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HeadlinesSeptember 25, 2023

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Bob Menendez Under Fire as Calls Mount to Step Down After Bribery Indictment

Sep 25, 2023

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and a growing number of Democrats are calling on Senator Bob Menendez to resign after he and his wife were indicted Friday on bribery charges. Congressmember Andy Kim announced Saturday he will run for Menendez’s Senate seat. Federal prosecutors accuse Menendez of accepting bribes in exchange for using his position to increase U.S. assistance to Egypt and to do favors for New Jersey businessmen.

Damian Williams: “Senator Menendez allegedly provided sensitive, nonpublic U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and otherwise took steps to secretly aid the government of Egypt. We also allege that Senator Menendez improperly pressured a senior official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect a lucrative monopoly that the government of Egypt had awarded to Hana, a lucrative monopoly that Hana then used to fund certain bribe payments.”

Bribes included a Mercedes-Benz, mortgage payments, gold bars and over $500,000 in cash. It’s the second time Menendez has been charged with corruption. Menendez stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he’s holding a press conference today. We’ll have more on this story later in the show.

WGA Reaches Tentative Deal with Major Studios That Could End 146-Day Strike

Sep 25, 2023

The Writers Guild of America has reached what union leaders are calling an “exceptional” tentative deal on a new contract with Hollywood studios and streaming services after a historic 146-day strike. The settlement follows stepped-up negotiations over the past week between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, capping months of stalled talks over compensation, residuals and protections against artificial intelligence. The writers’ breakthrough could give momentum to talks between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood studios to end a strike by actors who walked off the job in July.

Biden to Join UAW Picket Line as Auto Union Expands Strike to 38 Locations Across 20 States

Sep 25, 2023

President Biden will join the United Auto Workers’ picket line in Michigan on Tuesday. It’s believed to be the first time a sitting president has joined strikers on the picket line. This comes as the union announced Friday an expansion of its strike to 38 locations in 20 states. The new work stoppages target GM and Stellantis, after the UAW acknowledged “real progress” in talks with Ford.

France to Withdraw Troops and Ambassador from Niger After Failing to Overturn Coup

Sep 25, 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday France will withdraw its troops and ambassador from Niger, two months after a military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum. It’s another setback for France’s waning presence in the Sahel region, where its decade-long counterterrorism efforts have largely failed or worsened insecurity. Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso — all former French colonies which have seen military coups in recent years — formed a mutual defense pact earlier this month to combat against armed interventions.

21 People Killed in Somalia Bombing as Defense Secretary Austin Praises Fight Against al-Shabab

Sep 25, 2023

In Somalia, at least 21 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded Saturday as a truck loaded with explosives sped through a security checkpoint and detonated in a residential neighborhood of the central Somali town of Beledweyne. The blast reduced buildings and shops to rubble. No one has claimed responsibility, though the al-Shabab armed group has been active in the area.

The attack came one day before U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Djibouti, where Austin praised Somalia’s military for what he called its “impressive progress” in the fight against al-Shabab. Austin is in Nairobi, Kenya, today and will visit Angola later in the week.

Ghanaians Take to Streets to Protest Worsening Economic Crisis

Sep 25, 2023

In Ghana, hundreds of people took to the streets for three days of anti-government protests as anger mounts over skyrocketing living costs and unemployment.

Romeo: “The average Ghanaian can’t afford three square meals. This is very, very dangerous to the whole country. We have kids around the age of 14, 15, who are now taking people’s belongings just to survive. The government doesn’t care. They’re just taking money, and the Africans can’t do nothing. But their time is up. We are here, and we will fight. If no one cares, the youth cares. And when the youth cares, then the country must care.”

It’s the worst economic crisis to hit Ghana in years, triggered by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and rising debt to the International Monetary Fund after Ghana’s government agreed to a $3 billion loan. At least 49 people were arrested in the capital Accra Thursday as police blocked protesters from storming the presidential palace.

Israeli Forces Kill 2 Palestinians in West Bank Raid, Ramp Up Attack on Gaza

Sep 25, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians during a military raid on a refugee camp in the city of Tulkarem. This is the brother of 32-year-old Abdulrahman Abu Daghash, killed by Israeli forces Sunday.

Mo’men Abu Daghash: “First of all, I was with my brother here. He went up to the rooftop to film the ambulances. He barely had the chance to look, and a sniper targeted him. He has nothing to do with it. He has children, and his wife is about to give birth. He had nothing to do with it, and he was unarmed.”

The latest violence in the West Bank came as Israel’s military launched more airstrikes on the Gaza Strip over the weekend as Palestinians continue to protest Israel shutting down the Beit Hanoun crossing — the only operational crossing for Gazans to enter Israel, including some 18,000 Palestinians who work in Israel.

Top Canadian Lawmaker Apologizes for Nazi Soldier Standing Ovation at House Session with Zelensky

Sep 25, 2023

Canada’s House Speaker Anthony Rota has apologized for leading a standing ovation for a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran who fought alongside Nazis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was at the Canadian Parliament to deliver an address to lawmakers, joined in on the applause, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It’s not clear if Zelensky, who is Jewish, knew that Yaroslav Hunka was a member of SS Galichina, which was found to be responsible in the persecution and extermination of Jews during the Nuremberg trials. Zelensky has previously spoken out against the Nazi unit.

U.S. Surveillance Helped Canada Conclude India Was Involved in June Killing of Canadian Sikh Leader

Sep 25, 2023

In more news from Canada, The New York Times is reporting U.S. spies provided information to the Canadian government that helped lead to the claim India was directly involved in the June killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. But the Times says Ottawa’s own surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada provided the most definitive evidence to support its accusation, which India has rejected. Following Nijjar’s assassination, the FBI warned Sikh activists in the U.S. of possible death threats.

Thousands Flee Nagorno-Karabakh as Armenia Warns of Ethnic Cleansing

Sep 25, 2023

Thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh following Azerbaijan’s 24-hour military operation last week which seized control of the disputed territory from Armenian separatist forces. One survivor said shelling by Azerbaijani forces on his village left dozens of civilians dead.

Petya Grigoryan: “We barely survived the last days. It was scary. There was shelling from all sides. There were dead bodies. I don’t know where they are now. Two refrigerated trucks filled with bodies to the top, and there’s no place to even bury them. … Out of 500 residents in my settlement, only 40 managed to get out. Everyone else stayed. They are at the airport and in the city, in different places. And they are waiting to be evacuated.”

Over the weekend, Armenia asked the U.N. for help monitoring the rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he needed guarantees from Azerbaijan that civilians would be protected.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: “Unless real living conditions are created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in their homes and effective mechanisms of protection from ethnic cleansing, then the likelihood that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to preserve their lives and identity increases significantly.”

Meanwhile, protesters in Armenia continue to demand Prime Minister Pashinyan resign for failing to support Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Four Killed as Serb Gunmen Ambush Kosovo Police Patrol and Storm Monastery

Sep 25, 2023

In Kosovo, ethnic Serb gunmen in armored vehicles ambushed a police patrol and stormed a monastery near the border with Serbia Sunday, beginning a chaotic day of violence that ended with at least four people killed. Many of the gunmen escaped. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti accused Serbia’s government of financing and motivating the attackers. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but the Serbian government does not recognize its sovereignty. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić blamed Prime Minister Kurti for “provoking” the assailants.

President Aleksandar Vučić: “He left Kosovo Serbs to worry about their future, and all the time he kept provoking them. I regret that some Serbs succumbed to those provocations. Albin Kurti is the only one to blame. Albin Kurti is the only one who wants conflict and war. No other man wants conflict and war besides him. His life’s desire is to drag us into war with NATO.”

Nebraska Mother Who Helped Daughter Obtain Abortion Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Sep 25, 2023

In Nebraska, a woman who pleaded guilty to helping her 17-year-old daughter obtain abortion pills, and then helping her dispose of the fetus, was sentenced to two years in prison Friday. Jessica Burgess admitted in July to helping with the abortion when her daughter, Celeste, was 29 weeks pregnant in April 2022. At the time, Nebraska still allowed abortions up to 20 weeks. Celeste Burgess had already received a 90-day sentence after taking a plea deal and was released from jail in early September.

Pope Says European Countries Have a Duty to Rescue Migrants at Sea

Sep 25, 2023

Pope Francis is calling for international action to stop the drowning of refugees as they attempt to reach European shores. During his visit to Marseilles, France, Pope Francis said the Mediterranean Sea “has become a huge cemetery, where many brothers and sisters are deprived even of the right to a grave.”

Pope Francis: “We should not get used to seeing disasters at sea as mere news stories and those dying at sea as numbers. No, they have names, faces and stories. They are broken lives and shattered dreams.”

The U.N. has recorded some 25,000 drownings in the Mediterranean since 2014, though the true death toll is likely much higher.

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