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HeadlinesJuly 31, 2023

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Suicide Bomb at Political Rally Kills at Least 54 in Pakistan

Jul 31, 2023

In Pakistan, at least 54 people were killed and 200 injured Sunday as explosions rocked a political rally in the northwestern Bajaur district, which borders Afghanistan. The deadly blast was triggered by a suicide bomber during a gathering of the conservative Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl party, which is part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s ruling coalition. The bombing came amid mounting insecurity ahead of elections planned for November. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, though police said the Islamic State group could be to blame.

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Russia Says It Downed Ukrainian Drones Over Moscow as Medvedev Warns of Nuclear War

Jul 31, 2023

Russia says it shot down three Ukrainian drones over Moscow on Sunday, two of which damaged a high-rise building that may house government offices. It’s the latest in a series of similar attacks the Kremlin has blamed on Kyiv. This is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia, to its symbolic centers and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process.”

On Saturday, Russian strikes killed at least two people in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy and two people in Zaporizhzhia. Meanwhile, deputy Security Council chair and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said there would be “no other option” but to launch a nuclear attack if Ukraine is successful in its NATO-backed counteroffensive. Elsewhere, Poland sounded the alarm over Wagner forces in Belarus, which it says are moving closer to the Polish border.

AU Says Ceasefire Only Way to Ensure Flow of Grain After Putin Promises Deliveries to Africa

Jul 31, 2023

Following the Russia-Africa summit last week in Saint Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said a peace initiative presented by African leaders could be the basis for ending the war if Ukraine ceased its attacks. Meanwhile, the African Union said Putin’s offer to supply some African countries with grain was not sufficient to guarantee a stable food supply.

Azali Assoumani: “President Putin said he was ready to help us with grain supplies. It is important, but maybe not enough. We need to achieve a ceasefire, because it is always something unpredictable. And the longer it is, the more unpredictable it becomes.”

Sudanese Refugees in Chad Struggle Amid Extreme Heat and Water Scarcity

Jul 31, 2023

In Chad, tens of thousands of refugees who’ve fled violence in Sudan face another lethal threat: shortages of running water amid scorching temperatures. Sudanese refugees say the little water they have access to is needed for drinking, leaving little for toilets and sanitation.

Eve: “We wait for water for six hours, and we spend the whole day here, overcrowded. There are water cuts, heat, hunger, thirst, and the water containers are limited. We have no pots, mattresses, blankets or covers. We spend the day in the heat. Whether you come to get water, it’s hot, or you sit in the tent, it’s also hot.”

U.S. Local Leaders Call on Congress to Pass Extreme Heat Emergency Act

Jul 31, 2023

As heat waves envelop the globe, here in the U.S. the Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities are calling on Congress to pass the Extreme Heat Emergency Act. The bill would add extreme heat and wildfire smoke events to a list of disasters that can unlock supplemental assistance from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Youth Activist Confronts White House Press Secretary over Biden’s Fossil Fuel Projects

Jul 31, 2023

On Thursday, a youth activist confronted White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over President Biden’s approval of new coal, oil and gas projects. This is Elise Joshi, executive director of Gen-Z for Change.

Elise Joshi: “Will the administration stop approving new oil and gas projects and align with youth, science and frontline communities, from the North Slope of Alaska to Louisiana?”

Karine Jean-Pierre then proceeded in a defense of the Biden administration before being interrupted again by Joshi.

Elise Joshi: “You have approved multiple projects since then and more at a faster rate than the Trump administration. We need you to act on your campaign promises. Please.”

Unidentified: “Declare a climate emergency!”

In British Columbia, a third firefighter has died battling Canada’s worst wildfire season on record, which has scorched some 30 million acres — an area larger than the nation of Cuba. Millions of Canadians and more than 120 million people across the United States have faced air quality alerts this summer due to smoke from the fires.

Turkish Forest Defenders Brave Arrest to Save Land from Coal Mine Expansion

Jul 31, 2023

In Turkey, security forces have unleashed water cannons and tear gas on villagers and activists protecting the Akbelen Forest in the province of Muğla from being cleared for coal mining. At least 14 people were arrested last week. Local communities and environmental groups have brought legal challenges and put their own bodies on the line in an effort to stop YK Energy’s expansion of open-pit mining in Akbelen. An activist with the group Beyond Fossil Fuels said, “As tens of thousands of people across the Mediterranean region flee rampaging wildfires caused by the climate crisis, it is incomprehensible that a company is allowed to destroy a forest — one of our most important carbon sinks — to expand a coal mine.”

ECOWAS Threatens to Remove Niger’s Coup Leaders by Force

Jul 31, 2023

The head of Niger’s presidential guard has declared himself the leader of a transitional government following Wednesday’s coup d’état, which deposed the West African nation’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. On Friday, General Abdourahamane Tchiani said on state-run television the coup was necessary to prevent the “gradual and inevitable demise” of Niger.

Over the weekend, ECOWAS, a bloc of 15 West African nations, slapped sanctions on leaders of the coup and threatened to expel them by force unless they cede power within a week. On Sunday, thousands of supporters of the junta attempted to storm the French Embassy in the capital Niamey, burning French flags and chanting slogans against Niger’s former colonial ruler. They were turned away by soldiers firing tear gas. Many Nigeriens are rejecting the interference of foreign actors following the coup.

Falmata Taya: “The international community that says it’s here for us, we don’t want it. We don’t want its moral lesson, because it’s no longer credible in the eyes of Africans. We can’t understand why they support a coup d’état in Chad and oppose them in Mali and Burkina Faso. It’s an internal problem, which only concerns Nigeriens. If we call on them, they can cooperate with us. But we don’t need their moral lessons.”

Kenyan Government to Negotiate with Opposition Groups Following Nationwide Protests

Jul 31, 2023

In Kenya, the government of President William Ruto and the opposition coalition agreed to establish a joint committee to “resolve [their] differences” following deadly protests earlier this month. Opposition leader Raila Odinga called the protests over the high cost of living and tax hikes. On Friday, an appeals court lifted a freeze on the contested tax law, which doubles fuel taxes and introduces a new housing levy. Some activists have questioned the court’s move.

Owalla Javan: “We are fearing that there is an executive interference in that ruling, because prior to this we saw the executive come out boldly condemning the courts, declaring the courts — that the courts are against the government, the courts are being used by external forces.”

At Least Five Killed as Rival Palestinian Groups Clash in Lebanon

Jul 31, 2023

In Lebanon, at least five people were killed Sunday during clashes between rival groups in one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps near the city of Sidon. The fighting broke out after an unknown gunman tried to assassinate an Islamist militant leader, killing a companion instead. In response, militants killed a military general and three other members of the Fatah group, which is part of the Palestinian Authority. At least seven people were also wounded in the violence, including at least two children. Palestinian factions in the camp have for years cracked down on militant Islamist groups. The overcrowded Ein el-Hilweh camp houses some 55,000 Palestinians.

Palestinian Rivals Fatah and Hamas Form “Reconciliation Committee”

Jul 31, 2023

The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the leader of Hamas have formed a reconciliation committee aimed at uniting rival Palestinian political movements. Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh met for rare in-person talks in Egypt Sunday along with the heads of other Palestinian groups. Hamas, which runs a parallel government in the besieged Gaza Strip, has called on the Palestinian Authority to end its security collaboration with Israel and cease the detention of political prisoners. The group has also called for the formation of an inclusive Palestinian parliament through democratic elections. Friction between Hamas and Fatah, the dominant party in the Palestinian Authority, has persisted since 2007 after violence erupted between the two groups over control of Palestinian territories.

Department of Justice Launches Civil Rights Probe of Memphis Police

Jul 31, 2023

The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the Memphis police. This is Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general at the DOJ.

Kristen Clarke: “We received multiple reports of officers escalating encounters with community members, resulting in excessive force. There are also indications that officers may use force punitively when faced with behavior they perceive to be insolent. The information we reviewed also shows that officers may use force against people who are already restrained or in custody.”

The targeting and abuse of Black residents by Memphis police came under a national spotlight following the January killing of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was pepper-sprayed and fatally beaten by police during a traffic stop.

Federal Court Blocks Arkansas Censorship Law Criminalizing Librarians and Booksellers

Jul 31, 2023

A federal judge has blocked an Arkansas law that would allow criminal charges against librarians and booksellers for providing “harmful” materials to children and teens. The law, signed by Republican governor and former Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders in March, would have gone into effect tomorrow, Tuesday. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of various Arkansas libraries, bookstores, librarians and readers. Seventeen-year-old plaintiff and high school student Hayden Kirby said, “I want to fight for our rights to intellectual freedom and ensure that libraries remain spaces where young Arkansans can explore diverse perspectives.”

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