Student protests are sweeping the nation. On Thursday, students on more than 100 college campuses rallied from coast to coast against institutional racism, as well as against mounting student debt. Students gathered at Columbia University in New York City, Smith College in Massachusetts, Ithaca College in upstate New York and the University of Kansas, among others, declaring solidarity with the University of Missouri students and demanding their own campuses address racism. This comes as students on more than 100 campuses also rallied for a day of protest called the Million Student March. The demonstrations took place at Rutgers University in New Jersey, University of Texas in Austin, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Portland State University and campuses across the University of California system. The students’ demands include the cancellation of all student debt, tuition-free public college and a $15 minimum wage for campus workers.
This comes as the University of Missouri has named a black law professor to serve as interim president of the university system, following the resignation of former President Tim Wolfe earlier this week amid massive protests over racism on campus. The new president, Michael Middleton, spoke of the need to learn the nation’s history.
Michael Middleton: “I don’t blame white people who don’t understand. I blame our ugly history, and I think it’s important we learn that history and understand it, so that we can get beyond that history and build the institution and the country that we imagine, rather than the institution or country that is.”
Meanwhile, in California, the dean of Claremont McKenna College has also resigned amid protests over racism on campus. Dean Mary Spellman stepped down Thursday after two students declared hunger strikes. Tensions over racism on campus have been rising for months. In April, 30 students of color wrote to the college president saying they felt excluded, isolated and intimidated. Last month, a student wrote an op-ed describing her discomfort as a low-income Latina student at Claremont. The former dean responded by saying she would help students who “don’t fit our CMC mold.” This response triggered escalating protests and calls for her ouster. The student demands also include funding for multicultural clubs, more diverse hiring, a mentoring program and an administrator to oversee diversity.
Meanwhile, some professors canceled classes at the historically black college of Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, after someone claiming to be a University of Missouri student made a violent threat against Howard students. The author said on an online comment board that he would kill any black students on Howard’s campus Thursday, writing, “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.” In an email to students, Howard President Wayne Frederick said the university is “aware of the threat” and that security has been increased around campus. The threats came one day after two white college students were arrested for allegedly posting social media threats against students of color at the University of Missouri. The threats included, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see” and “I’m gonna shoot any black people tomorrow, so be ready.”
In Lebanon, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for one of the worst attacks to hit Beirut in years. On Thursday, at least 43 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in a double suicide attack on a civilian neighborhood in Beirut. The bombers struck during rush hour in an apparent bid to maximize the civilian death toll. The blasts are seen as an ISIL attack against the Lebanese political movement Hezbollah. We’ll have more on the Beirut bombings later in the broadcast.
The Pentagon says it is assessing whether a U.S. airstrike killed Mohammed Emwazi, a prominent British-Kuwaiti member of ISIL who is often called “Jihadi John.” An unnamed official told Fox News he was “99 per cent sure” the airstrike near Raqqa, Syria, killed Emwazi. A former IT student in London, Emwazi is believed to have appeared in the videos showing the killing of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
In Burma, the pro-democracy party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has won 348 seats in Parliament, enough for a majority and the power to select the country’s next president. Sunday’s national election ousted Burma’s military-backed ruling party, which won a mere 40 seats. When the new Parliament meets in January, it will mark the first time since 1962 that military leaders do not control Burma’s government. Aung San Suu Kyi herself is barred from assuming the presidency under the military-drafted constitution.
University of Illinois has agreed to a $875,000 financial settlement with Professor Steven Salaita. Salaita’s job offer for a tenured position at the Urbana-Champaign campus was withdrawn last year after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. Salaita’s case caused a firestorm, with thousands of academics signing petitions calling for Salaita’s reinstatement and the American Association of University Professors calling the school’s actions “inimical to academic freedom and due process.” In August, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned after she was implicated in a scandal that involved attempting to hide emails detailing Salaita’s ouster. In a statement, Salaita said: “This settlement is a vindication for me, but more importantly, it is a victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment.”
Amnesty International is calling for a probe of the killing of a Palestinian man by undercover Israeli agents during a raid on a hospital in Hebron Thursday, saying the killing may amount to an extrajudicial execution. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said undercover commandos shot Abdullah al-Shalaldeh five times after he allegedly attempted to stop them from questioning his cousin, who was receiving treatment after being injured by Israeli security forces. Philip Luther of Amnesty International said, “The fact that Abdullah Shalaldeh was shot in the head and upper body suggests this was an extrajudicial execution, adding to a disturbing pattern of similar recent incidents by Israeli forces in the West Bank which warrant urgent investigation.”
In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a police officer who shot and killed a local musician after his car broke down along Interstate 95 has been fired. On October 18, plainclothes officer Nouman Raja was driving an unmarked van when he stopped by the car of 31-year-old Corey Jones, who was waiting for a tow truck at about 3:00 in the morning. The Palm Beach Gardens police chief says Jones confronted Officer Raja, who was not in uniform. The officer then fired six shots, killing Jones. Police say Jones had a registered gun, but it was never fired. City officials say a criminal investigation is ongoing.
In news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has issued a scathing critique of rival front-runner Ben Carson. During a speech in Iowa, Trump seized on passages from Carson’s autobiography, in which the retired neurosurgeon describes himself as pathological.
Donald Trump: “If you’re pathological, there’s no cure for that, folks. OK? There’s no cure for that. And I did one of the shows today, and I don’t want to say what I said, but I’ll tell you anyway. I said that if you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, you’re a child molester, there’s no cure for that. There’s only one cure. We don’t to talk about that cure. That’s the ultimate cure. No, there’s two: There’s death and the other thing. But if you’re a child molester, there’s no cure. They can’t stop you. Pathological, there’s no cure. Now, he said he was pathological. OK.”
President Obama has criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Obama spoke to George Stephanopoulos of ABC.
George Stephanopoulos: “Donald Trump is speaking about history. He wants to bring back Operation Wetback…”
President Obama: “Yeah.”
George Stephanopoulos: “…from President Eisenhower, and deportation force. What would that mean?”
President Obama: “Well, I think the name of the operation tells you something about the dangers of looking backwards. Imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children and putting them in, what, detention centers, and then systematically sending them out. Nobody thinks that that is realistic. But more importantly, that’s not who we are as Americans.”
President Obama’s criticism of Trump comes despite the fact that Obama has overseen the deportation of more than 4 million people during his presidency — more than any other president in U.S. history.
And Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has secured the backing of the American Postal Workers Union. It’s the second national union to back Sanders. National Nurses United has also come out in support of Sanders. His main rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has won endorsements from the major public-sector unions the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.