Millions Join General Strike in France After Macron Uses Executive Fiat to Slash Pensions
In France, an estimated 3.5 million people took to the streets Thursday in a nationwide general strike to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s deeply unpopular move to raise the age of retirement from 62 to 64. Macron’s government forced the legislation through the National Assembly using a constitutional clause to bypass a parliamentary vote. This is a protester in Nice.
Lucile Bidet: “I’m on strike to protest against the pension reform, but mainly also against what is happening in the government with the denial of democracy, which is quite significant right now. They are not listening to the people anymore, and it’s important to us to be here so our voice can be heard and to say what is happening is not normal. If the people are against the reform, they should be heard.”
Biden and Trudeau to Announce Deal to Block Asylum Seekers at U.S. Northern Border
The United States and Canada have reached an agreement to block migrants from seeking asylum if they’re apprehended attempting to cross the U.S.'s northern border into Canada. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are expected to announce the deal in Ottawa today during Biden's first official trip to Canada since taking office. Canada has also reportedly agreed to allow up to 15,000 Central American migrants into the country over the next year. Tens of thousands of migrants have been making their way to Canada as the U.S. enforces harsher immigration policies. Advocates denounced the move as Biden’s latest attempt to discourage people from even attempting to trek north for refuge. Biden and Trudeau are also expected to discuss the worsening gang violence and humanitarian crisis in Haiti, as the U.S. has been pushing the Canadian government to lead a multinational armed intervention.
U.S. Warplanes Strike Syria After Drone Attack on U.S. Base Kills Contractor
The Pentagon says it has carried out multiple airstrikes inside Syria. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the overnight attacks were in response to a drone attack by Iran-backed fighters that killed a U.S. contractor and wounded five U.S. troops. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the U.S. airstrikes killed 11 Iranian-backed fighters in three locations, though those reports could not be confirmed. Congress has not formally authorized U.S. military action in Syria, though last year a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the House voted down a resolution to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops from Syria.
The U.S. strikes came after Israeli warplanes bombed the international airport in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, damaging equipment and bringing flights to a halt. It was Israel’s second attack on Aleppo’s main airport this month.
In other news from Syria, reports emerged Thursday that Saudi Arabia and Syria are nearing a deal in Russian-brokered talks to restore diplomatic ties that were cut off in 2012 as Saudi Arabia backed Syrian rebel fighters in the country’s brutal civil war.
Indian Opposition MP Rahul Gandhi Jailed for Criticizing Modi
In India, lawmaker and opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from Parliament and sentenced to two years in prison, after he was convicted for criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Gandhi was found guilty of defamation for saying at a 2019 campaign rally, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” Gandhi was expected to run against Modi in 2024.
House Panel Grills TikTok CEO as Progressives Warn Against Anti-Chinese Scapegoating
On Capitol Hill, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by House lawmakers for over five hours on the app’s ties to the Chinese government, data practices, and its effects on children’s mental health. This is Democratic Florida Congressmember Darren Soto questioning Chew.
Rep. Darren Soto: “So, Mr. Chew, would TikTok be prepared to divest from ByteDance and Chinese Communist Party ties if the Department of Treasury instructed you all to do so?”
Shou Chew: “Congressman, I said in my opening statement I think we are — need to address the problem of privacy. I agree with you. I don’t think ownership is the issue here. With a lot of respect, American social companies don’t have a good track record with data privacy and user security. I mean, look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, just one example.”
This comes as a number of progressive lawmakers are speaking out against what they see as politically motivated attempts to ban or scapegoat TikTok, saying it is driven by dangerous anti-Chinese sentiment. This is New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman speaking at a rally earlier this week.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman: “We can keep TikTok. We can protect freedom of speech, and we could deal with the privacy concerns at the same time. We could do both. And right now we’re not trying to do both.”
Utah Passes Law Requiring Parental Consent for Minors Using Social Media
In Utah, Republican Governor Spencer Cox signed sweeping social media legislation Thursday that requires anyone 18 or younger to get explicit parental consent to use apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, though it’s unclear how this will be enforced. Critics warn the law could cause more harm to marginalized teens and children for whom social media can be a lifeline, including LGBTQ minors who access vital support and information online.
GA and IA Ban Healthcare for Trans Youth; World Athletics Bans Trans Women from Competing
Georgia and Iowa have become the latest states to enact anti-trans laws. On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill banning gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender youth under the age of 18. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a similar bill on Wednesday, along with another measure banning trans students from entering school bathrooms or changing rooms that match their gender identities.
This comes as World Athletics, the global governing body for track and field, voted Thursday to ban trans women from elite competitions if they transitioned after puberty. Advocates of the anti-trans policy claim trans women athletes have a physical advantage over cisgender women. But science refutes that. A report published in 2017 in the journal Sports Medicine finds there’s “no direct or consistent research” showing trans athletes have an advantage over others.
Parents of Michigan School Shooter to Be Tried for Manslaughter
A court in Michigan has ordered the parents of the Oxford High School shooter to stand trial for manslaughter. Ethan Crumbley was just 15 years old at the time of the attack last November, which killed four students and injured six other people. On Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled there was enough evidence to bring Jennifer and James Crumbley to trial after they gave their son easy access to a gun and failed to inform the school, and failed to stop the massacre despite clear warning signs.
Denver Schools Suspend Ban on Armed Officers After School Shootings
In Colorado, the Denver Public School District voted unanimously Thursday to temporarily suspend its ban on armed guards and police officers in schools. The ban had been in place since 2021, after a wave of protests against police brutality erupted following the murder of George Floyd. This comes after two faculty members at Denver’s East High School were shot and wounded on Wednesday by a 17-year-old with a handgun. Police say they found the teen dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The shooting came just over a month after another shooting at the same school fatally wounded 16-year-old Luis Garcia. That prompted a massive march from Denver’s East High to the nearby state Capitol.
Los Angeles Education Workers End 3-Day Strike, Return to Classrooms Without a Deal
In California, about 60,000 education workers have ended a three-day strike at the Los Angeles Unified School District without an agreement on a new union contract. The strike prompted L.A. Mayor Karen Bass to join contract talks as a mediator, after district officials failed to reach an agreement with the union following more than a year of negotiations. SEIU Local 99 says many of its members who work as bus drivers, custodians and teachers’ aides earn poverty wages of roughly $12 per hour, in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. This is Jason Torres-Rangel, an English teacher at Roosevelt High School and winner of the 2022 California Teacher of the Year Award.
Jason Torres-Rangel: “I’m a second-generation teacher. My parents taught in LAUSD. They struck in 1989 and walked the line. I’m here proudly in my second strike with my SEIU brothers and sisters. We’re demanding a living wage for them. They’re not asking for a million dollars. They’re not asking to be millionaires. They’re asking to be lifted out of poverty. And in a district that has a $4.9 billion surplus in the richest state in the nation, that pays their superintendent $440,000 a year, I think we can afford it. I think we can show them that they deserve this respect, for them and for our students.”