news·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Ethiopia's Ceasefire, SCOTUS on Bathrooms, and US Olympic teams

Ambulances of Red Cross arrive with patients who were injured in their town Togoga in a deadly airstrike on a market
Getty Images
Jun 29, 2021


The Story

Ethiopia's government has declared a ceasefire.

That's good news, right?

It could be. For nearly eight months, Ethiopia's Tigray region has seen major conflict. Back in November, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military operation in the region. He said it was revenge against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) – a regional ruling party – for attacking a military base. Ahmed's forces deployed to the north en masse and took over the regional capital, Mekele, with the help of soldiers from neighboring Eritrea. Then things went from bad to worse.

What do you mean?

In recent weeks, the fighting reached a fever pitch. A few days ago, an Ethiopian military airstrike on a busy market left at least 64 people dead. Three workers from Doctors Without Borders were killed in a separate incident. Then, the TPLF took back Mekele, ousting gov soldiers. Overall, thousands were killed. More than 1.7 million have been displaced. And at least 350,000 are facing famine. But with few members of the press or humanitarian groups allowed in, it's possible the numbers are higher. But now, after mounting pressure from international leaders, Ethiopia's gov declared an immediate unilateral ceasefire.

What does it do?

The gov said the main goal of the ceasefire is to give farmers time to recoup as the region heads towards famine. It could last through Tigray's planting season in September. And would also give aid groups room (and time) to help. But TPLF fighters have yet to confirm the news. The UN said it's "hopeful" that the hostilities will come to an end. Especially since several groups (like Amnesty International) reported the violence amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, new tensions could flare as the country waits for the results of its much delayed elections.


With the ceasefire, aid groups may now be able to give civilians some much-needed help. But it's not clear if the country's headed towards peace, or if the atrocities will continue.

And Also...This

What's saying so much by saying so little…

SCOTUS. Yesterday, the high court refused to hear a Virginia school board's case to bring back its transgender bathroom ban. In 2015, then-high school student Gavin Grimm, who is transgender, sued his school after they banned him from using the boys' bathroom. The school board said he could instead use a private bathroom or the girls' bathroom. Grimm said the restriction "severely interfered" with his education and that he felt humiliated. Lower courts agreed that the bathroom ban violated Title IX, which prohibits schools from discriminating "on the basis of sex." Now, the Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case means the lower court's ruling is upheld – giving Grimm a win.

  • Viewpoints: Grimm said he's happy the legal fight is over. The ACLU also applauded the court's action. SCOTUS didn't say why they rejected the case. But Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito had voted to hear it out.

...Oh and speaking of LGBTQ+ rights, California added five more states (FL, MT, WV, AR, ND) to its state-funded travel ban over their anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Who's calling out racism globally…

The UN's human rights chief. Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a landmark report calling on all countries to fight systemic racism. The report was ordered last year after George Floyd's murder – which sparked racial justice protests in the US and across the globe. It found that at least 190 Black people have died at the hands of law enforcement in the past decade, mostly in the US. And that racism is still a universal problem. Now, the UN says this needs to be addressed ASAP. And suggests things like reparations, restitution, apologies, memorialization, and "guarantees" that Black citizens will no longer face injustice because of the color of their skin.

Where things are getting hotter…

Canada and the Pacific Northwest. This week, the region is experiencing a heat wave as temps break records (think: Portland and British Columbia to spiked nearly 116°F). This comes weeks after the Western US (including in parts of California, Arizona, and Nevada) were hit with a record-breaking drought. But much of the PNW isn't used to record-breaking highs and ACs aren't found too frequently there. Seattle city officials are reportedly urging people to head to cooling centers. And the CDC recommends drinking fluids, taking cool showers, wearing loose clothing, and finding air-conditioned buildings to stay cool. And to beware of symptoms of heatstroke.

  • Could it be?: Experts are pointing to climate change as the culprit behind rising temps (and utility bills). It comes as the world's experiencing more intense heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, and forest fires. And it could even affect your health.

PS: Scientists are ringing the alarm on climate change. Here's why this year's drought in the Western US is historic.

Who's got people jumping through hoops…

Those who made the US Olympic teams.

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