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HeadlinesJuly 17, 2023

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Unrelenting Heat Scorches Planet, Shattering Records from U.S. to China

Jul 17, 2023

Suffocating heat is gripping three continents as the summer’s record-breaking temperatures continue to scorch large swaths of the U.S., Asia and Europe. One hundred million U.S. residents remain under extreme heat advisories with dangerous conditions forecast this week in the South, the Southwest and South Florida. In Arizona, an unrelenting heat wave is on track to break the previous record of 18 straight days of 110-degrees-plus highs in Phoenix. Some of those most at risk include people who work outdoors, like construction workers, as well as unhoused people.

Kevin Hendershot: “I’ve been here for 12 years, and I haven’t seen nothing like it. It’s hot. … I fell asleep on some hot concrete, and my whole left side got third-degree burns on them, you know? So, that’s an eye-opener.”

Europe could record its hottest day ever on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Over the weekend, Italian authorities issued an “extreme” health risk in 16 cities including Rome and Florence. Italians flocked to lakes and seasides in an attempt to cool down.

Federico Bratti: “This is not normal. I don’t remember such intense heat, especially at this time of year.”

In northern Syria, displaced people describe the conditions at camps as akin to living in an oven. Children and elderly people are some of the most vulnerable and have scarce options for relief amid 108-degree heat.

Meanwhile, China just recorded its highest known temperature as the thermometer hit 126 degrees Fahrenheit, smashing the previous record by three degrees.

Climate Change-Fueled Floods and Wildfires Bring Death and Misery Across the Globe

Jul 17, 2023

In South Korea, at least 40 people have died after days of torrential downpours and flooding. Twelve people were killed when 16 vehicles, including a bus, got trapped and inundated in a tunnel in Cheongju after a river levee collapsed. Grief-stricken locals called out the response of authorities to the disaster.

Kong Seong-pyo: “It feels like it could have happened to me. I feel like I’ve died. … Authorities should have restricted access to the tunnel in advance. The response was insufficient.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who also placed blame on authorities, called for better plans to deal with weather-related disasters, which are becoming “commonplace” due to the climate crisis.

At least 100 people have died in India this month as the monsoon continues to wreak havoc, with entire towns swamped while flooding washes away vehicles, bridges and roads. Delhi has received over 90% more rainfall than is considered normal during the monsoon. But the worst flooding has been experienced in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, where new construction to accommodate tourists has worsened landslides and flooding. This is a young girl whose former school was swept away.

Chandrakala: “I used to study in this school, and I felt really bad when the school building was washed away. The studies of children who are from far-off places are also suffering. I feel really sad that the children are hit by this loss. Our memories are also washed away with the school.”

Here in the U.S., parts of the Northeast were pummeled with more rain over the weekend. In the Philadelphia suburbs of Bucks County, at least five people died after they were caught in flash flooding while in their car. At least 1,400 flights were canceled in the Northeast as of Sunday night. Meanwhile, thick smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires triggered air quality alerts across the Midwest, with Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee reporting “unhealthy” levels of air pollution. There are also warnings put out by the New York governor across the state.

In the Canary Islands, Spanish authorities have evacuated more than 4,000 people from the island of La Palma as firefighters battle “out-of-control” wildfires.

We’ll have more on the global heat wave, extreme weather and the climate crisis after headlines with Rolling Stones reporter Jeff Goodell, author of “The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet.”

Russia Withdraws from Black Sea Grain Deal After Explosions on Kerch Bridge Kill 2

Jul 17, 2023

Russia says it is terminating the Black Sea grain deal, which expires today. The deal has allowed for the safe export of food and fertilizer from Ukrainian ports and was seen as essential in combating global food insecurity. Today’s announcement from Moscow came hours after the bridge connecting Crimea to Russia was shut down following early-morning explosions, which killed two people and injured a child, according to Russian officials. Kyiv did not take explicit responsibility, though Ukrainian officials told several media outlets their forces carried out the attack.

On the battlefield, Ukraine says it is gradually regaining control of more territory amid reports of intense fighting along the eastern front.

Russia Says It’s Prepared to Use Cluster Bombs; Putin Visit to South Africa Could Result in Arrest

Jul 17, 2023

The U.S. said it will allow European countries to train Ukrainian fighters on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets. Meanwhile, Russia has vowed to respond in kind if Ukraine deploys cluster munitions provided by the U.S. This is Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Sergei Shoigu: “I want to mark that Russia has cluster bombs for all occasions. They are more effective than American and more widely varied.”

Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. are not signatories to an international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. We’ll have more on cluster munitions later in the broadcast with U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk and former Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

President Vladimir Putin said he plans to go ahead with a trip to South Africa next month to attend the BRICS summit despite a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court. As a member of the ICC, South Africa would be obligated to arrest Putin.

U.N. Says Nearly 300 Migrant Children Have Drowned in Mediterranean Crossings This Year

Jul 17, 2023

UNICEF said Friday at least 289 migrant children drowned while trying to reach Europe so far this year — around twice as many as in the first six months of 2022. Over 11,000 children have made the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean since the start of the year, according to the U.N. agency. Many of them were either unaccompanied or separated from family. A UNICEF official called for better protections for young asylum seekers, lamenting, “Hundreds of girls and boys are drowning in the world’s inaction.”

Libyan Border Guards Apprehend Asylum Seekers Abandoned by Tunisia in Desert

Jul 17, 2023

Libyan border guards have apprehended at least 80 exhausted and dehydrated migrants after they were rounded up by authorities in neighboring Tunisia and abandoned in the desert without food, water or shelter. The group was among hundreds of Black African asylum seekers forcibly expelled from the city of Sfax to Tunisia’s heavily militarized border with Libya. Refugees have faced abuse from authorities on both sides of the border, with accounts of rape and sexual assault.

On Sunday, Tunisia’s government signed a “strategic partnership” with the European Union, pledging to crack down on migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to seek asylum in Europe. The agreement comes after the European Commission said it was considering an aid package for Tunisia worth over $1 billion.

Mexico Apprehends Hundreds of U.S.-Bound Asylum Seekers

Jul 17, 2023

In Mexico, authorities apprehended over 500 asylum seekers this weekend in the state of Veracruz as the Mexican government intensifies its crackdown on migrants attempting to reach the U.S. border. More than 200 people, including children, were found in an abandoned trailer, many of them with symptoms of severe dehydration. At least six people were arrested for their role in transporting the hundreds of migrants, who were mostly from Central America and Cuba. Stricter immigration policies in Mexico and the U.S. have forced asylum seekers to rely on smugglers and take on deadly routes to reach the United States

Mexican Journalist Nelson Matus Assassinated in Guerrero

Jul 17, 2023

In Mexico, a journalist was shot dead Saturday in the state of Guerrero. Nelson Matus was the director of a local news outlet that reported worsening violence in the region. Matus was gunned down while he sat in his car in the parking lot of a store in the city of Acapulco. He had survived two other assassination attempts, including one in 2019.

Iran’s Morality Police Resume Patrols 10 Months After Mahsa Amini’s Death Sparked Protests

Jul 17, 2023

Iran’s morality police have resumed patrolling the streets for the first time since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in its custody in September. The morality police had largely been pulled back after Amini’s death, which triggered massive nationwide protests. The move comes as Iranian authorities are escalating efforts to arrest women who are deemed in violation of the strict headscarf dress code. This is an Iranian student in Tehran.

Ismaili: “Do you think the morality police can prevent women from not wearing a hijab? They cannot impose it like before. The number of people who do not obey is too high now. They cannot handle all of us. The last thing they can do is use violence and force against us.”

DOJ Opens Civil Rights Probe of Atlanta-Area Jails After Deaths of Prisoners

Jul 17, 2023

Back in the U.S., the Justice Department has opened an investigation into conditions at Atlanta-area jails following the death of another prisoner. Fulton County officials say 19-year-old Noni Battiste-Kosoko was found unresponsive in her cell in the Atlanta City Detention Center last Tuesday. She was arrested on a misdemeanor warrant and held without bond. This follows the death last year of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson, a Black man who was being held in the Fulton County Jail’s psychiatric wing, where his family says he was “eaten alive” by insects and bedbugs in his cell. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke says the probe will look into reports of deplorable conditions in Fulton County jails, lack of access to medical and mental healthcare, and the use of excessive force by staff.

House GOP Approves Record Military Budget with Anti-Abortion and Anti-LGBTQIA Provisions

Jul 17, 2023

The House of Representatives has approved a record-shattering military budget of $886 billion for the coming fiscal year. Lawmakers approved the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday by a vote of 219 to 210, with all but four Democrats opposed. The legislation appears doomed in the Democratic-controlled Senate, after Republicans included amendments barring the Pentagon from reimbursing the expenses of personnel who travel out of state to obtain an abortion. This is Democratic Congressmember Greg Stanton of Arizona.

Rep. Greg Stanton: “Today nearly half of servicewomen no longer have access to abortion care. Many live hundreds of miles from the nearest provider. Access to abortion should not depend on where someone lives or where they are stationed. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rightly noted that the Dobbs decision would, quote, would 'interfere with the U.S. military's ability to recruit, retain and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force.’”

Other amendments added by Republicans bar the Pentagon from paying for gender-affirming medical care and hormone therapy for transgender people, and ban the display of LGBTQIA Pride flags at military bases. House Republicans refused to allow a vote on an amendment by Democratic Congressmembers Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee that would have slashed $100 billion from the military budget.

Biden Administration to Cancel $39 Billion in Student Debt for 800,000+ Borrowers

Jul 17, 2023

The Education Department said Friday it is canceling $39 billion in federal student debt for over 800,000 borrowers. The plan will benefit those enrolled in income-driven repayment plans who would or should have qualified for relief after making monthly payments for 20 or 25 years, but did not because of oversight, errors or shortcuts taken by loan servicers. The move, which has been in the works for at least the past year, comes two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s student debt plan that would have eliminated $400 billion in student loans for some 40 million people.

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