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HeadlinesJuly 13, 2023

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As NATO Summit Wraps, Biden Pledges Ukraine Will Join Military Alliance “Some Day”

Jul 13, 2023

Heads of state from 31 NATO member nations have wrapped up their annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, pledging to support Ukraine in its war against Russia “for as long as it takes.” On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the talks, one day after he sharply criticized NATO’s refusal to commit to a timeline for Ukraine to join the military alliance as “unprecedented and absurd.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “To put it in simple terms, the moment the war is over, Ukraine will definitely be invited to join NATO, and Ukraine will become a member of the alliance.”

Before leaving Vilnius, Biden delivered a major address, reaffirming U.S. support for Ukraine to join NATO “some day” and declaring NATO is now stronger than ever. President Biden is in Helsinki, Finland, today for a meeting with Scandinavian leaders. Finland recently joined NATO, and Sweden is poised to join as its 32nd member nation. Biden is the first U.S. president to visit Finland since then-President Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin at a 2018 U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki. We’ll have more on the NATO summit after headlines.

Russian General with Advance Knowledge of Wagner Rebellion Disappears

Jul 13, 2023

In Ukraine, at least one person was killed as Russia launched a wave of drone and missile attacks on the capital, Kyiv, for the third straight night.

The attacks came amid mounting signs of a crackdown by the Kremlin on leaders of the failed June 23 mutiny by Wagner Group mercenaries. A Russian lawmaker close to President Putin said Wednesday the deputy commander of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is “currently resting” and “not available for now.” Sergey Surovikin reportedly had advance knowledge of the Wagner rebellion; he has not been seen publicly since shortly after the failed mutiny.

On Wednesday, Russia’s foreign intelligence chief, Sergey Naryshkin, confirmed he spoke with the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, in a phone call late last month to discuss the Wagner rebellion and the war in Ukraine.

U.N. Security Council to Meet Following North Korean Ballistic Missile Test

Jul 13, 2023

The U.N. Security Council is meeting to discuss North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday, the 12th such test this year. The launch came after Pyongyang threatened to retaliate against alleged U.S. spy plane incursions over its territory. Japan and South Korea’s leaders condemned the launch from the NATO summit.

U.N. Calls for Probe After 87 Bodies Discovered in Mass Grave in Sudan’s Darfur 

Jul 13, 2023

The U.N. is calling for an investigation over a mass grave in Sudan’s West Darfur which contained at least 87 bodies, including members of the ethnic Masalit community. The U.N.’s human rights chief said there is credible information that the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are responsible. This comes as peace talks appear to have hit a wall and as the U.N. warns Sudan is on the brink of a “full-scale civil war” after three months of deadly fighting.

Guatemala AG Suspends Progressive Semilla Party as Court Sends Leader Bernardo Arévalo to Runoff

Jul 13, 2023

Guatemala is facing deepening political turmoil as the Attorney General’s Office suspended the progressive Semilla party Wednesday. Just minutes later, Guatemala’s top electoral tribunal certified the results of the first round of the presidential election, sending conservative former first lady Sandra Torres and Semilla’s Bernardo Arévalo to the August runoff. Following Semilla’s surprise second-place position in June’s first round, Torres and her allies challenged the results, leading to a review of the votes. Arévalo is running on an anti-corruption platform. He is the son of Guatemala’s first democratically elected president, Juan José Arévalo.


20 Million in Indian Capital Face Drinking Water Shortages Amid Historic Flooding

Jul 13, 2023

In India, authorities in the capital New Delhi are warning of shortages of drinking water after the city of 20 million people was inundated by torrential rains, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods. Recent flooding in India has left at least 22 people dead.

Spain Faces Highs of 45°C as Report Finds 2022’s Heat Wave Killed 61,000+ in Europe

Jul 13, 2023

Southern Europe is baking under an unrelenting heat wave, with parts of Spain forecast to top 45 degrees Celsius, or 113 degrees Fahrenheit. This week a report in the journal Nature Medicine found Europe’s historically hot summer last year resulted in more than 61,000 premature deaths.

112 Million Under Heat Alerts Across U.S.

Jul 13, 2023

Here in the United States, multiple tornadoes touched down Wednesday across the Chicago area, including a twister that struck near Chicago O’Hare International Airport, prompting passengers to take cover and disrupting hundreds of flights. More than 112 million people across the U.S. were under heat alerts on Wednesday, with more blistering heat in the forecast through the weekend. This is meteorologist Tom Frieders of the National Weather Service.

Tom Frieders: “We’re looking at, you know, potential daily records for high temperatures being broken, from California, to the west, through Arizona all the way into West Texas.”

Meanwhile, Vermont, which has suffered from major flooding, is expecting major rainfall this weekend.

Marine Biologists Warn Ocean Heat Threatens Mass Die-Off of Caribbean Coral Reefs

Jul 13, 2023

In the Caribbean, marine biologists are warning that unprecedented ocean heat is further stressing a coral reef system that’s already on the brink of collapse. This week the Farmers Insurance company said it would no longer cover properties in Florida, citing increasingly frequent extreme weather and flooding events caused by the climate crisis.

Leaders of Colombia and Brazil Pledge to Protect Amazon from Deforestation

Jul 13, 2023

Colombian officials said Wednesday that deforestation in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest dropped by 26% last year, as the government worked with former rebels to protect the environment. This follows the release of new figures showing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell by one-third in the first half of 2023 amid a government crackdown on illegal miners and loggers. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro met at a regional summit over the weekend, where they pledged to work together to safeguard the Amazon. President Petro said Indigenous communities deserve an economy that doesn’t rely on extractive industries.

President Gustavo Petro: “The Northern people wiped out the forests and killed the Indigenous people. Is that development? Do we have to do the same? Or is there an entirely different perspective opening up? There is another kind of development that has to do with not cutting down the tree.”

Telecom Giants Hid Dangers of Lead in Sprawling Cable Network; EPA Clamps Down on Lead Dust

Jul 13, 2023

A new report by The Wall Street Journal reveals AT&T, Verizon and other telecom companies for decades covered up the dangers of their lead-containing phone cables to workers and the environment. But the companies failed to take action to mitigate or monitor the risks posed by sprawling networks of cables, despite internal reports showing dangerously high levels of lead found in the blood of workers. At least 2,000 — though likely many more — lead-covered cables remain under water, in soil and in overhead poles throughout the U.S.

In related news, the EPA is proposing stricter limits on lead dust from homes and child care facilities built before 1978, as an official asserted, “There is no safe level of lead.” The new rule would deem any quantity of dust in floors and window sills from lead-based paint as “hazardous” and requiring abatement. Babies and young children are the most vulnerable to lead exposure, which can cause damage to the brain and nervous system.

Clarence Thomas Aide Received Payments from Lawyers with Supreme Court Cases

Jul 13, 2023

Several lawyers who’ve had business before the U.S. Supreme Court used the online payment app Venmo to send money to a top aide to Justice Clarence Thomas. That’s according to The Guardian, which reports the payments to the aide, Rajan Vasisht, appear to have been made in connection to a 2019 Christmas party held by Justice Thomas. Among those making payments was Patrick Strawbridge, who recently successfully argued that affirmative action violated the U.S. Constitution, and Elbert Lin, who played a key role in a case that saw the Supreme Court limit the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter responded, “There is no excuse for it. … A federal government employee collecting money from lawyers for any reason … I don’t see how that works.”

GOP House Members Accuse Christopher Wray of Politicizing FBI in Heated Hearing

Jul 13, 2023

Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray Wednesday, accusing his agency of “politicization” as they took issue with Wray’s response to the Capitol insurrection; investigations into Donald Trump, President Biden and his family; and the agency’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, among other things. This is FBI Director Christopher Wray during a heated exchange with Wyoming Congressmember Harriet Hageman, who accused Wray of “weaponiz[ing] the FBI against conservatives.” 

Christopher Wray: “The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background.”

Christopher Wray is a registered Republican appointed by former President Trump.

Actors Set to Strike After “Insulting” Offer by Hollywood Studios to SAG-AFTRA Union

Jul 13, 2023

The union representing more than 160,000 Hollywood actors and performers is on the cusp of a strike. This morning, a negotiating committee with the Screen Actors Guild voted unanimously to recommend a walkout, after talks with a federal mediator aimed at hammering out a new labor contract failed at the 11th hour. Guild President Fran Drescher said in a statement, “The [Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers]'s responses to the union's most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry.” Hollywood writers have been on strike since May 2. Joelle Sellner, a writer who joined picket lines in Burbank, California, on Wednesday, says a walkout by actors will turn up pressure on big studios.

Joelle Sellner: “If SAG goes on strike, they lose their reality and game shows, and they’re going to really start to feel it, because right now they’ve stockpiled scripts, and they have things in the pipeline, things they think they can do without writers, and you really can’t do anything without actors.” 

Democracy Now! employees are represented by SAG-AFTRA but are covered by a different union contract than Hollywood actors.

Mutulu Shakur, Black Liberation Activist, Dies 7 Months After Release from 37 Years in Prison

Jul 13, 2023

Longtime political prisoner Mutulu Shakur has died from cancer at the age of 72, just seven months after his release on parole and nearly 37 years in prison. The stepfather of the late hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur was convicted in 1988 of conspiracy in several armed robberies and for aiding the 1979 prison escape of Assata Shakur, who fled to Cuba. In the 1970s, Mutulu Shakur was part of the Black nationalist group Republic of New Afrika that worked with the Black Panther Party and Young Lords to start the first acupuncture detoxification program in the U.S. as drugs flooded their communities.

Mutulu Shakur: “People would come to the Bronx, dope fiends, hardened dope victims. We would massage their ears and massage their hands and their legs. And we would stand there with our fingers in their ears or in the different points, and we’d do deep breathing, and they’d fall right out to sleep and just relax. And then the next day they’d be back for that treatment. And we were detoxifying people off of heroin and cocaine and methadone with acupressure, a lot of love, a lot of commitment to it.”

Mutulu Shakur, speaking in the documentary “Dope is Death,” directed by Mia Donovan. 

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