At Least 46 People Found Dead in Truck in Texas

Authorities in the southern U.S. state of Texas found 46 migrants dead inside a tractor-trailer truck Monday.

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters another 16 people were taken to the hospital for treatment of heat-related injuries, including four children.

The truck was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the southern outskirts of San Antonio. High temperatures in the city topped 39 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) Monday with high humidity.

San Antonio police said they could not yet say where the people inside the truck were from. Federal authorities were in charge of the investigation.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted that, according to the Mexican consul who went to the area, there were two Guatemalans among those taken to the hospital.

Ebrard said the trailer had U.S. license plates, and that the incident was highly likely the work of human traffickers.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg called the situation “nothing short of a horrific human tragedy.”

“It’s tragic,” Nirenberg told reporters. “There are, that we know of, 46 individuals who are no longer with us who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life.”

In 2017, 10 migrants died after being trapped in a tractor-trailer that San Antonio police discovered in a Walmart parking lot. The driver of that truck was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the smuggling operation.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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Supreme Court Cases That Have Shaped American Life

Since the U.S. Supreme Court first assembled in 1790, it has ruled on tens of thousands of cases. The court’s decisions have defined the country’s legal framework and shaped countless aspects of U.S. society. Here are some cases that had a large impact on American life.

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Ghana Hosts NFL’s First African Development Camp

The National Football League (NFL), the top league in American-style football, has hosted its first African developmental camp in Ghana’s capital, Accra. The weeklong program was aimed at finding fresh talent and building the sport’s popularity across Africa. Senanu Tord reports from Accra, Ghana.

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G-7 Assures Aid to Ukraine, Pain to Russia, as Russia Strikes Ukrainian Targets

Giving aid to Ukraine and pain to Vladimir Putin – those are the measures leaders of the world’s wealthiest liberal democracies zeroed in on Monday as they listened to Ukraine’s president plea for more help. VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell reports from Telfs, Austria.

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Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Hearing to Present New Evidence

The House Jan. 6 panel is calling a surprise hearing this week to present evidence it says it recently obtained, raising expectations of new bombshells in the sweeping investigation into the Capitol insurrection. 

The hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday comes after Congress left Washington for a two-week recess. Lawmakers on the panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection said last week that there would be no more hearings until July. 

The subject of the hearings is so far unclear. A spokesman for the panel declined to comment on its substance. 

The committee’s investigation has been ongoing during the hearings that started three weeks ago, and the nine-member panel has continued to probe the attack by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. Among other investigative evidence, the committee recently obtained new footage of Trump and his inner circle taken both before and after Jan. 6, 2021, from British filmmaker Alex Holder. 

Holder said last week that he had complied with a congressional subpoena to turn over all of the footage he shot in the final weeks of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, including exclusive interviews with Trump, his children and then-Vice President Mike Pence while on the campaign trail. The footage includes material from before the insurrection and afterward. 

It is uncertain if Holder’s footage is the subject of the hearing Tuesday, or if Holder himself will be there. Russell Smith, a lawyer for Holder, declined to comment. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chairman, told reporters last week that the committee was in possession of the footage and needed more time to go through the hours of video Holder had turned over. The British filmmaker came in for a deposition Thursday that lasted two hours, Smith said last week. 

Smith said then that it was Holder’s “civic duty” to come forward and that the footage had shown some inconsistencies with previous testimony during the hearings. 

The panel has held five hearings so far, mostly laying out Trump’s pressure campaign on various institutions of power in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress that eventually certified Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The committee detailed the pressure from Trump and his allies on Vice President Mike Pence, on the states that were certifying Biden’s win and on the Justice Department. 

The panel has used live interviews, video testimony of its private witness interviews and footage of the attack to detail what it has learned. 

Lawmakers said last week that the two July hearings would focus on domestic extremists who breached the Capitol that day and on what Trump was doing as the violence unfolded. 

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Nigerian Churches on Alert After Deadly Church Shooting

Nigerian churches are introducing armed security and entry searches after a deadly June 5 attack on a Catholic church blamed on the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). Security experts fear the attack in Nigeria’s southwest Ondo state means the threat of terrorism is spreading and could soon reach the capital. Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja.

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Nigerian Activists Encourage Young Concertgoers to Vote 

Hundreds of young people chanted joyously Saturday at a concert in Abuja, listening to some of Nigeria’s biggest music stars.

The concert was set up to encourage voter registration among young people. There were at least 50 registration points for attendees to either register or verify already existing voter cards.

The artists one after another took to the stage to serenade the crowd but with clear messages encouraging them to vote in elections early next year.

The initiative was organized by a joint team comprising of the European Union, Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Body or INEC, and civil society organizations to boost voter participation, especially among young people, which authorities say was below 20 percent in 2019.

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu says thousands of people signed up to vote at the concert.

“We’re still registering today but in five days, we registered over 14,000 Nigerians in this place alone,” Yakubu said. “We’ll not stop the registration until we’re satisfied that those who wish to register are given the opportunity.”

Young people constitute about 70% of Nigeria’s total population but youth participation in politics has been low.

People who registered at the concerts say successive governments have let the country down – and that’s why they want to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

Hamza Yusuf registered to vote during Saturday’s concert.

“You can see everybody coming out,” Yusuf said. “Basically, with concerts like this, it will help people want to get off their couches from their homes. We are all tired of how our governance is.”

Francis Atama also registered to vote at the concert.

“In the past there’s been high level of bad governance, and then the youths need inclusiveness in the government,” Atama said.

Samson Itodo, the executive director of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa), predicts young people will assume a greater role in Nigerian politics.

“Nigerian youths have made a bold statement that they have not lost hope in Nigeria,” Itodo said. “The crowd that you see here in their thousands is a demonstration of the fact that a lot of young people are very determined to cast their votes. There are over 10,000 people here today who have come to register.”

Presidential and National Assembly elections are slated for February 25 of next year, while governor and state assembly elections will take place in March.

 

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Abortion Rights Could Drive Democratic Voters to Polls in November

For decades, the contentious issue of abortion rights has motivated American voters from both parties. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn the 1973 decision guaranteeing women a constitutional right to abortion could have a defining impact on upcoming congressional midterm elections, when Democrats attempt to hold on to their narrow edge in the U.S. House and Senate.    

Midterm elections traditionally do not drive voter turnout in the same numbers as presidential elections. But recent polling suggests the overturn of the nearly 50-year-old law could motivate voters.   

A May poll from American news network CBS found that 40% of Democratic voters said they would be more likely to vote if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Forty-eight percent of Democratic voters said in a May Monmouth University poll that they were basing their vote on candidates’ positions on abortion rights.    

In the hours after the decision was handed down, sending the issue of legalizing abortion back to the state level, U.S. Democratic lawmakers warned this was just the beginning of the fight over reproductive rights.    

“We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land. We need to elect officials who will do that. This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot,” U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday.  

A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted after Friday’s announcement found 40% of the American public strongly disapprove of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave abortion laws up to states.   

Former U.S. President Donald Trump was elected partly on the strength of his campaign promise to nominate Supreme Court justices who opposed abortion rights. In a 2016 debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump said, “I am putting pro-life justices on the court — it will go back to the states.”   

He eventually nominated three Supreme Court associate justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. All three told lawmakers in their confirmation hearings that Roe v. Wade was the settled law of the land. All three were confirmed and eventually overturned the law, becoming the key votes in the decision. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday the overturn of Roe v. Wade was the direct result of the election of Trump and warned that Trump’s “Make America Great Again” wing of the Republican Party would result in further loss of reproductive rights if voters were not careful.    

“Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want nationwide abortion bans, the jailing of women and doctors, and no exemptions for rape or incest. Or elect more pro-choice Democrats to save Roe and protect a woman’s right to make their own decisions about their body, not politicians,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Friday that if Republicans gained control of Congress in November, they would move to even more serious action.   

“Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. They cannot be allowed to have a majority in the Congress to do that. But that’s their goal. This is deadly serious,” Pelosi said.    

But outside the Supreme Court on Friday, 23-year-old abortion rights supporter Anabelle (whose last name was withheld by request), told VOA that electoral politics was not the solution.    

“Even if we codify Roe, it’s pretty clear the Supreme Court is just going to rule it unconstitutional. So, I think in theory, Roe is on the ballot. In reality, it would require 60 Democratic senators who are willing to actually take action on cracking the code on ending the filibuster on making sure that this is here to stay,” she said.  

Various public opinion polls show that about 70% of Americans support legalized abortion in some form. But some analysts say the Democratic Party needs to do a better job of developing an action plan.    

“There is this sort of fantasy of the apathetic, young voter who won’t turn up for midterms,” Sarah Clarke Kaplan, director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, told VOA. “But I think that really one of the things that we’ve seen in years is that actually what affects the turnout of young voters is how much they feel they are represented by the progressive bent of the Democratic Party.”  

She added, “We’re going to have to first see on the level of political parties a kind of progressive actionable stance around what the Democratic Party’s response plans to be for maintaining access to abortion for young people and for all people.” 

On the Republican side, the path forward is clearer. On Friday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said the overturn of Roe v. Wade was the result of decades of hard work but added, “The work just begins now to go and protect life even more, because the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, correcting that flawed decision, finally allows states and Congress to protect life in ways that we never were able to for the last 50 years.”    

Anna Lulis, a digital engagement strategist for Students for Life of America, said outside the Supreme Court on Friday that this is the right approach.  

“I think it’s super important to push pro-life legislation. What you’re going to see with a post-Roe America is probably a polarization among the states. You’re going to have some states ban abortion, and then you’re going to have some states probably push radical pro-abortion laws. So, what we need to do, and what we hope to do, is go to those states, those radical pro-abortion laws, and educate them about the issue of abortion. But also, and hopefully, encourage them to push, eventually, pro-life legislation by cultivating a culture of life,” Lulis said. 

 

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