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HeadlinesOctober 18, 2016

Pentagon: U.S. Special Forces on Ground in Battle for Mosul

Oct 18, 2016

The Pentagon has confirmed U.S. special forces are on the ground in Iraq and taking part in the battle to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which fell to ISIS two years ago. Despite President Obama’s pledge against having boots on the ground, the Pentagon said U.S. special forces are on the front lines and finding targets for U.S. airstrikes. The offensive to take Mosul is expected to take weeks, if not months. Iraqi forces reportedly captured 20 ISIS-held villages on Monday. Aid groups fear the fighting will force over a million residents of Mosul to flee. Courtney Lare works with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Iraqi city of Erbil.

Courtney Lare: ”NRC is currently preparing for massive waves of displacement coming out of Mosul. We are expecting in the first several weeks up to 200,000 individuals and, total, around 700,000 people fleeing Mosul in the coming months. The humanitarian community is desperately trying to prepare, but this many people at once is extremely challenging.”

Russia & Syria Temporarily Halt Airstrikes in Aleppo

Oct 18, 2016
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In news from Syria, Russia and Syria have temporarily halted airstrikes on the besieged city of Aleppo in what Russia described as a “humanitarian pause.” A new round of talks is expected to begin tomorrow in Geneva.

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Trump Repeats Claim of Rigged Election, Alleging Widespread Voter Fraud

Oct 18, 2016
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In campaign news, The Guardian is reporting Donald Trump has hired Mike Roman, the former head of the Koch brothers’ “intelligence gathering” operation to run an “election protection” effort. For weeks, Trump has been claiming the election would be rigged at the voting booth. On Monday, Trump claimed dead people and undocumented immigrants are voting.

Donald Trump: “They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there’s a lot going on. Do you ever hear these people? They say, ’There’s nothing going on.’ People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians? They don’t have any is right. So many cities are corrupt, and voter fraud is very, very common.”

Experts say cases of voting fraud are very rare. One study by Loyola Law School found just 31 instances involving allegations of voter impersonation out of 1 billion votes cast in U.S. elections between 2000 and 2014. Trump’s claims of a rigged election have been widely criticized by members of both parties. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Trump was “wrong and engaging in irresponsible rhetoric.”

Melania Trump Accuses Billy Bush of Egging Donald Trump On in Leaked Tape

Oct 18, 2016

Melania Trump has come to her husband’s defense following the release of a 2005 video in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women. Melania described his comments as “boy talk” and accused TV host Billy Bush of egging Donald Trump on.

Melania Trump: “Those words, they were offensive to me, and they were inappropriate. And he apologized to me. And I expect—I accept his apology. And we are moving on.”

Ainsley Earhardt: “From a woman’s perspective, what were your thoughts when you heard those tapes?”

Melania Trump: “I—this is not the man that I know.”

In related news, NBC has fired Billy Bush from his job as host at the “Today” show following the release of the Trump tape.

Donald Trump: “When I Come Home at Night and Dinner’s Not Ready, I Go Through the Roof”

Oct 18, 2016
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Meanwhile, a transcript has been published of a 1994 interview Trump did on ABC’s “PrimeTime Live.” During the interview, Trump said, “I don’t want to sound like a chauvinist, but when I come home at night and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.” He also said, “I tell friends who treat their wives magnificently [and] get treated like crap in return, 'Be rougher and you’ll see a different relationship.'”

State Department Official Accused of Pressuring to Declassify Clinton Email

Oct 18, 2016
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Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for State Department official Patrick Kennedy to resign after newly released FBI documents suggest he pressured the agency last year to downgrade the classification of emails found on Hillary Clinton’s private server. According to the FBI documents, Kennedy offered to allow the FBI to place more agents in Iraq in exchange for declassifying the emails. The FBI and the State Department have denied that a quid pro quo ever existed.

Gen. James Cartwright Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to FBI

Oct 18, 2016
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A retired four-star Marine Corps general has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during an investigation into leaks of classified information. James Cartwright, who was known as President Obama’s favorite general, admitted he lied to the FBI during an investigation into who leaked classified information to The New York Times about Stuxnet, a secret U.S. cyberwarfare operation against Iran. According to Yahoo News, Cartwright is the 10th person to be criminally charged under President Obama in a case related to classified disclosures—more, by far, than were brought by any president before him.

“Guantánamo Diary” Author Mohamedou Ould Slahi Released After 14 Years

Oct 18, 2016
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In news from Guantánamo, Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been released back to his home country of Mauritania after being held at Guantánamo since 2002 without charge or trial. Slahi wrote the best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” in which he describes being severely tortured by U.S. guards.

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NASA: Last Month was Warmest September on Record

Oct 18, 2016
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In climate news, NASA is reporting last month was the warmest September on record. Eleven of the past 12 months have now broken records. Scientists say 2016 is almost certain to be the warmest year ever, breaking last year’s record. This comes as it still feels like summer throughout much of the East Coast and Midwest, with record-breaking temperatures expected today in dozens of cities. In Dodge City, Kansas, the temperature reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.

U.N.: Climate Change Could Drive 122 Million into Extreme Poverty

Oct 18, 2016

In other climate news, a new study by the United Nations has found climate change could drive 122 million more people into extreme poverty in the next 15 years in part due to the impact it is already having on small-scale farmers.

ExxonMobil Asks Texas Court to Throw Out Subpoena over Climate Cover-up

Oct 18, 2016
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The Guardian is reporting ExxonMobil has asked a federal court in Texas to throw out a subpoena from New York state that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks. Last year, InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that beginning in 1977, Exxon concealed its own findings that fossil fuels cause global warming.

Police Association Apologizes for “Historical Mistreatment of Communities of Color”

Oct 18, 2016
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The nation’s largest police organization, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, has issued a formal apology for the “historical mistreatment of communities of color.” The organization represents 18,000 members. Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, told ThinkProgress the admission is a positive step toward “justice, reconciliation and healing,” but doesn’t go far enough to address modern-day problems. Garza said, “If the last three years has shown us anything, it’s that these deplorable actions are still happening today. Black people are dying at the hands of police at the rate of one every 28 hours.”

British Bank Cuts Services to Russian-Backed RT Network

Oct 18, 2016
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In media news, a British state-owned bank has reportedly cut services to the Russian-backed broadcaster RT. The station, which relies on state funds from Moscow, decried the move as a form of a political censorship. Margarita Simonyan is RT’s editor-in-chief.

Margarita Simonyan: “For us, it is absolutely obvious that it’s all politically motivated. And it is yet another step—now a serious one—by Britain to shut us up so that we stop broadcasting, stop telling what we are telling, so that the orchestrated choir of mainstream media, which pushes for a single narrative, would not be interrupted, and viewers won’t get distracted and won’t listen to another point of view.”

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WikiLeaks Accuses Ecuador of Cutting Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access

Oct 18, 2016
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WikiLeaks has accused Ecuador of cutting off Julian Assange’s internet access on Saturday. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than four years. Over the past week, WikiLeaks has published thousands of emails from the account of John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

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Amnesty Accuses Australia of Turning Nauru into Open-Air Prison for Refugees

Oct 18, 2016
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Amnesty International has accused Australia of turning the island of Nauru into an open-air prison to house refugees and asylum seekers. Amnesty said the conditions on the tiny South Pacific island amount to torture.

Anna Keistat: “What I found on Nauru was shocking—the level of mental trauma, the level of physical illness, the daily assaults and a complete failure of the authorities of the police to do anything about this, the daily humiliation and abuse that refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to.”

NAACP Votes to Back Moratorium on Charter Schools

Oct 18, 2016

In education news, the NAACP board of directors has voted to back a call for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools. NAACP Chair Roslyn Brock said, “We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools.”

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