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HeadlinesAugust 10, 2023

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At Least 36 Dead, Town of Lahaina Burned to the Ground as Wildfires Devastate Hawaii

Aug 10, 2023

At least 36 people have died on the Hawaiian island of Maui as unprecedented wind-driven wildfires forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Hospitals have been overwhelmed with burn patients. Some people had to run into the ocean to escape the flames. Much of the town of Lahaina has burned to the ground. Lahaina was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Residents described horrific scenes of destruction.

Mason Jarvi: “I’m a resident of Lahaina for about 18 years, and we just had the worst disaster I’ve ever seen. All Lahaina is burnt to a crisp. And it’s — it’s like an apocalypse.”

The fires began on Tuesday and rapidly spread as wind from Hurricane Dora and dry conditions fueled the blaze. This is Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke: “You know, the point is, a lot of residents in the state of Hawaii, when we are preparing for the hurricane, we expect rain. Sometimes we expect floods. We never anticipated in this state that a hurricane which did not make impact on our islands will cause this type of wildfires, wildfires that wiped out communities, wildfires that wiped out businesses, wildfires that destroyed homes.”

Ecuadorian Anti-Corruption Presidential Candidate Fernando Villavicencio Assassinated

Aug 10, 2023

Ecuador has declared a state of emergency following the assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. The former journalist was fatally shot after a campaign event in Quito 10 days before the August 20 election. He had faced death threats recently for speaking out about the links between the government and organized crime. This is Fernando Villavicencio speaking in late July.

Fernando Villavicencio: “The country knew through the media of a police report in which it’s revealed a very serious threat of one of the Sinaloa Cartel’s boss — I’m referring to alias 'Tito' — against me and my campaign team. There was this warning that if I keep referring to him and his structure, they would attack me or my life. … Drug traffickers and the mafia want to take the political power of the state. And without a doubt, it’s not Tito who’s behind this threat; it’s the political mafias that are behind Tito, who is behind this threat against my candidacy.”

Fernando Villavicencio was 59 years old. The BBC reports a criminal group called Los Lobos, meaning The Wolves, has claimed responsibility for his killing. One suspect was shot dead after the assassination.

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Biden Seeking More Funding for War in Ukraine, Arming Taiwan

Aug 10, 2023

President Biden is reportedly planning to seek an additional $25 billion from Congress to be spent partly on the war in Ukraine, as well as to speed up weapons delivery to Taiwan. This comes as the war in Ukraine continues to intensify. On Thursday, a massive blast at a factory outside of Moscow injured 56 people. Meanwhile, Poland has announced plans to send an additional 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus.

Niger Coup Leaders Accuse France of Destabilizing Country as ECOWAS Summit Kicks Off

Aug 10, 2023

Niger’s new military leaders are accusing France of trying to destabilize the country by releasing captured terrorists and breaching its airspace. France has denied the claims. This comes as ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is holding an emergency summit today. ECOWAS has threatened to use military force to remove Niger’s military leaders who seized power in a coup two weeks ago.

The Intercept: U.S. State Dept. Pushed for Pakistan’s Now-Imprisoned Ex-PM Imran Khan to Be Removed

Aug 10, 2023

In Pakistan, the imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan has filed an appeal days after he was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges. Earlier this week, Pakistan’s Election Commission barred Khan from politics for five years. Pakistan’s Parliament removed Khan from office in April 2022.

On Wednesday, The Intercept revealed the existence of a classified Pakistani cable that outlined how the U.S. State Department had encouraged the Pakistani government to remove Khan from office in March 2022, just weeks after Russia had invaded Ukraine. The document stated the U.S objected to Khan’s neutral stance on the war. According to the memo, one State Department official warned Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States that “all will be forgiven in Washington” if Khan is removed. The U.S. official, Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, then went on to say, “Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead.”

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Death Toll from Mediterranean Refugee Shipwreck Rises to 41 as Black Africans Expelled from Tunisia

Aug 10, 2023

The death toll from a migrant shipwreck off Tunisia’s coast has risen to at least 41, including three children. The ship capsized and sank just a few hours after departing for Europe. Dozens are still missing from another shipwreck near the Tunisian port city of Sfax.

The number of asylum seekers fleeing from Tunisia has dramatically increased in recent months due to the persecution of Black Africans by Tunisian authorities and President Kais Saied. On Wednesday, at least 27 people were found dead in the desert near the Tunisian-Libyan border after they were expelled from Tunisia. This is a pregnant asylum seeker who was expelled from Tunisia.

Tafaul Omar: “I was in Tunisia. My husband is a day laborer. We wanted to go to Italy, and there was beating and insults. After that, two days ago, they took us to the borders. The following day, after we reached the borders, they took us, beat the men and left us. We walked on the road toward Libya, but we don’t know the direction. We walked for three, four hours. Then the Libyan police found us.”

Venezuela Wins Fight to Recover $1.5B of Frozen Funds from Novo Banco

Aug 10, 2023

Venezuela has won a major legal battle to recover about $1.5 billion that had been confiscated by the Portuguese bank Novo Banco, which is largely owned by the U.S. private equity firm Lone Star. For years the Venezuelan government has decried international sanctions that have led to foreign banks freezing its overseas assets. In 2021, The Intercept reported Venezuela was blocked from using some of the money held by the bank to buy millions of vaccines for children.

Biden Bans U.S. Companies from Investing in Chinese High-Tech Goods

Aug 10, 2023

President Biden has signed an executive order to ban U.S. firms from investing in Chinese high-tech companies developing semiconductors and quantum computers. The Chinese government criticized the move, accusing the U.S. of politicizing and weaponizing trade and technological issues.

Trump Indictments Expected Next Week over Attempts to Reverse 2020 Election Loss in Georgia

Aug 10, 2023

Newly unsealed court documents show special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant to access Donald Trump’s Twitter account as part of the investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Twitter, now known as X, was fined $350,000 after initially refusing to hand over Trump’s personal data.

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Georgia is expected to seek more than a dozen indictments next week in her probe on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Georgia. Security around Willis has increased after Trump attacked her on the campaign trail, calling her a racist while spreading rumors about her. Willis is the first Black woman to serve as Fulton County district attorney.

FBI Kills Utah Man Who Threatened to Assassinate President Biden

Aug 10, 2023

The FBI shot and killed a Utah man who had threatened the life of President Biden. The shooting came on Wednesday morning as the FBI attempted to serve the man, Craig Robertson, an arrest and search warrant. Robertson had posted numerous online threats targeting Biden and other officials. He recently wrote that he was cleaning the dust off his M24 sniper rifle after learning Biden would be in Utah today.

CNN: Former U.S. Coast Guard Leadership Covered Up Sweeping Rape and Sex Abuse Report

Aug 10, 2023

CNN is reporting the former head of the U.S. Coast Guard covered up the results of an explosive investigation into decades of rape and sexual assault at the Coast Guard’s prestigious academy. Four years ago, Commandant Karl Schultz and his deputy, Admiral Charles Ray, suppressed the report as investigators were set to brief lawmakers and the Homeland Security Department on its findings. The current head of the Coast Guard, Linda Fagan, has acknowledged she had become aware of the report and its cover-up, but has vowed to tackle sexual assault at the agency. Fagan, who is the Coast Guard’s first female leader, has also apologized to survivors.

Report Reveals Justice Clarence Thomas Received Even More Gifts from Right-Wing Billionaires

Aug 10, 2023

ProPublica has revealed new details about how conservative billionaires have showered Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with free trips and gifts for decades. ProPublica’s new report documents 38 destination vacations, 26 private jet flights, 12 VIP passes to sporting events and eight helicopter flights, all paid for by wealthy patrons. Thomas has been under increasing scrutiny since April, when ProPublica revealed he had failed to report frequent luxury trips paid for by the Republican billionaire Harlan Crow.

Palestinian Bedouin Community Forced to Evacuate Due to Violent Threats from Israeli Settlers

Aug 10, 2023

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem is reporting 86 members of a Palestinian Bedouin community have been forced to abandon their homes due to violent threats from Israeli settlers. This is Muhammad Hassan Abu al-Kabash of the Bedouin community al-Qabun.

Muhammad Hassan Abu al-Kabash: “We’ve lived here for 20-25 years. We’re farmers, shepherds, and we’ve lived here normally with our flock. But a settler came to the area and started making trouble for us. They tell us, ’Don’t graze here. You’re not allowed to graze there. These are my lands.’ A few days ago, they spilled my neighbor’s sheep’s drinking water on the ground. Two days ago, an armed settler came, walked around our home, came inside and just sat there. He says the land is his. He says, ’I’m the government. I’m the state. I’m the police and the military.’ It’s come to the point where we’re leaving. It’s a done deal.”

According to B’Tselem, the Bedouin community al-Qabun is the fourth Palestinian community forced to abandon its land in the past three months due to threats from Israeli settlers.

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