Saudi Arabia: Regime frees American political prisoner

Source: The Hill

“Saudi Arabia has freed dual Saudi-U.S. citizen Saad Ibrahim Almadi more than a year after he was arrested for tweets critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 72-year-old, who had been living as a retiree in Florida, was arrested while visiting family in Saudi Arabia back in 2021 and sentenced to 16 years in prison over tweets posted while in the U.S., where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, over the span of seven years, according to his son. The Saudi government has argued that Almadi’s critical tweets about the kingdom’s leadership constituted terrorism, and he was also accused of failing to report terrorism over tweets posted by his son, Ibrahim.” (03/21/23)

Nigeria: Ruling party wins majority of states in local election

Source: Yahoo! News

“Nigeria’s ruling party has won the majority of governorships contested in last weekend’s elections, results showed Tuesday, following a ballot marred by violence, intimidation and vote buying. Elections were held to choose governors in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states and state assembly lawmakers. Governors in the remaining eight states had earlier been chosen in by-elections due to court rulings. The local elections came three weeks after the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, won a presidential ballot that rivals said was massively rigged.” (03/21/23)

Canada: City of Regina sorry for “sexualized” ads

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“The tourism organisation for Regina, Canada, has apologised after critics claimed its new advertising campaign ‘sexualised’ the city. A series of new slogans leaned into the city’s double-entendre name — with taglines such as ‘show us your Regina’ and ‘the city that rhymes with fun.’ Some residents said it was immature and belittling to women. Experience Regina apologised on Sunday, saying the rebrand crossed a line and created ‘negative impact.’ … Amid a growing backlash, the agency released a further statement on Monday saying it will involve more diverse stakeholders in the decision-making process in future.” [editor’s note: Now that is creative marketing; I guess the Knack had disbanded? – SAT] (03/21/23)

Judge: JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank must face lawsuits over Jeffrey Epstein ties

Source: CNN Business

“JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank must face lawsuits that accuse them of enabling Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking, a US judge said Monday. The decision by US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan could expose the banks to additional financial and reputational damage for keeping Epstein as a client, even after the late financier registered as a sex offender. In a six-paragraph order, Rakoff said JPMorgan must face a lawsuit by the US Virgin Islands accusing it of missing red flags about Epstein’s abuse of women on Little St. James, a private island he owned there. … Rakoff’s decision gives the plaintiffs a chance to prove another claim: that JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank (DB)knowingly benefited from involvement in Epstein’s sex trafficking. The women can now also try to show that the banks were negligent and obstructed enforcement of a federal anti-trafficking law.” (03/21/23)

Haiti: Gang wars have claimed more than 530 lives this year alone, UN says

Source: CBS News

“More than 530 people have been killed this year in gang violence in Haiti, the United Nations said Tuesday, with many killed by snipers shooting victims at random. The U.N. human rights office said it was concerned that extreme violence was spiraling out of control in Haiti. … Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, has been gripped by a worsening political and economic crisis since the July 2021 assassination of president Jovenel Moise, and gangs [other than the regime] now control more than half the country’s territory.” (03/21/23)

GA: Senate sends healthcare restrictions to governor

Source: US News & World Report

“A bill banning most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies in Georgia for transgender people under 18 is headed to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk after senators gave it final passage on Tuesday. Senators voted 31-21 along party lines with Republicans pushing through Senate Bill 140, despite impassioned pleas from Democrats and LGBTQ advocates against what has become the most fiercely contested bill of Georgia’s 2023 legislative session. It’s part of a nationwide effort by conservatives to restrict transgender athletes, gender-affirming care and drag shows. Governors in Mississippi, Utah and South Dakota have signed similar bills. Missouri’s Senate on Tuesday advanced a pair of bills to prohibit gender transitioning health care treatments for minors and restrict them from competing in sports.” (03/21/23)

US home sales spike 14.5% in February as the median price drops for the first time in over a decade

Source: NBC News

“Sales of previously owned homes rose 14.5% in February compared with January, according to a seasonally adjusted count by the National Association of Realtors. That put sales at an annualized rate of 4.58 million units. It was the first monthly gain in 12 months and the largest increase since July 2020, just after the start of the Covid pandemic. Sales were, however, 22.6% lower than they were in February of last year. … Higher mortgage rates have been cooling home prices since last summer, and for the first time in a record 131 consecutive months — nearly 11 years — prices were lower on a year-over-year comparison.” (03/21/23)

Critics Warn Another Fed Rate Hike Would Be “Straw That Breaks the Camel’s Back”

Source: Common Dreams

“Federal Reserve policymakers convened Tuesday for a two-day meeting that will culminate in a decision with major implications for the U.S. and global economies, which have been jarred by recent banking sector chaos and growing fears of a broader financial crisis. The Fed is widely, though not universally, expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday despite concerns that the central bank’s tightening of monetary policy over the past year is at least partially responsible for the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a top lender to tech startups and venture capital firms. Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, warned Tuesday that another rate increase would be a huge mistake with potentially devastating consequences that will fall most heavily on vulnerable workers.” [editor’s note: Nice to see “progressives” waking up to this at long last – SAT] (03/21/23)

CA: Massive strike shuts down LA daycare / day-prison system, freeing 420,000

Source: Los Angeles Times

“A massive three-day strike planned by the majority of Los Angeles public school employees — bus drivers, teachers, custodians and others — kicked off early Tuesday, with picketers marching through the dark, rainy morning. Hundreds of school employees, many among the lowest-paid, joined the picket line before 5 a.m. at the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Van Nuys bus yard, marching in ponchos and balancing signs with their umbrellas. … Other strikers have taken to the picket line at many school sites throughout the sprawling district. … Last-minute efforts Monday failed to avoid the strike that shut down Los Angeles public schools, [temporarily freeing] some 420,000 children and their families in the nation’s second-largest school system.” (03/21/23)

SCOTUS rules for deaf student in education case

Source: Houston Chronicle

“The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday for a deaf student who sued his public school system for providing an inadequate education. The case is significant for other disabled students who allege they were failed by school officials. The case the justices ruled in involves Miguel Luna Perez, who attended public school in Sturgis, Michigan. Perez’s lawyers told the court that for 12 years the school system neglected the boy and lied to his parents about the progress he was making, permanently stunting his ability to communicate. The justices ruled that after Perez and his family settled a complaint against the school system — with officials agreeing to pay for additional schooling and sign language instruction — they could pursue money damages under a different federal law.” (03/21/23)