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HeadlinesSeptember 18, 2023

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U.N. Revises Death Toll from Libya Floods as Recovery Efforts Continue

Sep 18, 2023

The World Health Organization and aid groups have called on Libya’s government to stop burying flood victims in mass graves, a week after unprecedented rainfall caused a pair of dams to collapse, devastating the eastern coastal city of Derna. The U.N. reports about 4,000 people were killed by the floods, with more than 9,000 people still missing. The toll is down from the U.N.’s previous report of more than 11,000 deaths. More than 30,000 survivors have been rendered homeless and are in immediate need of clean water, food and shelter. Aid workers continue to collect the bodies of the dead.

Yasser Ibrahim Muhammad: “As a Libyan, when I pull out bodies, I swear, I cry. I can’t handle it. But it is God’s will, so you have to hold up and pull out the body. There was a body that was divided in two parts right before us. There is nothing to do but to pull out the body. What can you do?”

75,000 March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC as Hundreds of Thousands Worldwide Demand Climate Justice

Sep 18, 2023

Hundreds of thousands of protesters around the globe took to the streets over the weekend calling for an end to the burning of fossil fuels. Climate actions took place in the Philippines, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sweden, Germany, the United States and across dozens of other countries and cities worldwide. Here in New York, an estimated 75,000 protesters joined a massive march Sunday following days of peaceful actions targeting banks and other institutions involved with the fossil fuel industry. It was the largest rally New York has seen in years. Ahead of the march, at least 16 climate activists were arrested Friday after they occupied and shut down the Museum of Modern Art for more than five hours over its ties to fossil fuel billionaire Henry Kravis, co-founder of the Wall Street investment firm KKR.

Meanwhile, in Germany, thousands of protesters gathered in Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate spraying orange paint on its columns. Several protesters were arrested. This is an activist as they were taken into police custody.

Protester: “The government has to take measures now to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. It can’t be that our last basic livelihoods are being destroyed. The Brandenburg Gate stands for a political turning point like no other landmark, and we need exactly this turning point again today. The chancellor continues to pour oil on the fire. It can’t just be that basic livelihoods of millions — no, billions — of people are being put on the line. Science and scientists are clear that we need to exit the use of fossil fuels by 2030.”

The protests kicked off a week of mobilizations as world leaders will convene at the United Nations General Assembly starting today, where U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is hosting a special climate summit Wednesday, which U.S. President Biden does not plan to attend. After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour hearing voices from Sunday’s March to End Fossil Fuels in New York.

Striking Workers Warn U.S. Automakers They May Expand Work Stoppage

Sep 18, 2023

A United Auto Workers strike targeting the Big Three automakers has entered its fourth day. About 12,700 workers walked off the job on Friday, but the UAW has warned the strike could expand in scope. On Sunday, talks resumed between the UAW and representatives of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. Over the weekend, Stellantis, which is the parent company of Chrysler, offered workers a 21% pay hike, but UAW President Shawn Fain rejected the offer. He appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Shawn Fain: “We’ve asked for 40% pay increases. And the reason we asked for 40% pay increases is because in the last four years alone the CEO pay went up 40%. They’re already millionaires, you know? It’s shameful that, you know, one of the leaders of one of the corporations is sitting in his second home in Acapulco while we’re bargaining, rather than being at the bargaining table. And so, you know, our demands are just. We’re asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor.”

Margaret Brennan: “So 21% is a no-go for you?”

Shawn Fain: “It’s definitely a no-go. And we’ve made that very clear to the companies.”

On Friday, independent Senator Bernie Sanders traveled to Detroit to speak at a UAW rally, where he decried corporate greed.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “And let me thank the UAW for standing up not only for your own members, but for the working class of this country. The fight you are waging here is not just about decent wages and working conditions and pensions in the automobile industry. It is a fight to take on corporate greed and tell the people on top, 'This country belongs to all of us, not just a few.'”

Zelensky to Visit D.C. as Congress Debates Billions of Additional Dollars for Ukraine

Sep 18, 2023

Ukraine’s military says it has seized control of a village near the eastern city of Bakhmut that’s been the site of intense battles for weeks. It’s the second Russian-occupied village recaptured by Ukraine in recent days and comes ahead of a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States this week. Zelensky will address the United Nations General Assembly in person for the first time since Russia’s invasion in early 2022. He’ll then travel from New York to Washington, D.C., for talks with President Biden and congressional leaders. In August, President Biden asked Congress for an additional $13 billion in military aid to Ukraine and an additional $8 billion in humanitarian assistance.

Military Juntas in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso Sign Mutual Defense Pact

Sep 18, 2023

The military leaders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have signed a mutual defense pact where they agree to help each other militarily against outside aggression and against internal rebellions. The three nations are all former French colonies which experienced military coups in recent years. This is Mali’s Foreign Affairs Minister Abdoulaye Diop.

Abdoulaye Diop: “Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more of the contracting parties will be considered as an aggression against the other parties and will entail a duty of assistance and relief on the part of all parties.”

This comes as tension is escalating between France and Niger’s new military leaders. On Saturday, thousands of protesters rallied outside a French military base in Niger after French President Emmanuel Macron claimed France’s ambassador is being held hostage at the French Embassy.

Protesters called on French troops to leave Niger.
bq. Issaka Oumarou: “We know that Emmanuel Macron is looking for a war pretext to invade our country. But Emmanuel Macron must understand that the people of Niger are determined. Emmanuel Macron must understand that we have understood their game, and we are not going to fall into their trap.”

Office High-Rise Burns in Sudan’s Capital Amid Fierce Fighting by Rival Factions

Sep 18, 2023

In Sudan, a landmark office tower in the capital Khartoum caught fire and burned for hours Sunday amid fierce fighting between Sudan’s army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The fire ravaged the 18-story Greater Nile Petroleum Company Tower. Several government buildings also caught fire as paramilitaries launched attacks on positions controlled by the army. Residents report it was some of the worst fighting since violence between factions of the military junta erupted on April 15. Medical authorities report all the main hospitals in Khartoum — and in Sudan’s western Darfur region — were out of service on Sunday.

Iran and U.S. Finalize Prisoner Swap

Sep 18, 2023

Iranian authorities are expected to release five U.S. citizens in their custody today after the Biden administration unfroze $6 billion of Iranian oil revenue. The funds will be used for medicine, food and other humanitarian goods. Washington is also freeing five Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. as part of the deal, which was brokered by Qatar.

Father of Mahsa Amini Arrested on First Anniversary of Her Death in Police Custody

Sep 18, 2023

Iranian authorities detained the father of Mahsa Amini Saturday — on the first anniversary of her death in the custody of Iranian so-called morality police. Iranian security forces surrounded the family’s home in the city of Saqez ahead of the anniversary and warned Amjad Amini against commemorating his daughter’s death. Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was killed a year ago after she was arrested for allegedly failing to wear a headscarf properly. Her death sparked historic nationwide protests across Iran for months. Over 500 protesters, including dozens of children, were killed, while thousands of others were arrested as the Iranian government cracked down on the mobilizations. At least seven people have been executed for their involvement in the protests.

Rights Groups Condemn Egyptian Court’s Sentencing of Journalist and Activist Hisham Kassem

Sep 18, 2023

A court in Egypt has sentenced one of the nation’s best-known journalists and political activists to six months in prison, in a case that’s drawn condemnation from human rights groups. Sixty-four-year-old Hisham Kassem was convicted on what supporters say are trumped-up charges of slander, defamation and verbal assault on a police officer. Kassem is a co-founder of the Free Current Movement of liberal political parties in Egypt and is seen as a possible challenger to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the upcoming 2024 election. His arrest came after he criticized a member of Egypt’s Presidential Pardon Committee for failing to help grant clemency to Egypt’s thousands of political prisoners.

Russell Brand Accused of Rape, Sexual Assault

Sep 18, 2023

In Britain, the comedian, actor and podcaster Russell Brand is facing multiple investigations after five women accused him of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse. The abuse occurred between 2006 and 2013 at the peak of Brand’s career — this according to a joint exposé by three British media outlets: The Times of London, The Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches. One woman said she entered into an abusive relationship with Brand when she was just 16 years old. The BBC and Channel 4 have both launched investigations into Brand, who worked at the networks at the time. Brand has denied the allegations. A statement from his lawyers said Brand is being targeted because he is now an “alternative media broadcaster competing with mainstream media.”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Removes Rolling Stone Magazine’s Jann Wenner over Racist, Sexist Comments

Sep 18, 2023

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has removed Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner from its board of directors after Wenner claimed Black and women icons, including Marvin Gaye and Joni Mitchell, were not articulate enough to be featured in his new book titled “The Masters,” in which he profiles seven rock musicians — all white men. Wenner made the comment in an interview with The New York Times.

Jann Wenner: “It’s not that they’re not creative geniuses. It’s not that they’re inarticulate, although go and have a deep conversation with Grace Slick or Janis. Please, be my guest. Or Cass Elliot, wonderful person, you know? Joni was not a philosopher of rock 'n' roll. She didn’t, in my mind, meet that test, not by her work, not by any of the interviews she did. Maybe Marvin Gaye. I could cut Curtis Mayfield or — I mean, they just didn’t articulate at that level.”

Jann Wenner later apologized for his remarks. He has faced criticism for decades over how Rolling Stone wrote about Black and women musicians.

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