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HeadlinesSeptember 12, 2023

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Thousands Feared Dead in Libya as Torrential Rains Cause Dams to Collapse

Sep 12, 2023

Thousands of people are feared dead in Libya after a powerful Mediterranean cyclone brought devastating flooding to the eastern port city of Derna. Libya’s National Center of Meteorology says the storm dumped more than 16 inches of rain on the city in less than 24 hours, causing two dams to burst, washing away entire neighborhoods. On Monday, a spokesperson for the Libyan National Army put the death toll in the thousands.

Ahmed al-Mismari: “The latest update regarding the death toll, as the prime minister of Libya announced, exceeds 2,000 in Derna city alone. May they rest in peace. There also, in Darna, are thousands of missing people — some 5,000 to 6,000 missing people — and this number could largely increase.”

Libya’s Red Crescent said the number of missing people has reached 10,000, with at least 20,000 displaced from their homes. Much of Libya’s infrastructure has crumbled since 2011, when the Obama administration and NATO backed an uprising against longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, setting off years of war.

Greece Warns of Infectious Diseases After Cyclone Brings Unprecedented Flooding

Sep 12, 2023

The catastrophic floods in Libya were triggered by Storm Daniel, a rare hurricane-like cyclone in the Mediterranean known as a “medicane.” It’s the same storm that brought unprecedented flooding to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria last week. In Greece, public health officials are warning residents against using stagnant floodwater, amid fears over the spread of disease while supplies of clean drinking water remain scarce. Nearly a quarter of this year’s crop production was lost to flooding in Greece’s central agriculture-producing region.

Death Toll from Morocco Earthquake Nears 3,000

Sep 12, 2023

In Morocco, hopes of finding survivors of last Friday’s devastating earthquake are fading, as the government says the death toll is nearing 3,000. The United Nations says at least 300,000 people have been affected by the quake, a third of them children.

U.S. Breaks Record for Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters

Sep 12, 2023

Here in the United States, the number of major climate-related disasters so far in 2023 has already set records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday 23 separate weather and climate disasters have caused at least $1 billion in damage from January to August, surpassing the previous record set in all of 2020.

U.N. Human Rights Chief on Climate Inaction: “The Dystopian Future Is Already Here”

Sep 12, 2023

In Geneva, the United Nations’ top human rights official said Monday wealthy nations are failing to take steps needed to prevent the worst effects of the climate catastrophe. Volker Türk spoke to the U.N. Human Rights Council after the G20 wrapped up a weekend summit in India with no commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

Volker Türk: “Climate change is pushing millions of people into famine. It is destroying hopes, opportunities, homes and lives. In recent months urgent warnings have become lethal realities again and again all around the world. … We do not need more warnings. The dystopian future is already here. We need urgent action now.”

Ukraine Seizes Russian-Held Oil and Gas Platforms in Black Sea

Sep 12, 2023

Ukraine’s intelligence service says Ukrainian forces have seized control of four strategically important oil and gas drilling platforms in the Black Sea near the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Officials in Kyiv accused Russia of using the platforms as ammunition depots and radar stations, and said their seizure brought Ukraine one step closer to President Zelensky’s goal of recapturing Crimea.

NATO Plans Largest War Games Since Cold War; U.S. Launches Military Exercises with Armenia

Sep 12, 2023

NATO is planning its largest military exercise since the Cold War. The Financial Times reports the war games in Germany and Poland next February and March will involve more than 50 naval vessels, 40,000 military personnel and hundreds of simulated air combat missions. On Monday, Sweden’s government announced plans to boost military spending by nearly 30% ahead of its accession to NATO. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has expressed alarm after the Pentagon launched joint military exercises with Armenia’s armed forces in the former Soviet republic — a longtime regional partner of Russia.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Arrives in Russia for Talks with Putin

Sep 12, 2023

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Russia for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kim made the journey from Pyongyang to the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok aboard an armored train. Putin is reportedly seeking to purchase stockpiles of North Korean artillery shells and rockets for Russia’s war effort in Ukraine; in exchange, North Korea could receive food, fuel and technology from Moscow.

In Washington, D.C., the State Department threatened new sanctions against Russia and North Korea, saying any such deal would violate multiple Security Council resolutions.

France Defies Niger Coup Leaders’ Ultimatum to Abandon Military Bases

Sep 12, 2023

In Niger, leaders of the military junta that seized power in July are accusing France of massing troops and equipment in neighboring ECOWAS nations in preparation for military intervention in Niger.

Col. Maj. Amadou Abdramane: “These underhanded delaying tactics are designed to dull the patriotic ardor of the Nigerien people in their fight for the total withdrawal of French troops from Niger, in order to achieve a more successful military intervention against our country.”

Tension has been escalating between Niger and its former colonial ruler since the military coup. French troops and France’s ambassador have ignored demands to leave the country.

Biden Administration Will Unfreeze Iranian Oil Revenue as Part of Prisoner Swap

Sep 12, 2023

The Biden administration has cleared the way to release $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue blocked by U.S. sanctions in exchange for five Americans imprisoned in Iran. Five Iranian nationals currently imprisoned in the U.S. are also being released as part of the agreement. Iranian officials will be allowed to use the funds to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs. Republicans have fiercely criticized the deal. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas accused President Biden of “paying ransom to the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.”

Former Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo Calls Israel an “Apartheid State”

Sep 12, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets Sunday demanding justice for 16-year-old Milad al-Rai, who was killed by Israeli soldiers during a raid on a refugee camp near the city of Hebron a day earlier. Some 185 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank so far this year, including dozens of children and teens.

Last week, the former head of Israel’s spy service Mossad said Israel is imposing apartheid on Palestinians. Tamir Pardo told the Associated Press, “In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”

FDA Approves New COVID-19 Booster Shots

Sep 12, 2023

Here in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved new COVID-19 booster shots for people as young as 6 months old, with vaccinations set to begin as soon as this week. The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have been reformulated against an Omicron coronavirus subvariant that was dominant when the shots were selected by the FDA in June. The vaccines are the first COVID shots not to be purchased by the federal government. Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, will cover the cost of the vaccines; meanwhile, the CDC will administer a program to cover the cost of vaccinating people without insurance or whose plans won’t cover the shots.

This month the World Health Organization warned of a “concerning” rise in COVID-19 cases ahead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Maria Van Kerkhove: “But hospitalizations are increasing in the Americas, in Europe, in what we call our Southeast Asia region, and that is of worry, given that when we get to colder months in some countries, people tend to spend more times indoors aggregated together, and viruses that transmit through the air, like COVID, will take advantage of that.”

Protesters Occupy House Speaker’s Office to Demand Renewed Funding for HIV/AIDS

Sep 12, 2023

In Washington, D.C., at least seven people were arrested Monday for peacefully occupying the office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, demanding Congress reauthorize funding for a global program to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, is set to expire on September 30 and has been stalled by Republicans who claim some of the funds have been used for abortion access. Housing Works CEO Charles King was among those arrested. The nonprofit said in a statement, ”PEPFAR has saved millions of lives. It is criminal for some members of Congress to treat it as a political football.”

Atlanta Officials Refuse to Process 116,000 Signatures for Public Referendum on Cop City

Sep 12, 2023

In Georgia, Atlanta city officials are facing backlash after they refused to begin counting and verifying over 116,000 signatures submitted by activists Monday in support of a public referendum that could block the construction of Cop City, a massive $90 million police training center that would be the largest in the United States. The effort now appears to be in legal limbo after an appellate court suspended a previous order by another judge that had granted activists more time to turn in the petitions. The original deadline to get the measure on the ballot was August 21. Atlanta officials said they won’t verify signature forms until the appellate court rules on whether the deadline extension was lawful. This is the latest setback for the Stop Cop City movement; it comes after 61 protesters were indicted on racketeering charges.

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