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HeadlinesSeptember 05, 2023

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Biden Administration to Supply Ukraine with Depleted Uranium Munitions

Sep 05, 2023

The Biden administration will for the first time send munitions containing depleted uranium to Ukraine, even though the weapons are radioactive and their use causes contamination that is hazardous to human health. Reuters reports the armor-piercing uranium munitions are part of a new military aid package for Ukraine set to be unveiled in the next week. This follows a previous decision by the Biden administration to arm Ukraine with cluster munitions, which have been banned by an international treaty ratified by more than 110 nations. This week a new report by the Cluster Munition Coalition found 916 deaths and injuries from cluster bombs in Ukraine in 2022.

Russia and Ukraine Trade Drone Attacks; Zelensky Sacks Defense Minister Amid Graft Probe

Sep 05, 2023

In Ukraine, Russian drones on Sunday struck port infrastructure on the Danube River that’s been used by Ukraine to export food and fertilizer to world markets. Ukrainian officials said at least one of the drones crashed in neighboring Romania — a NATO member nation — though officials in Bucharest denied the allegations.

In Moscow, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Russian air defenses shot down three Ukrainian drones as they attacked Moscow, the latest in an escalating series of drone strikes on Russian territory.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he would fire his defense minister Oleksii Reznikov amid Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive and a widening corruption probe. Zelensky nominated former Crimean lawmaker Rustem Umerov to replace him.

Putin Rules Out Renewal of Black Sea Grain Deal

Sep 05, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ruled out rejoining the Black Sea grain deal until Western nations withdraw sanctions put in place after Russia invaded Ukraine. Putin spoke from the Black Sea resort town of Sochi on Monday after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

President Vladimir Putin: “As I’ve said repeatedly, we were simply forced to make this decision, since Western countries have blocked, and continue to block, the implementation of the grain deal in terms of ensuring the access of Russian agricultural producers to the world markets. That is, they refuse to lift the sanctions on the export of our grain and fertilizers.”

U.S. officials say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will soon travel to Russia for talks with President Putin. The two leaders are expected to discuss an arms deal that would see North Korea provide artillery ammunition to Russia for its war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports lenders at four of China’s biggest banks have stepped in to extend billions of dollars to Russian banks that have faced sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine.

U.N. Predicts Conflict in Sudan Will Produce 1.8 Million New Refugees by Year’s End

Sep 05, 2023

The U.N. Refugee Agency is warning as many as 1.8 million people will flee Sudan by the end of the year as fighting continues between rival military factions. The U.N. estimates the conflict has already displaced about 1 million people, and another 800,000 are expected to leave Sudan in the coming months. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders is reporting Sudanese refugees arriving in South Sudan are suffering from an alarming rise of measles and malnutrition. In the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, many residents say they cannot afford basic necessities, including bread.

Amany: “Bread is available, but people cannot buy it. The loaf of bread costs 70 Sudanese pounds, or 12 U.S. cents. People cannot afford it. This price is too high for them.”

Coup Leader Brice Oligui Nguema Sworn In as Interim President of Gabon

Sep 05, 2023

In Gabon, the leader of last week’s military coup has been sworn in as interim president. During a ceremony Monday, General Brice Oligui Nguema promised “free, transparent and credible elections” to restore civilian rule, but gave no timeline for elections. The military coup ousted President Ali Bongo, whose family had ruled the oil-rich nation since 1967. Oligui is a cousin of the ousted president and the former head of Gabon’s presidential guard.

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Massive Protests in Niger Demand Withdrawal of French Troops

Sep 05, 2023

In Niger, tens of thousands of protesters rallied Saturday outside a French military base demanding French troops leave Niger. Tension has been escalating between Niger and its former colonial ruler since a military coup in Niger in late July. Niger’s new military leaders have ordered French troops and France’s ambassador to leave the country, but France has ignored the requests. Protesters in Niger on Saturday called on the French to leave them alone.

Adama Ali Zourkaleini Maiga: “People say, 'Oh no, people get paid to go out and protest.' That’s a thing of the past. It’s the people of Niger who are out here. You would have to be blind not to see it. We’re fed up. We want to be responsible for ourselves. People think we’re babies. Leave us alone. Is that too much to ask?”

Chinese Leader Xi Jinping to Skip G20 Summit in India

Sep 05, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping will skip the G20 summit when it convenes in India next weekend. On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry said Premier Li Qiang would instead lead China’s delegation to talks in Delhi. This comes amid a worsening border dispute between China and India, with thousands of troops deployed to a disputed region of the Himalayas.

U.N.-Backed Report Finds Accelerating Spread of Harmful Invasive Species

Sep 05, 2023

A major new report backed by the United Nations finds invasive species are spreading around the world at an unprecedented rate, driving extinctions, transmitting diseases and threatening food supplies for millions of people. Ecologist Helen Roy, who co-authored the report by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, says more than 3,500 harmful invasive species are “seriously threatening nature,” while causing untold economic damage to humans.

Helen Roy: “But of those costs that are tangible that we’ve been able to gather together, we can see it’s $423 billion annually. But we also know that looking back, then these figures have been quadrupling every 10 years, and we have no reason to think that that isn’t going to be happening into the future.”

First Africa Climate Summit Opens in Kenya

Sep 05, 2023

The first Africa Climate Summit opened on Monday in Nairobi. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry pushed for the establishment of a carbon market, but many African climate justice activists pushed back against the idea. Ahead of the summit, Oxfam slammed wealthy nations for delivering a “pittance” to help East Africa confront the climate crisis. According to Oxfam, over 31 million people are currently facing acute hunger across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan due in part to the climate crisis, which has disproportionately impacted the region.

Torrential Rains Bring Floods to Spain and Greece; U.S. Swelters in Record September Heat Wave

Sep 05, 2023

In Spain, at least three people were killed and three others are missing as unprecedented rainfall inundated Madrid and other cities on Monday. Flooding swept away bridges and halted commuter rail traffic.

In Greece, where authorities have finally brought unprecedented wildfires under control, at least one person is dead and another missing after intense rainstorms battered mountain towns. Forecasters say some parts of Central Greece could see over a foot of rain in just 24 hours. That’s nearly double the annual average rainfall totals for the capital, Athens.

Here in the United States, a scorching September heat wave brought record temperatures to central and eastern states on Labor Day. Parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota suffered triple-digit heat on Monday, the unofficial last day of summer.

Minnesota Prisoners Locked Down After Protesting Sweltering Temperatures

Sep 05, 2023

In Minnesota, guards ordered a lockdown of the Stillwater men’s prison on Sunday after prisoners refused to return to their cells to protest dangerous conditions. Advocates say some 1,200 prisoners spent the holiday weekend with no access to showers or ice — and limited time for recreation — due to understaffing. Temperatures outside the prison, much of which lacks air conditioning, approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday and Monday.

Following Climate Protests, Torrential Rain Strands Thousands at Burning Man Festival

Sep 05, 2023

In Nevada, tens of thousands of participants at the annual Burning Man festival were left stranded over the weekend, after torrential rainfall covered normally dry campgrounds in mud and made roads impassable for days. Attendees had been told to shelter in place since Friday. The extreme weather capped a Burning Man festival that proceeded despite the objections of climate activists, who on August 27 peacefully blockaded a two-lane highway leading to the campgrounds to demand Burning Man ban private jets, single-use plastic and unlimited use of generators and propane tanks. That protest was broken up by a Nevada tribal police officer who rammed into their blockade, injuring a protester, before drawing a pistol, tackling a demonstrator and threatening to shoot activists.

Protester: “We’re nonviolent!”

Police officer: “Get down now! Get down! On the ground! All of you, on the ground now! Get on the ground!”

Protester: “We’re nonviolent!”

Police officer: “Get on the ground!”

Protester: “We’re nonviolent!”

Police officer: “Don’t move!”

In a statement, the Seven Circles Alliance activist group which organized the protest responded, “The excessive response is a snapshot of the institutional violence and police brutality that is being shown to anyone who is actively working to bring about systemic change within the United States, including the climate movement.” Burning Man organizers estimate the festival’s carbon footprint at about 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year — equivalent to the annual emissions of 22,000 gas-powered cars.

Florida Judge Strikes Down Racist GOP-Gerrymandered Congressional Maps

Sep 05, 2023

A judge in Florida has struck down congressional maps created by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, ruling they violate the state’s constitution by diminishing Black voters’ ability to elect the candidate of their choice. The maps were approved in 2022 over the objections of Black Florida lawmakers, who staged an impromptu sit-in protest against the congressional redistricting plan.

In other Florida news, DeSantis backed out of a planned meeting Saturday with President Biden, who traveled to Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Idalia.

Alabama GOP Defies Supreme Court Order to Redraw Congressional Maps Targeting Black Voters

Sep 05, 2023

Republican state lawmakers in Alabama continue to defy a Supreme Court order to redraw congressional maps after they were found to have violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters. The Guardian reports a new map proposed by Republicans still includes only one majority-Black district, making another Supreme Court challenge likely.

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