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HeadlinesMay 24, 2023

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South Carolina GOP Passes 6-Week Abortion Ban, Sends Bill to Republican Governor’s Desk

May 24, 2023

In South Carolina, Republican lawmakers have approved legislation banning abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. The bill now heads to Republican Governor Henry McMaster, who said he will sign it into law “as soon as possible.” The measure includes limited exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies; the patient’s life and health; and rape and incest survivors, who can seek an abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The latter would require doctors to report the procedure to law enforcement. The bill passed after a filibuster led by five women state senators, including three Republicans, failed to block it.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Warns Social Media Poses “Profound Risk” to Kids and Teens

May 24, 2023

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory warning of social media’s “profound risk of harm” for young people and calling for immediate action from lawmakers, tech companies and parents to keep kids safe. An estimated 95% of 13- to 17-year-olds are on social media. Those who are on it over three hours per day face two times the risk of depression and anxiety. Additionally, social media could overstimulate the brain in ways similar to addiction, as well as cause sleep and attention issues. Murthy said young people’s brains are especially vulnerable to the detrimental effects of peer pressure and constant comparison.

Lawmakers have passed a number of bills recently to address child sexual exploitation online, while other measures around parental consent, age verification processes and other safety procedures are being discussed. Murthy and other health experts also acknowledge social media can help young people who feel isolated or ostracized be more connected to a larger community and mental health resources.

Ron DeSantis to Launch 2024 Bid on Twitter Live Stream with Elon Musk

May 24, 2023

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is announcing his 2024 presidential campaign today during a Twitter Spaces live stream with Elon Musk. David Sacks, Republican donor and ally of both DeSantis and Musk, is set to moderate the event. DeSantis has been polling behind Donald Trump thus far, as rights groups warn of a DeSantis presidency amid his mounting attacks on LGBTQ people, Black people, reproductive rights and immigrants in Florida.

Florida School Bans Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem After Parental Complaint

May 24, 2023

A Florida elementary school in Miami-Dade County has banned Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” which she read to widespread acclaim at President Biden’s inauguration. The ban came after a complaint from one parent.

Elmhurst Doctors on Strike in Queens, Demand Parity with Manhattan Counterparts

May 24, 2023

More than 160 doctors at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens are on a five-day strike, citing unequal pay with their counterparts. First-year residents at Elmhurst earn nearly $7,000 less than first-year residents at Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’s the first strike by doctors in New York City since 1990. Councilmember Jen Gutiérrez, herself born at Elmhurst Hospital, spoke about the issues faced by Elmhurst physicians during a recent council meeting.

Councilmember Jen Gutiérrez: “My argument about Elmhurst Hospital, it’s an H+H hospital serving a majority-immigrant community. Chair Narcisse worked at Elmhurst Hospital” —

Dr. Mitchell Katz: “Yes, she did.”

Councilmember Jen Gutiérrez: — “serving immigrants. And Elmhurst Hospital has a very unique program in that the majority of the residents are international.”

Dr. Mitchell Katz: “Yes.”

Councilmember Jen Gutiérrez: “So, what I am trying to uplift is the blatant connection of serving immigrant communities by immigrant physicians and the level of care that they’re receiving to do their job. And we really need to ring the alarm around equity.”

New York Times and Unionized Reporters Reach “Groundbreaking” Tentative Deal

May 24, 2023

In more labor news, the union representing some 1,500 members of The New York Times’s newsroom has reached a tentative agreement with the newspaper after over two years of negotiations. The deal — which The New York Times Guild called “groundbreaking” — would grant an immediate pay raise of up to 12.5% for the lowest-paid employees, and raise the minimum salary to $65,000.

Illinois Investigation Finds Nearly 2,000 Children Abused by Catholic Church Clergy Since 1950

May 24, 2023

An investigation led by the Illinois attorney general has found hundreds of Catholic Church clergy sexually abused nearly 2,000 children between 1950 and 2019 — a number of cases far higher than the church had publicly disclosed. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul released the findings Tuesday, acknowledging that the statute of limitations in many of those cases has expired. The probe began in 2018, culminating in a report that’s nearly 700 pages long, detailing how 450 clerics in Illinois’s six dioceses, including the prominent Archdiocese of Chicago, abused hundreds of children with impunity for the past seven decades. The report also accuses Catholic leaders of covering up the abuse.

U.K. Regulator Orders Meta to Sell Giphy; U.S. Judge Dissolves American Airlines-JetBlue Partnership

May 24, 2023

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will sell the GIF-sharing website Giphy to Shutterstock for $53 million — at a loss of over $260 million — after an order by British antitrust regulators.

In other antitrust news, a federal judge has ordered American Airlines and JetBlue to end their partnership in the Northeast, siding with the Justice Department, which argued the alliance would reduce competition and lead to higher costs for travelers. The Justice Department also has a pending anti-monopoly suit against the $3.8 billion merger of JetBlue and fellow budget carrier Spirit Airlines.

Julian Assange’s Family Says His Release Could Be Closer Than Ever as Australia Ups Diplomatic Push

May 24, 2023

In Australia, family members and supporters of Julian Assange rallied in Sydney as they say momentum to free the jailed WikiLeaks founder is at its peak.

Rosslyn: “It’s about Julian Assange, of course, but it’s also about press freedom, all our freedoms, and the fact that he exposed a crime that I was horrified about, and he’s the one in trouble. He’s the one imprisoned, and yet he exposed a crime, a war crime, which no one has done anything about.”

Today’s action in Sydney was supposed to coincide with a visit from President Biden for a Quad alliance meeting with leaders from India, Japan and Australia, but Biden canceled his trip amid ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling. Stella Assange called on Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to do more to secure the release of her husband, an Australian national, as his health rapidly deteriorates inside London’s Belmarsh prison, where he awaits possible extradition to the U.S. to face espionage and hacking charges. Albanese has said he is doing everything he can, while a group of Australian lawmakers recently met with U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to push for Assange’s release.

India’s Kashmir Crackdown in Spotlight as China, Saudi Arabia Boycott G20 Meeting in Disputed Region

May 24, 2023

China and Saudi Arabia have boycotted G20 meetings held by host country India in the disputed and militarily occupied Kashmir region. In 2019, the Indian government stripped the Muslim-majority region of its semi-autonomous status, as it seeks to bring it fully under Indian rule. Hundreds of people rallied earlier this week in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited the region and addressed the Legislative Assembly.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: “India is misusing its position as chair of the G20, a forum created to address global financial and economic issues, with utter disregard for the Security Council resolution, the U.N. Charter and its principle.”

Press freedom groups have also called out India’s crackdown on journalists in Kashmir.

The Earth Nears Sixth Mass Extinction in First Such Event Caused by Human Activity

May 24, 2023

A new study warns the Earth is entering its sixth mass extinction due to the massive global loss of biodiversity triggered by human activity. The report, written by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, says that nearly half of the planet’s animal species are now in decline, but that unlike past mass extinctions, the present one has been entirely caused by humans.

New Reports Sound the Alarm on Increasing Human Risks Posed by Extreme Heat

May 24, 2023

In more climate news, countries in the Middle East and across the Gulf region are more vulnerable to unprecedented extreme heat due to a worsening climate catastrophe. That’s according to new research published by the Nature Sustainability journal, which also says poorer communities are particularly at risk.

Meanwhile, another study warns nearly half of the population of Phoenix, Arizona, would be in need of immediate medical attention for heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses if a heat wave coincided with a power blackout spanning multiple days. Other cities would also be at risk, as blackouts nationwide have more than doubled since 2015, while heat waves and extreme weather patterns intensify due to climate change.

U.S. and EU Lawmakers Call for Removal of Oil Company Chief as President of U.N. Climate Conference

May 24, 2023

Over 130 U.S. lawmakers and members of the European Parliament have sent a joint letter to President Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, demanding the removal of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, as president of the upcoming U.N. climate conference, COP28. The lawmakers, including Senators Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders, say in the letter, “Since at least the 1960s, the fossil fuel industry has known about the dangers of climate change posed by its products and, rather than supporting a transition to a clean energy future, has instead chosen to promote climate denial and spend millions of dollars to spread disinformation.”

Activists Take Over London Shell Shareholder Meeting as Climate Groups Stage Protests Across Europe

May 24, 2023

Climate activists are ramping up acts of civil disobedience and direct action to draw attention to the hastening crisis. In Britain, the group Fossil Free London and others disrupted Shell’s annual shareholder meeting Tuesday, storming the stage and triggering chaotic scenes as protesters confronted investors of the oil giant.

Protester: “Congratulate yourselves for record-breaking profits, which lead to record-breaking floods, droughts and heat waves. Welcome to Shell, where you are complicit in the destruction of people’s homes, livelihoods and lives. Welcome to hell! But I, ladies and gentlemen, I refuse to accept your hell on Earth.”

This week, the People’s Health Tribunal found Shell and Total oil company guilty of genocide and ecocide in communities in South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique and Uganda.

This comes as Just Stop Oil activists have been leading “slow marches” on London’s major streets and bridges, disrupting traffic.

In Italy, climate activists with Last Generation doused themselves and the street in front of Rome’s Senate building in mud as the death toll from last week’s record-breaking floods in northern Italy has risen to 15.

In Geneva, Switzerland, some 100 protesters demanding a ban on private jets descended on the international airport, blocking entry to an aircraft exhibition. A Greenpeace campaigner said there was a recent rise of 64% in private jet flights in Europe.

Klara Maria Schenk: “The climate crisis is escalating every day. We see extreme weather, even in Europe. We had droughts all winter long. Now summer storms and spring storms are starting. And at the same time, a super rich, very small elite keeps polluting as if there is no tomorrow. This needs to stop.”

In related news, France has enacted its ban on domestic short-haul flights between many major cities. The move, an effort to rein in carbon emissions, will apply to routes where train alternatives exist.

Guam Residents Face Strongest Storm in Decades as Typhoon Mawar Lashes the Island

May 24, 2023

Typhoon Mawar made landfall on Guam with the force of a Category 4 hurricane — the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in decades. Most of Guam lost power earlier today as extreme winds and torrential rain hit the island, while meteorologists have warned of life-threatening storm surges. Authorities ordered residents in coastal regions to evacuate, with some shelters already reporting they’re at capacity.

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