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HeadlinesJune 05, 2023

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Authorities Point to Signal Failure in India Train Disaster That Killed 275+ Passengers

Jun 05, 2023

In India, at least 275 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in the eastern state of Odisha Friday when a packed passenger train crashed into an oncoming freight train, causing another passenger train to derail. The number of victims could rise as more bodies are identified. One 55-year-old survivor witnessed her daughter perish in the disaster.

Koshida Das: “My daughter got buried under bulky iron right in front of my eyes. I managed to stand in a corner, but I was hit in the head by some iron rod or something. I thought about how to get my daughter out from underneath the iron but didn’t know how to move such heavy iron. My daughter kept crying and died right in front of my eyes.”

Authorities say an electronic signaling system failure appears to be at fault, as they start their investigation into one of the deadliest rail disasters in decades. Many of the passengers were students or migrant and day laborers. The tragedy has put the safety of India’s rail system, which carries some 8 billion passengers a year, in the spotlight. While India has made substantial investments into its transportation infrastructure, spending on track maintenance and other security measures has decreased.

Ukrainian Military Says It’s Moving Forward Near Bakhmut as Russia Claims to Thwart Offensive

Jun 05, 2023

The Ukrainian military says it is “moving forward” near Bakhmut, which Russia claimed it captured in May after months of bloody battles. This comes after Russia said it repelled a Ukrainian offensive in the Donetsk region, killing hundreds of troops. Russia’s claims have not been verified, and it’s not clear if Ukraine has yet launched its long-anticipated counteroffensive. Over the weekend, a Russian air raid on the central city of Dnipro injured over 20 people and killed a 2-year-old girl, according to Ukrainian officials. The U.N. says over 525 children have been killed since the start of the invasion in February of last year.

Meanwhile, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi is in Kyiv today, after Pope Francis appointed him to lead a papal peace mission to end the war in Ukraine.

At Least 40 Killed in Darfur as Ceasefire Expires, Deadly Fighting Continues in Sudan

Jun 05, 2023

Sudan’s army has brought in reinforcements as it seeks to defeat the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum. The move has raised fears of intensified fighting in Sudan’s capital after a ceasefire agreement expired, leaving the two sides battling for control of a contested military base and other sites. Elsewhere, heavy fighting continues in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where at least 40 people were killed and dozens more wounded over the weekend. Witnesses say gangs of armed fighters have carried out widespread looting and terrorized civilians, worsening the humanitarian crisis.

Biden Signs Debt Ceiling Bill, Averting Default But Sacrificing Food Assistance, Climate Goals

Jun 05, 2023

President Biden signed legislation raising the debt ceiling Saturday, averting a first-ever default on the national debt.

President Joe Biden: “No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed. We averted an economic crisis, an economic collapse.”

The deal comes after drawn-out negotiations between Biden and Republican leaders, whom Democrats blasted for taking the economy hostage to force spending cuts. The agreement cuts food assistance for hungry people and fast-tracks the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline, while protecting tax cuts for the rich and enriching defense contractors. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.

Interior Dept. Announces 20-Year Halt on New Oil and Gas Leasing at Chaco Canyon

Jun 05, 2023

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Friday new oil and gas leases will not be permitted on public lands in and around the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park in New Mexico. The ban will be in effect for 20 years but only affects new leases. It comes after decades of organizing by Indigenous groups, which consider Chaco Canyon a sacred site.

DuPont and Spinoff Companies Will Pay $1.2 Billion to Settle “Forever Chemicals” Lawsuit

Jun 05, 2023

Three corporations that produce a class of toxic substances commonly called “forever chemicals” have agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle liability claims brought by municipal water agencies who say the companies knowingly contaminated drinking water supplies around the United States. DuPont and two spinoff companies, Chemours and Corteva, will pay into a fund to help remove the chemicals, known as PFAS, which can take centuries to break down in the environment. They’re used in everything from food packaging to cosmetics to fabrics and firefighting foam. PFAS have been found in the blood of nearly all U.S. residents and in a majority of people around the world. They’re linked to a host of health problems in humans, including liver damage, lowered fertility, asthma, thyroid problems, low infant birth weight and cancer.

170+ Nations Agree to Draft Treaty on Plastic Pollution

Jun 05, 2023

Delegates from more than 170 nations have agreed to draft the first global treaty aimed at reducing plastic waste, after a week of U.N.-brokered negotiations in Paris. Delegates to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution will review the draft agreement at their next round of talks in November. Environmental groups are calling on governments not to allow fossil fuel companies and other industry interests to water down the agreement. This is Samoa’s delegate addressing the forum on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States.

Samoan delegate: “Small island developing states inherit much of the plastic waste from all across the globe despite our negligible contribution to the creation. These plastics wash upon our shores, threaten the livelihoods of our people, hinder our tourism and fisheries industries, among others, and suffocate our ecosystems. As stewards of the oceans and seas, we reiterate the urgent need for an agreement that is ambitious from the start, comprehensive across the whole life cycle of plastics, addresses legacy plastics in the marine environment, and one that becomes more robust over time.”

Saudi Arabia Will Slash Oil Production by 1 Million Barrels Per Day

Jun 05, 2023

Saudi Arabia has agreed to cut oil production by a further 1 million barrels per day, after a weekend meeting of OPEC+ members in Vienna, Austria. The move will likely push global oil prices higher. It follows cuts of 3.7 million barrels of oil per day by OPEC+ over the past year. The Biden administration has criticized the cuts, saying increased profits from higher energy prices could benefit Russia.

Deadly Protests Erupt in Senegal After Arrest of Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko

Jun 05, 2023

In Senegal, at least 15 people have been killed after police began a crackdown on protests staged by supporters of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. The crackdown began after a Senegalese court on Thursday sentenced Sonko to two years in prison over an alleged sexual assault. He has accused the government of manufacturing charges against him to derail his candidacy. Sonko is popular among Senegal’s youth and a likely candidate in the 2024 presidential election. This is a student who joined protests in the capital Dakar on Friday.

Alioune Ndiaye: “It’s unfortunate. We don’t want things to be like this, because we all want to learn and finish the year. But since the state has done what it wants, we, too, have our opinion. That’s it.”

German Police Arrest Dozens Protesting Conviction of Anti-Fascist Activists

Jun 05, 2023

In the German city of Leipzig, dozens of people were arrested or detained over the weekend, as police clashed with protesters and authorities sought to ban demonstrations following the conviction last week of an anti-fascist activist. Twenty-eight-year-old Lina E. received five years in prison for attacking neo-Nazis. Three others received sentences of two to three years. Activists decried the violent crackdown on protests and public assembly.

Ende Gelände activist: “It’s unbelievable, experiencing how repressive the state and police are against anti-fascist protesters. It’s exactly the same response to climate activists. But we are standing strong together, in solidarity.”

“State-Sanctioned Kidnapping”: California Blasts Migrant Flights

Jun 05, 2023

Back in the U.S., California authorities have launched an investigation after at least 16 asylum seekers were flown to Sacramento Friday in a private jet believed to have been arranged by the state of Florida. The migrants, who are from Venezuela and Colombia, say they were promised work if they boarded the flight, but were instead dropped off in front of a church with only a backpack’s worth of belongings. The group had entered the U.S. through the Texas border and were transported by bus to New Mexico, where they were put on the chartered jet to California. Officials say the migrants had paperwork appearing to link the flight to Florida. California’s attorney general called the move a “state-sanctioned kidnapping.”

Last year, officials working for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis helped coordinate similar flights, coercing dozens of asylum seekers to go to Martha’s Vineyard under the false promise they’d be given jobs and housing.

Authorities Denied Care to 8-Year-Old Who Died in Border Patrol Custody

Jun 05, 2023

In more immigration news, an investigation into last month’s death of 8-year-old Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez reveals Customs and Border Protection officials refused to call an ambulance for the girl despite her history of medical problems — and even after she presented with a fever of nearly 105 degrees Fahrenheit. She’d been detained with her family by CBP for at least nine days before she died. Her mother pleaded for help but was ignored until the young girl had a seizure and was finally taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Federal Judge Rejects Tennessee Law Banning Drag Shows

Jun 05, 2023

A federal judge has ruled Tennessee’s law banning drag shows is unconstitutional. The Trump-appointed judge said in a decision released Friday the legislation was overly broad and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.” Tennessee’s law was signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee in March and comes as part of an onslaught of attacks on the rights of LGBTQ people. On Saturday, attendees at a Pride event in Franklin, Tennessee, celebrated the ruling. This is drag performer Cya Inhale.

Cya Inhale: “Having the answer finally delivered and that breath of fresh air and that weight off our shoulders that it’s finally gone, we don’t have to worry about it, is lovely. We can breathe easy for the rest of the year. There’s still a fight, and we still have to continue fighting. There are still other states that we are — drag is still being criminalized, that we still have to work on, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

West Coast Dock Workers Strike; Directors Guild Reaches Tentative Deal with Hollywood Studios

Jun 05, 2023

Unionized workers at shipping ports across the West Coast, including in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, have walked off the job as union negotiations demanding better working conditions and benefits continue.

In other labor news, the Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative contract agreement with Hollywood studios covering pay, streaming residuals and protections against AI. The Writers Guild of America remains on strike.

Reporters and Staff at Gannett Newspapers Launch One-Day Strike

Jun 05, 2023

Journalists and staff working at Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper chain, are leading a one-day strike today as the media company holds its annual shareholders’ meeting. Workers are demanding shareholders take a vote of no confidence against Mike Reed, Gannett’s chief executive, and allow for new leadership.

Amazon Fires Leader of Union Organizing Drive in Bessemer, Alabama

Jun 05, 2023

Amazon on Friday abruptly fired union organizer Jennifer Bates, who’s been a leading spokesperson of the unionization campaign by warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama. Bates often spoke out against Amazon’s workplace safety issues and its attacks on union efforts, including in Congress and on Democracy Now! in 2021.

Jennifer Bates: “The reason why we’re organizing is because we need an even playing field. Some of the conditions that are in there are: being ignored by human resources, long work hours with only two breaks, long walks upstairs and downstairs. … So, we want to be heard. We want to be treated like people and not ignored when we have issues. People are getting fired without having their opportunity to speak their side.”

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