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HeadlinesSeptember 14, 2023

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Mayor of Flooded Libyan City Says Death Toll Could Rise to 20,000

Sep 14, 2023

In Libya, the mayor of the eastern port city of Derna says up to 20,000 people have been killed by Sunday’s catastrophic floods, which were triggered by the collapse of two dams amid unprecedented rainfall. Libyan officials say the true toll may never be known, after floodwaters washed whole neighborhoods into the sea. On Tuesday, Libya’s prime minister dismissed the need for international aid, though he said Libya does need help locating the bodies of victims who were swept into the Mediterranean. 

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibeh: “We do not need aid, not even medication or equipment, nor doctors or ambulances. Thanks to God, we have 400 ambulances that took off. But we have a problem in retrieving the bodies from the sea.” 

Rescue workers warned of the potential spread of disease and appealed for more body bags. Many of Derna’s flood victims are being buried in mass graves. On Wednesday, U.N. human rights chief Volker Türk called on Libya’s two rival governments to set aside their differences in order to coordinate relief efforts.

Volker Türk: “I call on all Libyan political actors to overcome deadlocks and divisions and to act collectively in ensuring access to relief. This is a time for unity of purpose. All those affected must receive support without regard for any affiliations.”

Environmental Damage Has Brought Earth Outside “Safe Operating Space for Humanity”

Sep 14, 2023

The catastrophic flooding in Libya came as a new study found Earth’s ecosystems are outside of their “safe operating space for humanity.” The report in the journal Science Advances warns of imbalances to a majority of key measurements of the planet’s health, including biodiversity, fresh water, pollution and the climate. Climate scientist Johan Rockström co-authored the report. 

Johan Rockström: “Six of the nine boundaries are outside of a safe space. The four boundaries that we assessed in 2015 are deeper into the red, so we’re continuing to move in the wrong direction. And this is a big concern.”

Nearly 800 organizations have endorsed climate actions beginning on Friday, culminating in a March to End Fossil Fuels Sunday here in New York.

Morocco Rejects Offers of Foreign Aid as Earthquake Death Toll Nears 3,000

Sep 14, 2023

In Morocco, search and recovery teams say they’re frustrated that the government rejected offers of foreign aid, as the death toll from last week’s devastating earthquake nears 3,000. This week French President Emmanuel Macron said in a message to the Moroccan people that King Mohammed VI had rejected an offer by France to provide direct humanitarian aid. So far Morocco has only provided access to aid workers from Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and Qatar. Many survivors in remote villages have been sleeping outdoors since the earthquake struck. 

Malika Ouabella: “We don’t know where we’re going to go, what we’re going to do, where we’re going to live. You know, winter is coming, the rain, you know, winter conditions, rain. We have young children. We have nothing.”

Human Rights Groups Accuse World Leaders of Failing to Act on Atrocities in Sudan

Sep 14, 2023

The United Nations’ special envoy to Sudan says he is stepping down from the role, three months after Sudan’s military junta declared him persona non grata — something that’s not allowed under the U.N. Charter. Volker Perthes testified to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

Volker Perthes: “At least 5,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict and over 12,000 injured. And these are conservative figures. The actual number is likely much higher. … What started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-scale civil war.”

Some 20 million people in Sudan — nearly half the population — face acute food insecurity. Six million are just one step away from famine. On Monday, leaders of over 50 international human rights and humanitarian groups accused global leaders of failing to take action in the face of atrocities in Sudan. 

Ukraine Says Attack on Russian Black Naval Sea Fleet Struck Two Warships

Sep 14, 2023

Ukraine’s intelligence service says Ukrainian forces successfully launched their largest attack yet on the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. On Wednesday morning, Ukrainian bombers equipped with British- and French-made cruise missiles struck a dry dock in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, destroying a Russian amphibious ship and a submarine. Elsewhere, Russia’s military said its air defense units thwarted a drone attack over Crimea, while Ukraine claimed to have shot down 17 out of 22 Russian drones launched at targets in southern Ukraine.

Senate Subpoenas Saudi Wealth Fund as It Probes PGA-LIV Merger

Sep 14, 2023

Here in the United States, a Senate investigations subcommittee has issued a subpoena for documents on Saudi Arabia’s $700 billion sovereign wealth fund and its investments in the U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is probing a proposed merger between the Saudi fund and the PGA Golf Tour. During a hearing Wednesday, Blumenthal and other lawmakers raised Saudi human rights abuses and links between Saudi leaders and the 9/11 attacks. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: “This week marks 22 years since those horrific attacks. Not only did 15 of the 19 hijackers come from Saudi Arabia, but in the years since, evidence have come to light — compelling and mounting evidence — revealing that the Saudi government may have known or knowingly aided some of these hijackers.”

Over the weekend, President Biden shook hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit, two days before the U.S. commemorated the 9/11 attacks. While campaigning for president, Biden vowed to make MBS a “pariah” over the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and human rights issues. 

New England and Eastern Canada Brace for Hurricane Lee

Sep 14, 2023

Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued for much of coastal New England and eastern Canada ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Lee this weekend. The storm is now a Category 2 hurricane and is expected to widen as it crashes into eastern Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Saturday, bringing damaging winds and a storm surge that will coincide with spring tides.

UAW on Cusp of Historic Strike as Automakers Fail to Meet Worker Demands Despite Massive Profits

Sep 14, 2023

Members of the United Auto Workers are gearing up for the first-ever simultaneous strikes against the “Detroit Three” car manufacturers. UAW President Shawn Fain issued a warning to automakers Wednesday, ahead of tonight’s midnight contract expiration.

Shawn Fain: “The Big Three can afford to immediately give us our fair share. If they choose not to, then they’re choosing to strike themselves. And we are not afraid to take action.”

The strike action would see workers suddenly walk out of targeted plants, while others continue to work in a bid to “create confusion.” Fain also said the strikes could escalate to an across-the-board work stoppage by all 150,000 UAW members if talks do not progress.

Auto workers are seeking a 40% pay increase, a 32-hour workweek, a return to regular pensions, an end to compensation tiers, and cost-of-living adjustments, among other demands. So far, Ford, GM and Stellantis — which owns Chrysler and other car brands — have offered pay raises between 17.5% and 20%.

Senator Bernie Sanders has called on the U.S. public to support the UAW to help “create an economy that works for all, not just the privileged few.” Sanders notes the CEOs of the Big Three have seen their pay increase by more than 40% over the past four years, earning between $20 and $30 million each last year alone. The three companies made $23 billion in profits in the first half of this year, an 80% increase over last year.

“Inhumane and Shameful”: Bush-Appointed Judge Rules DACA Unlawful for Second Time

Sep 14, 2023

In Texas, a federal judge again declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program unlawful, blocking an attempt by the Biden administration to codify DACA into a federal regulation. It’s the second such ruling by conservative Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee. DACA will remain in place for some 580,000 recipients and continue to issue renewals, but will not process first-time applications. The decision prompted calls for the Biden administration to prioritize immigration reform and provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S.

The New York Legal Assistance Group called the ruling “inhumane and shameful” and said “it is unconscionable that our judicial system is placing thousands of people back into the shadows of this dysfunctional, harmful immigration system.” The case is expected to end up at the Supreme Court.

United Nations: U.S.-Mexico Border Has Become the Deadliest Land Migration Route

Sep 14, 2023

The International Organization for Migration has found the U.S.-Mexico border to be the world’s deadliest land migration route.

Paul Dillon: “The International Organization for Migration documented the deaths and disappearances of 686 migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022, making it the deadliest land route for migrants worldwide last year. The figure represents nearly half of the 1,457 migrant deaths and disappearances recorded throughout the Americas last year, the deadliest on record since the Missing Migrants Project began in 2014.”

The U.N. agency said the true toll is likely to be much higher. Half of the recorded deaths near the border are linked to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. The IOM called on governments to urgently “create regular legal migration pathways” to prevent further unnecessary tragedy.

Wisconsin GOP Attempt to Impeach Liberal Judge Who Could Overturn Abortion Ban, Gerrymandering

Sep 14, 2023

In Wisconsin, Republican leaders are moving ahead with plans to impeach newly elected liberal state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz, whose landslide election victory in April gave progressives control of the court for the first time in 15 years. With her election, the court is now expected to restore abortion rights in Wisconsin and could overturn legislative and congressional district maps gerrymandered by Republicans. On Monday, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced the creation of a panel to investigate whether to impeach Protasiewicz after she called the current maps “unfair” and “rigged” during her campaign.

In a statement, the ACLU said, “The attacks on democracy happening in Wisconsin should raise alarm bells for Americans everywhere. Across the country, we are seeing increasingly authoritarian tactics being used to disenfranchise voters and delegitimize the electoral process – from baselessly ousting elected officials to election denialism to passing restrictions that make it harder to vote.”

Mitt Romney Will Not Seek Reelection, Says GOP Operates in “Shadow of Donald Trump”

Sep 14, 2023

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney said Wednesday he will not seek reelection in 2024, saying it’s “time for a new generation of leaders.” The one-time Republican presidential nominee is one of the few members of his party to speak out against Donald Trump and was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in both of his impeachment trials. He spoke to reporters after announcing his decision not to run for a second term. 

Sen. Mitt Romney: “Well, there’s no question but that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump. He is the leader of the greatest portion of the Republican Party. It’s a populist, I believe, demagogue portion of the party.”

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