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HeadlinesSeptember 26, 2023

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Fuel Depot Explosion Kills 20 Amid Exodus of Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh 

Sep 26, 2023

At least 20 people were killed and nearly 300 others hospitalized Monday as an explosion tore through a fuel depot for refugees in the South Caucasus territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. It’s not clear what caused the blast, which added to the misery of tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fleeing the disputed territory one week after it was seized by Azerbaijan. Armenian officials report nearly 14,000 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 120,000 residents had fled to Armenia as of Tuesday morning. Thousands remain without food, shelter and clean sources of drinking water.

Alpine Movsyan: “We don’t know what happens to us next. We don’t know what the government has in store for us. There is not a single chance to go back. If there were chances, we would not leave in the first place. It is very dangerous there.”

On Monday, representatives of Karabakh Armenians met with Azerbaijani officials for a second round of peace talks. No details about the meeting were made public. In Baku, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev pledged his government would ensure the security of everyone in Nagorno-Karabakh, countering Armenia’s claims that ethnic cleansing is underway.

President Ilham Aliyev: “The people living in the Karabakh region are Azerbaijan citizens regardless of their nationality. Their safety, security, well-being will be ensured by the state of Azerbaijan.”

Diplomatic officials from Armenia and Azerbaijan are in the Belgian capital Brussels today to prepare for October 5 peace talks. The summit will include the leaders of France, Germany and the European Council.

Russia Strikes Black Sea Port in Odesa, Damaging Grain Silo

Sep 26, 2023

Ukrainian officials say Russian airstrikes and artillery fire killed six people and destroyed grain storage infrastructure at the Black Sea port of Odesa Monday. The damage further degrades Ukraine’s abilities to export food and fertilizer to world markets, two months after Russia withdrew from a deal that granted safe passage to agricultural exports.

Monday’s attacks came as Ukraine’s military said it had confirmed the deaths of the top commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, along with 33 other officers, in a Ukrainian missile attack on Russian-occupied Crimea last week. But video released by Russia’s Defense Ministry appeared to contradict the claim, showing the commander, Viktor Sokolov, attending a video conference on Tuesday.

U.N. Commission Finds Russian Forces Have Committed Rape and “Widespread and Systematic” Torture

Sep 26, 2023

The U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine says investigators have found continued evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. The commission’s chair, Erik Møse, testified to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva on Monday. 

Erik Møse: “The use of torture by Russian armed forces in areas under their control has been widespread and systematic. … Further, the commission has found that in the Kherson region Russian soldiers raped and committed sexual violence against women of ages ranging from 19 to 83 years, often together with threats of commission or other violations.”

Mexico Accedes to U.S. Demands to Deport Migrants from Northern Border Cities

Sep 26, 2023

In immigration news, Mexico has accepted demands from the Biden administration to start deporting migrants from northern Mexican border cities back to their home countries. Mexico’s government has also agreed to enforce over a dozen policies to block migrants and asylum seekers from reaching the United States. This comes as U.S. immigration officials have reported a sharp increase in the number of people attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks, as thousands seek protection from violence, conflict, extreme poverty and the impacts of the climate crisis.

The mayor of El Paso, Texas, has said his city is at “a breaking point” as shelters are at capacity, forcing many asylum seekers onto the streets. Another Texas border city, Eagle Pass, has extended its state of emergency declaration as thousands of asylum seekers have arrived in recent days.

Meanwhile, immigration rights advocates have denounced the Biden administration for deploying more military personnel to the southern border and not prioritizing humanitarian relief or addressing the massive backlogs greatly delaying the processing of asylum and immigration cases. A recent report by Syracuse University found a backlog of some 2.6 million cases in U.S. immigration courts.

Sen. Bob Mendendez Refuses Calls to Step Down, Says He’ll Fight Federal Bribery Charges

Sep 26, 2023

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez says he will not resign and will seek to clear his name, after he and his wife were indicted Friday on federal bribery charges. On Monday, the embattled Democrat said nearly a half-million dollars in cash found in his New Jersey home was being stored for emergency personal use. Menendez did not mention the gold bars and Mercedes-Benz also seized by federal agents, nor did he answer questions from reporters.

Sen. Bob Menendez: “I recognize this will be the biggest fight yet. But as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be the New Jersey senior senator.”

On Monday, two more Democratic senators — Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Peter Welch of Vermont — called for Menendez to step down. They join Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman, whose campaign promised to return $5,000 in contributions from a political action committee tied to Senator Menendez in “envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.”

Two people have announced they’re running against Menendez: New Jersey Congressmember Andy Kim and community activist Lawrence Hamm, who is the chair of People’s Organization for Progress.

Donald Trump Suggests Gen. Mark Milley Should Be Put to Death

Sep 26, 2023

Former President Donald Trump has called for the outgoing chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, to be put to death. Trump made the remark Monday on his social media platform Truth Social, accusing Milley of secretly speaking to China’s government behind his back in the final months of his administration. Trump wrote, “This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been death!”

Fulton County Judge Moves to Protect Jurors in Trump Election Interference Case

Sep 26, 2023

In Georgia, Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee has granted a request by prosecutors to restrict the release of personal information about jurors in the election interference case against former President Trump and 18 co-defendants. District Attorney Fani Willis requested additional protections after members of the grand jury who brought the indictments had their home addresses, phone numbers and other personal information posted online, leading to threats and harassment. Willis and members of her team also received threats.

In Colorado, a judge overseeing a case seeking to bar Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot has issued a protective order barring threats and intimidation. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington argues Trump is disqualified under a clause of the 14th Amendment that prohibits people from holding office if they’ve “engaged in insurrection” against the United States. 

Trump Campaign Reverses Claim Trump Purchased Handgun, Which Would Be Illegal

Sep 26, 2023

Trump’s 2024 campaign is denying the former president purchased a Glock pistol during a visit to a gun store in South Carolina Monday. Video widely shared on social media shows Trump admiring the weapon, which was decorated with Trump’s name and likeness, and saying he’d like to buy it. Federal law bars the sale of firearms to people who are under indictment for crimes carrying sentences of more than a year — which includes Trump. This comes days after President Biden unveiled a new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

President Joe Biden: “After every mass shooting, we hear a simple message, the same message heard all over the country, and I’ve been to every mass shooting: 'Do something. Please do something. Do something to prevent the tragedies that leave behind survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars.'”

The Gun Violence Archive reports nearly 32,000 people across the United States have died from firearms so far this year; 519 people have been killed in mass shootings. 

British Regulator Clears Path for Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision

Sep 26, 2023

Microsoft is on track to complete the largest-ever merger of technology firms, after British regulators approved its $69 billion purchase of the video game maker Activision Blizzard. This comes after a federal judge in July refused the Biden administration’s request to issue a temporary injunction stopping the merger, citing antitrust laws. The Federal Trade Commission argued the merger would hurt competition in the video game industry.

SAG-AFTRA Video Game Actors Authorize Strike

Sep 26, 2023

Members of SAG-AFTRA have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against video game companies. Union negotiators representing about 2,600 performers have been in negotiations for a new Interactive Media Agreement for nearly a year without success. They’re seeking wage increases to make up for high inflation, and want guarantees against the unregulated use of artificial intelligence.

The strike authorization comes as Hollywood actors remain on strike even after major studios reached a tentative agreement Sunday with screenwriters in the Writers Guild of America. The WGA has paused picketing but remains on strike pending ratification of the contract. WGA leaders are scheduled to vote on the agreement today; once it’s approved, the contract will be made available to about 11,000 union writers to vote on. No talks are currently scheduled between Hollywood studios and actors who’ve been on strike since July. 

Libya Charges Officials Over Dam Collapse That Killed Thousands 

Sep 26, 2023

Libya’s top prosecutor ordered the arrest of eight Libyan officials as part of the investigation into the collapse of two dams in the eastern port city of Derna earlier this month. The disaster killed thousands of people after torrential rains triggered by Storm Daniel unleashed tsunami-level floods that decimated entire neighborhoods. Thousands of survivors of the floods have held recent protests demanding accountability from government officials as they reportedly ignored mounting warnings that if the dams were not urgently maintained, Derna faced a potential catastrophe. 

Protesters at Indian Embassies in Canada Demand Justice for Assassinated Sikh Leader

Sep 26, 2023

In Canada, hundreds of Sikh community members gathered outside Indian consulates and diplomatic missions across multiple cities Monday, angered by Canadian government accusations that the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was directly involved in the assassination of prominent Canadian Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June. Nijjar was killed outside a temple in British Columbia. The actions came one week after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said to Parliament there was credible evidence gathered by domestic intelligence linking the Indian government to Nijjar’s murder. These are two of the protesters in Toronto.

Kujeet Singh: “We would like the Canadian government to completely abolish their embassy and remove it from here, because they’ve already broken international law. They’ve compromised the safety and sovereignty of Canadians. And the longer they’re here, who knows who they’re targeting next?”

Summer Kaur: “India chose violence. India chose to murder a Canadian on Canadian soil, and they will pay the price.”
India has said the accusations are “absurd.”

Molotov Cocktail Thrown at Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. 

Sep 26, 2023

An investigation is underway after at least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., Sunday. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said on social media the Cuban Embassy “was the target of a terrorist attack.” No one was injured, and the building didn’t receive significant damage. There have been no arrests so far.

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