Tag Archive for: protests


Ohio train derailment: Railroad reps ditch town meeting.

Georgia: Partial grand jury report released on Trump election meddling.

Peru: Report finds racial bias in deadly crackdown on indigenous protesters.



Ohio train derailment: Railroad reps ditch town meeting

Representatives from Norfolk Southern canceled an appearance at a town meeting in East Palestine, OH, at the last minute, citing “physical threats”. 

This statement from Norfolk Southern read out at the meeting: “Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties. With that in mind, Norfolk Southern will not be in attendance this evening”. Local authorities said they had no knowledge of any “threats” to Norfolk Southern employees.

Over 200 locals had gathered for the meeting to address residents’ health concerns following the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals. Residents have reported sicknesses and deaths in small animals. Some have reported experiencing adverse effects themselves. Candice Desanzo, who evacuated the area with her small children and returned after officials gave the all clear. She now regrets her decision to return. “We all have red rashes, loose stool, congestion, eyes burning,” Desanzo said. “Everything smells. I have been having terrible headaches”.

State and local officials and even the EPA have downplayed the risks, assuring residents the fumes weren’t concentrated enough to be harmful to humans. But Peter DeCarlo of Johns Hopkins University says he wouldn’t want to be in the area based on the data he’s seen. “First off, I have two small children,” DeCarlo said, “And I’d be especially concerned for their health”. According to DeCarlo, the air monitoring and air sampling conducted in the area also isn’t sufficient to measure whether there are emissions from the crash site. “Clearly, there are [emissions] if people are still smelling fumes”, DeCarlo said.

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Partial grand jury report released on Trump election interference

The office of Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney Fani Willis has released part of a report from a grand jury probe into 2020 election interference in compliance with a court order earlier this week. Three sections of the report were released, the introduction, conclusion and one section pertaining to concerns about perjury by witnesses who appeared before the grand jury. “A majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it,” the report said.

The report doesn’t name which witnesses the panel believed gave false testimony. Among those who testified under subpoena were several prominent Trump allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Trump himself wasn’t subpoenaed and did not testify.

The report indicates that recommendations were made for indictments against one or more individuals, who were not identified. Willis has said decisions on potential indictments in the case are “imminent”. 

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Peru: report finds racial bias in brutal crackdown on indigenous protesters

A scathing report from Amnesty International finds that racial animosity by Peru’s white ruling class was a driving force in the deadly crackdown on indigenous protesters. Protests began back in December when Peru’s elected president Pedro Castillo was deposed. Castillo, himself an indigenous school teacher, had butted heads with the elites who control the country’s Congress throughout his 17 months in power.

The congress tried twice to impeach Castillo on vague charges which critics say were a cover for a political and racist agenda. When Congress mounted a third impeachment attempt, Castillo attempted to dissolve Congress and call snap elections. Castillo was then impeached and imprisoned for rebellion.

His ouster enraged Peru’s indigenous communities who have been ignored and oppressed by Lima’s elites for decades. Protests sprang up all over the country, resulting in at least 60 deaths to date at the hands of the country’s security forces. Demonstrations persist, demanding that the country’s president Dina Boluarte (Castillo’s former VP) to step down and call elections. Boluarte has so far refused to step down and Congress has refused to call new elections.

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Feds open civil rights probe of Tyre Nichols case.

Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter in film set shooting.

Peru: Deadly protests continue over president’s ouster last month.




Feds open civil rights probe of Tyre Nichols case

Yesterday, Kevin G. Ritz, US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that his office has launched a federal civil rights investigation of the death of Tyre Nichols, 29, of Memphis.

Memphis police attempted to arrest Tyre Nichols, 29, on Jan. 7 following a traffic stop. This lead to two “confrontations” that landed Nichols in the hospital. Nichols died three days later on Jan. 10. A statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Nichols’ had “succumbed to his injuries”, but did not describe these injuries or how they occurred.

Nichols’ family claims Memphis PD beat him so badly that he was “unrecognizable” and spent his final days on dialysis. Photos released by the family show Nichols lying in his hospital bed with a bruised and swollen face and breathing support. Nichols’ family have retained the services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump to represent them. 

Family and community members attended a vigil and protests to demand greater accountability for the officers involved. TBI opened a use-of-force probe of Memphis PD immediately after the incident. Memphis PD has also initiated an internal investigation against the officers for violation of department policy. Details about the incident remain unclear and Nichols’ family are demanding the immediate release of the police bodycam footage. Nichols’ stepfather Rodney Wells also wants the officers to be charged with murder.

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Alec Baldwin to be charged with involuntary manslaughter in film set shooting

New Mexico authorities announced today that they plan to charge Alec Baldwin and others with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. Formal charges are expected at the end of this month.

Baldwin and the crew were in the state in 2021 filming “Rust,” a Western, of which Baldwin was one of the producers. In between takes, Baldwin was practicing firing a Colt .45 revolver, believing it was loaded with blanks. But one of the rounds was live. It struck Hutchins, killing her outright, and also injured director Joel Souza, who recovered. 

The film’s first assistant director David Halls already agreed to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, now each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The first count is involuntary manslaughter, implying “underlying negligence”. The second count, involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, implies “more than simple negligence involved in a death,” the officials explained. Each count is a fourth-degree felony that can carry sentences up to 18 months in jail. However, if Baldwin or Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty of the second count, the involvement of a firearm in Hutchins’ death could increase the sentence to up to 5 years.

Last year, Hutchins’ family sued the “Rust” producers, including Baldwin, for wrongful death. The case was settled out of court in October. It’s unclear how the live round came to be in Baldwin’s gun. Coverage since the shooting has revealed a reckless attitude to safety on set. “If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” prosecutors said.

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Peru: Deadly protests continue over president’s ouster last month

In December, Peru’s elected President Pedro Castillo was arrested after attempting to dissolve Congress to call for snap elections. This was the climax of a standoff between Castillo, a progressive leftist, and a conservative Congress who obstructed his rule for his entire 17 months in office. Congress attempted three different times to impeach Castillo on vague and unsubstantiated charges.

Following Castillo’s arrest, his Vice President Dina Boluarte assumed the presidency. However, it appears the Cabinet (all conservatives appointed by Castillo in hopes of appeasing his opponents in Congress) is actually running the country. Castillo’s supporters, many of them poor indigenous people living in remote mountain regions, have staged mass protests calling on Boluarte to step down and call immediate elections. At least 50 protesters have been killed by security forces since Castillo’s ouster.

Despite the bloodshed, Boluarte refuses to step down. She has proposed new elections to take place in 2024, but this has not appeased the protesters. Boluarte faces opposition to snap elections from members of Congress who don’t want to give up their seats.

The protest movement is now entering a new stage as Andean protesters are marching on the capital in Lima. More and bloodier showdowns with police are likely once they reach Lima.

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Computer system failure grounds all US air travel for hours.

Debt ceiling fight ahead in Congress, jeopardizing economy.

Peru under genocide investigation after deadly protests.




Computer system glitch grounds all US air travel for hours

An overnight malfunction in the system that notifies pilots of hazards grounded all US air travel for several hours up until 9am (ET) this morning. According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, over 8000 flights were delayed today and over 1000 were canceled. The numbers of delays continue climbing as a knock-on effect of delays or cancellations this morning.

The system that crashed was the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses this system to notify pilots of unusual hazards and conditions and to convey other vital safety information. 

It isn’t clear what caused the system to crash. Analysts have said it is unlikely to have been the result of a cyber attack because of the way the outage progressed. It’s possible that the system became overloaded or couldn’t cope with the complexity of tasks it had to perform. A former FAA official suggested that NOTAM may have encountered a capacity problem, similar to the problem that forced Southwest airlines to cancel thousands of flights between Christmas and the first week of January.

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Debt ceiling fight ahead in Congress, jeopardizing economy

The federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling will soon max out, possibly as soon as the end of this month. The Treasury Department can then implement some measures that may carry the country through until the summer. Before those measures run out, Congress will have to agree to raise the debt ceiling to pay debts the federal government has already incurred, not to allow for new spending. If this does not happen, the government will shut down and the country will default on its debts. This would be catastrophic for the national and global economy and for everyday Americans.

With Republicans now in control of the House, the stage is set for a showdown over the debt that could jeopardize the US economy. During the Obama administration in 2011, Republicans in Congress held the debt ceiling hostage in order to win major concessions on government spending, mostly by cutting government programs to support the poor. After months of brinksmanship, Congress finally hammered out an agreement. But the debt rating company Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US credit rating, citing the turmoil and delay in raising the debt ceiling. This downgrade in credit rating raised the borrowing costs for the US by billions of dollars.

The recent fight over the Speakership in the House resulted in the new Speaker Kevin McCarthy making concessions that could make it much harder for him to force through a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Some of those who blocked McCarthy from winning the Speakership through 14 ballots have vowed to challenge his leadership again if he tries to force a debt ceiling vote without massive spending cuts.

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Related: What happens if the US defaults on its debt? (opens in new tab).



Peru under genocide investigation after deadly protests

Back in December, Peru’s elected President Pedro Castillo attempted to break an impasse with Congress by dissolving the body and calling snap elections. This led to Castillo being deposed and arrested for rebellion. Castillo’s VP Dina Boluarte then became President, though it appears the Cabinet is really in charge of the country.

Castillo’s arrest angered many Peruvians, especially poor indigenous people in rural areas for whom Castillo had been a long-sought champion. Days of deadly protests followed, leading the Cabinet to impose martial law. The measures criminalized any public assembly, severely restricted people’s movements, and empowered the country’s police force to raid anyone’s home without a court order.

Since Castillo’s ouster in early December, at least 46 civilians have been killed most of them indigenous. On Monday alone, security forces killed at least 17 people. The country’s interior minister claimed the protesters were attempting to storm an airport and that the security forces acted appropriately. The office of Peru’s National Human Rights Coordinator disagrees, calling Monday’s deaths “extrajudicial killings”. 

Peru’s Attorney General has announced that Boluarte and her Cabinet are under investigation for possible acts of genocide in connection with the deaths of these protesters.

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Senate races to pass stopgap funding bill. Male prison employees have assaulted female prisoners in 2/3 US prisons. Peru declares police state to curb political protests.


Senate races to pass stopgap funding bill

As seems to happen every few months these days, Congress is scrambling to put together a must-pass funding bill. Before the end of this year, they hope to pass a full budget that will carry us to September 2023. However, House Republicans threatened to vote down the measure, which they claim is “trillions” in “wasteful spending” that they contend will drive up inflation. The entire proposal is $1.7 trillion which includes funding the massive $858 billion Pentagon budget which members of both parties enthusiastically passed last week. House Republicans want to put off passing the final bill until they take control of the chamber next month. At that point, they’ll have more leverage to chisel away at domestic spending.

Democrat and GOP leaders have said they have a “framework” for an agreement over the final bill. But the deadline to pass the budget to avoid a government shutdown is midnight on Friday. To buy themselves more time to work out the finer points of this “framework”, Congress is planning to pass a one-week continuing resolution, possibly as soon as today. The House has already voted on this one-week extension and it has headed to the Senate.

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Male prison employees have assaulted female-prisoners in two-thirds of US prisons

A bipartisan Senate inquiry has found cases of male prison employees assaulting female prisons in two-thirds of federal prisons. The scope of the inquiry covered the last decade. The inquiry examined the federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) internal affairs records and found a backlog of hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse of inmates by Bureau employees. 

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), who headed the Senate inquiry called its findings, “deeply disturbing”. The report shows that the Bureau of Prisons “is failing systemically to prevent, detect and address sexual abuse of prisoners by its own employees”. Ossoff pointed to a few particularly egregious examples. In one California prison, both the prison’s warden and its chaplain had assaulted female prisoners. Even the prison’s compliance officer in charge of enforcing laws against prison rape was abusing female prisoners.

Allegations of abuse are rarely met with any official action. Law professor Brenda Smith of American University points to the lack of independent oversight within the Bureau. “We have the people who are supposed to be being audited auditing themselves, essentially,” Smith says. Even in cases where the abuse is confirmed by some means, prison workers who’ve abused the female prisoners in their care face few if any official consequences. In one example cited by Ossoff, “several officers who admitted under oath to sexually abusing prisoners were able, nevertheless, to retire with benefits”.

Colette Peters took over as head of the Bureau of Prisons five months ago. Peters says she’s examining how wardens in women’s facilities are selected and supervised. She also says she plans to update camera systems in prison, as abusers often take advantage of surveillance blind spots.

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Peru declares police state over political protests

So far, at least 7 people have died in protests in Peru since the elected President Pedro Castillo was deposed and imprisoned last week. In response, the new government has declared martial law for the next 30 days. The declaration came from the council of ministers and it’s unclear if Castillo’s VP Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in as President last week, was involved.

The emergency declaration suspends the right to “personal security and freedom” and vastly expands the powers of police.  For the next month, Peruvians will have no freedom of assembly or movement. Additionally, police can now conduct searches of homes at will, without a court order. And the military will be helping the police to keep order.

Early last week, Castillo attempted to dissolve Congress as the body mounted its third attempt to impeach him since he took office in July 2021. Peru’s Congress has broad impeachment powers which it has increasingly weaponized in recent years to bring down Presidents with whom members have political differences.

Peruvian authorities are planning a hearing to decide whether to imprison Castillo for the next 18 months while they build a rebellion case against him. The protesters are demanding Castillo’s release, Boluarte’s resignation and immediate elections to replace members of Congress.

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Thousands of Starbucks workers strike on one of chain’s busiest days. Senate issues damning report on “excessive” gynecological procedures on ICE detainees. Iran security forces kill boys, 9 and 14, in protest crackdown.



Thousands of Starbucks workers strike on one of chain’s busiest days

Today, more than 1,000 union Starbucks workers went on strike at over 100 stores in 25 states. Since late last year, about 260 of Starbucks’ 9000 nationwide locations have voted to unionize. The union Starbucks Workers United (SWU) has formed more new unions in a 12-month period than any US company in the last 20 years. SWU now represents around 7000 workers. Today’s picketing was the largest nationally coordinated labor action by the union since the labor organizing campaign began.

The strikes coincided with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, usually one of the chain’s busiest days of the year. On Red Cup Day, Starbucks locations hand out free reusable cups to customers who order holiday drinks. The cups are also considered collectibles, and Starbucks stores often have trouble staffing on Red Cup Day due to the higher demand. Strikers instead handed out their own red cups with union logos.

SWU says the strike is a “response to Starbucks’ union-busting tactics and refusal to bargain” with union stores. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is openly hostile to unionizing efforts and has adopted illegal union-busting tactics according to the National Labor Relations Board. In the past year, the NLRB has issued 39 official complaints against Starbucks. These complaints include over 900 alleged violations of federal labor law, according SWU.

Pro-labor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) expressed solidarity with striking workers on Twitter today. “I’m proud to stand with Starbucks workers on strike today across the country. CEO Howard Schultz is illegally union busting and firing workers for organizing. Mr. Schultz, it is time to recognize the stores that unionized and negotiate with workers in good faith,” Sanders wrote.

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Senate issues damning report on “excessive” gynecological procedures on ICE detainees

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has reported the findings of its investigation into whistleblower complaints regarding an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Irwin County, GA. In 2020, nurse Dawn Wooten, who used to work at the facility, blew the whistle on excessive gynecological procedures performed on detainees, often without informed consent.

The Irwin County Detention Center contracted with Dr. Mahendra Amin, who holds no board certifications. Wooten learned that Amin had been performing high numbers of hysterectomies and other invasive and life altering procedures on ICDC detainees. Many of these women spoke no English and did not understand what had been done to them. 

The PSI report says, “ICDC housed roughly 4% of female ICE detainees nationwide from 2017 to 2020. Dr. Amin accounted for roughly 6.5% of total OB-GYN visits among all ICE detainees in the same time period. However, he performed nearly one-third of certain OB-GYN procedures on ICE detainees across the country between 2017 and 2020 and more than 90% of some key procedures”.

PSI committee chair and Georgia Senator John Ossoff said of the report, “This is an extraordinarily disturbing finding, and in my view represents a catastrophic failure to respect basic human rights”. 

Dawn Wooten was fired when she tried to report these concerns to her superiors at ICDC. Dr. Amin continues to practice in Georgia, even though he is under criminal investigation, according to the Senate report.

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Iran security forces shoot boys, 9 and 14, dead in protest crackdown

Iran’s security forces have been unable to contain weeks of protests over the death of a young woman in the custody of the country’s morality police. The state’s violent and deadly crackdowns on demonstrations seem to have only encouraged more people to join the anti-regime movement. Police have detained at least 16,000 protesters and their online supporters. The courts have recently begun sentencing some of them to death

Since the protests began in late September, at least 362 protesters, including 56 children, have been killed by security forces. Yesterday, Kian Pirfalak, 9, and Sepehr Maghsoudi, 14, were among seven people killed by live fire during a protest in one city. At least 13 other people were killed at protests elsewhere in Iran that day as well.

What started as a protest against Iran’s restrictive dress codes for women has evolved into a movement bent on ending over 40 years of theocratic rule in Iran. Iran’s government and state media have attempted to downplay the size and significance of the protests. At the same time, they accuse the US, Israel and other Western countries of stoking the protests to bring about regime change.

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Puerto Rico without power as hurricane passes over. Fast food chains fight California legislation giving workers more rights. Gas hike sparks violent protests in Haiti.



Puerto Rico without power as hurricane passes over

The power grid serving the entire island of Puerto Rico went down due to high winds and heavy rains from the slow moving Hurricane Fiona. All 1.5 million households (over 3 million people in total) are in darkness as rains continue pounding the island.

Fiona is a Category 1 storm, much less powerful than the Category 5 Hurricane Maria that devastated the island in 2015. Since Maria, the island’s government has taken some precautions. As part of its weather preparedness plan, emergency supplies such as food, household items and other necessities have been distributed to cities and towns all over the island. This should hopefully prevent shortages in remote areas that may be cut off by flooding and landslides. In 2015, the government had to scramble to get vital supplies to its citizens.

Puerto Rico’s government has also ensured that hospitals and other key facilities have backup generators. They’d also promised to strengthen the island-wide power grid to withstand future storms, but clearly this hasn’t worked.

Despite ongoing work from government agencies and NGOs, many Puerto Ricans still live in homes that were damaged by Maria, and there is great concern for them. The full scale of Fiona’s damage to the island won’t be apparent for some days to come. Fiona is still crawling over the island dumping torrential amounts of rain.

Puerto Rico is not a state but is a US territory and its residents are US citizens. The island’s government has long called for the US government to do more to help shore up the island’s poor infrastructure.

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Fast food chains fight California legislation giving workers more rights

California Gov. Gavin Newsome recently signed a bill into law that grants more bargaining power to fast-food workers. The bill would establish an industry council for the sector with both membership made up of workers, state regulators and corporate leaders. The council would set wage standards and other regulations for the industry, representing about 500,000 workers in the state.

While unheard of in the US, such councils are the norm in other developed countries. In Germany for example, any large company must by law include workers on their board of governors.

However, major fast food chains have come together to oppose the legislation. The corporate leaders argue that the reforms will result in higher prices and other changes that will make the fast-food model unsustainable. The chains have gone to court to demand a referendum on the measure. If the court grants their request, industry groups will have until April 2023 to gather the 623,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the 2024 state ballot. The court would also delay implementation of the law, which is to take effect in January 2023.

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Gas hike sparks violent protests in Haiti

Haiti’s leadership is appealing for calm after days of antigovernment demonstrations across the island which have sometimes become violent. The protests arose after the government abruptly ended fuel subsidies, causing gas and diesel prices to rise sharply.

Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took over leadership of the country following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July last year. Some also suspect Henry’s involvement in Moïse’s killing and Henry has been banned from leaving the country.

Just a month after Moïse’s assassination, the country experienced a devastating earthquake. Since then, inflation has reached its highest point since the last horrendous earthquake in 2010. The poverty-stricken island has also been plagued by lawlessness with armed gangs in control over much of the country.

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Strippers campaign for nation’s first unionized strip club. Jan. 6: 2 more hearings this week; Bannon agrees to testify. Sri Lankans occupy president’s palace demanding his resignation.



LA strippers campaign for nation’s first unionized strip club

Strippers who formerly worked at LA’s Star Garden strip club have been picketing their former workplace since March. When many strip clubs shut down during the pandemic, many exotic entertainers opened their own online subscription businesses and enjoyed a high degree of autonomy and control. Once clubs reopened, dancers had to once again contend with lax security, stolen wages, and exploitative labor contracts. Two of the dancers at Star Garden were immediately fired when they called for establishing a union. Since then, other Star Garden dancers have walked out and joined in demonstrations outside the club. 

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Click here for a video about the strippers’ union effort (about 7 minutes).


Jan. 6: 2 more hearings this week; Bannon agrees to testify

Over the weekend, the news broke that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, conservative firebrand Steve Bannon, had agreed to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. The committee had previously subpoenaed Bannon, who refused to testify claiming executive privilege. The Justice Department subsequently charged Bannon with contempt. However, according to former Trump attorney Jason Clark, expectations should not be high for Bannon’s intent to cooperate. In an interview with the DOJ, Clark testified that Trump had never invoked executive privilege in Bannon’s case. The DOJ believes that Bannon’s change of heart with regard to testifying may be a ploy to gain sympathy he will soon face in connection with his criminal contempt charges.

2 more Jan. 6 hearings this week

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to hold two more public televised hearings this week. The first will be tomorrow, Tuesday 1 p.m. ET/ noon CT, and will focus on the role of extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys in the violence at the Capitol. The hearing will also address inflammatory Trump tweets that the committee maintains were directed at the rioters.

The second hearing will take place Thursday, possible during primetime, though these schedules are subject to change. The committee has not yet announced the subject of Thursday’s hearing.



Sri Lankans occupy president’s palace to demand his resignation

Sri Lanka’s tumultuous recent history includes a bloody 26-year civil war (1983-2009), followed by an authoritarian military dictatorship that has held power up to this day. In 2019, the country began experiencing a sharp economic downturn which has only deepened in the time since. Recently, Sri Lanka has been unable to purchase imported food and fuel, leading to critical shortages. 

Months of protests recently culminated on attacks at the homes of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday. The protesters have since occupied Rajapaksa’s palatial home and say they won’t leave until he formally resigns. 

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Rittenhouse breaks down while taking stand in his own defense. Consumer prices rising at fastest rate in three decades. COP26: Negotiators seek stronger short-term carbon targets.



Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down while taking stand in his own defense

Today, Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, took the stand to defend his actions at a protest last year, during which he shot and killed two men and seriously wounded a third with his AR-15. Rittenhouse, then 17, traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, WI, with a group of armed militia members who claimed they were there to defend businesses during unrest over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by a white cop. At the time, Rittenhouse was too young to legally possess the AR-15, which was purchased for him by a fellow militia member.

Early in his testimony, Rittenhouse sobbed as he claimed that the men he shot were threatening to kill him, forcing a recess. Rittenhouse claimed that the first man he fatally shot, Joseph Rosenbaum, had threatened to kill him. He also claimed Rosenbaum was carrying a steel chain. Accounts differ on this point. A fellow militia member who was with Rittenhouse claimed he’d not seen Rosenbaum carrying any weapon, but a police detective said Rosenbaum had been seen carrying a chain “at different points” throughout the night.

Rittenhouse’s retellings of the subsequent shootings also differ with accounts from various witnesses, including the lone survivor, Gaige Grosskreutz. Prosecutors say that Rittenhouse lied to fellow militia members, saying he was an EMT, which he is not. Rittenhouse also claimed he had been asked by the owners of a car dealership to defend their property, but the owners say differently.

Dominick Black, who purchased Rittenhouse’s gun and accompanied Rittenhouse at different times, took the stand last week. Black, who was also armed, testified that he at no point felt the need to use deadly force, despite the chaos of the night.

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Consumer prices rising at fastest rate in three decades

New data shows that consumer prices rose 6.2% between October 2020 and October 2021. This is the steepest year-on-year climb in three decades, outpacing even September’s year-on-year rise of 5.4%. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the sharpest rises were in prices for housing, food, fossil fuels and new and used vehicles. Gasoline prices are at a seven-year high.

A combination of factors have contributed to the price hikes, including supply chain issues, rising consumer demand and labor shortages. As a result, nearly every consumer sector has seen some rise in prices.

Pressure has been growing for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to counteract the inflation. But the Fed has for months been taking the position that the current rise in prices is “transitory”. The thinking goes that the higher prices are a temporary reaction to the reopening of the economy and the resulting spike in consumer demand. Some economist believe that the rise in prices will eventually flatten demand and that the inflation drive will correct itself. 

But some observers think that the rise in wages to lure employees back to workplaces could prolong the inflation. Many employees are also seeking higher-paying jobs due to the rise in cost of living. Social security recipients will also soon be receiving the highest cost of living adjustment in years. 

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COP26: Negotiators seek stronger short-term carbon targets

Negotiators representing participating countries at the COP26 talks in Glasgow, Scotland, have released drafts of a tentative deal outlining how nations can achieve the climate pledges made by their respective leaders last week. The draft reflects the participants’ “alarm and concern” over climate disasters that are already afflicting parts of the world. The draft calls on participating countries to adopt more ambitious near term carbon-cutting targets. For example, the draft calls for countries to drastically reduce their use of coal for power generation by the end of 2022.

Meanwhile at the UN, the U.S. and China have agreed to boost their cooperation on climate initiatives. This may be a hopeful sign of a much-needed thaw in increasingly frosty relations between the two powers. President Biden and others have criticized Russia and China for not turning up to the COP26 talks last week.

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