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HeadlinesJuly 28, 2023

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Federal Prosecutors File More Charges Against Trump over Mishandling of Classified Documents

Jul 28, 2023

Federal prosecutors have filed new charges against former President Donald Trump and another one of his aides in the indictment around his mishandling of classified documents. The charges accuse Trump of attempting to “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence” and inducing others to do so. Prosecutors also added a new count under the Espionage Act for showing classified national security materials to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The revised indictment states Trump and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira pressured the director of IT at Trump’s Florida estate to delete security camera footage so it could not be seen by a federal grand jury. According to the indictment, De Oliveira said, “'the boss' wanted the server deleted.” De Oliveira is also accused of lying to federal investigators when he denied having knowledge of boxes of documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors contend De Oliveira oversaw and even helped move the boxes alongside Trump aide Walt Nauta, who has already been indicted.

This superseding indictment is not to be confused with a possible third indictment against Trump related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, for which Trump’s lawyers met with special counsel Jack Smith’s office yesterday.

U.N. Leader Declares New Era of “Global Boiling” Amid Hottest Month in Human History

Jul 28, 2023

New climate data show July is on track to become the hottest month in human history, with global temperatures rising to about 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. On Thursday, the head of the World Meteorological Organization said, “Climate action is not a luxury but a must,” while U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres scolded world leaders over inaction on the climate.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “Climate change is here, it is terrifying, and it is just the beginning. The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived. The air is unbreathable, the heat is unbearable, and the level of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction is unacceptable.”

The U.N.’s warning came as hundreds of wildfires fueled by record heat continued to burn out of control around the Mediterranean — in Algeria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey.

In China, Typhoon Doksuri made landfall today in the southeastern Fujian province, sparking fires, downing power lines and shuttering schools and businesses. On Thursday, the storm lashed southern Taiwan after battering the northern Philippines, where it killed at least 39 people.

Biden Pledges Protections Against Climate Change as 170 Million Across U.S. Face Heat Alerts

Jul 28, 2023

Here in the U.S., over 170 million people are under extreme heat alerts as sweltering temperatures spread across the country. On Thursday, President Biden announced a series of measures to tackle the impacts of the extreme heat.

President Joe Biden: “We should be protecting workers from hazardous conditions, and we will. And those states where they do not, I’m going to be calling them out, where they refuse to protect these workers in this awful heat.” 

But Biden made no mention of the fossil fuel industry’s role in the climate crisis and continued to ignore calls from climate activists and scientists to declare a climate emergency.

Supreme Court Will Allow Construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline to Resume

Jul 28, 2023

In more climate news, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for construction of the contested Mountain Valley Pipeline to resume. The court on Thursday lifted a halt on a section of the project that had been issued by a lower court earlier this month after a challenge by environmental groups.

Nigerien Military Leaders Pledge Support for Coup Plotters Who Deposed President

Jul 28, 2023

Leaders of Niger’s military have declared their support for the mutinous officers who declared a coup Wednesday against the nation’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. Two days after members of his own presidential guard deposed him, President Bazoum has refused to step down; it’s not clear who’s currently running Niger’s government. On Thursday, supporters of the coup set fire to the headquarters of Bazoum’s governing party.

Meanwhile, The Intercept reports a leader of the attempted coup was trained by the U.S. military at the Army base formerly known as Fort Benning — named after a Confederate general — which was recently renamed Fort Moore. Just last month, coup leader Brigadier General Moussa Salaou Barmou met with the head of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Lieutenant General Jonathan Braga, at a U.S. drone base in Niger. African officers trained by the U.S. military have taken part in 11 coups in West Africa since 2008.

Masalit Leader Says 10,000 Have Been Killed by Militias in Sudan’s Darfur Region

Jul 28, 2023

The World Health Organization is warning of a growing health crisis for the 3.4 million people forced to flee fighting in Sudan, with rising rates of infectious diseases reported among displaced populations. Heavy fighting continues to rage in the capital Khartoum, where airstrikes and artillery fire have killed at least 16 civilians this week. In Sudan’s western Darfur region, a leader of the Masalit community says more than 10,000 people have been killed in the past two months. More than 300,000 people — the vast majority of them Masalit — have fled across the border into neighboring Chad. Refugees described a harrowing journey to escape attacks by militias and fighters with the Rapid Support Forces.

Muhammad Abu Bakr: “I’ve been here for 13 days. And the people we left behind were killed in their homes. There are others who are trapped there, and the road remains unsafe. If there are three or four people, they will kill them and take their belongings.”

After Pulling Out of Black Sea Grain Deal, Putin Pledges Free Grain to 6 African Nations

Jul 28, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed African leaders to St. Petersburg Thursday for the annual Africa-Russia Summit, coming just days after the Kremlin pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal that allowed safe passage to shipments of food and fertilizer from Ukraine. Heads of state from 17 African countries joined this year’s gathering — down from the 43 African leaders who attended in 2019. Putin said Russia will be able to replace Ukrainian grain exports and promised free shipments of food to six African nations.

President Vladimir Putin: “Our country can replace Ukrainian grain both commercially and as a free aid to the poorest countries in Africa, especially as we are again expecting a record harvest this year.”

Putin also pledged to consider a peace plan from African leaders to end the war. Among those spotted on the sidelines of the summit was the leader of the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was photographed shaking hands with a senior ambassador from the Central African Republic. It was the first time Prigozhin has appeared publicly inside Russia since he led a failed revolt against Russia’s military in June. 

Senate Passes Record $886B Military Budget, Rejecting Sanders Amendment Cutting Pentagon Funding

Jul 28, 2023

The United States Senate has approved the largest military budget in history. Its passage sets up a partisan clash with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which narrowly approved a military budget packed with anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA amendments. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called passage of the Senate’s $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act “a glimmer of hope for the American people.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “And a bipartisan process is precisely what the American people are yearning for, in a fractured Congress, Democrats, Republicans coming together to provide something as critical as our national defense.” 

Just 11 senators voted against the record military budget: six Democrats, four Republicans and Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders. Senators overwhelmingly rejected an amendment offered by Sanders that would have slashed the military budget by 10%. Ahead of the vote, Sanders said the U.S. should prioritize spending on healthcare and social programs over a bloated military budget.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Unbelievably, our life expectancy is actually declining. Our child care system is dysfunctional, millions of parents unable to find affordable sites for their kids. We have a major housing crisis. Six hundred thousand Americans are homeless. And, oh, yes, the planet is on fire, and the world we are leaving future generations will be increasingly unhealthy. But somehow, we never have enough money to address those crises.”

El Salvador to Hold Mass Trials for Suspected Gang Members; Honduras to Build Island Prison

Jul 28, 2023

In El Salvador, human rights advocates are warning of severe due process violations after lawmakers approved the use of mass trials for the tens of thousands of people who’ve been arrested under President Nayib Bukele’s brutal crackdown on gangs. Salvadoran officials said up to 900 defendants could be prosecuted at one time. El Salvador has been under a state of exception for 16 months, suspending several constitutional protections and leading to the arbitrary detention of over 70,000 people, without access to legal representation or fair trials.

Meanwhile, Honduras is planning to build an island prison to detain hundreds of suspected gang leaders. This comes after President Xiomara Castro earlier this month approved another extension of a state of emergency that’s been in place since last year to tackle gang violence.

At Least 31 People Killed in Ecuador Prison Riot

Jul 28, 2023

In Ecuador, authorities have recovered the remains of people killed during a prison riot over the weekend in the city of Guayaquil. At least 31 people were reported dead, but the toll could be higher. Ecuador’s prison system has been plagued with violence and abuse, with prisoners facing overcrowded and squalid conditions. President Guillermo Lasso has declared a state of emergency in Ecuadorian prisons. Over 400 people have died in prison riots in Ecuador since 2021.

For First Time, Gun Suicides Among Black Adolescents Surpasses Rate for White Teens

Jul 28, 2023

Back in the United States, data shows the rate of gun suicides among Black teens has topped the rate among white teens for the first time, as gun suicides reached an all-time high in 2022. The data, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also shows Black children and teens have a gun homicide rate 20 times higher than white children and teens. Guns remain the leading cause of death for children and teens, with the rate of gun deaths among minors soaring by 87% over the last decade. Last year over 48,000 people in the U.S. died from guns, an average of one person every 11 minutes.

Houston to Eliminate Librarians in 28 Schools; Booksellers Sue over Texas Book Ban Bill

Jul 28, 2023

In Texas, the Houston Independent School District is eliminating librarian positions at 28 schools in the upcoming school year and will replace some libraries with so-called team centers, essentially disciplinary centers for students. The widely blasted move comes after state Republicans forcibly took over the Houston Independent School District earlier this year. Those most affected will be children of color in lower-income areas.

Meanwhile, two Texas bookstores and three national bookseller associations have sued over a Texas bill requiring private booksellers to rate books based on levels of “appropriateness” and banning “sexually explicit” material from libraries. Valerie Koehler is the owner of the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston and a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Valerie Koehler: “We’re not going to read them all. And for us to have to rate them, I think, sends a message to the librarians and to the students that you’re allowed to read this, you’re not allowed to read that.”

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