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HeadlinesAugust 18, 2014

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Autopsy: Michael Brown Shot 6 Times, Twice in Head

Aug 18, 2014

A private autopsy has found that Michael Brown, the African-American teenager killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot at least six times. Brown was shot twice in the head and four times in the arm, with all bullets appearing to enter from the front. On Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy following uproar over local authorities’ handling of the case.

Missouri Governor Orders National Guard into Ferguson as Protests Flare

Aug 18, 2014

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered the National Guard into Ferguson today after another night of protests over Michael Brown’s death. For the past two nights police have tried to enforce a five-hour curfew starting at midnight. On Sunday night, police fired tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets in an attempt to clear the streets before the curfew began. The police fired into a crowd that included parents with their children. Police accused some protesters of throwing Molotov cocktails and trying to overrun the police command center.

Ferguson Police Stoke Anger with Release of Unrelated Shoplifting Video

Aug 18, 2014

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people packed the Greater Grace Church for a rally attended by Michael Brown’s parents. Brown’s cousin Ty Pruitt addressed the crowd.

Ty Pruitt: “He was not an animal. But that’s how he was killed. This [puts hands in the air, audience says, 'Hands up, don't shoot!'] was the last actions that our family member made before he went to rest. This [puts hands in the air] will be stuck in my family's memories for the rest of our lives.”

Community outrage grew over the weekend after the Ferguson police named the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, after withholding his identity for five days. But in naming Wilson, the police also released video footage showing a young man who appeared to be Michael Brown shoplifting a box of cigarillos from a convenience store. The Ferguson police released the video while continuing to withhold all other details about Brown’s killing, including how many times he was shot and the incident report from the shooting. In disclosing the video, the police appeared to suggest Brown may have been stopped as a suspect in the shoplifting. But hours later, Ferguson police admitted the officer did not know about the incident and had stopped Brown solely for walking in the middle of the street. On Sunday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he opposed the video’s release.

Gov. Jay Nixon: “We in our security team and the Highway Patrol did not know that was going to be released. I don’t think the attorney general knew that. And quite frankly, we disagree deeply, I think, for two reasons. Number one, to attempt to, in essence, disparage the character of this victim in the middle of a process like this is not right. It’s just not right. And secondarily, it did put the community and, quite frankly, the region and the nation on alert again. These are old wounds. These are deep wounds in these communities, and that action was not helpful.”

Kurdish Forces Advance as U.S. Launches Most Strikes of Northern Iraq Bombing Campaign

Aug 18, 2014

The United States has intensified its bombing of Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. The Pentagon says it carried out 14 strikes on Sunday in a bid to help Kurdish forces retake the Mosul Dam. It was the most extensive U.S. bombing since President Obama ordered strikes on ISIL fighters more than a week ago. Kurdish forces say the strikes have helped their advance and that parts of the dam are now under their control. Over the weekend, Obama notified Congress of the Mosul Dam strikes, citing his duties under the War Powers Resolution.

Iraqi Officials: ISIL Executed Yazidis Who Refused Conversion

Aug 18, 2014

The Iraqi government is claiming Islamic State fighters have committed a massacre of Yazidi civilians in northern Iraq. Iraqi officials say militants rounded up families in the village of Kucho and executed all men deemed to have refused conversion to Islam. The killings reportedly came after President Obama announced the airstrikes aimed in part at helping besieged Yazidis.

Syrian Gov’t Renews Airstrikes on ISIL

Aug 18, 2014

As the Obama administration bombs the Islamic State in Iraq, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has carried out new airstrikes on the militant group inside Syria. On Sunday, the Syrian government reportedly carried out more than two dozen airstrikes on the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa. The attacks broke an informal truce between the two sides as ISIL clashed with rival rebel groups.

Group: ISIL Kills Over 700 Tribal Members in Eastern Syria

Aug 18, 2014

A Syrian human rights group claims the Islamic State has killed around 700 members of a tribe in eastern Syria over the past two weeks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the killings targeted the al-Sheitaat tribe, which inhabits several towns invaded by ISIL forces. In a measure on Friday, the U.N. Security Council condemned ISIL for “gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.”

Netanyahu Says Israel Prepared to Renew Assault as Ceasefire Deadline Looms

Aug 18, 2014

Israel and Hamas are continuing indirect talks in Cairo as a five-day ceasefire is set to expire. A Palestinian official says the two sides remain far apart on a long-term agreement. Hamas has made an end to the blockade of Gaza a central demand, while the Israeli government has reportedly hardened its stance in recent days. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to continue the assault.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “If Hamas thinks that it can compensate for its military defeat with diplomatic gains, it is mistaken. If Hamas thinks that through continued intermittent firing it will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. As long as quiet does not return, Hamas will continue to sustain very harsh strikes. If Hamas thinks that we cannot withstand it for an extended period, it is mistaken.”

Thousands Take Part in Largest Israeli Peace Rally Since Gaza Assault

Aug 18, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came one day after thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv in support of negotiations with Palestinians. It was the largest peace rally inside Israel since the assault on Gaza began on July 8.

Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now: “We came to demonstrate in favor of a political solution between Israel and the Palestinians. We think that the war is not helping anyone, is harming both Israel and the Palestinians, and the way to solve the conflict both in Gaza and in the West Bank is only by reaching a political agreement on the basis of the two-state solution.”

Protesters Block Israeli Ship from Docking in Oakland

Aug 18, 2014

In the United States, protesters in Oakland have prevented an Israeli ship from docking in protest of the assault on Gaza. The Zim Piraeus had been due to unload its goods at the Port of Oakland on Saturday. But several thousand activists with the “Block the Boat for Gaza” campaign gathered at the port, forcing a delay. Clarence Thomas of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union took part in the action.

Clarence Thomas: “What you have done is have the Zim [Piraeus] vessel reluctant to come in because you’re here. Isn’t it ironic that Zim can enjoy coming to this country to have its goods unloaded, but yet it’s been over four decades since a ship at Gaza has been allowed to be unloaded?”

The ship was again prevented from docking on Sunday after hundreds of people returned to the site.

Ebola Patients Flee Liberia Clinic After Crowds Attack

Aug 18, 2014

Efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak in Liberia have been dealt a major setback after a mob attacked a clinic in the capital of Monrovia. A large crowd forced open the isolation ward where Ebola patients were being held, causing at least 17 patients to flee. The attack appears to have been motivated by widely circulated rumors the virus is a Western invention or a hoax. On Friday, the head of Doctors Without Borders, Joanne Liu, said the Ebola outbreak has created a war-like atmosphere in western Africa.

Dr. Joanne Liu: “I really had the feeling that it is like a wartime, in terms of fear, general fear, all over where you are, nobody not understanding what’s going on. … And they need, right now, help. They need leadership, coordination, means they will not be able to overcome that by themselves, unless some extra capacity is coming in the country. And as well, if we don’t stabilize Liberia, we’ll never stabilize the whole region.”

Doctors Without Borders estimates the outbreak could take up to six months to contain. The outbreak began in Guinea before spreading to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, which have all declared national health emergencies.

Russia: Agreement on Aid Convoy to Ukraine, None over Ceasefire

Aug 18, 2014

Russia says it has resolved a dispute over sending aid to rebel-held cities in eastern Ukraine, but talks on a ceasefire remain at an impasse. The Russian government says it will send a convoy of nearly 300 trucks carrying food, water and medicine with help from the International Committee of the Red Cross. But negotiations over an end to the fighting are continuing after a meeting in Berlin failed to yield an agreement. The United Nations says the death toll from the violence in eastern Ukraine has doubled in recent weeks to more than 2,000 since mid-April.

Assange Confirms Plans to Leave Ecuadorean Embassy in London

Aug 18, 2014

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has confirmed plans to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London after more than two years. Assange has taken refuge in the embassy under political asylum from Ecuador. Over the weekend, media reports said Assange would leave to address life-threatening health issues with his heart and lungs. Speaking to reporters earlier today, Assange confirmed his pending departure but declined to specify the reason.

Julian Assange: “As you can imagine, being detained in various ways in this country without charge for four years, and in this embassy for two years, which has no outside area, and therefore no sunlight, as a result of the obstruction that is presently in place by the U.K., I am leaving the embassy soon, but perhaps not for the reasons that the Murdoch press and Sky News are saying at the moment.”

Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. He has voiced fears he would ultimately be sent for prosecution in the United States if he were to return to Sweden.

Texas Gov. Perry Vows to Fight Charges of Abuse of Power, Coercion

Aug 18, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been indicted on two felony counts of abuse of power and coercion. The charges stem from Perry’s veto of $7.5 million in funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. The Travis County prosecutor, Rosemary Lehmberg, was arrested for drunk driving last year. That led Perry to declare Lehmerg unfit for office and threaten to veto the funding to her office unless she resigned. Perry carried through on his threat after Lehmerg refused to step down. On Friday, a grand jury indicted Perry on charges of abusing official capacity and coercion of a public servant. One day later, Perry stood by his actions and vowed to fight the case.

Gov. Rick Perry: “I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and I’ll continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor. We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country. It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s Constitution. This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power.”

Perry’s veto had undercut a probe by Lehmberg’s unit into potential mismanagement at one of Perry’s signature achievements, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. He is expected to be booked for a mug shot in the coming days.

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