job cuts at Amazon that began in November and extended into January. U.S. high-tech firms have laid off more than 300,000 workers since 2022.

Los Angeles School Workers Launch Three-Day Strike, Demanding Living Wages

Mar 21, 2023

In Los Angeles, tens of thousands of school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other school support staff have begun a three-day strike demanding dignified working conditions and living wages, after nearly a year of negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Their union is calling for at least a 30% income increase as school staff only makes an average of $25,000 annually, or roughly $12 per hour. Tens of thousands of L.A. teachers have joined the strike in solidarity.

Protesters Decry Military Recruitment at Bronx School Fair Co-Hosted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Mar 21, 2023

Here in New York, dozens of community organizers, parents, teachers and students rallied at a Bronx high school Monday, protesting what they called military recruitment at a student services fair hosted by New York Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Adriano Espaillat. The fair featured representatives from military service academies for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Advocates accused Ocasio-Cortez of backtracking on her antiwar campaign promises and policies opposing predatory military recruitment tactics that predominantly target Black, Brown, Latinx and low-income students. In 2020, Ocasio-Cortez proposed a ban against military recruitment on the online gaming platform Twitch. She also pushed for an amendment that would have halted federal funding for military recruitment in middle and high schools.

Democracy Now!'s Sonyi Lopez spoke to Richie Merino, an organizer with the Bronx Anti-War Coalition, at Monday's rally at Renaissance High School, which took place on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Richie Merino: “A lot of youth here are struggling to find jobs. Many youth here are not prepared to go to college. Right? Instead of bringing military recruiters here, we should be having a jobs fair, we should be having a college fair. Renaissance High School is an arts and theater school. Where are the arts and theater programs represented here, AOC? You’re saying this is a student services fair. Where are the services for the youth?”

Organizers also demanded justice for Vanessa Guillén and Ana Basaldua Ruiz, two Latina women who were killed after they reported being sexually assaulted at the Fort Hood U.S. Army base in Texas — Guillén in 2020 and Ruiz last week — and 21-year-old Abdul Latifu, who was murdered in January by another soldier at Fort Rucker in Alabama. Latifu was from the Bronx.

Editor’s Note: After our broadcast, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office reached out to Democracy Now. In a statement, her communications director Lauren Hitt said: “The Congresswoman didn’t hold a job fair or a military recruitment fair – she held a student services fair. There were tables on FAFSA (federal student aid) as well as internship opportunities through our office and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. We also had tables with presenters from the Congressional App and Art Competitions, as well as representatives from the state and city to share their student-centered activities. There were no military enlistment officers there. Out of over a dozen tables, we did have a few representatives from the service academies – West Point, Naval Academy, etc – but that’s only because applicants to those 4-year colleges are required to obtain a letter of recommendation from their Congressperson. In contrast to enlisting in the military straight out of high school, applying to the service academies has typically been a pretty elite and complex process mostly accessible to those from affluent backgrounds. The goal here was to make that path more accessible for those who are interested in serving in the military, while simultaneously offering many other post-graduate options at the same event.”

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