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HeadlinesJune 02, 2023

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Senate Approves Debt Deal Limiting Domestic Spending and Rolling Back Climate Protections

Jun 02, 2023

The Senate has approved legislation to suspend the limit on the U.S. national debt ahead of a June 5 deadline to avoid a catastrophic default.

Sen. Alex Padilla: “On this vote, the yeas are 63, the nays are 36. The 60-vote threshold having been achieved, the bill is passed.”

The legislation imposes new work requirements on thousands of people receiving food stamps and other forms of government assistance. It also rolls back the National Environmental Policy Act and fast-tracks the approval and construction of the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. Speaking after the bill’s passage late Thursday, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer defended the compromises, which were sought by conservative West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “The bottom line is that the Mountain Valley Pipeline was part of the whole deal that we had originally — that I had originally struck with Manchin for the IRA. It does a — you take the whole plan, and it does a huge amount of good for the environment. I stick by my word.”

Just five members of the Senate Democratic Caucus voted against the debt ceiling deal. President Biden, who has promised to sign the legislation, is addressing the nation at 7 p.m. this evening.

Senate Votes to Rescind Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan

Jun 02, 2023

In more news from Capitol Hill, the Senate voted Thursday to revoke President Biden’s student debt plan to give 40 million U.S. borrowers up to $20,000 in loan relief. Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Jon Tester, along with all 49 Senate Republicans, in favor of repealing student loan relief. President Biden has promised to veto the bill.

Russia Fires More Missiles at Kyiv Amid Fresh Cross-Border Attacks from Ukraine

Jun 02, 2023

The governor of Russia’s western Belgorod region says two people were killed and two others injured earlier today when Ukrainian forces shelled a town just inside Russia’s border with Ukraine. This follows a cross-border raid by an anti-Putin militia on the Russian town of Shebekino which injured 12 people and set more than two dozen buildings on fire, including a kindergarten. In Kyiv, officials say Ukraine’s military shot down 36 Russian missiles and drones around the capital region overnight. Two people were reportedly injured by falling debris.

U.N. Warns Foundering Black Sea Grain Deal Could Exacerbate Food Crisis

Jun 02, 2023

A top Ukrainian minister said Russia has sowed winter crops for this year’s harvest in parts of occupied Ukraine claimed by President Vladimir Putin as Russian territory. Officials also said Russia is blocking the safe passage of Ukrainian shipments of food and fertilizer under the Black Sea grain export deal. At the United Nations, spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric confirmed Russia has recently imposed a “continuous slowdown” at Black Sea ports.

Stéphane Dujarric: “This is a very serious situation. We need to move forward. The initiative is bound for renewal on 17 July. Global hunger hot spots are increasing, as we’ve been notifying you on a regular basis. And the specter of food inflation and market volatility lurks in all countries.”

Zelensky Presses EU and NATO to Grant Ukraine Membership; China Calls for Peace Talks

Jun 02, 2023

Ukraine’s president has made a fresh push for membership in the European Union and NATO. President Volodymyr Zelensky made the requests at a gathering of European leaders in Moldova, where he also called on Western nations to come to the aid of Moldova’s leaders, who have accused Russia of trying to destabilize and topple their government.

This comes as foreign ministers from NATO member nations gathered in Oslo, Norway, Thursday to discuss the war in Ukraine and the possible expansion of the 31-member military alliance. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’s pushing for Sweden’s accession to NATO ahead of a summit in Lithuania planned for July 11. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he’ll soon travel to Turkey in a bid to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to end Turkish opposition to Sweden’s bid.

Meanwhile, China’s envoy to Ukraine has called for the U.S. and its allies to “stop sending weapons to the battlefield” and hold peace talks. Li Hui made the remarks from Beijing after returning from a 12-day tour of Europe and Russia.

Li Hui: “Russia has said that it has never opposed peace talks and has always supported a political solution. Ukraine also said that it cherishes and desires peace. I feel that the two sides have not firmly shut the door to peace talks.”

Protesters Disrupt Arms Convention as Canadian Defense Minister Touts Cybersecurity Plans

Jun 02, 2023

In Canada, hundreds of protesters disrupted the opening day of North America’s largest military weapons convention, CANSEC, taking place in Ottawa. Activists on Thursday blocked vehicle and pedestrian entrances as they carried banners saying “Stop Profiting from War” and “War Crimes Start Here.” The peaceful action delayed Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand’s opening keynote address for over an hour, in which she went on to tout a new cross-border cybersecurity program aimed at protecting Canada’s defense officials, contractors and infrastructure. Anand told the crowd, “Putin’s war on Ukraine has reminded us that the cyber domain is crucial to our national security.” Lockheed Martin is one of the convention’s largest sponsors. Its stock has soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rights Groups Slam “Sham Trial” for Iranian Journalists Who Helped Expose Death of Mahsa Amini

Jun 02, 2023

In Iran, the two women journalists whose reporting on Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody last September helped set off a nationwide uprising were tried this week in what press freedom groups blasted as a “sham trial.” Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloofar Hamedi had been prevented from seeing their lawyers ahead of the trial, and the lawyers were reportedly not permitted to present a defense in court during the closed-door proceedings. Last month, the reporters were awarded the prestigious 2023 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, alongside a third imprisoned Iranian journalist and activist, Narges Mohammadi.

Workers Protest Florida’s Latest Anti-Immigrant Law Targeting Farm Laborers

Jun 02, 2023

Thousands of immigrant workers walked off their jobs across Florida Thursday to protest a draconian anti-immigration bill signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that’s set to take effect in July. The new law imposes harsh penalties on certain employers who don’t check their workers’ immigration status, among other measures. In Immokalee, farmworkers and their families led a march denouncing DeSantis as part of nationwide protests dubbed “A Day Without Immigrants.” This is an undocumented farmworker who kept her identity concealed as she spoke at the protest.

Farmworker: “I ask the governor to have, above all, a conscience. All the vegetables and food that arrive at your table go through the hands of an immigrant. And that is all I can say. As mothers, as women, we are honest people who only come to fight for a better future for our family.”

Republican States Challenge DACA in Court Before Judge Who Ruled Against Program in 2021

Jun 02, 2023

A federal judge in Texas heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit led by nine Republican states to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. A new version of the 2012 Obama-era program was presented by advocates as they fight to salvage the relief, which has provided temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The judge presiding the case, Andrew Hanen, previously declared DACA unlawful in 2021, blocking all new applications while appeals are resolved in court. A ruling deciding DACA’s fate isn’t expected for months, and the case is likely to head to the Supreme Court.

Chicago Will Use $50 Million in City Surplus Funds to Assist Asylum Seekers Sent from Texas

Jun 02, 2023

The Chicago City Council voted Wednesday to allocate more than $50 million from a budget surplus to provide emergency humanitarian aid and housing to the thousands of asylum seekers who have been sent to Chicago since last August by Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott. This is Chicago Alderperson Andre Vasquez.

Andre Vasquez: “So, we’ve got around 10,000 asylum seekers coming from South and Central America. Close to a thousand of them are currently living in our police stations, right? We’re talking sleeping on mats on the floor, sometimes on the floor directly. And we’re talking women, children, like whole families. So, the city currently is looking to see how it’s going to tackle it, at a time where we don’t have the funding and resources from the state and federal government to really adequately address it.”

SCOTUS Decision Will Make It Easier for Employers to Sue Workers Who Strike

Jun 02, 2023

The Supreme Court has dealt a fresh blow to U.S. labor unions, delivering a ruling that makes it easier for employers to sue workers who go on strike. Thursday’s 8-1 opinion, authored by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, sided with a Washington state business that sued members of the Teamsters Union after their work stoppage left wet concrete in trucks, forcing the company to throw away the cement at a financial loss. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the lone dissenter. The Working Families Party blasted the Supreme Court’s latest anti-union ruling, writing in a statement, “The institution that was at one point the last line of defense for working people against oppression and corporate greed is now a bludgeon wielded against those very people by the wealthy and well-connected.”

Amazon’s Corporate Workers Walk Out to Protest Climate Inaction, Labor Issues

Jun 02, 2023

In Seattle, hundreds of workers at Amazon’s corporate headquarters walked out Wednesday during a lunchtime demonstration to call out Amazon’s inaction on its climate goals and labor issues at the company.

Amazon worker: “We want Amazon to do better. We want the warehouse workers to have better conditions. We want responsibility towards climate problems and climate impact.”

Workers also protested layoffs affecting 27,000 people since November, and a recent forced return-to-office policy. Amazon corporate workers in other cities and countries took part in the walkout, many of them virtually.

Bill Cosby Sued for 1969 Sexual Assault as Part of California’s Survivor Lookback Law

Jun 02, 2023

Bill Cosby has been sued by another woman for sexual assault. Victoria Valentino says Cosby raped her and sexually assaulted her friend at his home in 1969 after drugging them. Valentino, then an actor and singer, filed the lawsuit under a new California “lookback” law that gives sexual assault survivors a limited window to file civil suits that exceed the normal statute of limitations. Cosby, who has been accused of rape and other sexual crimes by dozens of women, was allowed to walk free from prison two years ago on a technicality over his 2018 sexual assault conviction.

NYC to Stop Reporting Prison Deaths as Federal Investigator Probes Recent Death at Rikers

Jun 02, 2023

A federal monitor is investigating the death of 31-year-old Joshua Valles and other “disturbing” events at the Rikers Island jail complex. An autopsy revealed that Valles died of a fractured skull, which appears inconsistent with prison reports. The monitor also accused the city jail of a lack of transparency. This comes as New York’s Department of Correction says it will stop notifying the press when someone dies in one of its facilities. The Legal Aid Society said, “This is another lowlight in the Department of Correction’s campaign to keep outside eyes away from the catastrophe that is the city’s jail system and the harm it inflicts daily on New Yorkers trapped inside its deadly walls.”

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