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HeadlinesJuly 19, 2023

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Trump Says He’s the Target of Federal Criminal Probe of Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election

Jul 19, 2023

Donald Trump said Tuesday federal prosecutors have informed him he’s the target of a Justice Department criminal investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump made a similar announcement shortly before special prosecutor Jack Smith filed criminal charges over his mishandling of classified documents.

In Florida, the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing the classified documents case on Tuesday appeared skeptical of Trump’s request to delay the trial until after the 2024 election. But Judge Aileen Cannon also appeared unlikely to approve a request by federal prosecutors to start the trial before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, all nine justices on Georgia’s Supreme Court have rejected a bid by Trump’s lawyers to block an investigation by Atlanta-area prosecutor Fani Willis into efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election. Willis has said she’ll announce in August whether charges will be brought in the case.

Michigan Attorney General Charges 16 GOP “Fake Electors” with Felonies

Jul 19, 2023

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 16 people with felonies for falsely claiming to be presidential electors as they attempted to overturn Trump’s 2020 defeat in the state.

Attorney General Dana Nessel: “As part of the orchestrated plan, we allege that 16 Michigan residents met covertly in the basement of Michigan GOP headquarters and knowingly, and of their own volition, signed their names to multiple certificates stating that they were 'the duly elected and qualified electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the State of Michigan.' That was a lie.”

One of those charged is Meshawn Maddock, former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, a close ally to Trump and the wife of state representative Matt Maddock. Meshawn Maddock previously told a gathering of local Republicans the Trump campaign had directed the fake elector scheme.

Chinese Coal Consumption Hits Record High as Temperatures Soar

Jul 19, 2023

In China, a series of unrelenting heat waves has created a soaring demand for electricity, leading to unprecedented amounts of coal consumption at China’s more than 1,000 coal-fired power plants. This comes after the Chinese government approved a record-breaking 86 gigawatts of new coal-fired power capacity last year. 

Floodwaters Lap Walls of India’s Taj Mahal; Heat Index in Iran Tops 150°F

Jul 19, 2023

In northern India, floodwaters from unusually heavy rains have pushed the Yamuna River to levels not seen in nearly half a century. On Tuesday, the swollen river was lapping the walls of the famed Taj Mahal, prompting fears that the 17th century monument could become damaged.

In Iran, a combination of heat and humidity this week pushed the heat index at the Persian Gulf International Airport to 152 degrees Fahrenheit, with a dew point above 90°. That’s close to the limit of what the human body can survive.

Wildfires Erupt in Greece as Europe Swelters in Record Heat

Jul 19, 2023

Europe is still sweltering. On Tuesday, Rome reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit, or nearly 42 degrees Celsius, while other Italian cities also shattered all-time temperature records. Some hospitals reported their highest number of daily admissions since the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Greece, the European Union is sending water bombers and hundreds of firefighters and soldiers to battle wildfires that erupted around Athens. More wildfires are burning in Spain, Turkey and Switzerland.

ACLU Asks Court to Release Children from Angola Prison as Heat Index Tops 130°

Jul 19, 2023

Here in the U.S., more than 58 million people are enduring triple-digit temperatures this week, with forecasters warning a massive heat dome will remain fixed in southwestern and southern states.

In Louisiana, the ACLU filed an emergency plea with a federal court this week asking for the transfer of children incarcerated at the notorious Angola prison. Advocates say the child prisoners — who are mostly Black — were locked in windowless cells without air conditioning around the clock in the prison’s former death row as the heat index inside Angola topped 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whistleblower Says Texas Officers Were Ordered to Push Migrant Children into Rio Grande

Jul 19, 2023

In Texas, officials directed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott to apprehend asylum seekers at the southern border were ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande and to deny water to migrants even in the sweltering heat. That’s according to the Houston Chronicle, which obtained an email written by a Texas Public Safety Department agent calling for policy changes.

The trooper, Nicholas Wingate, calls for the removal of barrels wrapped in razor wire placed in the Rio Grande to stop migrants from crossing the river, writing to his colleagues, “this is nothing but an inhumane trap in high water and low visibility.” He describes two incidents from last month where a 4-year-old migrant girl and a pregnant woman having a miscarriage were found with severe injuries as they crashed into the barbed-wire barrels while crossing the river. The young girl had also passed out from heat exhaustion. Wingate also wrote that a migrant mother and one of her children drowned in the Rio Grande in early July, and that the woman’s other child was never found. Those drownings were never officially reported.

ICC to Probe Reports of Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur as Violence Escalates Across Sudan 

Jul 19, 2023

In Sudan, the U.N. reports 200,000 people have been displaced just in the past week as fighting rages between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF. In the four months since the conflict erupted, some 2.6 million people have been internally displaced, and over 730,000 have fled Sudan. Survivors of the 2003 genocide in Darfur say the targeting of the Masalit people in today’s conflict resembles the ethnic cleansing suffered in the region 20 years ago. The International Criminal Court launched an investigation last week into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. This is ICC prosecutor Karim Khan.

Karim Khan: “We are, by any analysis, not on the precipice of a human catastrophe, but in the very midst of one. It is occurring. And it’s my analysis and my prayer and advice that we must act urgently, collectively to protect the most vulnerable.”

South Africa Says Vladimir Putin Will Not Attend BRICS Summit as ICC Seeks His Arrest

Jul 19, 2023

In other news about the International Criminal Court, South Africa has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend this year’s BRICS summit. As a member of the ICC, which in March issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, South Africa would be obligated to arrest him if he entered the country.

Syria Says Two Soldiers Injured by Israeli Airstrikes on Damascus

Jul 19, 2023

Syrian news outlets are reporting two Syrian soldiers were injured earlier today as Israel’s military launched airstrikes around the capital, Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the assault, which targeted military sites and warehouses operated by Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, was the 20th such attack by Israel this year inside Syria.

Palestinian Medical Workers Receive Body Armor Amid Spike in Israeli Assaults

Jul 19, 2023

In Palestine, the Red Crescent Society says it has begun equipping first responders with helmets and bulletproof vests amid a surge in attacks on medical workers by Israeli forces and settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Red Crescent says there have been nearly 200 incidents targeting staff and ambulances so far in 2023 — more than triple the rate seen over the same period last year. Meanwhile, the Israeli human rights group Peace Now reports Israel’s far-right government has approved 13,000 new housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank — the highest rate of construction since Peace Now began tracking settlements over a decade ago.

Israelis Continue Mass Protests as Lawmakers Prepare Vote on Gutting of Courts 

Jul 19, 2023

In Israel, tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of cities nationwide Tuesday for the 28th consecutive week of protests against plans by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu to gut Israel’s judiciary. A final vote on the measure could come as soon as early next week.

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Biden Vows Continued Support to Israel as Progressives Boycott Speech of President Herzog 

Jul 19, 2023

President Joe Biden welcomed Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, pledging U.S. support to Israel despite rising violence and human rights abuses against Palestinians and the continued expansion of illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Herzog spoke to reporters outside the White House after meeting Biden in the Oval Office.

President Isaac Herzog: “And we discussed, thus, many issues, including the Iranian nuclear threat and the operations by Hezbollah to flare up the region, as well as our ironclad alliance on security, including the ability to build regional cooperation and move forward on the circle of peace.”

Herzog will address a joint meeting of Congress today. Some progressive Democrats are planning to boycott the speech to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Among those skipping are New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the first two Muslim women elected to Congress: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, who is Palestinian American.

On Tuesday, members of the House of Representatives voted 412 to 9 in favor of a resolution proclaiming that Israel is “not a racist or apartheid state.” The vote was hastily organized after Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called Israel a “racist state” in public remarks on Saturday. After facing criticism, Congressmember Jayapal later clarified that her comments were directed at the extreme right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel Recognizes Morocco’s Sovereignty Over Western Sahara, Which It Has Occupied Since 1975

Jul 19, 2023

Activists in Western Sahara are calling for solidarity from Palestinian rights groups, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday formally recognized Morocco’s claims of sovereignty over the northwest African territory. Israel becomes the second country in the world to do so, after Donald Trump tweeted U.S. recognition in December of 2020. Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975 in defiance of the United Nations and international law. Over the past four decades, thousands of Western Sahara’s Indigenous people, the Sahrawi, have been tortured, imprisoned, killed and disappeared while resisting the Moroccan occupation. Speaking with Middle East Eye, Western Sahara-based activist Mohammed Elbaikam said, “Morocco relies on the same tools and methods as Israel in suppressing the Palestinians, occupying them, displacing them from their land, robbing them of their wealth and controlling them.”

Thai Court Suspends Reformist Pita Limjaroenrat, Top Candidate to Become Prime Minister

Jul 19, 2023

Thailand’s Constitutional Court has suspended lawmaker Pita Limjaroenrat, a top candidate for prime minister after his liberal Move Forward Party garnered the most support in May’s national elections. Pita failed to secure the position of prime minister last week after being voted down by the Senate, which was appointed after a military coup in 2014. Pita has pledged to reform the military and the all-powerful Thai monarchy. He addressed his fellow lawmakers earlier today, following his suspension.

Pita Limjaroenrat: “I think Thailand is not the same anymore ever since May 14. We have come only halfway from the people’s victory, and there is another half to go. As I can no longer perform my duties, I would like to ask fellow members of Parliament to continue to look after the people.”

Illinois Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Eliminating State’s Racist Cash Bail System

Jul 19, 2023

In a victory for criminal justice reform, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of legislation abolishing the state’s cash bail system. The 5-2 ruling overturned a decision by a lower court from last December deeming the Pretrial Fairness Act “unconstitutional.” Illinois judges will no longer require people charged with a crime to post bail in order to be released from jail as they await trial, unless they’re considered a threat to the public or likely to flee. The policy is expected to go into effect in September. In a statement, the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice said, “Black people have been disproportionately impacted by wealth-based jailing. Giving people the opportunity to stay in their communities while awaiting trial will enable them to keep their jobs, housing, and custody of their children, making us all safer.”

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