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HeadlinesAugust 24, 2023

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Yevgeny Prigozhin and Other Russian Mercenary Leaders Reportedly Die in Plane Crash

Aug 24, 2023

Officials in Russia say the mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was among 10 people killed Wednesday when a private jet crashed northwest of Moscow. The crash also reportedly killed Dmitry Utkin, a senior mercenary commander who founded the Wagner Group in 2014. Eyewitnesses to the crash reported hearing two bangs before the plane tumbled from the sky — an incident that was apparently captured in a video widely circulated on social media. The crash sparked widespread speculation that Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders were assassinated for leading a failed mutiny in June that saw heavily armed mercenaries advance to within 120 miles of Moscow. Adding to the speculation, Russian media reported Wednesday the Kremlin has fired senior Russian General Sergey Surovikin as Air Force chief. The general was known as an ally of the Wagner Group and had not been seen in public since the mutiny.

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Bipartisan Senate Delegation to Kyiv Urges $21 Billion in New U.S. Aid to Ukraine

Aug 24, 2023

Three U.S. senators have pledged additional military support to Ukraine during a visit to Kyiv. On Wednesday, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, voicing their support for President Biden’s request this month that Congress approve an additional $13 billion in military aid and $8 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine this year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: “To the media reports saying this is a stalemate, you’re wrong. They breached a major line of defense yesterday.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “We’re here to say, in a bipartisan way, we want to help them. We want to make sure they have the resources they need to be able to fight back against Vladimir Putin.”

U.S. Approves $500 Million in Additional Arms Sales to Taiwan for F-16 Fighter Jets

Aug 24, 2023

The Biden administration has approved the sale of an additional $500 million in military hardware to Taiwan. The main contractor for the deal would be U.S. arms maker Lockheed Martin, which builds F-16 fighter jets used by Taiwan’s military. This comes just weeks after the U.S. approved a weapons aid package to Taiwan worth up to $345 million. In recent months, China’s military has increased its activities around Taiwan, sending fighter jets and warships closer to the island, which Beijing considers part of its sovereign territory.

BRICS Alliance Expands to Include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE

Aug 24, 2023

Six new countries will join the BRICS alliance, adding to the bloc of nations led by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Starting on January 1, BRICS will be expanded to include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The announcement came as BRICS members wrapped up a three-day summit in South Africa. On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping blasted what he called a “Cold War mentality” haunting international politics. The remarks came a day after Xi unexpectedly skipped a major address in Johannesburg, fueling speculation over his health. The speech was instead delivered by Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

Wang Wentao: “All that we have done, in the final analysis, is to enable our people to lead a prosperous life. However, some countries, unwilling to give up their hegemonic position, have arbitrarily blocked and suppressed emerging market countries and developing countries, curbing whoever is developing well, and tripping up whoever is catching up.”

Protesters Demand China End Support for East African Crude Oil Pipe Line

Aug 24, 2023

On Wednesday, hundreds of environmental and human rights activists gathered outside the BRICS summit demanding China halt financing for fossil fuel projects in Africa. Protesters cited the China-backed East African Crude Oil Pipeline project, known as EACOP. Campaigner and protest leader Zaki Mamdoo said a true friend to Africa would not fund projects that displace communities, unravel livelihoods and destroy ecosystems.

Zaki Mamdoo: “What friend would come into your house and remove you from your house and take your land, kill your crops and subject your children to illness and harm? That is a bad friend. That’s a bad friend. These ones, of China, of Russia, of India, they aspire to be the same colonial extractors.”

Wildfires Rage in Turkey, Greece, as Heat Wave Bakes Much of U.S.

Aug 24, 2023

Officials in Turkey have suspended ship traffic in the Turkish Straits linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, after wildfires broke out in the region. Hundreds of ships were left idled as officials closed the Dardanelles Strait to clear the area for firefighting planes. In neighboring Greece, firefighters are battling more than 350 wildfires that have broken out over the past week, including fires that scorched homes just outside of the capital Athens. Here in the United States, a record-shattering summer heat wave continued Wednesday, with more than 130 million people in 22 states under heat alerts. In the Pacific Northwest, the death toll from wildfires in eastern Washington state has risen to two.

British Columbia Premier Says Historic Wildfires and Global Climate Havoc Linked to Global Heating

Aug 24, 2023

Officials in British Columbia have lifted travel restrictions after rain and cooler weather helped bring wildfires under control. British Columbia Premier David Eby said Wednesday human activity is to blame for Canada’s worst wildfire season on record.

Premier David Eby: “Oh, I think that, without a doubt, the ferocity of the fires, the extent of the burning, the historic nature of the forest fires we’re seeing, not just here in British Columbia, but in Greece, in Nova Scotia, in the United States, just devastating fires that are clearly linked to human-caused climate change.”

Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell Surrender to Georgia Jail in 2020 Election Interference Case

Aug 24, 2023

In Georgia, Rudy Giuliani surrendered to the Fulton County Jail Wednesday on charges he conspired to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss. He was released on $150,000 bond and told reporters he was “very, very honored to be involved in this case.” Two other lawyers and co-defendants in Trump’s racketeering indictment also surrendered Wednesday: Sidney Powell, who peddled pro-Trump election conspiracy theories, and Kenneth Chesebro, an architect of the fake electors plot. So far, nine of the 19 co-defendants have turned themselves in. Trump is expected to surrender today.

8 GOP Hopefuls Square Off in Primary Debate Shunned by Front-Runner Donald Trump

Aug 24, 2023

Republican presidential candidates faced off in their first debate Wednesday evening, but front-runner Donald Trump refused to take part. During the debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, all eight participants declined to raise their hands when asked by Fox News moderator Martha MacCallum if human activity was to blame for the climate crisis.

Martha MacCallum: “Do you believe in human behavior is causing climate change? Raise your hand if you do.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis: “Look, we’re not schoolchildren. Let’s have the debate. I mean, I’m happy to take it to start.”

Bret Baier: “So, do you want to raise your hand or not?”

Gov. Ron DeSantis: “I don’t think that’s the way to do.”

While Trump skipped the debate, he appeared instead in a pretaped interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that was posted on X minutes before the presidential primary debate started. In the interview, Trump predicted the U.S. will see more political violence — and defended his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Donald Trump: “People in that crowd said it was the most beautiful day they’ve ever experienced. There was love in that crowd. There was love and unity. I have never seen such spirit and such passion and such love.”

After headlines, we’ll air excerpts from the Republican debate and speak with national affairs correspondent John Nichols of The Nation magazine.

South Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Ban, Reversing Previous Ruling

Aug 24, 2023

South Carolina’s Supreme Court has upheld the state’s six-week abortion ban, reversing its earlier decision that the ban was unconstitutional. The reversal came after South Carolina lawmakers replaced the only woman justice on the bench with a male judge following her retirement and passed a new version of the ban. South Carolina is the only state to have an all-male state supreme court. It previously allowed abortions until 22 weeks of pregnancy. At least 22 states have banned or rolled back abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

Politico: D.C. Investigating Far-Right Judicial Activist Leonard Leo and His Dark Money Network

Aug 24, 2023

Politico is reporting Washington, D.C., Attorney General Brian Schwalb has launched an investigation into right-wing judicial activist and Federalist Society co-chair Leonard Leo and his network of nonprofits. Earlier this year, Politico reported one of Leo’s registered charities paid his for-profit public relations company at least $43 million. The charity, which recently relocated from Virginia to Texas, is called The 85 Fund and received $117 million in anonymous funding in 2021. The nonprofit is run by Carrie Severino, a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. Leonard Leo is widely known as Donald Trump’s “court whisperer” and was involved in the selection of all three of the former president’s far-right Supreme Court justices. It’s not the first time Leo and his dark money network have come under scrutiny. Leo was the recipient of likely the largest-ever political donation in the U.S. when he received $1.6 billion from conservative billionaire Barre Seid in 2021. The watchdog Campaign for Accountability says some $73 million has been moved from nonprofits connected to Leo to his for-profit firms since 2016.

India Lands Spacecraft Near Moon’s South Pole in First for Humanity

Aug 24, 2023

India has become the fourth nation to achieve a moon landing. On Wednesday, India’s robotic Chandrayaan-3 lander touched down near the moon’s south pole, an unexplored terrain that’s believed to hold vast amounts of water ice, which could one day be separated into fuel and air by lunar astronauts. India’s United Nations Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said the landing was a milestone for scientists in the Global South.

Ruchira Kamboj: “This achievement not only marks India’s presence on the moon, but also symbolizes the aspirations of 1.4 billion Indians. Beyond that, it’s a historic moment for humanity as we venture into uncharted territory near the moon’s south pole.”

India’s successful landing came just days after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed while attempting to land at another site near the moon’s south pole.

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