Jackson: Historically Black church gutted in fire; suspect in custody. – National & International News – THU 10Nov2022



Jackson: suspect arrested after 7 fires, 2 at historical Black churches. Big wins for abortion, healthcare ballot initiatives. Brazil military rejects election fraud claims after Bolsonaro defeat.



Jackson: Suspect in custody after 7 fires, two at historically Black churches

Tuesday morning, 7 arson fires broke out within a two-mile radius near Jackson State University. Around 2:30 am, fires started at two historically Black churches, two homes, two businesses and a baseball field house belonging to JSU. The Jackson Fire Department responded to the blazes and was able to extinguish them with no injuries.

Initially, there were fears that this was a racially-motivated incident. But yesterday, police arrested a suspect, 23-year-old Devin McLaurin, who is Black. McLaurin has been charged with felony malicious mischief and is being questioned by the FBI. So far, no motive for the arson is apparent. 

The 60-year-old Greater Bethlehem Temple Church was damaged but not extensively. However, the 85-year-old Epiphany Lutheran Church, one of the state’s oldest historically Black Lutheran churches, was gutted. The Epiphany fire raged for 4 hours as firefighters struggled to put it out.

Lloyd Caston, an elder at Epiphany, was called to the scene around 4:30 am to find the church “fully enflamed”. “I was hurt,” Caston said. “There wasn’t nothing we could do but sit and watch. That was it.” Eventually, the fire, “destroyed the church and everything in it”. Epiphany had just completed renovations in March. 

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Will Oregon get a right to healthcare? Big wins for abortion rights and healthcare in ballot initiatives

Even though several races across the country haven’t yet been called, it’s already clear that Democrats fared much better in the midterms than many anticipated. At moment, it looks like the Republicans may win a small majority in the House, but Democrats are currently favored to retain their small majority in the Senate. Control of the Senate may come down to the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker.

Tuesday was also a good night for supporters of progressive priorities like abortion rights, healthcare access and climate resiliency.

Abortion on the ballot

Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont have approved ballot measures that enshrine the right to access an abortion in their state constitutions.  are all protect abortion rights, according to CNN projections. In Kentucky and Montana, voters rejected measures that would have further restricted abortion access.

So far, voters in both red and blue states have backed abortion access in every instance where citizens had the opportunity to vote on it directly. This was also true in Kansas when primary voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed their Republican state government to pass laws further restricting abortion access.

Affordable healthcare

South Dakota was one of several states to opt out of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. On Tuesday, South Dakotans voted 56% to 44% to expand Medicaid in the state. Currently, childless South Dakotans are not eligible for Medicaid and even families with children must have very low incomes, around $1000 a month for a family of four. The ballot measure will expand access to adults making less than $19,000 a year. About 42,500 South Dakotans will benefit from the expansion.

In Oregon, the results for ballot initiative Measure 111 remain too close to call. With 70% reporting, the ‘yes’ vote stands at 50.3% and the ‘no’ votes stand at 49.7%. Measure 111 states that it is the “obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right”. The measure does not spell out what defines “affordable” healthcare or how to pay for it. Those details would be up to the state’s legislature.

New York passes $4.2 billion environmental bond act

New Yorkers have voted to authorize the state to seek $4.2 billion by issuing bonds. The money will go towards climate resiliency projects and pollution reduction. The measure also requires the state to set aside 40% of the funding for disadvantaged communities who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 

In rough outline, the measure allocates: 

  • $1.5 billion for pollution reduction; wetland protection; retrofitting; green energy projects; zero-emission school bus fleets; and urban forestry programs
  • $1.1 billion for shoreline restoration; safeguarding flood-prone infrastructure; and ecological restoration programs
  • $650 million for land and fish hatchery conservation
  • $650 million for sewage infrastructure; reducing storm and agricultural runoff; and addressing algae blooms

Recent disasters have shown that aging infrastructure, particularly around New York City, is becoming more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Some may remember dramatic footage of NYC subways flooding due to the rain brought by remnants of Hurricane Ida last year. The funding will also help restore or establish green spaces in the city to combat deadly heat pockets. 



Brazil military rejects election fraud allegations after Bolsonaro defeat

A 63-page report from Brazil’s Defense Ministry has found no evidence to support allegations of voter fraud in the election that recently ousted Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has yet to concede to the winner, left-wing former President Lula Da Silva. The report dashed hopes of Bolsonaro supporters who had called on the military to put a halt to the transfer of power. The military has taken on greater power and standing under Bolsonaro, but its leadership has been conspicuously quiet in the lead-up to and aftermath of the elections.

In the days following the election, Bolsonaro supporters set up blockades with large trucks along Brazil’s major highways. Bolsonaro himself eventually emerged to ask his supporters to end the disruptive protests. However, a hardcore contingent continues to demand the military take power. 

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