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HeadlinesMay 15, 2023

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Turkish Elections Head to Runoff as Pres. Erdoğan Fails to Capture 50% of Vote Against Kilicdaroglu

May 15, 2023

In Turkey, the closely watched election that will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will remain in power appears headed to a May 28 runoff as Erdoğan falls just short of the 50% of votes needed to win outright. Erdoğan’s two-decade-long grip on power was challenged by leading opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who vowed closer ties with NATO and the EU and to reinforce democratic institutions. A third candidate, a right-wing challenger, received about 5% of the vote. The election comes at a time when many Turks are grappling with rising living costs and residents in the south of the country are still reeling from February’s tragic earthquakes. We’ll go to Istanbul after headlines.


Thai Voters Back Reform Parties in Sharp Rebuke to Monarchy and Military Gov’t

May 15, 2023

In another highly anticipated election, in Thailand, voters decisively rejected the ruling military-backed government, which came to power in a 2014 coup, voting in large numbers for the youth-led reformist opposition Move Forward Party and the populist Pheu Thai Party, controlled by the billionaire Shinawatra family. The two parties have agreed to form a coalition with other groups, though they’ll have to contend with rules established by the military, which gives the junta significant power. This is Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat.

Pita Limjaroenrat: “The sentiment of the era has changed, and it’s ripe. It was the right timing, that people have been through enough of lost decade in the past decade, and today is a new day.”

Move Forward has vowed to reform Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws, which saw people arrested and jailed for insulting the monarchy following mass youth-led protests in 2020 calling for reforms to the royal system.


Ukraine Makes Gains in Bakhmut as European Leaders Up Military Support for Zelensky

May 15, 2023

Ukraine said at least four people were killed today and a hospital was hit in a Russian missile attack in the Donetsk city of Avdiivka. This comes as Ukraine’s military said it has made advances in the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, pushing back Russian forces, though Russia still retains control over the majority of the area. Earlier today, Russia said two senior military officers were killed in the eastern Donetsk region, which is home to Bakhmut. Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported recently leaked U.S. intelligence shows the head of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, offered in January to give Ukraine’s military the location of Russian troops to attack, if it pulled back Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is in the U.K., where the British government pledged long-range attack drones for Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion. The visit comes as part of a whirlwind European tour over the weekend, where Zelensky met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and Italian leaders in Rome, followed by stops in Germany, which pledged nearly $3 billion in new military aid, and France, which promised more armored tanks.

Israel and Gaza Fighters Agree to Truce After 5 Days of Fighting Kills 33 Palestinians

May 15, 2023

The Israeli army and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Saturday after five days of fighting in which at least 33 Palestinians, including children, were killed. One Israeli was killed. Many Gazans are facing the loss or destruction of their homes after Israel’s air raid campaign, as well as the trauma of the attacks. This is a young girl in Gaza.

Retaj Abu Ubaid al-Omar: “My childhood, feelings and dreams were all in this house. I was brought up in this house. I used to have fun, study and play here, and all my siblings’ toys were in it. We lived the most beautiful days of our lives here. But when they destroyed it, we do not know where to go.”

In the occupied West Bank, three Palestinians were reported killed during Israeli raids in or near Nablus in recent days. This all comes as Palestinians today mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes before and during the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Powerful Cyclone Kills at Least 6 People in Burma, Destroys Rohingya Refugee Shelters

May 15, 2023

In Burma, at least six people were reported dead after a powerful cyclone made landfall Sunday. Cyclone Mocha is one of the most powerful storms to hit the region. Several hundred Rohingya refugee shelters were torn apart, while the capital of the northwestern Rakhine state was almost completely destroyed. Power and communication lines have been disrupted, with aid workers struggling to reach areas in need. The cyclone also triggered massive floods and landslides in neighboring Bangladesh.

Death Toll from Kenyan Starvation Cult Tops 200, Including Many Children

May 15, 2023

In Kenya, the death toll from the starvation cult Good News International Church has risen to 201, many of them children. The apocalyptic cult’s leader Paul Mackenzie is accused of ordering his followers to starve themselves and their children to death. A commission is investigating whether oversight by administrative or intelligence authorities played any role.


Guatemalan Newspaper El Periódico Shutters After Persecution by Giammattei Gov’t

May 15, 2023

In Guatemala, the prominent investigative newspaper El Periódico is closing after months of intensifying harassment and persecution from the right-wing government of President Alejandro Giammattei. Founder José Rubén Zamora remains in detention after nearly one year, accused of money laundering and other charges that human rights and press freedom groups have denounced as political retaliation over exposés of government corruption. Zamora’s trial began earlier this month. Meanwhile, several of El Periódico’s journalists and columnists are also being investigated by Guatemalan authorities. The newspaper laid off most of its staff and shut down its print edition in November.

Unaccompanied Honduran Migrant Teen Dies in U.S. Custody

May 15, 2023

In immigration news, government officials confirmed Friday a 17-year-old unaccompanied migrant teen died at a U.S. Health and Human Services facility in Florida earlier this month. Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza, who was from Honduras, was found unconscious and later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The Honduran government is demanding an investigation into his death. Meanwhile, the teen’s mother says she’s received no information about the cause of death. Espinoza reportedly had epilepsy.

CBS News reports this is the second death of an unaccompanied migrant child under the Biden administration. A 4-year-old child from Honduras died in March in HHS custody after being hospitalized for cardiac arrest. That death was not previously reported by government officials.

Sen. Tuberville Under Fire for Backing White Nationalists in Military

May 15, 2023

Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has come under fire for comments defending white nationalists against the Pentagon’s efforts to rid them from its ranks. He made the comments last week while talking to NPR’s Alabama-based station WBHM.

Richard Banks: “You mentioned the Biden administration trying to prevent white nationalists from being in the military. Do you believe they should allow white nationalists in the military?”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville: “Well, they call them that. I call them Americans.”

Tuberville and his team have since unsuccessfully tried to walk back the comments; Tuberville told NBC’s Julie Tsirkin, “I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican.” Tuberville was already under fire for holding up military nominees over a Pentagon policy which covers paid leave for employees who have to travel out of state to get an abortion. Tuberville also said the fact that a jury found Donald Trump liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of E. Jean Carroll “makes me want to vote for him twice.”

In related news, The Washington Post is reporting suspected Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira was obsessed with guns and was preparing for a “race war.” Videos and chat logs show the 21-year-old National Guard member viewed Black people, liberals, Jews and LGBT people as enemies and threats he may have to fight.

Buffalo Remembers Victims of Racist Massacre One Year After Tops Supermarket Mass Shooting

May 15, 2023

In Buffalo, New York, community members and loved ones gathered Sunday to commemorate the victims of last year’s massacre at Tops supermarket in which a white supremacist shot dead 10 Black people. Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and Senator Chuck Schumer attended the one-year remembrance.

North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Vetoes Abortion Ban, Setting Up Possible GOP Override

May 15, 2023

North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a Republican-led bill banning nearly all abortions after 12 weeks, setting up a likely override vote. Republicans have a supermajority in the North Carolina Legislature, but it would only take one defector to keep the veto in place. Governor Cooper signed the veto at an abortion rights rally in Raleigh Saturday. This is reproductive rights advocate Janice Robinson, speaking from the event.

Janice Robinson: “We do not appreciate what the Republicans have done in trying to take away our rights, passing this monster bill that is going to make it so much harder for women to have access to abortion care. … And if they, the legislators, do not sustain this veto, we will definitely make sure that there are people elected that are about protecting women’s rights when it comes to the election in 2024.”

Texas Woman Killed by Partner After Returning from Colorado, Where She Had an Abortion

May 15, 2023

In Texas, a woman was shot dead by her boyfriend after she returned from traveling to Colorado to get an abortion, where the procedure remains legal. Abortions are banned in Texas. Police say Harold Thompson, who has been arrested and charged with murdering 26-year-old Gabriella Gonzalez, did not want her to terminate her pregnancy.

Florida Bans Textbooks Dealing with Race, Social Justice; Allows Discrimination in Healthcare

May 15, 2023

Florida’s education officials blocked dozens of textbooks and forced publishers to edit dozens of others to remove information on racial and social justice issues. This comes as part of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s ongoing campaign criminalizing the teaching of critical race theory, LGBTQ topics and other issues he’s described as “woke indoctrination.” One middle school textbook no longer includes a section on the Black Lives Matter movement and the police murder of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has signed into law a bill that will allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny patient care on the basis of religious or moral beliefs. Human rights advocates say the legislation will lead to more discrimination against LGBTQ people.

SF Community Members Demand Justice for Banko Brown, a Trans Activist Killed by Security Guard

May 15, 2023

In San Francisco, the transgender community and loved ones of slain activist Banko Brown are calling for justice for the late 24-year-old Black trans man. Brown was shot dead outside a Walgreens by a security guard in April after he allegedly tried to steal snacks from the store. The shooter has not been charged. Banko Brown’s loved ones say he suffered from food and housing insecurity in a city known for its vast inequalities.

Jordan Neely’s Family Blasts Manslaughter Charge; Lawyer Implores Bystanders to Help Those in Need

May 15, 2023

Here in New York, Daniel Penny, the ex-marine who choked beloved street performer Jordan Neely to death while on the subway, was arraigned Friday on a charge of second-degree manslaughter and freed pending trial. Neely’s family blasted the charge as overly lenient for the unprovoked killing, in which Penny used a technique known to be lethal. Before he was killed, Jordan Neely was crying out that he was hungry, and may have been suffering a mental health crisis. This is Donte Mills, an attorney for the Neely family.

Donte Mills: “No one on that train asked Jordan, ’What’s wrong? How can I help you?’ He was choked to death instead. So, for everybody saying, ’I’ve been on the train, and I’ve been afraid before, and I can’t tell you what I would have done in that situation,’ I’m going to tell you: Ask how you can help. Please. Don’t attack. Don’t choke. Don’t kill. Don’t take someone’s life. Don’t take someone’s loved one from them because they’re in a bad place.”

Jordan Neely’s funeral is scheduled for this Friday in Harlem.

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