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HeadlinesSeptember 27, 2023

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“Stick with It”: Biden Joins Striking Autoworkers on Picket Line in Michigan

Sep 27, 2023

President Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to join a picket line Tuesday as he expressed support for autoworkers in Wayne, Michigan, in their strike against the “Big Three” — Ford, GM and Stellantis.

President Joe Biden: “The fact of the matter is that you guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before, made a lot of sacrifices. You gave up a lot. And the companies were in trouble. But now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what: You should be doing incredibly well, too. It’s a simple proposition. It’s just about being fair. Folks, stick with it, because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits.”

President Biden was standing next to UAW President Shawn Fain. Donald Trump is speaking to autoworkers today at a nonunion auto plant near Detroit; he will be skipping tonight’s second Republican debate. Meanwhile, General Motors started hiring $14-an-hour scabs to cross the picket line.

WGA Ends 148-Day Strike After Reaching Tentative Deal as Writers Prepare to Vote on Ratification

Sep 27, 2023

In more labor news, television and movie writers are back at work after ending their historic 148-day strike at midnight, following an “exceptional” tentative deal on a new contract with Hollywood studios and streaming services. The Writers Guild of America said Tuesday three of its internal boards had unanimously voted to end the strike and send the tentative three-year agreement to its 11,500 members for ratification. The new contract includes an increase in residual payments, higher compensation, better benefits, protections against artificial intelligence, and gains on data transparency and staffing minimums.

SCOTUS Again Rejects Alabama’s Gerrymandered Maps

Sep 27, 2023

The Supreme Court rejected Alabama’s bid to use a Republican-gerrymandered congressional map that includes only one majority-Black district. It’s the second such ruling in just three months, after the Supreme Court in June ruled the map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered Alabama to include another majority-Black district in the seven-district state. Over one-quarter of Alabama’s population is Black. A special master was appointed in the case and proposed three new congressional maps that abide by the Supreme Court order; a three-judge panel will select one of the maps.

Judge Rules Trump Illegally Inflated Value of Assets Ahead of NY Attorney General Trial

Sep 27, 2023

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump, his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, and the Trump Organization repeatedly violated state law when they fraudulently inflated the value of their assets by billions of dollars to obtain loans and lower their insurance rates. The ruling came as part of a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James and will force some of Trump’s business licenses to be dissolved. Trump could lose control of some of his properties, including the Trump Tower, his New York City residence. It’s a major win for Attorney General James, whose case against Trump is scheduled to go to trial next week on Monday and will focus on alleged falsification of business and financial documents, insurance fraud and conspiracy. James is seeking $250 million in damages and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.

FCC to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules Repealed Under Trump

Sep 27, 2023

Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said Tuesday she plans to restore landmark net neutrality regulations that were repealed under former President Trump. This comes after Democrats this week took majority control of the five-member FCC. They will vote on reinstating net neutrality next month, which would bar internet providers from blocking access or throttling customers’ connections based on how much they pay or which websites they visit. This is Jessica Rosenworcel speaking at the National Press Club yesterday.

Jessica Rosenworcel: “Broadband is no longer just nice to have; it’s need to have for everyone everywhere. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It is essential infrastructure for modern life.”

Digital rights activists welcomed the announcement. The watchdog group Common Cause said, “To allow a handful of monopoly-aspiring gate-keepers to control access to the internet is a direct threat to our democracy.”

FTC, 17 States Sue Amazon over Illegal Practices to Maintain E-Retail Monopoly

Sep 27, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission and 17 states have filed a sweeping antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. The plaintiffs say Amazon illegally uses “punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” allowing it to charge higher prices, harming customers and weakening competition. Among other things, the complaint accuses Amazon of “burying” retailers’ discounted products so far down in search results that consumers are less likely to find them. The lawsuit could lead to a forced restructuring of Amazon.

Senate Advances Stopgap Funding Deal as House Remains at Stalemate over Far-Right Demands

Sep 27, 2023

The Senate announced a bipartisan stopgap deal that would keep the U.S. government open through November 17, as well as provide $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion in disaster funding. Senate leaders hope to pass the measure by the end of the week, but it’s not clear whether it can break past the ongoing gridlock in the Republican-controlled House, where far-right congressmembers have already threatened to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy if he brings the bill to a vote. McCarthy is planning to repropose separate legislation that includes 8% cuts in social spending and resumption of construction on Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Hunter Biden Sues Giuliani for Illegally Accessing His Private Data

Sep 27, 2023

Hunter Biden is suing Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s former attorney Robert Costello for the “total annihilation” of his digital privacy, when they hacked, then distributed data from a hard drive associated with his personal laptop in 2020. Giuliani and Costello have repeatedly acknowledged accessing the hard drive’s data. The information was used in a story by the Murdoch-owned New York Post about alleged corrupt business dealings which have since become part of the focus of the Republican-led House impeachment inquiry against President Biden.

At Least 100 Killed in Iraq as Blaze Tears Through Wedding Party

Sep 27, 2023

In Iraq, at least 100 people were killed when a massive fire ripped through a wedding party in the northern Nineveh province Tuesday night. At least 150 others were injured. The blaze may have been caused by fireworks used inside during the ceremony. Relatives of the wedding guests have been desperately searching for their loved ones.

Ayad al-Qassab: “My nephew’s wife, Rawan, and their children, Charbel and Ghazal, all three of them, we can’t find them. We are looking across Mosul and couldn’t find them. We’re looking in all hospitals — nothing. They said in Erbil. We called there, and they can’t find them, either.”


Death Toll from Fuel Depot Blast Climbs to 68 as Tens of Thousands Flee Nagorno-Karabakh

Sep 27, 2023

The death toll from an explosion at a fuel depot in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan has risen to 68, as tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians have been rushing to the border following a military blitz by Azerbaijani forces last week. Samantha Power, head of USAID, said the U.S. would provide $11.5 million in aid for the worsening crisis, and urged Azerbaijan to facilitate access to those in need by humanitarian workers. Armenia has warned of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the contested region.

Canada’s House Speaker Steps Down After Leading Applause for Former Nazi Soldier

Sep 27, 2023

Canadian lawmaker Anthony Rota resigned as speaker of the House of Commons Tuesday, days after he led a standing ovation in Parliament for a Canadian Ukrainian veteran who fought in a Nazi SS unit during World War II. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky joined in on applauding 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka. This is Anthony Rota speaking Tuesday.

Speaker Anthony Rota: “I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House during the joint address to Parliament of President Zelensky. That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, in addition to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland, among other nations. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Meanwhile, Poland’s education minister said he is taking steps to investigate whether Hunka was involved in crimes against Poles during the war, and to possibly extradite him to stand trial in Poland.

Ukraine Is “Clarifying” Whether Russian Black Sea Commander Is Dead After Claiming He Was Killed

Sep 27, 2023

Officials in Ukraine say they are “clarifying” information over whether top Russian commander Viktor Sokolov was in fact killed, after Moscow released footage of him in which he appears alive and well. Kyiv reported on Monday its forces had killed Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and 33 other officers in Crimea last week.

Saudi Arabia Simultaneously Tightens Ties with Both Israel and Palestine

Sep 27, 2023

Israel’s tourism minister, Haim Katz, is in Saudi Arabia for a U.N. conference, marking the first public visit by a senior Israeli official to Riyadh as the two countries move toward normalizing diplomatic ties in a U.S.-brokered effort.

This comes as the first Saudi ambassador to Palestine made a trip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank — the first time a Saudi delegation has visited the region since 1967. Nayef al-Sudairi met with Palestinian officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah.

Nayef al-Sudairi: “Good evening, Your Excellency. I am proud and happy to be in my country, Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, God willing. Hopefully, next time, or next times, we will go together to Jerusalem.”

Saudi Arabia has said it will only normalize relations with Israel if there is progress in the creation of a Palestinian state.

JPMorgan Chase Settles Jeffrey Epstein Lawsuit with U.S. Virgin Islands for $75 Million

Sep 27, 2023

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to a $75 million settlement with the U.S. Virgin Islands in a lawsuit over the bank’s role in financing Jeffrey Epstein’s sex and human trafficking empire. Epstein owned two private islands in the Virgin Islands. JPMorgan did not accept any liability in the settlement, which will be split between legal fees and funding efforts to combat human trafficking.

The suit, filed last December by former U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George, also accused JPMorgan of profiting from Epstein’s operations and failing to report suspicious activity. George was fired soon after she launched the lawsuit. She had recently secured a $105 million settlement from Epstein’s estate.

This comes after JPMorgan Chase in June agreed to pay $290 million to settle another lawsuit brought by Epstein survivors, who said the bank ignored warnings about Epstein’s abuses for years because he was bringing in wealthy clients.

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