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Sara Pennington, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, 606-276-9933
Late Tuesday, regional and national organizations
challenged a decision by the federal Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to
allow the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) to waive federal debt
obligations and seek private financing for a new 278-MW coal-fired power
plant at the J.K Smith Power Station in Clark County, Kentucky. The
Sierra Club and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth are represented by
Earthjustice in this matter.
"This is people saying that we want change," said one observer. "They want change, and they could achieve it."
Thai voters turned out in record numbers on Sunday to reject a decade of military rule and deliver what was seen as a stunning upset for Move Forward, a youth-backed pro-democracy party that is poised to win the most seats in Thailand's House of Representatives.
Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward's leader, said Sunday that he is prepared to succeed 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as Thailand's prime minister, and the progressive party has agreed to hold coalition talks with Pheu Thai, the other major opposition party.
As for Thailand's military-aligned parties, they were "handed a sweeping defeat," reported the Financial Times, "with the United Thai Nation party, a vehicle for incumbent Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, receiving only 36 constituency seats."
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, toldThe Washington Post that the election results were "breathtaking," adding that Move Forward "has taken this election by storm" after the party made a surprise surge past Pheu Thai, propelled by massive support from young voters.
"A political earthquake," Thitinan added.
But the opposition's bid to lead Thailand and challenge the country's dominant institutions—the army and the monarchy—will be complicated by the junta-authored constitution, which allows the military to appoint the entire 250-member Senate. (Thailand's military has received consistent support from the U.S. even as it has engaged in what one rights group called "unending repression.")
The military-controlled Senate and the 500-member House are tasked with choosing a prime minister. Move Forward and Pheu Thai are expected to win a combined 292 seats in the House, leaving Pita shy of the 376 votes needed to become prime minister.
During a press conference on Monday, Pita said Thailand's other opposition parties have agreed to help form a majority coalition government.
"To go against the will of the people will not benefit anyone," said Pita.
\u201cYouth-led Move Forward Party takes a stunning lead as Thai voters say a resounding no to military-royalist elite https://t.co/dJdOHd3sXC\u201d— Al Jazeera English (@Al Jazeera English) 1684139914
The final results of Sunday's high-stakes election are set to be released in the coming weeks, and there is concern among opposition parties that ruling elites could tamper with the outcome—a move that would likely spark mass protests. In 2020, large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations were met with a harsh crackdown by Thai authorities.
The Associated Pressreported Monday that "Move Forward's Pita is a possible target for what the opposition, from bitter experience, calls dirty tricks."
A candidate with Palang Pracharath, a right-wing pro-military party, "filed a complaint with the Election Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission claiming Pita failed to list a stock shareholding on a statutory assets declaration," AP noted.
"Pita denied any wrongdoing in the minor, technical claim," the outlet continued. "However, the leader of the Future Forward Party, forerunner of Move Forward, lost his Parliament seat on similar technical grounds. His party, also considered a radical challenge to the military-backed royalist establishment, was dissolved."
The Guardian's Rebecca Ratcliffe noted ahead of Sunday's contest that Pita "has promised to push military generals back to the barracks—a pledge that resonates with young people who have already lived through two military coups, in 2006 and 2014."
"He has also promised to break up powerful monopolies that dominate the Thai economy, and reform the lèse-majesté law, under which criticism of the monarchy can be punished with up to 15 years in prison," Ratcliffe wrote. "Move Forward is the only party to make a clear commitment to reform the law; conservative parties all fiercely oppose doing so."
Move Forward also campaigned on a $13 daily minimum wage—up from roughly $10—and legalizing same-sex marriage.
"This is people saying that we want change," Saowanee T. Alexander, a professor at Ubon Ratchathani University in northeastern Thailand, said following Sunday's election. "They are saying that they could no longer take it. The people are very frustrated. They want change, and they could achieve it."
Neither the incumbent nor his main rival has secured the majority of votes needed to avoid a runoff election in two weeks.
Whether Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, maintains power remains an open question as officials continue to count votes following Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections.
Tens of millions of people cast ballots in the pivotal election before polls closed at 5:00 pm local time. Preliminary results indicate that Erdoğan of the right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) holds a dwindling lead over Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who heads the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP) and is the joint candidate of a six-party opposition coalition.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reports that Erdoğan is beating Kılıçdaroğlu by a margin of 49.56% to 44.71% with nearly 95% of votes counted. The private Anka news agency, meanwhile, reports that Erdoğan is ahead of Kılıçdaroğlu, 49.24% to 45.04%, with just over 98% of votes counted. Two other candidates have garnered support from a small percentage of voters.
As expected, the incumbent jumped out to an early lead as votes in his conservative central heartland were among the first counted, but his main challenger has gained ground as the tally proceeds in big cities and coastal areas. It may take up to three days for official results to be confirmed. If no candidate wins over 50% of first-round ballots, the top two vote-getters will compete again in a head-to-head runoff scheduled for May 28. Both Erdoğan and Kılıçdaroğlu's camps have acknowledged that this is an increasingly likely outcome.
Muharrem İnce, a former CHP member who dropped out of the contest just days ago, has received roughly 0.4% of the vote. Far-right nationalist candidate Sinan Oğan has secured about 5.3%, making him a potential kingmaker in the event the race goes to a second round.
Reporting of the results has proven controversial. Earlier on Sunday evening, when it was reported that Erdoğan had a substantial lead, opposition figures accused state-run media of deceiving the public and claimed that Kılıçdaroğlu is winning.
"Anadolu Agency is doing its traditional manipulation for the last time," said CHP spokesperson Faik Oztrak. "We ask our citizens to follow our statements."
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a CHP member who took office in 2019, also slammed the outlet. Citing similar actions in past elections, he said: "We are experiencing another Anadolu Agency case. The agency's reputation is below zero. They should not be trusted. Anadolu's data is null and void."
Imamoglu was echoed by Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas, another CHP member elected in 2019, who said: "They mislead our nation by running the ballot boxes that work for them. They do not feel ashamed either. They have no credibility... According to the data we have, our President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is ahead."
Omer Celik, a spokesperson for the ruling AKP rebuked the opposition for criticizing Anadolu.
According to Progressive International: "AKP has challenged many votes in precincts where they are trailing all over the country. If these challenges are unfounded, it will delay the counting process several hours. This means we could see a late surge for opposition parties."
The group, which sent an election observation delegation to Turkey, sounded the alarm about possible dirty tricks being carried out on behalf of Erdoğan.
\u201cURGENT \ud83c\uddf9\ud83c\uddf7: The @ProgIntl electoral observers urge patience until every vote is counted. We are alarmed that the Supreme Election Council\u2019s website is down, reporting has slowed in regions with opposition support, and allegations of final result manipulation continue to grow.\u201d— Progressive International (@Progressive International) 1684091486
\u201c\ud83c\uddf9\ud83c\uddf7 In the Kurdish city Diyarbak\u0131r, where the opposition is predicted to receive a high percentage of votes, officials from the Higher Election Council are slowing down the process, and poll workers are waiting for the results to be certified.\n\nhttps://t.co/BZmQZcOTTW\u201d— Progressive International (@Progressive International) 1684093938
According toAl Jazeera correspondent Abdelazeem Mohammed, the election is "most likely heading to a second round."
"The opposition is saying that the ruling alliance... deliberately started the vote count in its strongholds," said Mohammed.
Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from CHP headquarters in Ankara, said the party is feeling "more and more confident" as the additional ballots are tallied and Erdoğan's initial lead shrinks.
"CHP, along with the opposition coalition, is looking forward to increasing numbers in major cities, and that the numbers in Istanbul and Ankara could be [a] strong indication that they are going to go to a runoff," said Ahelbarra.
"In 2022, they put together this coalition from all walks of life with different affiliations," Ahelbarra explained. "The reason why they did this was to consolidate gains because they know that the AKP, with the leadership of Erdoğan for the past 20 years, makes it extremely difficult for them to win the elections."
Speaking from Istanbul, political analyst Cengiz Tomar toldAl Jazeera that "the results so far spell out a great failure for the opposition."
"The results so far do not align at all with the sociological make-up of the Turkish people, where 35% of them are religious, conservative, and on the right, and the remaining 65% are secular and Kurdish," he said.
Ahead of the election, polling data gave Kılıçdaroğlu a slight lead and also suggested that Erdoğan’s governing coalition, led by the AKP, could lose its majority in parliament.
In the run-up to Sunday, however, human rights groups warned that Erdoğan’s right-wing government would "exert considerable control over the digital ecosystem in an effort to undermine the outcome," and there is fresh reporting of "foul play" on the day of the election.
Erdoğan has ruled Turkey for the past two decades, first as prime minister from 2003 to 2014 and as president since 2014. Before he was reelected in 2018, Erdoğan convinced enough Turkish voters to approve constitutional changes that transformed the nation's parliamentary system into a highly centralized presidential regime with few checks and balances.
Erdoğan "fell behind in the polls as voters react to the results of 20 years of his rule, including a brutal economic crisis that caused the lira to devalue by half last year alone and soaring inflation," The Guardianreported Sunday. "Criticism of his government increased after a slow and patchy state response to deadly twin earthquakes in the country's southeast that killed more than 50,000 people and destroyed homes and infrastructure across 11 provinces."
Progressives have argued that a Kılıçdaroğlu victory is necessary to revive Turkey's economy, restore its democracy, and protect women's rights, among other goals.
"If we don't act now, it will be too late," one mom warned. "I could not live with myself, as a mother, as a doctor, and as a human being, if we didn't do all we can to try and bring about the much-needed systemic change."
From Australia to Zimbabwe, mothers on Saturday peacefully occupied public spaces and called for urgent societal transformation to avert the worst impacts of the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency.
Joined by loved ones on the eve of Mother's Day, moms across the globe sat down in protest circles, where they highlighted the deadly consequences of the status quo and demanded lifesaving climate action.
"With our circles we convey that we refuse to look away, that we refuse to give up, and that we will do everything we can," Mother's Rebellion for Climate Justice said in a statement.
Participants made clear that children and impoverished people who bear the least responsibility for the climate crisis face the most harm, and that failing to fundamentally reform the global political economy threatens to decimate younger and future generations.
"Children are feeling betrayed because they see that governments are not doing enough, or are actively delaying meaningful climate action."
"Children are feeling betrayed because they see that governments are not doing enough, or are actively delaying meaningful climate action," said Marion, a mother and member of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion (Health for XR). "Those that are meant to protect and safeguard them, are ignoring and turning their backs on the children in this country, and on the children in the Global South who are already facing the impacts of a heating climate, as well as the fallout from environmental destruction and exploitation of resources."
"If we don't act now, it will be too late," Marion warned. "I could not live with myself, as a mother, as a doctor, and as a human being, if we didn't do all we can to try and bring about the much-needed systemic change."
Mothers' Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion launched last year in Sweden, describes itself as "a growing global community of women who want to be able to look our children in the eyes and say that we truly do all that we can." Fed up with "the lack of a powerful, transformative response from our politicians and leaders," the alliance "will not give up the fight for a sustainable present and future for the current and coming generations."
On Saturday, moms gathered in more than a dozen countries on every continent except Antarctica to build support for "the necessary changes to keep our planet healthy so that all its inhabitants can thrive," Extinction Rebellion Families (XR Families) explained.
Demonstrations took place in Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, India, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
\u201cGlobal #MothersDay "Mothers Rebellion"! Demands climate action across six continents. \nAll photos c/o @ExtinctionR \nhttps://t.co/yXO3mxm6lc\u201d— Antonia Juhasz (@Antonia Juhasz) 1684079271
"My heart aches when I think about the extreme heatwaves and devastating floods that my relatives in Malaysia have endured over the past few months," said Feng, a mother of two and member of XR Families. "It's not just about my family, but the countless others who are facing the brunt of climate change. That's why I will be at the Mothers' Rebellion, fighting for a livable planet for today’s children and all future generations. We owe it to them to take action now, before it's too late."
Kristine, a mother and member of Health for XR, said that "as healthcare professionals, it is our duty to identify and act on risks to children."
"As a mother and doctor, I cannot sit silently and watch this injustice to children across the world."
"Currently 85% of the burden of climate health impacts is falling on those under 5 years of age," said Kristine. "These health impacts include malnutrition, heat exposure, water scarcity, infectious diseases such as malaria and Lyme disease, and high levels of air pollution causing worsening asthma and childhood cancers."
"I am seeing these devastating impacts on children in my daily work, even in the U.K.," she continued. "As a mother and doctor, I cannot sit silently and watch this injustice to children across the world and that's why I will be at the Mothers' Rebellion and demand urgent climate action from world leaders."
According to XR Families:
Mothers' Rebellion wants a livable, socially just, inclusive world for all children. Almost all children on Earth are already exposed to at least one form of climate and environmental danger or stress. Mothers' Rebellion demand immediate action to reduce emissions to net-zero by 2025, starting with the phase-out of fossil fuels, and to protect and repair ecosystems whilst also addressing social inequality.
Approximately one billion children—nearly half the world’s 2.2 billion children—live in one of the 33 countries classified as [being at] "extremely high-risk" to the effects of climate change. These figures are likely to get worse as the impacts of climate change accelerate. The climate crisis is also affecting children's mental health. A global survey illustrates the depth of anxiety many young people are feeling about climate change. Nearly 60% of young people approached said they felt very worried or extremely worried. 83% think adults have failed to take care of the planet.
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health is calling for child health to be a central theme in all climate change policy decisions. All children should have the right to clean air, safe water, sanitation, affordable and nutritious food, and shelter. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, and governments should mobilize and allocate resources to protect those rights and include a child rights risk assessment as part of all climate policy decisions.
"I consider the crowning glory of my life to be in the presence of my four grandchildren," said Valerie, a retired doctor and Health XR member. "How, in my late autumn years, can I justify my existence on this beautiful planet if it is not dedicated to whatever action I trust may play a part in preserving it and its glorious biodiversity—for them and all the world's children, born and yet to be?"
"Nothing else in my life can take precedence over this," Valerie continued. "Science does not lie. I call upon all grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and friends, older siblings, and those who work with young people in this ultimate expression of love for them—and for their children."
"Without a habitable planet, what value has everything else we may wish to bequeath to them?" she asked.