Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.
Amnesty International criticized the Zimbabwean authorities’ arrest of several human-rights activists who took part in Zimbabwe protests Friday against state corruption.
“The thwarting of the protest illustrates the Zimbabwean authorities’ total intolerance of criticism,” Muleya Mwananyanda, the human rights organization’s deputy director for southern Africa, said in an emailed statement. He described the arrests as a “witch hunt.”
The authorities issued a warning to citizens against participating in the demonstrations. President Emmerson Mnangagwa labeled the Zimbabwe protests plans an “insurrection” meant to overthrow his administration, which is presiding over-inflation of 737%, food and fuel shortages as well as a collapsing local currency that’s led to demands by teachers, bankers, and health-care workers to be paid in U.S. dollars.
The Zimbabwean police and government officials have repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses, saying those arrested during Zimbabwe protests, or being sought by the police were inciting people to revolt against Mnangagwa’s government.
Acclaimed writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was longlisted for the 2020 Booker prize for her novel This Mournable Body, documented her arrest on Friday with another protester, Julie Barnes, in the Harare suburb of Borrowdale. The author was carrying placards calling for reform in Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, and for the release of Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist arrested recently during a nationwide crackdown on protesters.
A number of activists have gone into hiding after police published a list of names of human rights defenders who are wanted for questioning in connection with the planned Zimbabwe protests. Several opposition leaders are also understood to be wanted by the police, while six others have already been arrested.
A huge explosion rocked Beirut, killing at least 70 people and shattering windows and damaging buildings across a wide swath of the city, according to officials. The blast sent a huge mushroom cloud into the sky, seemingly emanating from a spot close to where a large fire had been burning.
The blast near Beirut’s port sent up a huge mushroom cloud-shaped shockwave, flipping cars and damaging distant buildings. It was felt as far as Cyprus, hundreds of miles away, and registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in the Lebanese capital.
The country is also in the midst of an economic meltdown, with ballooning unemployment, a tanking currency and poverty rates soaring above 50%.
Hospitals that are already dealing with the coronavirus crisis were quickly filled beyond capacity, and issued pleas for blood donations and generators to keep the lights going.
The US embassy in Beirut released a statement advising people to wear masks and stay indoors, following “reports of toxic gases released in the explosion”. Many people’s windows where shattered by the blast making it difficult to avoid breathing the air outside. The American University of Beirut’s aerosol research lab’s indicators showed air quality levels had returned to “good” by 7pm, however, after showing “moderate” levels of particulate matter an hour earlier.
Minister of Health Hamad Hassan said at least 2,700 people were hurt, the latest update as damage and fatality reports came in from across the city. The tally could rise as officials account for people who have been reported missing and as crews gain access to collapsed buildings.
Early reports suggested the explosion was triggered by a fire at a large fireworks warehouse. Some of the video recordings show what looked to be flashes of smaller explosions before the separate and much larger blast, which generated an enormous shock wave.
Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security, visited the blast site. He told Lebanese journalists that the explosion was likely powered by highly explosive materials that had been confiscated and stored at the port.
Prime Minister Diab said that the warehouse had been storing an estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, according to an account by President Michel Aoun.
The government has launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion.
In New York City, sex workers and their allies took to the streets Saturday for the Black Sex Worker Liberation March and Vigil. Among protesters’ demands were the decriminalization of sex work and a repeal of the so-called Walking While Trans ban, an anti-loitering and anti-sex-work law that activists and rights groups say is disproportionately used to attack trans people.
Sen. Kamala Harris is introducing a bill today to provide new funding for research and education on uterine fibroids, Refinery29 exclusively reports. New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, who has shared her own experience with having surgery as a result of fibroids, has led companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. July is Fibroids Awareness Month.
Uterine fibroids are usually non-cancerous growths that affect an estimated 26 million people in the U.S., and they are the leading cause for hysterectomies. Black women develop them earlier, have larger and greater numbers of fibroids, and experience more severe symptoms than white women.
“Complications from uterine fibroids can lead to maternal mortality and morbidity, an ongoing crisis, especially for Black women. We have an opportunity to change that with the Uterine Fibroids Research and Education Act. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Clarke to ensure that women get the care, support, and knowledge they need.”, Sen. Harris told Refinery29.
The proposed bill would: provide $30 million annually from 2021 to 2025 to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand uterine fibroids research, create a uterine fibroids public education program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expand and improve data collection on which groups are affected by uterine fibroids, and more.
St. Louis County’s prosecutor announced that he will not charge the former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell’s decision marked the third time prosecutors investigated and opted not to charge Darren Wilson, the white officer who fatally shot Brown, a Black 18-year-old, on Aug. 9, 2014. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Wilson in November 2014, and the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to charge him in March 2015.
A two-year battle over a Jamaican school’s loc ban has come to an end, with the country’s Supreme Court ruling that Kensington Primary School had every right to demand a 5-year-old to cut her hair in order to attend, according to The Jamaica Gleaner.
Parents, Dale and Sherine Virgo have remained steadfast in their refusal to cut their young daughter’s hair, and through their lawyer, Isat Buchanan, the couple said they plan to appeal the decision.
The Kingston-based school originally demanded the girl cut her hair for “hygiene” reasons, but her parents refused. The ruling is part of longstanding issues the country has with the Rastafarian community. While the Virgos themselves are not Rastafarians, their entire family has always had locs, and they said they plan to continue the tradition with their own children.