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HeadlinesAugust 09, 2023

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Ohio Voters Reject GOP Attempt to Impose Higher Barrier to Enshrining Abortion Rights in Constitution

Aug 09, 2023

In a major victory for reproductive rights and democracy, Ohio voters decisively rejected raising the threshold for passing constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. The special election Tuesday, pushed by the Republican-led Legislature and funded by an Illinois billionaire, came three months ahead of the November election, in which voters will decide if the right to an abortion should be enshrined in the Ohio Constitution. The outcome of Tuesday’s election means only 50% of voters need to cast ballots in favor of the pro-choice amendment. An AP poll found a majority of Ohio voters support the right to an abortion. We’ll speak with former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner after headlines.

SCOTUS Allows Biden Admin to Regulate Ghost Guns for Now

Aug 09, 2023

The Supreme Court has upheld the Biden administration’s ability to regulate “ghost guns” — assembly kits which allow buyers to build untraceable guns at home. The federal government can require that manufacturers of ghost gun kits include serial numbers and conduct background checks on customers, while a challenge to the rule is heard in lower courts. Justices John Roberts and Amy Coney Barrett joined with the three liberal members of the court in the 5-4 ruling.

Sudan Conflict Rages On: 4 Million Displaced, 24 Million in Need of Aid

Aug 09, 2023

In Sudan, deadly fighting shows no sign of slowing down nearly four months since the war between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, broke out. Violence in Sudan’s second most populous city, Omdurman, has escalated over control of a bridge crossing the Nile River, used by the RSF to transport weapons. The healthcare system remains on the brink of collapse as medical facilities have been systematically targeted by fighters.

The U.N. said Friday the conflict has left 24 million people, half of Sudan’s population, in need of food and other aid, but only 2.5 million have been able to receive assistance. Over 4 million people have been internally and externally displaced, with the largest number of refugees crossing into Chad. Refugees from West Darfur deplored the desperate situation they were forced to flee.

Haroun: “The situation in Morny is tragic. There are problems, arrests and assaults at night. The war is continuing, so we left. Whoever finds a way gets out, and whoever does not find it remains in suffering.”

U.N. Warns Burmese Military Is Escalating Attacks on Civilians

Aug 09, 2023

In Burma, a United Nations investigation has found the Burmese military is increasingly committing war crimes, ranging from sexual violence to mass executions. The crimes also include the indiscriminate targeting of civilians with bombs, the burning of homes and buildings, and at times the destruction of entire villages.

In April, at least 165 people, including children and babies, were killed after Burmese military jets rained fire and bombs on the village of Pazigyi. It was one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the military junta seized power in a 2021 coup. Burmese armed forces claimed they were targeting terrorists.

Brazil Summit Produces Pledge to Protect Amazon But Fails to Adopt Vow to End Deforestation by 2030

Aug 09, 2023

In Brazil, eight South American leaders agreed to form an alliance to protect the Amazon as they met during a high-profile summit hosted in Belém by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela signed on to a declaration which includes pledges to end deforestation, crack down on criminal activity in the Amazon and lift up sustainable development. But the group stopped short of agreeing to a key Indigenous demand for all countries to join in Brazil’s pledge to end deforestation by 2030 and in Colombia’s pledge to halt any new oil exploration. On Tuesday, Indigenous groups took to the streets of Belém to voice their demands.

Protester: “Because if there is no consent, we are not going to authorize public policies in every government to carry out extractivist, mining or oil projects in forests, in nature. We, Indigenous peoples, say no to that. We, the Indigenous peoples, say yes to life, because the Amazon is where everything is.”

King Center Backs Referendum on Cop City; ACLU, NAACP Call for Probe into Targeting of Activists

Aug 09, 2023

Back in the U.S., in Atlanta, support is growing for a citywide referendum that could decide the future of Cop City, a massive, multimillion-dollar police training complex. The King Center, run by Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., has joined Cop City opponents in calling on Atlanta officials to allow for a public vote on the project. The King Center criticized Atlanta leadership for ignoring the ardent community opposition against Cop City and the use of public funding. The campaign Vote to Stop Cop City is working to meet an August 14 deadline to collect 70,000 signatures from Atlanta voters to put a referendum on the November ballot to stop Cop City.

This comes as civil and human rights organizations, including the ACLU and the NAACP, are urging the Homeland Security Department to investigate the mass targeting and surveillance of Cop City protesters, as dozens of forest defenders have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. The groups warn of the “dangers of … vague, overbroad, and stigmatizing terms like 'domestic violent extremist' and 'militant' to describe individuals who may be engaged in protected First Amendment activity.”

Meanwhile, an environmental group has sued the city of Atlanta as construction of Cop City has already contaminated local water streams. The lawsuit, filed by the South River Watershed Alliance, could temporarily block construction of the project.

Hawaii Wildfires Prompt Evacuations as People Take to Ocean to Escape Fire and Smoke

Aug 09, 2023

In Hawaii, officials issued an emergency proclamation as wildfires on the Big Island and Maui prompted evacuations and cut power to thousands of residents. Twelve people were rescued from the water after jumping into the ocean to escape the smoke and fire. The fires have been driven in part by high winds from Hurricane Dora in the Pacific.

Community Members, Loved Ones of Murdered Dancer O’Shae Sibley Pay Tribute at Philly Funeral

Aug 09, 2023

In Philadelphia, the slain dancer and choreographer O’Shae Sibley was laid to rest Tuesday. A suspect has been charged with murder as a hate crime; he shouted racist and homophobic slurs at Sibley and his friends while they were dancing at a Brooklyn gas station last month. Sibley’s loved ones paid tribute to the 28-year-old dancer at his funeral service held at Philadelphia’s Met Opera House.

Otis Pena: “O’Shae had the power to touch everyone’s heart, whoever met him. O’Shae was a beacon of light for a lot of us in our community, that was engulfed in darkness. But O’Shae — O’Shae rejoiced. O’Shae was O’Shae.”

Zoom’s Altered User Policy Language Raises Alarm over Privacy Rights, Use of User Data in AI

Aug 09, 2023

The video conferencing software Zoom has come under fire after it changed its user policy, opening the door for the company to use consumer data to train its AI system. Zoom responded to the backlash Monday by denying the company would use video or chat content for AI training without consent. But digital rights advocates say Zoom could still take the data for other purposes and that users may not easily be able to opt out of AI use if a call host chooses to allow it, or is not aware of it. In 2020, Democrats called for the FTC to look into Zoom’s privacy policies, accusing it of misleading customers on the security of its encryption.

In related news, Zoom, an early hallmark of pandemic-era remote work, is facing backlash from employees after announcing it will require workers within a 50-mile radius of its offices to return to on-site work two days per week.

L.A. City Workers Go on 1-Day Strike; Hotel Workers Report Retaliation from Security for Striking

Aug 09, 2023

In California, thousands of Los Angeles city workers walked off the job for 24 hours Tuesday in the first such strike in four decades, to protest “repeated labor law violations” by their employers. This is city worker Alfonzo Williams.

Alfonzo Williams: “We all do a wonderful job. We’re all needed. We’re all either — we’re essential workers out here, and we worked through the pandemic. We were out here. We never wavered. And so, just bargain in good faith. And that’s all we’re asking. And when you don’t bargain in good faith, this is what happens.”

The one-day work stoppage comes as Hollywood writers and actors remain on strike, and as Los Angeles hotel workers have staged periodic walkouts after their contract expired at the end of June. The hotel workers’ union, UNITE HERE, filed a labor complaint this week, citing a number of violent retaliatory incidents at picket lines perpetrated by hotel security guards.

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