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HeadlinesMay 03, 2023

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Fighting Continues in Sudan Ahead of 7-Day Ceasefire as Aid Groups Fear Regional “Ripple Effect”

May 03, 2023

In Sudan, warring parties have agreed to a new seven-day ceasefire set to start Thursday. South Sudan, which is acting as a mediator, said Sudan’s ruling army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces would also appoint envoys for peace talks. But air raids and shooting continued in Khartoum, and fierce battles are raging in Darfur, leading to mass displacement. The death toll from the 19-day-old conflict has reached at least 550 people, with another 5,000 injured. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme is warning the crisis in Sudan could lead to a wider disaster in the region as tens of thousands of people flee the country.

Brenda Kariuki: “The ripple effect for the region is significant. It’s a real concern, and we just need to find peace. We need the two parties to the conflict to come together and find a way to resolve the conflict, because this has the possibility of destabilizing the whole region.”

Biden Admin to Deploy 1,500 Troops to Border, Cuts Deportation Deal with Mexico as Title 42 Ends

May 03, 2023

President Biden has ordered the deployment of 1,500 Army and Marine Corps soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border for 90 days as the U.S. prepares to lift the Trump-era Title 42 pandemic policy next week. For the last three years, the measure has been used to quickly expel over 2.7 million migrants at the southern border without due process. There’s already 2,500 National Guard troops stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border as the Biden administration has routinely cracked down on asylum seekers.

Biden officials on Tuesday also reached a deal with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador allowing the U.S. to continue to deport non-Mexican migrants across the border into Mexico. Biden’s latest move was widely condemned by immigrant rights advocates, who’ve called out his enforcement of asylum bans and anti-immigrant policies similar to Trump’s.

In related news, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has resumed sending buses of asylum seekers to New York, according to Mayor Eric Adams. It’s been months since New York City last received buses of asylum seekers, after thousands of people started arriving almost daily since the fall.

Minnesota Judge Finds Tou Thao Guilty of Aiding and Abetting the Killing of George Floyd

May 03, 2023

In Minnesota, a judge found former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao guilty of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, police murder of George Floyd, which set off nationwide protests against racism. Judge Peter Cahill said Thao “made a conscious decision to actively participate in Floyd’s death” when he held back bystanders, encouraged his fellow officers as they violently pinned Floyd down as the life drained from his body, and blocked him from receiving medical aid. All four former officers involved in Floyd’s murder have been convicted on both state and federal charges. Thao could receive 41 to 57 months in prison when he is sentenced in August.

Israel and Gazan Fighters Agree to Ceasefire After Israeli Air Raids on Enclave

May 03, 2023

Israeli forces and various armed factions in Gaza have agreed to a ceasefire after Israeli airstrikes rained down on the besieged Gaza Strip, following rocket launches from Gaza in response to the death of Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan while in an Israeli prison. Israel claimed it only targeted military sites, but Gazans rocked by the air raids said civilian areas were hit.

Khalil al-Qadi: “As you can see, the situation is very bad. There are airstrikes, and people are scared. We are shop owners, and all shops are closed. The whole country is closed. I usually leave at midnight, but today we closed our shops around 9:00 or 8:00 as a result of the tension in the country.”

Ugandan Lawmakers Pass Modified Anti-LGBTQ Bill Which Still Includes Death Penalty

May 03, 2023

The Ugandan Parliament on Tuesday passed a moderately altered version of its bill targeting LGBTQ people, after President Yoweri Museveni requested several tweaks. It remains one of the most draconian anti-LGBTQ bills in the world and includes the death penalty in certain cases and a 20-year sentence for the so-called promotion of homosexuality.

House Democrats Seek to Force Debt Limit Raise Without Backing of GOP Leaders

May 03, 2023

House Democrats have put in motion a process they hope will force an increase to the debt ceiling by allowing a majority of lawmakers to bring a bill to the floor without the approval of Republican leadership. Democrats hatched the plan in January in case of a stalemate in talks, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans continue to demand spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt limit — something President Biden and Democrats have refused to consider. The Democratic strategy, known as a discharge petition, would require at least five Republicans to back it. If the debt limit is not increased, the government could default on its debts as soon as June 1. Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting White House officials are debating a legal theory on the constitutionality of the debt ceiling itself, though it’s not known whether Biden would support such a challenge.

Senate Panel Holds SCOTUS Ethics Hearing Amid Mounting Conflict of Interest Scandals

May 03, 2023

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a contentious hearing on ethics standards for Supreme Court justices, following a series of revelations around conservative justices’ financial entanglements. This is Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: “The Supreme Court is playing out of bounds of the ethics rules for federal judges. Justices read the ethics rules in unique and eccentric ways, and when they’re caught out of bounds, they refuse to allow any investigation of the facts.”

Ranking Republican Senator Lindsey Graham accused Democrats of “selective outrage” and going after the court due to its conservative supermajority. No justices were at the hearing, after Chief Justice John Roberts declined Committee Chair Dick Durbin’s invitation to testify last week. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.

U.N. Rights Body Calls for Immediate Release of Guantánamo Bay Prisoner Abu Zubaydah

May 03, 2023

A U.N. human rights panel is urging the United States to immediately release long-term Guantánamo Bay prisoner Abu Zubaydah, warning the systemic detention of people at the military prison may constitute crimes against humanity. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released its findings Friday after reviewing several Guantánamo cases over the past 15 years. The panel’s report also condemned Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Morocco and Lithuania, where Zubaydah was held at several CIA black sites before being transferred to Guantánamo, for being “jointly responsible for the torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of Mr. Zubaydah.” Zubaydah was first taken into custody in 2002 in Pakistan and has been held at Guantánamo without charge since 2006. He was waterboarded over 80 times by the CIA.

Suspect in Cleveland, Texas, Mass Shooting Arrested

May 03, 2023

Texas authorities have arrested the suspect in last week’s mass shooting in the town of Cleveland which killed five people, including a 9-year-old child. Francisco Oropesa is accused of going on the shooting spree against his neighbors after being asked to stop firing his rifle because it was keeping a 1-month-old baby awake.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old student opened fire at his school in Belgrade, Serbia, killing eight children and a security guard in a rare mass shooting in the Balkan nation.

North Carolina Supreme Court Sides with GOP, Allowing Gerrymandering and Voter ID Law to Stand

May 03, 2023

In voting news, North Carolina’s Supreme Court has thrown out a ruling rejecting heavily gerrymandered voting maps. The newly Republican-controlled court also overturned a previous state Supreme Court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s photo voter ID law as racially motivated. Friday’s rulings are likely to give Republicans more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after North Carolina’s Republican-controlled state Legislature redraws congressional boundaries for the 2024 elections.

Florida Passes New Voter Suppression Laws, Allows DeSantis to Run for President While Still Governor

May 03, 2023

In Florida, a voter suppression law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature Friday creates new barriers to voter registration drives, adds new restrictions to mail-in ballots and expands the power of the newly formed Office of Election Crimes and Security to investigate and prosecute alleged voting crimes. Florida lawmakers approved the legislation a day after a federal appeals court upheld another Republican-backed voter suppression law in Florida, overturning a lower court ruling that found the legislation intentionally discriminated against Black voters. Meanwhile, an amendment to the latest voter suppression bill allows Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to run for president without resigning his post. DeSantis has not yet announced he is running, though he is expected to.

Texas Senate Moves to Allow GOP State Sec. to Overturn Elections in Nation’s 3rd Largest County

May 03, 2023

In Texas, the state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would give the secretary of state — appointed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott — the authority to throw out elections in Harris County, a county largely run by Democrats and the third most populous county in the U.S. The authority would kick in if 2% of polling locations run out of ballot paper for at least an hour. The bill comes as a response to Republican candidates who claim they lost their races after a small number of polling stations ran out of ballots in 2022.

Vermont Allows Medically Assisted Deaths for Nonresidents

May 03, 2023

Vermont has become the first state in the country to extend medically assisted suicide protections to terminally ill people who travel from out of state to end their lives. Republican Governor Phil Scott signed the bill into law, removing the residency requirement from Vermont’s decades-old assisted suicide statute.

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New York Tenant Rights Advocates Take Over Meeting Discussing Rent Hikes

May 03, 2023

Here in New York, housing advocates took over a public meeting discussing rent hikes on 1 million rent-stabilized apartments. Activists rallied ahead of the meeting, and protesters took to the stage, where members of the Rent Guidelines Board were seated, to draw attention to the dire situation of many renters in New York. Tenant rights groups are calling for rent freezes or decreases, saying housing and other costs of living are already squeezing New Yorkers and that any new increase could result in homelessness or other critical situations. A number of councilmembers spoke on behalf of their constituents. This is Chi Ossé, who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant and North Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

Councilmember Chi Ossé: “Jamaiah’s rent is over 50% of their income. Jamaiah’s rent is so high that at this moment they are unable to eat. They rely on food pantries to have access to food. If their rent were to go up even one dollar, it would affect them by being able to eat even less food. Shame!”

A preliminary vote at yesterday’s hearing approved a rent increase of 2% to 7% on stabilized units.

Strikers Demand Fair Pay at First Picket Line of Hollywood Writers’ Strike

May 03, 2023

In other news from New York, late-night shows went dark, airing reruns, as the first picket line of the Writers Guild of America strike formed Tuesday in front of the offices of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service. Democracy Now! spoke to some of the striking writers.

Patrick Coker: “These corporations are making billions of dollars off of our work, and we have members who can’t even afford healthcare because they are making less than $30,000 a year. So all we’re asking for is a fair amount so that we could all eat.”

Melissa Salmons: “Everything that we ask for, the $426 million, could be paid with David Zaslav’s salary and Ari Emanuel’s salary, and still leave them with $63 million each.”

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