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Ethiopia's Tigray conflict is world's largest, lives lost in Colo. shooting: 5 Things podcast

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/22/2022 Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY
People visit a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. © Scott Olson, Getty Images People visit a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: The largest war in the world: Hundreds of thousands killed in Ethiopia's Tigray conflict

USA TODAY World Affairs Correspondent Kim Hjelmgaard explains. Plus, we remember those lost in the Colorado LGBTQ club shooting.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I'm Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Tuesday, the 22nd of November, 2022. Today an overlooked war, plus deep wounds in the LGBTQ community after the Colorado Springs shooting, and what a CEO shake up at Disney means for the company going forward.

The US and much of the world has been focused on Russia's invasion of Ukraine this year, but another bigger and deadlier war has been unfolding. Producer PJ Elliott caught up with USA TODAY World Affairs correspondent, Kim Hjelmgaard, to discuss Ethiopia's Tigray conflict.

Kim Hjelmgaard:

One of the difficulties in talking about this conflict is that it's extremely hidden from pretty much everyone outside of the region. The Ethiopian government has imposed this, basically a siege each of the whole area. It's been very difficult to get supplies in - essential supplies, food, gasoline, medicines. And that is one of the big reasons why the death estimates in this conflict are so high because people are actually dying of famine and for lack of medical care.

And then you have what is, by all accounts, a pretty aggressive tactic by the Ethiopian government forces to indiscriminately target civilian infrastructure. Similar to what we've seen the Russians do in Ukraine. And again, the death toll estimates on those are difficult to be absolutely certain on. Although there are experts, particularly a guy in Norway and some researchers in Belgium, who've tried to quantify these things.

And the ballpark estimates, there's a big range, but they range from as little or, which I say as little but it's actually a lot, as 350,000 people that have died over the last couple of years, to 600,000 people.

PJ Elliott:

That goes right into my next question, Kim, that if the death toll is so big, why don't we talk about this war on the same scale that we do for Ukraine and Russia?

Kim Hjelmgaard:

Yeah, that's an excellent question and it's one I've been thinking about myself the last few years. But in terms of why it hasn't been covered, I think extensively by US and Western mainstream media, one is a lack of access. Journalists just can't get in there.

I mean, some people may dispute this, I'm sure, but my two cents is there aren't really any core US national or European security interests in this region, like China, like Russia, like Iran and so on and so forth.

Taylor Wilson:

The man suspected of killing five people and injuring at least a dozen others at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado faces murder and hate crime charges. The 22-year-old is being held without bond and maybe charged with five counts of murder and five counts of a bias motivated crime causing bodily injury. The gunman was taken down by two people inside the club identified as Thomas Jane and Richard Fierro. Colorado Springs mayor, John Suthers, called them heroes.

John Suthers:

I had the opportunity before I came here today to talk to Richard Fierro, identified as one of the two heroes that subdued the suspect in this case. And in my opinion, and I think the opinion of everyone involved, saved a lot of lives. I have never encountered a person who had engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it. He simply said to me, "I was trying to protect my family."

Taylor Wilson:

Richard Fierro's wife said their daughter's boyfriend, 22 year old Raymond Green Vance, was killed in the attack. He was attending a friend's birthday. We've also learned identities of the others who were killed. Ashley Paugh leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter. Kelly Loving just celebrated a 40th birthday and recently moved to Colorado from Memphis. Derrick Rump was a bartender at Club Q where the shooting took place, as was Daniel Davis Aston.

The violence in Colorado is the latest reminder of how much work there is still to be done to protect the LGBTQ community from hate and violence. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation or GLAAD, aims to counter discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the media and to promote acceptance.

USA TODAY video producer Claire Hardwick and GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis sat down in the wake of the shooting to discuss how rhetoric leads to violence. And where things stand in the US and globally on LGBTQ safety.

Claire Hardwick:

It appears a suspect in the Club Q massacre is going to be charged with hate crimes. We've recently been seeing heightened rhetoric targeting the LGBTQ community on social media. At the same time, we're seeing an increase in crimes against the same community. Is a rhetoric to blame?

Sarah Kate Ellis:

Rhetoric drives violence. It is a very simple correlation. We can see it in real time. As you see the rhetoric on social media go up, you see the rhetoric around political candidates and elected officials go up. You see the hate crimes go up. An increase of 51% in one single year is unheard of. Unheard of. There is a direct correlation between hate speech and lies and disinformation and violence against our community.

Claire Hardwick:

What is GLAAD doing to help keep people safe on social media and how are you monitoring it?

Sarah Kate Ellis:

At GLAAD, we have a person who sits in the center for extremism at the ADL, which is the Anti-Defamation League. They're monitoring social media and connecting the dots between what's bubbling up on social media and what's happening in the real world. And making sure that law enforcement is informed of what's being said on these platforms. We also need government action. Hello, where's the government in all of this? How are they holding social media platforms accountable? How are they proposing and moving forward gun safety reform? We need everybody to come to the table and help our community at this moment in time.

Claire Hardwick:

Over the past year, we've seen an increase in hateful rhetoric and disinformation about trans brunches and drag events. Why have these events in particular been targeted?

Sarah Kate Ellis:

I want to point out also that Sunday was Trans Day of Remembrance, which is already one of the hardest days of the year for the trans community. To couple that now with a mass shooting is just horrifying. We through the media, need to introduce more people to more trans people. So that it's normalized, so that it doesn't feel like something that they don't understand or don't know.

It's just like what we did around marriage equality. When people got to know me and my wife, it didn't seem like there was a boogeyman in the closet. It was like, "Oh, right, you're our neighbor. You work with us, you have dinner with us." And so, I think that they're taking advantage of not a lot of Americans actually knowing trans folks. Because once you know a trans person, it doesn't make sense to you. You don't even understand why they're attacking this community so harshly.

Claire Hardwick:

The World Cup is being held in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal. FIFA threatened on field punishment for team captains who wanted to wear arm bands for the One Love Campaign. How does this impact the LGBTQ community, not just in America, but worldwide?

Sarah Kate Ellis:

Yeah, I mean, this is a challenge that we're facing all the time, which is that it's still illegal to be LGBTQ in 69 countries across the world. And in a small percentage of those countries, you could be put to death actually for being LGBTQ. This is a real global issue. And we've been working at GLAAD on a decriminalization plan to start to unwind a lot of this. And we're seeing more and more countries come on board.

Taylor Wilson:

Protests continue in Iran. And security forces used heavy gunfire against protestors in a town in the country's west yesterday, killing at least five. The incident sparked during an anti-government protest at the funeral of two people killed the day before. It's the latest example of Iranian authorities trying to crack down on protests that came out of the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She died while in the custody of the country's so-called morality police.

Meanwhile, high profile Iranians, both inside the country and abroad, are increasingly publicly supporting the protests. The New York Times reports that two well known actresses were arrested over the weekend for removing their headscarves. And maybe the most glaring example came yesterday when Iran debuted at the World Cup in Qatar. They got hammered on the pitch, losing to England six to two. But before the match kicked off, Iran's national team stood silently as the national anthem played. And some fans sang the pre-revolutionary anthem instead. According to a group in Iran called Human Rights activists, at least 426 people have been killed during the protests, along with at least 55 members of the security forces.

Bob Iger is back as CEO of Disney. The company's board replaced Bob Chapek with him on Sunday night. The surprise move comes after the company reported weaker than expected fourth quarter financial results. According to the Wall Street Journal. Still, the past year has been strong with record revenue and profits in several divisions. The company's theme park business in particular has rebounded well since pandemic shutdowns.

Bob Iger will now serve as Disney's CEO for two years as he works to find his successor. He previously led as the company's CEO from 2005 to 2020, closing deals to acquire Pixar, Lucas Film and 20th Century Fox. Those buys have also helped the company's streaming service thrive as one of the more successful platforms. But despite making huge subscriber gains, Disney+ is actually losing money, something Iger will be tasked with fixing. Disney's stock rose more than 6% during afternoon trading yesterday after the change.

AAA is estimating that more than 54 million people will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, while at least 4.5 million will be flying to their destination. That means germs will spread. Producer PJ Elliott spoke with USA TODAY health reporter Karen Weintraub to talk about how bad things could get this holiday season.

Karen Weintraub:

What folks are telling me is to take respiratory viruses seriously, and that means all three at the moment. COVID, the flu and RSV, which is a virus that mostly gives everybody a cold, but really can be serious for small children or older adults.

PJ Elliott:

Karen, here in Virginia, we are seeing COVID  flu and RSV pretty regularly, whether it's in the schools or in the office or wherever. How big of a concern is it that all three are hitting at the same time?

Karen Weintraub:

Yeah, I mean, it's potentially a big problem and it's also unexpected. Pediatric hospitals are overwhelmed right now because of the RSV cases. Flu is hitting again at the same time. COVID is still circulating. RSVs normally like in February, and it's already been bad for at least a month. The flu also tends to hit December/January, and it's been bad for a couple of weeks. And now half the states in the US are seeing high circulating levels of the flu.

PJ Elliott:

Karen, it appears that COVID cases are on the decline, but is that because of the latest booster or is it because people aren't testing at doctor's offices nearly as much as they used to?

Karen Weintraub:

Right. We really have no idea how many cases there are right now because most people are testing at home, if they're testing at all, and so that's not getting counted. There is no sense at this point at a national level. The only thing that's still giving us an indication are things like wastewater treatment.

In Massachusetts where I am, they test the wastewater. And levels seem to be a little bit lower than they have been. But still, we've got 300 people dying a day of COVID in this country, around 300, so it's not gone away for sure. We just don't know exactly what the transmission rate is at the moment.

Taylor Wilson:

You can follow along with more of Karen's work on Twitter, @kweintraub. And you can find new episodes of 5 Things every morning right here, wherever you're listening right now. I'll be back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ethiopia's Tigray conflict is world's largest, lives lost in Colo. shooting: 5 Things podcast

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