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HeadlinesDecember 24, 2014

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Missouri Police Kill Black Teen Near Ferguson

Dec 24, 2014

Police in Missouri have fatally shot an 18-year-old black man just two miles from Ferguson, where an officer killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown earlier this year. The victim has been identified as Antonio Martin. Police say Martin had pulled a gun on an officer who was conducting a routine check on a gas station. A woman identified as Martin’s mother said her son was with his girlfriend.

Unidentified: “No, they’re not telling me nothing. No. … [The girlfriend] told me that they was walking to the — they went to the store, they was walking somewhere. They was walking. And the police — I guess he started to run or something, and the police started shooting.”

The mother says she was told her son was shot as he tried to run away. Protesters gathered at the scene of the shooting overnight, leading to three arrests.

Protesters Defy NYC Mayor’s Call for Halt to Protests Following Officer Murders

Dec 24, 2014

The shooting in Missouri comes as protesters in New York City have ignored a call to suspend demonstrations following the killings of two NYPD officers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had asked demonstrators for a pause until after the funerals of ambushed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. On Tuesday, a crowd of several hundred marched through midtown Manhattan to protest police brutality and racial profiling.

Eric Josephson: “Some cops have been shot, apparently by a crazed individual. It is necessary not to let that action become the face of this whole series of events, because it’s still young black men that are taking a beating and getting shot.”

Earlier in the day, Mayor de Blasio led a moment of silence for the two officers at City Hall.

Family Calls for Federal Probe After Houston Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Black Man

Dec 24, 2014

In Houston, the shooting death of another unarmed African American by a police officer has led to another non-indictment. On Tuesday, a grand jury cleared Houston police officer Juventino Castro for the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Jordan Baker. Castro was off-duty and working as a private security guard when he shot and killed Baker in January. Castro says he tried to stop Baker at a mall with a recent history of break-ins, and claims Baker charged at him after the two got into a confrontation. Baker was unarmed. At the courthouse, activist Deric Muhammad and Jordan Baker’s mother, Janet Baker, denounced the non-indictment.

Deric Muhammad: “Welcome to Ferguson, Texas. Out of 93 police killings, there have not been one indictment.”

Janet Baker: “I was hopeful. I’ve always stated that I believe in God. A wise person, friend said, justice delayed is not justice denied. When your child leaves and goes three blocks away from home, three blocks away from home, you expect him to come back.”

Activists in Houston have organized for a city-wide protest next Monday. The Baker family is calling for a federal investigation like those in other recent unpunished police killings of unarmed African Americans — Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Milwaukee’s Dontre Hamilton. On Tuesday, a group of Milwaukee protesters staged a “die-in” at a local mall. They lay on the ground and read out loud 14 reasons why black lives matter — 14 is the number of times Dontre Hamilton was shot.

FDA Eases Lifetime Ban on Blood Donations by Gay, Bisexual Men

Dec 24, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is easing a longtime ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men. Men who have had sex with other men have been barred from giving blood since the dawn of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. The new rules will end the lifetime deferral period but continue to bar donations from any man who’s had sex with another within the previous 12 months. Advocacy groups have campaigned for years to end the lifetime ban, saying it has no scientific reasoning. But many say the new one-year ban still falls short. In a statement, the group AIDS United called the policy change a “step forward,” but said it “continues to perpetuate discrimination against gay and bisexual men.” Saying it was “extremely disappointed,” the group Equality California said: “This revised policy would continue to discriminate against gay and bisexual men with low risk factors based on their sexual orientation and would continue to unnecessarily prevent countless gay and bisexual men from making life-saving donations to the nation’s blood supply.”

Obama Admin Envoy for Guantánamo Closure Resigns

Dec 24, 2014

The Obama administration’s envoy for the effort to close Guantánamo Bay has resigned. Clifford Sloan, a Washington lawyer, headed the State Department’s Office of Guantánamo Closure for 18 months.

GOP Rep. Grimm Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud, Won’t Resign

Dec 24, 2014

Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York has pleaded guilty to tax fraud –- but says he will not resign. On Tuesday, Grimm entered a guilty plea on a single charge of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return at his New York City fast-food health restaurant, Healthalicious. As part of a plea deal, Grimm admitted to hiding over $900,000 in revenue and lying during a deposition. Outside the courtroom, Grimm told reporters he will keep his House seat after taking responsibility for his wrongdoing.

Rep. Michael Grimm: “If you do something wrong, you can never fully get passed it until you accept responsibility for it. And that’s what I’m doing, taking full responsibility so that I can close this chapter in my life. I under-reported the gross sales receipts of the restaurant to pay business expenses, including payroll for employees that were off the books. It’s wrong. I should not have done it and I am truly sorry for it.”

Sony Gives “The Interview” Christmas Release at Independent Theaters

Dec 24, 2014

The movie studio Sony will be releasing the controversial comedy “The Interview” after all. The film’s release was canceled last week following threats against theaters and a hack of Sony’s corporate data. The Obama administration blamed North Korea for targeting Sony in response to the film’s plot, which revolves around a CIA effort to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Many experts have questioned the evidence of North Korean responsibility, and the United States rejected North Korea’s demand for a joint probe. On Tuesday, Sony said “The Interview” will be screened on Christmas Day at independent theaters around the country after major chains bowed out. These include the State Theater, owned by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in Traverse City, Michigan.

U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Takes Effect; U.S. Hasn’t Ratified

Dec 24, 2014

The world’s first-ever treaty regulating the global arms trade has taken effect. The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty legally enters force today following its approval last year. It subjects exporters in the $85 billion global weaponry industry to strict criteria in an effort to prevent acts of genocide or terrorism. The United States is the world’s largest weapons exporter. It signed the treaty last year, but the Senate has not yet ratified it. In a statement, the group Oxfam celebrated the treaty’s implementation, saying: “The Arms Trade Treaty will transform the global arms business. … It will no longer be acceptable to look the other way when arms are transferred to regimes that will use them to harm innocent people and violate their human rights.”

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