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HeadlinesJune 08, 2023

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Wildfire Smoke Shrouds Huge Swaths of North America, Turns New York City’s Skies Orange

Jun 08, 2023

Large swaths of the U.S. and Canada woke up to hazy skies and air quality alerts for a third straight day today as thick smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to blanket areas as far west as Kansas and as far south as the Carolinas. New York City’s skies turned an otherworldly orange as the city recorded its worst-ever air quality reading on Wednesday. Governor Kathy Hochul called the situation “an emergency crisis.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul: “It has an immediate impact on people’s health: irritation to the eyes, the nose, breathing, coughing, so — and even shortness of breath. So, our message right now is going to be reiterated multiple times, because it is simply stay indoors.”

Some schools in New Jersey and New York have closed their doors today, while hospital emergency rooms reported an increase in patients with respiratory issues. Flights were grounded at airports in the Northeast as cities including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., also experience unhealthy levels of smoke. The worst of the pollution is expected to move away from the Northeast by Friday, though conditions may remain hazardous through part of the weekend. Health experts are advising people who need to be outdoors to wear an N95 mask if possible, to block out the dangerous fine particulate matter from the smoke. Forecasters expect the smoke to move south and west today.

Meanwhile, activists are calling on President Biden to declare a climate emergency. Scientists say to expect more events like this, as wildfires have increased due to climate change-induced droughts and high temperatures. We’ll have more on the wildfires and the climate crisis after headlines with New York Times writer David Wallace-Wells.

Hundreds of Trapped Children Rescued from Orphanage in Sudan’s Capital

Jun 08, 2023

In Sudan, a massive fire erupted Wednesday at a fuel storage depot inside a military base in the capital Khartoum as fighting raged between Sudan’s army and its rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The fire threatened to ignite a warehouse filled with weapons and ammunition and prompted fears among nearby residents who remain trapped in their homes. Witnesses reported houses in the area have been hit by stray artillery fire and bullets.

Meanwhile, UNICEF says it has rescued nearly 300 children and 70 caregivers from a Khartoum orphanage that’s been cut off by the fighting. More than 70 children have died from hunger and illness at the orphanage since mid-April. Khartoum residents say drinking water and other necessities remain in short supply.

Mirghani Abdalaziz Diab: “It’s laborious and dangerous to fetch water from the Nile River. If you drill a well, even to a depth of 20 meters, you still can’t get water. Now we can only pay for water. A small bottle of water might be free, but you have to pay to get more. A bucket of water costs 4,000 Sudanese pounds.”


Ukraine Dam Breach Prompts Warnings over Disease, Abandoned Farms and Floating Landmines

Jun 08, 2023

Rescue operations continue in Ukraine, where at least eight deaths have been reported from flooding caused by Tuesday’s breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River. The U.N. warns the breach could lead to the spread of waterborne diseases, and the Red Cross warns floodwaters have dislodged countless landmines, which will pose a threat to civilians for decades to come. The breach is draining a reservoir that supplies water to more than a million acres of Ukraine’s most fertile and productive farmland.

Earlier today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky toured flood-ravaged areas, accusing Russian forces of shelling rescue workers trying to reach survivors. Zelensky also denied his government took part in sabotaging the Nord Stream gas pipelines, after The Washington Post reported a small team of divers under the command of Ukraine’s military staged the undersea bombing of the pipelines last September.

Meanwhile, officials in Moscow and Kyiv blamed one another for damaging a pipeline used to transport ammonia fertilizer from Russia to Ukraine. The damage could prevent the renewal of the Black Sea grain export deal.

This all comes as Ukraine’s military claimed its forces have made incremental advances along the eastern front. On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba rejected calls to negotiate an immediate ceasefire with Russia.

Dmytro Kuleba: “Every peace plan should not lead to freezing of the conflict, because those who think that the urgent task is to freeze the conflict and then to see how to fix it afterwards, they are wrong. They don’t understand the logic of this war.”

Germany Prepares to Host Largest-Ever NATO Air Exercises

Jun 08, 2023

Germany is preparing to host NATO’s largest-ever aerial war games in a show of force against Russia. The chief of staff of Germany’s Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, said next week’s military exercises will include personnel from Sweden — which is seeking NATO membership — as well as members of Japan’s military.

Ingo Gerhartz: “There are 25 nations and 250 planes with almost 10,000 participants involved, which will mean roughly 2,000 flights over these 10 days. We are a defensive alliance, and so this exercise is defensive. We will not be flying any scenarios of an offensive nature.”

Prosecutors Inform Trump He’s Target of Federal Criminal Investigation

Jun 08, 2023

Federal prosecutors have notified Trump’s legal team he is the target of a criminal investigation and may face charges including obstruction of justice. It’s the clearest signal yet the former president is on the cusp of being indicted by the office of special counsel Jack Smith, which has been investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, his role in the January 6 insurrection, as well as his mishandling of classified documents. In Florida, a grand jury has been hearing testimony in the classified materials case. More than 300 classified documents were found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. On Wednesday, Taylor Budowich, former Trump aide and founder of super PAC MAGA Inc., appeared before the grand jury.

Mike Pence Announces 2024 Presidential Bid, Rebukes Trump over Jan. 6 Actions

Jun 08, 2023

Former Vice President Mike Pence officially announced his run for the presidency on Wednesday. Speaking at a rally near Des Moines, Iowa, Pence portrayed his former boss as being unfit to serve, as he recounted Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021.

Mike Pence: “President Trump’s words were reckless. They endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol. But the American people deserve to know that on that day President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution. And I always will.”

Mike Pence also called for abortion to be banned nationwide. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum also announced Wednesday he is running to be the Republican presidential nominee. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his candidacy on Tuesday.

Ron DeSantis Takes Credit for Flying Asylum Seekers to California

Jun 08, 2023

Another 2024 hopeful, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, took credit for flying South American asylum seekers from the U.S. border to Sacramento, California. Florida arranged the flights, but DeSantis blamed California for policies he says incentivize immigration. California has called the flights “state-sanctioned kidnapping” and is considering criminal charges.

CNN Ousts CEO Chris Licht After Short-Lived, Chaotic Tenure

Jun 08, 2023

CNN chief executive Chris Licht has been ousted after weeks of mounting criticism and a plunge in ratings. Licht had been in the position for just over a year and was part of a drive to steer the network toward a more “centrist” position. Last month, CNN came under fire for hosting a chaotic live town hall event with Donald Trump, in which he continued to spew lies before an audience of his supporters. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote, “The lesson is that Licht’s goal of shifting CNN from anti-Trump confrontation toward an imagined political center was doomed from the start, because there is no longer a political center.”

DHS Says Cop City Protesters Are Not Domestic Terrorists, as Labeled by Georgia Law Enforcement

Jun 08, 2023

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has contradicted law enforcement officials in Georgia over their claims that activist groups opposed to the Cop City police training center have been classified as domestic terrorists. On Wednesday, the agency said in a statement it does not classify or designate any groups as domestic violent extremists. The statement came after dozens of Cop City protesters with Defend the Atlanta Forest were served arrest warrants claiming they were members of a group that is “classified by the United States Department of Homeland Security as Domestic Violent Extremists.” And last week three members of another group, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which had been raising money to bail out protesters, were arrested on similar warrants. On Wednesday, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, asked the Department of Homeland Security for clarification, writing, “Peaceful protest is a quintessentially American activity — and a fundamental Constitutional right.”

Black Activists in Mississippi Sue State over Law Cracking Down on Peaceful Protest

Jun 08, 2023

In Mississippi, progressive groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to block a new state law that forces protesters to get approval from law enforcement officials before holding public actions near or at government buildings in the city of Jackson. The law requires prior permission from Mississippi’s public safety commissioner or the state Capitol police chief for demonstrations at the state Supreme Court, the Governor’s Mansion, the state Capitol grounds and other government sites. The suit was filed last week by the JXN Undivided Coalition, Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign, Black Voters Matter and others. The groups say this is an attempt of the white, Republican supermajority to strip predominantly Black communities in and around Jackson of local autonomy and the right to free assembly. The new law is set to take effect July 1.

Biden Vetoes Bill Canceling Student Loan Relief

Jun 08, 2023

President Biden has vetoed legislation that would have revoked his plan to give 40 million U.S. student loan borrowers up to $20,000 each in relief. Biden’s veto came after Senators Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin and Jon Tester joined all 49 Senate Republicans voting in favor of repealing student loan relief.

EU Court Rules Against Polish Move to Undermine Courts as 500,000 March Against Government

Jun 08, 2023

The European Union’s top court has ruled against judicial reforms signed by Poland’s far-right President Andrzej Duda, saying the 2019 reforms violate EU laws regarding the independence of judges. The ruling by the European Court of Justice came a day after an estimated half-million people marched in the capital Warsaw and other Polish cities to protest against Duda and his ruling Law and Justice party. Protesters decried the party’s attacks on reproductive rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ people, independent journalists and civil society groups. Donald Tusk, former Polish prime minister, European Council president and opposition leader, told a crowd in Warsaw that he and other government critics are threatened by a new law that gives the government the power to investigate “Russian influence” in Poland and to ban people from public office without judicial oversight.

Donald Tusk: “If you don’t want citizens’ rights and freedoms to be violated every day, you are against that, then you are against the Law and Justice party. If you don’t want Polish women to be humiliated, for Polish women to be deprived of fundamental rights, even the right to life and security, if you are against those who humiliate Polish women, then you are against the Law and Justice party.”

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