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HeadlinesAugust 30, 2023

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Military Officers in Gabon Seize Power, Place Pres. Bongo Under House Arrest Days After Reelection

Aug 30, 2023

Soldiers in Gabon declared they were seizing power and nullifying recent elections as they took to national television earlier today.

Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi: “The general elections of August 26, 2023, as well as the truncated results, are canceled. The borders are closed until further notice. All institutions of the republic are dissolved.”

Earlier in the day, Gabon’s national election authority announced President Ali Bongo Ondimba had been reelected for a third term in Saturday’s election, which was marred by delays and decried by opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa as a fraud. Bongo, who is reportedly being held under house arrest, has already served two seven-year terms, and his family has been in power for over half a century. Critics accuse Bongo of not using the West African nation’s oil and natural resource wealth to improve the lives of one-third of the population living in poverty. The French oil giant TotalEnergies is Gabon’s main distributor of petroleum products. Gabon freed itself from French rule in 1960.

As soldiers drove through the capital Libreville, residents took to the streets to cheer them on. If successful, it would be the eighth coup in West and Central Africa since 2020.

Hurricane Idalia Slams Florida Coast as Officials Warn of Life-Threatening Storm Surge

Aug 30, 2023

Hurricane Idalia made landfall along the Big Bend area of Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm, with winds of 125 miles per hour. It’s likely to be the most powerful hurricane to affect Florida’s capital Tallahassee in decades. More than 100,000 customers had lost power when Idalia hit Florida’s coast, and 30 of the state’s 67 counties were issued at least partial evacuation orders as of early this morning, as officials warned residents of catastrophic storm surges of up to 12 to 16 feet.

Deanne Criswell: “Very few people can survive being in the path of a major storm surge. And this storm will be deadly if we don’t get out of harm’s way and take it seriously.”

Biden Admin Announces First 10 Medications That Will Be Subject to Medicare Negotiations

Aug 30, 2023

The Biden administration released a list of the first 10 prescription drugs Medicare will now be able to negotiate prices on, which could lead to a savings of some $100 billion over the next decade. The price negotiation was established as part of 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act and is a massive blow for Big Pharma, which has been fighting the plan in courts in at least eight lawsuits. The drugs are used to treat diabetes, cancer and heart disease, among other conditions. The White House said senior citizens paid $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for the 10 medications in the past year. This is President Biden.

President Joe Biden: “For years Big Pharma blocked this. They kept prescription drug prices high to increase their profits and extend patents on existing drugs to suppress fair competition instead of innovating, playing games with pricing so they could charge whatever they can. But this is — finally, finally, finally, we had enough votes, by a matter of one, to beat Big Pharma.”

The negotiated prices will not take effect until 2026, and some drugs will remain exempted from further negotiations, including those which were approved by the FDA less than nine years ago.

Uganda Sees First Charges of “Aggravated Homosexuality” After Passing Homophobic New Law

Aug 30, 2023

In Uganda, two men are facing what are believed to be the first charges of “aggravated homosexuality” after a draconian new anti-LGBTQIA law was passed earlier this year, which also punishes consensual same-sex relations. The “crime” could lead to life in prison and even the death penalty. The law has been widely condemned by rights groups, the U.N. and other countries. Earlier this month, the World Bank said it is suspending new loans to Uganda over the law.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, over five dozen people were arrested at a gay wedding in the south of the country Monday. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Nigeria and punishable by up to 14 years behind bars. More than 30 African nations ban same-sex relationships.

Militia Kills 14 Villagers in Latest Violent Attack in Eastern DRC

Aug 30, 2023

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, army officials are reporting at least 14 people are dead after militia fighters attacked a village in the northeastern part of the country. Military officials have blamed the CODECO militia for the attack. More than 120 armed groups have been in bloody conflict in the region, many over control of land and mines while others are fighting to protect their communities.


Denmark Introduces Law to Criminalize Burning the Qur’an

Aug 30, 2023

The Danish government has proposed a new bill that would ban the burning of the Qur’an under penalty of fines or up to two years in prison. This comes after recent public desecrations of the Qur’an by far-right protesters in Denmark and Sweden, setting off international condemnation and demonstrations across the Muslim world. This is Denmark’s justice minister.

Peter Hummelgaard: “When individuals demonstratively go out and burn the Qur’an daily, as we have seen recently, it’s a basic mockery and unsympathetic action. It harms Denmark and Danish interests, and it risks the security of Danes out in the world and at home.”

Hundreds of Prisoners Are on Hunger Strike in Bahrain’s Largest Prison

Aug 30, 2023

In Bahrain, at least 800 prisoners have been on hunger strike for over three weeks protesting human rights violations and worsening conditions. Prisoners have denounced arbitrary solitary confinement, cell lockdowns of 23 hours a day, and no access to medical care and education. This is the biggest hunger strike led by political prisoners in the Gulf nation’s history, with hundreds of others also taking to the streets in solidarity with the strikers at the Jau Prison, the largest in Bahrain.

Officials have reportedly agreed to increase the duration of visitations and said they’re looking into raising the time prisoners are allowed outdoors. Many of them were arrested, tortured and imprisoned following the 2011 massive uprisings during the Arab Spring.

Pakistani Court Suspends Imran Khan’s Corruption Sentence, But Ex-PM Remains Jailed in Separate Case

Aug 30, 2023

In Pakistan, an appeals court on Tuesday suspended former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s three-year prison sentence and conviction on corruption charges. If the court decides to set aside Khan’s conviction, he’ll be allowed to run for office in elections scheduled for November. Despite being granted bail, Khan will remain in detention, at least for now, over another criminal case involving the leak of classified information. Dozens of charges were brought against Khan since he was removed from office in a no-confidence vote in April of last year. Khan has denounced the charges as politically motivated.


Dozens of States Consider Bills Barring Chinese Entities and Citizens from Buying Land

Aug 30, 2023

Amid mounting U.S.-China tensions, lawmakers in 33 states have introduced legislation this year to prohibit Chinese entities and even Chinese citizens from buying agricultural land or property near military bases. A dozen of those bills have passed into law, including Florida’s controversial SB 264, which has been challenged by a group of Chinese citizens, who cited violations of the Fair Housing Act.

The Washington Post reports that while most of the legislation making its way through statehouses also name countries like Iran and North Korea, China is the clear target. Rights groups and some political leaders say such restrictions will further stoke anti-Asian sentiment. “There is ignorance out there that causes people to think that because you are Chinese you are part of the Chinese government,” former Texas state Representative Martha Wong told the Post.

Air Pollution Shortens Average Life Span by 2.3 Years, Worse Than Being a Smoker

Aug 30, 2023

A new report finds air pollution reduces global life expectancy by 2.3 years — slightly more than being a smoker. The study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago concludes fine particulate air pollution from vehicles, industrial emissions, wildfires and other sources are “the greatest external threat to public health.” In South Asia, air pollution cuts life expectancy by an average of five years, with the air quality in New Delhi leading to a loss of more than 10 years on average.

Greek Evros Wildfire Largest Ever Recorded in EU

Aug 30, 2023

In Greece, firefighters are battling a massive wildfire in the northeast Evros region for the 12th straight day. The blaze has destroyed an area greater than New York City, in what has become the largest-ever recorded wildfire in the European Union. Greek officials said the fire was “still out of control” around the Dadia national park. This is the head of conservation at WWF Greece.

Panagiota Maragou: “Because of its very high biodiversity, the national park of Dadia was one of the most important protected areas in Greece and also in Europe, perhaps also on the international scale. And at the moment, at least 30% of the park has been lost to fire.”

Louisiana Wildfires Kill 2; Maui Search for Wildfire Victims Moves from Land to Water

Aug 30, 2023

Here in the U.S., wildfires in southwestern Louisiana killed two people and scorched roughly 60,000 acres as of Tuesday. Governor John Bel Edwards said the fires are the worst Louisiana has experienced “since at least the Second World War,” amid a record-breaking drought.

Meanwhile, in Maui, the search for wildfire victims on land has ended, with search efforts now moving to the ocean. The official death toll has reached 115 people.

Biden Administration Forced to Roll Back Wetlands Protections After SCOTUS Ruling

Aug 30, 2023

The Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back parts of the Clean Water Act which protect millions of acres of wetlands, in order to comply with a Supreme Court ruling. The right-wing-dominated court ruled in May that wetlands must have a “continuous surface connection” to streams, oceans, rivers and lakes to be subject to federal regulations on pollution. Up to 63% of wetlands will be affected. The White House said the Supreme Court ruling “jeopardize[s] the sources of clean drinking water for farmers, businesses and millions of Americans.”

U.N. Body Says Governments Should Address Children’s Demands to Fight Climate Crisis

Aug 30, 2023

The Committee on the Rights of the Child said Monday governments must address the climate crisis and other environmental emergencies to “ensure that children are protected from foreseeable premature or unnatural death and threats to their lives … and enjoy their right to life with dignity.” The formal opinion issued by the U.N. body could be a boon to multiple lawsuits brought by youth around the world over their governments’ inaction and contribution to climate change. Next month, the European Court of Human Rights will hear a climate case from a group of young people in Portugal against 32 countries. Click here to see our interview with a youth activist in Montana after the Montana case was won in a lawsuit brought by Montana youth.

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