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Headlines for June 29, 2021 – Democracy Now!

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Please join us for a special virtual celebration of Democracy Now!’s 25th anniversary on December 7 with Angela Davis, Greta Thunberg, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Winona LaDuke, Martín Espada, Danny DeVito & many more! Your donation today will help keep this event free for our worldwide audience and will support our fearless, independent journalism throughout the year. Your donation of $10 would go a long way right now. If you can give $50 or more, you’ll get to choose from some great 25th anniversary gifts! Thank you so much and we look forward to celebrating with you on December 7 at 8 p.m. ET at
-Amy Goodman
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The Pacific Northwest is sweltering under an unprecedented June heat wave fueled by the climate crisis, with all-time-high temperatures shattered in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia for the second day in a row. Seattle reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday; Portland hit 116; while the village of Lytton, British Columbia, hit 46.1 degrees Celsius — or 115 Fahrenheit. That’s the highest surface temperature ever recorded in Canada.
More than 12,000 residents of western Washington lost power amid surging demand for electricity and after a wildfire spread below high-voltage power lines in King County.
Maria Smith: “I mean, it’s already bad enough not having air conditioning, but to have no power at all in this heat is dangerous.”
In Russia, torrential rains and heavy winds tore through Moscow on Monday, flooding streets and subway lines and uprooting trees. The violent storm broke a record-setting heat wave that saw Moscow and St. Petersburg reach their highest June temperatures on record. Last week, a Siberian town above the Arctic Circle known for its extreme cold temperatures recorded a peak ground temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Washington, D.C., hundreds of youth climate activists surrounded the White House Monday in a nonviolent blockade demanding President Biden take meaningful action on the climate crisis. Secret Service agents made dozens of arrests. Members of the Sunrise Movement are calling on Biden and congressional Democrats to pass an infrastructure bill that includes major investments in green energy, including a fully funded Civilian Climate Corps. Joining the protests was New York Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said there was no time to waste in preventing climate catastrophe.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “What a lot of folks here in D.C. don’t understand is that while this may be the hottest summer of their lives, it’s going to be one of the coolest summers of our lives. And so what that means is that they brought this heat on us, so we bring the heat on them.”
In northern Minnesota, Hubbard County sheriff’s deputies on Monday barricaded access to an encampment of water protectors who are resisting construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, which has the backing of the Biden administration. Officers towed several of the activists’ cars and made several arrests throughout the day. An attorney for the Indigenous-led protesters called the move “nothing less than an overt political blockade.”
In Ethiopia, rebel fighters in the war-torn Tigray region are dismissing the Ethiopian government’s unilateral declaration of a ceasefire after its military retreated from Tigray’s capital Mekelle on Monday. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front has claimed control of the city’s airport and other strategic areas and says its forces will continue to drive out Ethiopian troops from the region. Nearly a million civilians have been internally displaced since Ethiopia launched an offensive against Tigray separatists in November. The United Nations says the fighting has pushed 350,000 people to the brink of famine.
A U.S. military base near a major oil field in eastern Syria came under attack Monday, one day after the Biden administration launched airstrikes in Syria and Iraq targeting an Iranian-backed militia. The U.S. responded by firing artillery at nearby rocket launching positions. On Monday, President Biden defended his decision to order airstrikes.
President Joe Biden: “I directed last night’s airstrikes targeting sites used by the Iranian-backed militia groups responsible for recent attacks on the U.S. personnel in Iraq. And I have the authority under Article II, and even those up in the Hill who are reluctant to acknowledge that have acknowledged that’s the case.”
This comes as criticism of the U.S. airstrikes grows. Iraq’s prime minister condemned the U.S. attack as a “blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security.” 
A federal judge has thrown out two antitrust lawsuits seeking to force Facebook to divest from WhatsApp and Instagram. U.S. District Court Judge Jeb Boasberg — a George W. Bush appointee — ruled the Federal Trade Commission failed to provide enough evidence to make a case that Facebook operated a monopoly. The judge gave the FTC 30 days to file an amended lawsuit. In a second ruling, Judge Boasberg threw out another antitrust suit brought by 46 state attorneys general, ruling they waited too long to bring their claims. The court rulings sent Facebook’s share prices soaring, bringing CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s estimated personal wealth to over $128 billion, while Facebook’s market capitalization topped $1 trillion for the first time. 
A new book claims former President Donald Trump asked in February 2020 if the U.S. could send citizens infected with coronavirus to the Guantánamo Bay prison, asking aides in the White House Situation Room, “Don’t we have an island that we own?” Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta also write in their book, “Nightmare Scenario,” that Trump complained to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on March 18 about coronavirus testing. Trump reportedly said, “I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?”
In Florida, hope is fading that search-and-rescue crews will find more survivors of the Surfside condominium disaster, five days after the building suddenly collapsed into a massive pile of twisted steel and rubble. The confirmed death toll has risen to 11, with 150 people still unaccounted for. CNN reports the Champlain Towers South condo association was facing assessments for $15 million worth of repairs — with payments set to begin just one week after the building’s sudden collapse.
The e-cigarette maker Juul Labs has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit brought by North Carolina, charging that its marketing practices led to widespread nicotine addiction among teenagers. The settlement comes as 13 other states and the District of Columbia are pressing similar lawsuits and as the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to allow Juul products to remain on the market. 
In a landmark victory for transgender rights, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a former high school student who sued his local school district over its policy forcing him to use a separate, single-stall restroom that no other student was required to use. The court’s move lets stand a lower court’s ruling that policies segregating trans students from their peers are unconstitutional. Gavin Grimm spoke to Democracy Now! in 2017.
Gavin Grimm: “When you are in an environment where you’re not being affirmed, and when you’re being separated and kept apart from your peers, not only does that send a very negative message to you, but it sends a very negative message to your peers and kind of conveys a precedent for how they’ll treat you. So I think it’s very important that we talk about rights of bathroom usage for trans youth, especially because if you can’t use a bathroom, you can’t participate in public life. And that’s really what’s at the center of this.”
California will restrict state-funded travel to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, bringing to 17 the number of states sanctioned by California over their discriminatory policies toward LGBTQ+ people. California Attorney General Rob Bonta cited recently passed laws banning transgender youth from playing sports and blocking access to life-saving gender-affirming healthcare.
Attorney General Rob Bonta: “There is a coordinated attack against our fundamental civil rights. And the fact is, when states discriminate against LGBTQ Americans, California law requires our office to take action. And that’s what we’re doing today.”
In Honduras, LGBTQ+ rights advocates are celebrating a historic ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights declaring the Honduran state responsible for the 2009 killing of Vicky Hernández — a transgender woman. Hernández was assassinated on June 28, the day a U.S.-backed coup overthrew former democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, installing a right-wing regime. Hernández was a sex worker and was out during a military curfew. The landmark ruling was issued Monday, on the 12th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras, and mandates reparations for Hernández’s family and for Honduras to reopen her case. 
Mexico’s Supreme Court has decriminalized the use of marijuana for adults. The court’s ruling comes after the Mexican Congress failed to enact legislation legalizing recreational use of marijuana by the end of April — a deadline set by the Supreme Court. While many celebrated the ruling, some critics warned there are still legal loopholes that could criminalize people for cultivating or distributing marijuana. Efforts to legalize marijuana in Mexico are also aimed at curbing drug violence in the country. Since the U.S.-backed war on drugs was launched in 2006, over 300,000 people have been killed. 
A new U.N. report is calling on all nations to dismantle racism and end impunity for police officers who kill and violate the human rights of Black people. The long-awaited report was released by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Monday — just days after former Minneapolis police officer and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing George Floyd. The report looked into over 190 police killings, most of which occurred in the United States, followed by Latin America. This is Mona Rishmawi with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Mona Rishmawi: “We found worrying trends of associating Blackness with criminality and other biases that shape the interaction of people of African descent with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Our research shows that in a number of states, people of African descent are particularly vulnerable to racial profiling, notably as a basis for discriminatory identity checks, stops and searches, arrests and related abuses, also to violence, including serious injury and deaths.” 
U.S. Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry is facing backlash after turning her back to the U.S. flag while the national anthem played during a medal ceremony at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, Saturday. Toward the end of the anthem, Berry turned away from the flag and placed a black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on her head. Following the nonviolent protest, Berry said, “My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports. I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.” Berry is a longtime activist, who famously raised her fist during the Star-Spangled Banner after winning gold at the 2019 Pan American Games. 


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