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Headlines for September 28, 2021 – Democracy Now!

This year Democracy Now! is celebrating our 25th anniversary—that’s 25 years of bringing you fearless, independent reporting. Since our very first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has refused to take government or corporate funding, because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. But that means we rely on you, our audience, for support. If everyone who tunes into Democracy Now! signed up for a monthly donation of just $10, we could cover our operating costs for the entire year. Please do your part today. Right now, a generous donor will even DOUBLE your first monthly gift, which means it’ll go twice as far! This is a challenging time for us all, but if you’re able to start a new monthly donation, please don’t delay. We’re counting on your support. Thank you and remember, wearing a mask is an act of love.
-Amy Goodman
This year Democracy Now! is celebrating our 25th anniversary—that’s 25 years of bringing you fearless, independent reporting. Since our very first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has refused to take government or corporate funding, because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. But that means we rely on you, our audience, for support. If everyone who tunes into Democracy Now! signed up for a monthly donation of just $10, we could cover our operating costs for the entire year. Please do your part today. Right now, a generous donor will even DOUBLE your first monthly gift, which means it’ll go twice as far! This is a challenging time for us all, but if you’re able to start a new monthly donation, please don’t delay. We’re counting on your support. Thank you and remember, wearing a mask is an act of love.
-Amy Goodman
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
Senate Republicans voted unanimously Monday to block a House-approved bill that would fund the federal government and raise the ceiling on the national debt. The vote came just days before a September 30 deadline to avert a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans’ actions were threatening to plunge the U.S. into a recession.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “Our country is staring down the barrel of two totally Republican-manufactured disasters: a government shutdown and a first-ever default on the national debt. The impacts of both would gravely harm every single American in this country.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has notified Congress that unless it acts before mid-October to raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. government will default on its debts.
Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema is scheduled to hold a fundraiser today with five business lobbying groups that oppose a massive spending bill containing some of the Biden administration’s top legislative priorities. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports attendees are being asked to write checks for up to $5,800 to Senator Sinema’s campaign. Sinema says she opposes the spending bill’s price tag of $3.5 trillion over 10 years. The legislation would increase taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations in order to expand the social safety net, improve worker rights and combat the climate crisis. Sinema’s support is critical to Democrats’ plans to use a budget reconciliation bill to pass the legislation in the evenly divided Senate.
Jurors in the federal trial against accused sexual predator and trafficker R. Kelly, a famed R&B singer, found him guilty Monday of charges including racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and sex trafficking. Nearly a dozen survivors and over 30 other witnesses detailed R. Kelly’s pattern of sexual and other abuse against dozens of women and underage girls for nearly two decades. It’s a landmark verdict for the #MeToo movement. 
The United States reported nearly 2,400 new COVID-19 deaths on Monday, even as hospitalizations continued to decline from a peak in early September. President Biden publicly received a booster shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, just days after federal regulators authorized third doses for immunocompromised people, frontline workers and people 65 and older. Biden, who is 78, received his third injection in a White House event where he called on tens of millions of eligible U.S. residents to get vaccinated.
President Joe Biden: “Over 77% of adults have gotten at least one shot. About 23% haven’t gotten any shots. And that distinct minority is causing an awful lot of us an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country.”
Here in New York, thousands of hospital and nursing home workers rushed to get their first COVID-19 shots ahead of a vaccine mandate deadline of midnight on Monday. New York health officials say the late surge means at least 92% of healthcare workers have received at least one dose. Those who’ve refused face unpaid leaves of absence or termination. Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s prepared to deploy the National Guard to help fill any staffing shortages.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: “Today is a significant deadline. It reflects my priority to stop this virus dead in its tracks. We are over it. We are done. We want to move on. And the only way we can do that is to ensure that everyone is vaccinated, but particularly individuals who are taking care of the people who are sick.”
On Monday, a three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled that New York City may proceed with a vaccine mandate for nearly all public school workers.
Top officials in the Trump administration’s Central Intelligence Agency discussed kidnapping and assassinating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. That’s according to an explosive new exposé in Yahoo News, which cites over 30 former officials. They describe how then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo sought revenge over WikiLeaks’ publication of sensitive CIA hacking tools, called “Vault 7,” which the agency considered “the largest data loss in CIA history.” 
The International Criminal Court’s lead prosecutor said Monday he’s seeking approval to resume his investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the militant group ISIS-K. Notably absent from the ICC’s statement was any mention of alleged war crimes committed by the United States, its allies and the former U.S.-backed government in Kabul. Patricia Gossman of Human Rights Watch tweeted in response, “It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you.” 
The Taliban-appointed chancellor for Kabul University said Monday that all women would be indefinitely barred from attending courses — either as professors or students. And Afghanistan’s first-of-its-kind women’s driving school reports business has ground to a halt since the Taliban takeover in August.
Nilab Durrani: “Since the previous government collapsed, we have not registered a single new student, and also no one has contacted us to get a registration. The previously admitted students are calling us and asking if they can join their classes, but they are worried about their security.”
In Tunisia, over 100 senior officials with the country’s largest political party have resigned, protesting President Kais Saied’s ousting of the Tunisian prime minister and his suspension of parliament in July. Opponents are decrying an attempted coup after Saied gave himself executive authority. On Sunday, thousands of protesters gathered in the capital Tunis demanding Saied step down.
Abdelfattah Saied: “He is acting like he is the sun that is rising on the country, the general prosecutor, the president, the parliament, the government, like he is everything. Even his authority that revised the constitutional laws, it is like he is saying, 'I am your god almighty.' That is what it means. No, this must be removed. The Tunisian people deserve better than this.”
In immigration news, the Biden administration has issued a new rule that seeks to modify DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in an effort to preserve and protect the temporary relief program from future legal challenges. This comes after a Texas federal judge in July struck down DACA, arguing the program exceeded President Obama’s authority when it was created through executive action in 2012. July’s ruling blocked new DACA applications. DACA has provided temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to some 800,000 undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles — praised as the godfather of modern Black cinema — died in New York last week at the age of 89. Van Peebles is best known for his iconic 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” which is credited with launching the blaxploitation movie genre. Van Peebles was also an actor, novelist, playwright and composer.
Prominent Native American filmmaker, journalist and professor Myron Dewey died Sunday in a car crash in Nevada. He was 49 years old. Dewey was the founder of the media production company Digital Smoke Signals, which shared live footage from the frontlines of the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline in Standing Rock. Democracy Now! met Dewey in North Dakota in 2016 as he faced a misdemeanor stalking charge for using a drone to take video of unlicensed private pipeline security workers. Those charges would ultimately be dropped.
Myron Dewey: “There is an arrest warrant for me stalking the Dakota Access pipeline security, which these are guys that had no badges, no names, no license plates. So, it’s a little intimidating when you see these guys looking like Navy SEALs in the back, you know, when you’re traveling, when you’re documenting. You know, I came as a filmmaker and digital storyteller, and I’m leaving now as an environmental justice filmmaker and journalist.”

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