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HeadlinesJune 23, 2023

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Receives Lavish Welcome in U.S. State Visit

Jun 23, 2023

President Biden welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House Thursday, praising a new era in U.S.-India relations, on Modi’s second day of a lavish visit to the U.S. that’s been condemned by human rights advocates. The two leaders announced a series of new initiatives, including a landmark deal for General Electric to build military jet engines in India. Modi delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress and was later feted at a state dinner with the president and first lady Jill Biden. In a rare occurrence, Modi accepted questions from journalists during a news conference with President Biden. Wall Street Journal reporter Sabrina Siddiqui, who is Muslim, pressed Modi on human rights concerns and asked him what steps he’s taking to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities and press freedom in India. It’s believed to be the first question Modi took from a journalist at a news conference since 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “We have always proved that democracy can deliver. And when I say 'deliver,' this is regardless of caste, creed, religion or gender. There’s absolutely no space for discrimination.”

Activists ID Hundreds Killed by Paramilitaries and Arab Militias in Sudan’s Darfur Region

Jun 23, 2023

In Sudan, residents began fleeing the southwestern city of Kadugli Thursday as a new front opened between Sudan’s army and the rebel group known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. Sudan’s army says fighters with the group broke a long-standing ceasefire agreement this week and attacked Sudanese military units.

In the capital Khartoum, heavy fighting continues between Sudan’s army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Elsewhere, activists say they’ve identified 500 bodies across the city of El Geneina, the capital of Sudan’s western Darfur region. Witnesses say thousands more bodies remain uncollected in the city’s streets, after paramilitaries and allied Arab militias stepped up attacks on non-Arab residents of the region. Aid workers say tens of thousands of people fleeing the violence for neighboring Chad have also faced the threat of violence and sexual assault. Laura Lo Castro, the U.N. Refugee Agency’s representative in Chad, spoke to refugees who survived the journey.

Laura Lo Castro: “They described terrifying scenes in which everyone had to flee for their lives. There were massacres. And as they fled, they sometimes, unfortunately, had to leave behind little children who couldn’t run, people who were injured and the elderly.”

Greek Authorities Rescue 145 Migrants Stranded on Turkey-Greece Border

Jun 23, 2023

Authorities in Greece have rescued 145 migrants who were found stranded on an island in the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border. Thursday’s rescue came as shocking details continued to emerge about how Greek Coast Guard officials failed to save hundreds of migrants who drowned last week after their overcrowded fishing vessel sank off the Greek coast. El País reports Greek authorities were tracking the ship for more than 12 hours and never activated a rescue operation, even after the ship’s engine broke down.

Search for Missing Tourists Ends as Debris from Sub Is Found Near Wreckage of Titanic

Jun 23, 2023

In the Atlantic Ocean, rescue crews have called off a multinational, multimillion-dollar operation to locate five people aboard the missing Titan submersible after debris from the vehicle was discovered Thursday near the wreckage of the Titanic. Engineers say the sub’s operator, OceanGate, failed to properly account for design failures in the submersible, which was never certified to withstand the crushing pressures of the deep ocean. It’s believed the sub’s pilot, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, died instantly along with four passengers who paid $250,000 each for the adventure. This is Rush speaking in a 2022 documentary by Mexican filmmaker Alan Estrada.

Stockton Rush: “I’d like to be remembered as an innovator. I think it was General MacArthur who said, ’You’re remembered for the rules you break.’ And, you know, I’ve broken some rules to make this. I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me. The carbon fiber and titanium, there’s a rule you don’t do that. Well, I did.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that a top-secret U.S. Navy acoustic detection system designed to spot enemy submarines heard what the U.S. Navy suspected was the Titan submersible implosion, just hours after it began its voyage.

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Beijing Suffers Warmest June Day on Record; Southern U.S. and Mexico Bake Under Heat Wave

Jun 23, 2023

In climate news, Beijing is suffering its warmest June heat wave on record, with high temperatures in the Chinese capital Thursday climbing above 41 degrees Celsius, or 106 degrees Fahrenheit — its hottest June day since records began. In Mexico, a searing heat wave has driven record demand for electricity, with reports of blackouts in a dozen states this week. The extreme heat extends into the United States, where parts of Texas and other southern states face “excessive heat” warnings into next week. This comes as smoke from massive wildfires continues to trigger air pollution warnings in Canada and parts of the U.S., with “unhealthy” air quality forecast for Chicago and much of Wisconsin today. The Union of Concerned Scientists reports half of the U.S. population has faced an extreme weather alert so far this year.

Meanwhile, a new study published in the journal Nature Sustainability finds Earth’s ecosystems are degrading from global heating even more rapidly than previously thought, with one in five ecosystems — including the Amazon rainforest — at risk of passing a crucial “tipping point” by the end of the century.

Mexican Environmentalists Álvaro Arvizu and Cuauhtémoc Márquez Found Murdered

Jun 23, 2023

In Mexico, human rights advocates are demanding justice for two environmentalists assassinated in separate attacks in the state of Mexico earlier this month. Álvaro Arvizu and Cuauhtémoc Márquez were forest and water defenders who fought against extractivism in the region. Márquez, who was also a beekeeper, was shot dead near his home on June 12. A day later, Arvizu died after being brutally assaulted by a group of unknown assailants with what appeared to be an ax. Mexico continues to be one of the deadliest countries for environmentalists in the world.

French Government Bans “Earth Uprising” Direct-Action Climate Group

Jun 23, 2023

The government of France has ordered the shutdown of the direct-action environmental group Earth Uprising, wielding powers that it previously used to outlaw far-right movements. The order came after the French interior minister accused Earth Uprising of carrying out “eco-terrorism” at several recent high-profile protests. The group responded in a statement, “Trying to silence Earth Uprising is a vain attempt to break the thermometer instead of worrying about the temperature.” The crackdown drew criticism from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke Thursday from Paris.

Greta Thunberg: “All over the world we are experiencing this, not the least, for example, here in France just the other day, and that activists are being systemically targeted with repression and are paying the price for defending life and for the right to protest.”

Greta Thunberg was speaking at this week’s Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris, where climate activists are demanding world leaders mobilize trillions of dollars to finance a transition to clean energy and a “loss and damage fund” to help the Global South deal with the worst effects of a climate catastrophe they did not cause. This is Ineza Grace, a youth climate activist from Rwanda.

Ineza Grace: “We have recently seen the flooding in Italy, the wildfire in Canada. But the developing world is hit the hardest because they have the least resources to cope. For countries like mine, business as usual is a death sentence.”

Supreme Court Rules Against Navajo Nation in Dispute over Water Rights

Jun 23, 2023

Back in the U.S., the Supreme Court has ruled against the Navajo Nation over claims the federal government has failed in its duty to address the tribe’s water rights. Writing for the majority in Thursday’s 5-4 ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the 1868 treaty that established the Navajo Reservation said nothing about an “affirmative duty” for the United States to secure water. The court’s three liberal justices joined Neil Gorsuch in dissent, writing that the government has a duty to properly manage the water it holds for the tribe. Thousands of Navajo Nation members lack access to running water in their homes, even though the Colorado River runs along the northwestern border of their reservation.

New York House Speaker Won’t Schedule Vote on Undocumented Immigrant Healthcare Bill

Jun 23, 2023

In New York, immigration advocates have vowed to keep fighting after state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie refused to hold a vote on legislation that would have allowed undocumented people to enroll in New York’s Essential Plan, government-subsidized health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act. The “Coverage for All” bill had passed the state Senate earlier this month. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. Nearly half a million New Yorkers are currently excluded from Medicaid in the Essential Plan healthcare coverage due to their immigration status. Click here to see our interview with New York Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, who sponsored the bill.

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