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HeadlinesJuly 24, 2023

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30,000 Flee Rhodes as Greece Battles Dozens of Wildfires; Italy Hit by Ice Storms After Record Heat

Jul 24, 2023

Climate scientists have confirmed the first half of July marked the hottest two weeks in recorded human history — and there are no signs that the summer of climate extremes is set to end any time soon. In Greece, evacuations are underway from the fire-scorched island of Corfu. This follows the largest mass evacuation in Greek history as some 30,000 people fled what survivors described as “hellish” wildfires in Rhodes in recent days. European holiday-goers who spent nights on the floors of airports and emergency shelters described harrowing scenes.

Helen Pickering: “Smoke had been traveling over our pool for quite some time at the Princess Sun Hotel. And it was just getting worse and worse, and we started to hear the helicopters. And then, basically, you could see the fire, eventually, on the mountaintop. Panic, everyone dashing about, fleeing for buses.”

At least 82 wildfires are blazing across Greece during this summer’s unprecedented heat wave, displacing thousands of people and burning down homes.

In Italy, record-breaking heat was followed Friday by a fierce hail storm in the north, where ice the size of tennis balls fell on the streets of Seregno, just north of Milan, inundating the streets in icy floodwaters.

Monsoon Brings Deadly Floods, Landslides in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Triggers Dengue Outbreak

Jul 24, 2023

In India, authorities have ended a rescue mission after a monsoon-triggered landslide in the western state of Maharashtra killed at least 27 people and flattened homes. At least 57 are still missing and presumed dead. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, flash floods and landslides have killed at least 44 people in recent days. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is warning global heating has pushed cases of dengue fever to near record highs.

In Bangladesh, authorities say the mosquito-borne viral infection has already reached epidemic proportions, killing 176 people this year, many of them children.

Nova Scotia Inundated with 3 Months’ Worth of Rain; Washington Wildfire Tops 52,000 Acres

Jul 24, 2023

In Canada, authorities in Nova Scotia say the region was deluged in less than 24 hours with the amount of rain it typically gets in three months. Here in the U.S., the Newell Road wildfire in Washington’s Klickitat County grew to nearly 52,000 acres Sunday, prompting evacuations. Authorities say the fire threatens farms, crops and livestock, as well as solar and wind farms and a natural gas pipeline. If it continues to grow, it could also threaten the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Right Underperforms Expectations in Spain Election; Separatist Parties Emerge as Kingmakers

Jul 24, 2023

Spain appears headed for contentious political negotiations after snap elections failed to produce an outright victory for either the left or right. The conservative Partido Popular won the most parliamentary seats, though it received fewer votes than expected. Even if it formed an alliance with the far-right Vox party, the right-wing bloc would still fall short of a majority. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist party, which came in second, and the progressive Sumar party spun Sunday’s outcome as a victory. This is Prime Minister Sánchez speaking from Madrid.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez: “Those who proposed 'machismo,' a regression on rights and freedoms, have failed today. And the backward-looking bloc of the People’s Party with Vox has been defeated. There are many more of us who want Spain to continue moving forward than pursuing the path of regression.”

Pro-independence Catalan and Basque parties could now become kingmakers in the formation of Spain’s next government.

Hun Sen Retains Cambodian Leadership, Likely to Hand Power to Son, After Suppressing Opposition

Jul 24, 2023

In Cambodia, long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen declared a landslide victory in national elections Sunday in a race where the ruling party ran virtually unopposed after suppressing the only viable challenger. Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander and the longest-serving head of state in Asia with 38 years in power, is widely expected to transfer the premiership to his eldest son, Hun Manet.

Israel Passes Contentious Judicial Reform as Protesters Say They Won’t Back Down

Jul 24, 2023

In Israel, President Isaac Herzog declared the country is “in the midst of a national emergency” as lawmakers voted today to pass a highly contested bill that would abolish the power of the Supreme Court to block government decisions it deems unreasonable — the first of several radical judicial reforms set to be voted into law in the coming days. Opposition parties are boycotting today’s vote, which comes after hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in cities across Israel for a 29th consecutive weekend. Hundreds are demonstrating today outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, where police fired water cannons to disperse protesters who blocked roads. Others chained themselves to trees.

Michal: “We were left with no choice but to go to disobedience, nonviolent disobedience, and we are here to protect our democracy with our bodies. And we can only hope that they will listen to our cries. We want equality for all. And this is all we can do.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discharged from the hospital earlier today after receiving emergency surgery to implant a pacemaker Saturday; he arrived at the Knesset in time for the vote.

Israeli Forces Kill Two More Palestinian Teenagers in Occupied West Bank

Jul 24, 2023

Palestinian authorities are demanding a probe into the killing of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank town of Sebastia early Saturday morning. Witnesses say Israeli soldiers fired more than 40 rounds into a car transporting 18-year-old Fawzi Hani Makhalfeh. Separately, Israeli soldiers fatally shot 17-year-old Muhammad Fouad Atta al-Bayed in the head during protests in the village of Umm Safa.

44-Year-Old Prisoner’s Death at Rikers Is Seventh So Far This Year

Jul 24, 2023

Here in New York, a man being detained at Rikers Island was found dead in his cell Sunday morning. Forty-four-year-old Curtis Davis is the seventh prisoner death at Rikers this year. Last week, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor called for a government takeover of the Rikers prison complex. Mayor Eric Adams opposes the idea. There have been 26 prisoner deaths at Rikers since Adams took office in January of last year.

Body-Camera Video Shows Ohio Police Officer Unleashing Police Dog on Black Driver

Jul 24, 2023

In Ohio, newly released body-camera video shows a police officer unleashing a police dog on an unarmed Black truck driver after a traffic stop south of Columbus on July 4. The footage shows 23-year-old Jadarrius Rose had his hands in the air when a handler directed the dog to attack him. Rose was bitten, dragged by the arm, hospitalized and later released to be booked at the Ross County Jail on felony charges of failure to comply. So far there’s no sign the officer responsible for the attack has faced any disciplinary action.

Video Shows L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Brutally Beating Trans Man

Jul 24, 2023

In California, surveillance video shows a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy brutally beating a 23-year-old transgender man outside a convenience store in February. Emmett Brock was driving home from his job as a teacher when he was followed by Deputy Joseph Benza to a 7-Eleven parking lot, where the officer tackled Brock to the pavement and punched him repeatedly in the head, accusing him of resisting arrest even as Brock cried out for help, struggled to breathe and made no move against the officer. A police report said Brock was pulled over because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror; Brock says he was assaulted because he held up his middle finger when driving past Benza’s patrol car.

Trump’s Trial for Mishandling Classified Documents Set for May 2024

Jul 24, 2023

Donald Trump’s trial over his handling of classified documents has been set for May 2024 — six months before the presidential election. Trump’s legal team is expected to file multiple motions, which could push back the trial’s start date. Federal Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, set the trial at Florida’s Fort Pierce courthouse; the jury pool will be drawn from counties that previously elected Trump.

Biden Says 7 Silicon Valley Giants Have Committed to AI Safety and Transparency

Jul 24, 2023

President Biden announced Friday he secured commitments from seven major tech companies to ensure AI adheres to a set of safety and transparency standards.

President Joe Biden: “Companies have a duty to earn the people’s trust and empower users to make informed decisions, labeling content that has been altered or AI-generated, rooting out bias and discrimination, strengthening privacy protections and shielding children from harm.”

Other pledges include testing products for safety before releasing them, combating cyber threats and managing risks to national security. The seven companies are Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection, Meta, Microsoft and OpenAI. Experts welcomed the voluntary commitment as a positive first step but called on lawmakers and government agencies to reinforce the measures with enforceable regulations.

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