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HeadlinesJune 27, 2024

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Kenya’s Ruto Scraps Tax Bill in Concession to Youth-Led Protests Following Bloody Crackdown

Jun 27, 2024

Kenyan President William Ruto has scrapped an unpopular tax bill following a mass nationwide uprising on Tuesday, when soldiers and police fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of protesters who stormed Kenya’s Parliament in Nairobi. At least 23 people were killed and dozens more injured. On Wednesday, President Ruto said he had heard the message of the protesters and had reversed his support for the tax hikes.

President William Ruto: “The country witnessed widespread expression of dissatisfaction with the bill as passed, regrettably resulting in the loss of life, destruction of property and desecration of constitutional institutions.”

President Ruto called the loss of life “very unfortunate” and sent condolences to the families of those killed. Earlier today, police and security forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at protesters in Nairobi, after organizers called for fresh demonstrations to continue to demand Ruto’s resignation. This is Lorna Dias, a member of Kenya’s Human Rights Commission; she spoke after President Ruto called protesters “treasonous.”

Lorna Dias: “It’s not protesters who are treasonous. It’s Ruto’s acts that are treasonous. … There is nothing that justifies the use of live bullets on protesters, but this regime positions snipers to shoot and kill unarmed protesters.”

We’ll have the latest on the youth uprising in Kenya after headlines.

Bolivian Army Leader Arrested Following Apparent Coup Attempt

Jun 27, 2024

Bolivia’s president says he survived an attempted military coup on Wednesday when Bolivia’s former Army chief deployed soldiers and tanks to government buildings, including the presidential palace in La Paz. In a dramatic showdown captured on live television, President Luis Arce directly confronted the rogue military commander, the dismissed Army chief General Juan José Zúñiga, demanding he stand down and withdraw his forces. After armored vehicles pulled back from the presidential palace, Arce addressed thousands of protesters who rallied against the attempted coup. 

President Luis Arce: “It fills us with bravery, courage to keep resisting, to keep on resisting any coup attempt, because Bolivia deserves its democracy, which has been won in the streets and with blood brothers and sisters. … The people involved in the coup wanted to surprise us and the Bolivian people. We have reacted, and also the people have mobilized against this coup attempt. Thank you to the Bolivian people.”

Hours after the failed coup, Bolivian authorities arrested General Zúñiga, along with an alleged co-conspirator, Navy chief Juan Arnez. As he was being arrested, Zúñiga told reporters the apparent coup had been organized by Arce himself to boost his low approval ratings. President Arce, meanwhile, has sworn in new heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force. We’ll have more on the attempted coup in Bolivia later in the broadcast.

Thousands Flee as Israeli Army Launches Ground Assault on Gaza City

Jun 27, 2024

Israeli warplanes and artillery fire have pummeled densely populated areas of Gaza City’s Sabra and Shuja’iyya neighborhoods in a surprise attack that forced tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes while Israeli ground forces were seen advancing. Al Jazeera reports at least eight people were killed, with many more missing and believed to be buried under rubble. In southern Gaza, there are reports of civilian deaths in Khan Younis after Israel’s military struck a school housing displaced people.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports a Palestinian girl died of malnutrition in Kamal Adwan Hospital late Wednesday, becoming the fourth documented case of a child in Gaza dying from starvation or dehydration this week alone. The U.N. warns nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are going hungry, with a half a million facing “catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity.”

Haaretz Reports Israel Prison Service Is Starving Palestinian Prisoners

Jun 27, 2024

The Israel Prison Service has significantly reduced food rations provided to Palestinian prisoners to the point of starvation, with many prisoners reportedly losing dozens of kilograms of body mass. That’s according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which reports Israeli officials actively concealed information about Israel’s failure to adequately feed prisoners, as required by international law. In a letter to Israel’s High Court of Justice, far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir argued in favor of cutting rations to prisoners, calling the policy a “deterrence.” 

Meanwhile, Israel’s Cabinet has advanced a bill that seeks to permanently ban the Al Jazeera Media Network from operating inside Israel.

Thousands Suffer Heatstroke in Pakistan as Temperatures Hit 120 Degrees

Jun 27, 2024

In Pakistan, doctors are warning of an epidemic of heatstroke as a searing summer heat wave continues to push temperatures as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In Karachi, home to some 15 million people, hospitals have treated thousands of heatstroke victims this week, with one charity reporting 450 people have died in the past four days alone. Residents say the heat wave has been made far worse by rolling blackouts as an aging electric grid fails to keep up with demand. 

Mohammad Zeshan: “This is due to climate change. It’s happening all around the world. This is happening in Europe. They have faced intense heat, but they have taken steps to deal with it. But here, it is sad that the government has not taken any effective measures. People are suffering from power outages by the power company that continue through midnight every day.”

Supreme Court Sides with Biden Administration over Efforts to Influence Social Media

Jun 27, 2024

The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit alleging the federal government overstepped its authority when it put pressure on social media companies to moderate misinformation around COVID-19 and the 2020 election. On Wednesday, justices ruled 6 to 3 that the plaintiffs — a pair of Republican attorneys general and several social media users — lacked standing to pursue the case, ruling there was no evidence the Biden administration’s actions had caused them harm.

Leaked Supreme Court Opinion Would Allow Idaho Doctors to Perform Some Emergency Abortions

Jun 27, 2024

Bloomberg reports Supreme Court justices are poised to allow abortions in medical emergencies in Idaho. That’s according to a draft copy of an opinion that was briefly posted on the Supreme Court’s website, apparently by accident. If the 6-3 decision remains unchanged, it will reinstate a lower court order that had ensured Idaho hospitals could perform emergency abortions to protect the health of pregnant people. This is known as the EMTALA case. The decision, however, does not resolve the core issues raised in the case.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote, “Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is delay. While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position, as their doctors are kept in the dark about what the law requires. The court had a chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation, and we have squandered it.”

Trump and Biden Prepare for First Debate of 2024 Presidential Race

Jun 27, 2024

President Biden and former President Donald Trump are set to square off this evening in the first presidential debate of the 2024 election season. The event will be hosted by CNN. No other presidential candidates will be allowed to participate; the debate will feature no audience and each candidate’s microphone will be muted except when it’s their turn to speak. Tune in to Democracy Now! on Friday when we’ll bring you highlights of the debate and analysis.

Texas Executes Prisoner Ramiro Gonzales, Sentenced to Death at Age 18

Jun 27, 2024

The state of Texas has carried out an execution for the second time this year. On Wednesday evening, officials at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville injected 41-year-old Ramiro Gonzales with a lethal dose of the drug pentobarbital and pronounced him dead 24 minutes later. Ramiro Gonzales had been on death row since his conviction for a 2001 rape and murder he committed when he was just 18 years old.

U.S. Surgeon General Declares Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis

Jun 27, 2024

The U.S. surgeon general has declared gun violence a “public health crisis.” Dr. Vivek Murthy made the declaration in a video statement released Tuesday — following years of pressure by gun control activists.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy: “Gun violence has now become the leading cause of death among children and teens. And that wasn’t true a decade ago or two decades ago. And so I’m issuing this advisory because I want people to understand the urgency of addressing gun violence, the importance of seeing it not as a political issue but as a public health issue. and if we see it in that way, if we apply a public health approach to gun violence, we can do what we did with cigarettes and with car accident-related deaths, which is, ultimately, to make people safer, to reduce the toll on their health, and ultimately improve people’s well-being.”

The National Institutes of Health reports that last year nearly 43,000 people died in the United States from gun-related injuries.

Honduran Ex-President, Once Backed by U.S., Sentenced to 45 Years in U.S. Prison on Drug Charges

Jun 27, 2024

A U.S. federal judge has sentenced former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández to 45 years in prison on drug trafficking charges. Prosecutors successfully argued Hernández ruled Honduras as a “narco-state” as he accepted millions of dollars in bribes from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protection. Before his presidential term ended in 2022, Hernández was a longtime U.S. ally who received unconditional backing during his eight-year rule, despite mounting reports of serious human rights violations and accusations of corruption and drug trafficking.

Brazil Decriminalizes Possession of Cannabis for Personal Use

Jun 27, 2024

Brazil’s Supreme Court has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Although sales of marijuana remain illegal, advocates say decriminalization could slow the pace of mass incarceration in Brazil, where more than 200,000 people remain behind bars on drug charges.

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