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HeadlinesAugust 23, 2016

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As Zika Spreads, CDC Tells Pregnant Women Not to Visit Miami Beach

Aug 23, 2016

Health officials have issued an unprecedented warning to pregnant women, telling them not to travel to parts of Miami-Dade County, amid dozens of confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika virus. The virus has now been conclusively linked to microcephaly, a condition where babies born to infected mothers have abnormally small heads and other health problems. The travel advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control concerns two neighborhoods: Wynwood and Miami Beach. This is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Mayor Philip Levine: “We need federal help. We need the federal government to step up and do what’s necessary, to reconvene and make sure the state, the county gets the proper funding immediately so that we can use these resources to combat this virus.”

Public health officials are warning that the Zika virus may soon spread to parts of Louisiana and Texas. It has also spread to the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as throughout dozens of Caribbean and Latin American countries. The World Health Organization has declared Zika a global public health emergency.

Florida: Plan to Use GMO Mosquitoes to Fight Zika Sparks Controversy

Aug 23, 2016

Meanwhile, in Key Haven, Florida, officials have sparked controversy with a proposal to release genetically modified mosquitoes in efforts to stop the potential spread of Zika. The genetically modified mosquitoes have been altered to carry a gene that causes the offspring to die as larva. The idea is to release the male genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild, so they will mate with female mosquitoes. The proposal has caused fierce opposition from local residents, who fear the long-term health and environmental impacts. The proposal will appear as a nonbinding referendum on the November ballot.

Obama Visiting Louisiana Today to Tour Historic Flood Damage

Aug 23, 2016

President Obama is visiting Louisiana today, where some neighborhoods still have up to two feet of standing water left from the historic flooding last week. At least 13 people died and 40,000 homes were destroyed in what the Red Cross has called the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy. Obama has faced criticism from residents and the local newspaper The Advocate for not traveling to the flood zone earlier, comparing his failure to visit the region to President George W. Bush’s failure to travel to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, although Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has said until now he didn’t want Obama to come, as he’d rather not redirect resources to a presidential visit.

Wildfires Raging Across Western States Destroy Dozens of Homes

Aug 23, 2016

Meanwhile, wildfires continue to rage across the western states of California, Washington and Wyoming. Officials say more than two dozen homes were destroyed by wildfires near Spokane Monday, while nearly 50 homes were destroyed by a wildfire in San Luis Obispo County. Officials say the fires are worsened by the historic climate-fueled drought.


Donald Trump Doubles Down on His Mass Deportation Plans

Aug 23, 2016

In news from the campaign trail, Donald Trump is standing by his harsh immigration proposals, which include deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the weekend, Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway attempted to soften his proposals, saying his deportation plans remained “to be determined.” But Trump repeatedly stood by his mass deportation proposals on Monday, including during this interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

Donald Trump: “The first thing we’re going to do, if and when I win, is we’re going to get rid of all of the bad ones. We’ve got gang members. We have killers. We have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country. We’re going to get them out. And the police know who they are. They’re known by law enforcement, who they are. We don’t do anything. They go around killing people and hurting people. And they’re going to be out of this country so fast, your head will spin. We have existing laws that allow you to do that. As far as everybody else, we’re going to go through the process.”

This comes as Trump has canceled a speech about his immigration policies, which was slated for Thursday.

In Appeal to Black Voters, Trump Falsely Claims Crime Rates are “At Levels You Have Never Seen”

Aug 23, 2016

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continued his efforts to appeal to African-American voters Monday, while speaking to an overwhelmingly white crowd in Akron, Ohio.

Donald Trump: “Crime at levels that nobody’s seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting, and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. They’re run by the Democrats. To the African Americans, who I employ so many, so many people, to the Hispanics, tremendous people, what the hell do you have to lose?”

In fact, FBI data shows violent crime in the United States has been declining steadily for the last two decades. Trump’s approval rating among African Americans is between zero and 1 percent. Yet Trump has said repeatedly in recent days that if he’s elected, by 2020 he’ll win 95 percent of the African-American vote—a claim that even his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, appears to doubt. This is Pence chuckling during an interview with Fox News’s Ainsley Earhardt.

Ainsley Earhardt: “Donald Trump is telling the African-American community, 'I am the guy for you,' and he says, by 2020, he’s going to have 95 percent of the African-American support.”

Gov. Mike Pence: [laughter]

Ainsley Earhardt: “Why are you laughing?”

Gov. Mike Pence: “Well, that’s Donald Trump.”

More Emails Show Clinton Foundation Ties to State Department

Aug 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton is facing questions after a new round of emails released Monday again reveal the close ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state. The 725 pages of emails were released by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which obtained them through a Freedom of Information Act request earlier this year. They show Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, corresponding with multiple Clinton Foundation donors, including Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain, whose scholarship program committed $32 million over five years to the Clinton Global Initiative. He was seeking a meeting with Hillary Clinton. Another email shows Abedin corresponding with a Los Angeles-based sports executive who had donated between $5 million and $10 million to the foundation. He wanted help getting a visa for a British soccer player. The visa was never granted. On Monday, Bill Clinton said he would remove himself from the board of the foundation if Hillary Clinton becomes president.

Judge: State Dept. Must Set Timeline to Release 15,000 Clinton Emails

Aug 23, 2016

This all comes as a federal judge has ordered the State Department to set a timetable for the release of 15,000 additional emails the FBI has collected during the agency’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is pushing back on rumors he advised Clinton to set up the private email server, saying, “Her people are trying to pin it on me.”

Activists Protest Clinton Fundraiser at Home of Billionaire Haim Saban

Aug 23, 2016

Meanwhile, on Monday night, Hillary Clinton faced protests by Palestinian rights activists outside a fundraising event at the Beverly Hills estate of billionaire Haim Saban. Saban has contributed millions to one of Clinton’s super PACs. Many of the donations came after Clinton herself wrote a letter to Saban expressing her “alarm” over the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. BDS is an international campaign to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. In the July 2, 2015, letter, Clinton wrote, “I know you agree we need to make countering BDS a priority. I am seeking your advice on how we can work together.”

Israel Launches Up to 50 Airstrikes in Gaza Strip

Aug 23, 2016

This comes as Israel has carried out up to 50 airstrikes in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. Palestinian officials say at least four people have been wounded in the airstrikes, including a 17-year-old boy. Officials also say a water tower was damaged. Israel says the strikes were a retaliation for a rocket launched into Israel over the weekend.

Lawsuit Says Fox “Operates Like Sex-Fueled, Playboy Mansion-Like Cult”

Aug 23, 2016

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros has filed a lawsuit alleging top Fox News executives punished her after she reported being sexually harassed by former Fox News Chair Roger Ailes. In the lawsuit, Tantaros said she was prohibited from wearing pants on air because, as executives told her, “Roger wants to see your legs.” Tantaros also alleges she was removed from one of Fox’s top-rated shows after she refused to turn around during a meeting with Roger Ailes, who told her he wanted to “get a good look at [her].” Tantaros says that when she told executive Bill Shine about the harassment, he told her to “let this one go.” Shine has taken over as co-president of Fox News following Ailes’s resignation. According to the lawsuit, “Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.” Ailes has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 20 women, including Fox News anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson. Ailes resigned in July, receiving a $40 million severance package.

Court Blocks Obama Directive Saying Trans Students Can Use Bathroom of Choice

Aug 23, 2016

In Texas, a federal court has issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Obama administration’s directive saying students have the right under federal law to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The directive, issued in May, suggests school districts could face lawsuits or loss of funding if they fail to protect transgender students from discrimination and unequal access to facilities. The injunction, issued Sunday night, comes as millions of students prepare to return to school this week. This is White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “Our goal has been, from the beginning, to provide for the safety and security and dignity of students all across the country. So, I guess the point is, we’ve got a lot of confidence in the guidance that was put forward. We certainly have confidence in the legal basis for issuing that guidance.”

Afghanistan: 100 U.S. Soldiers Sent to Helmand Capital to Fight Taliban

Aug 23, 2016

In Afghanistan, more than 100 U.S. soldiers have been sent to the capital of Helmand Province to fight the Taliban. It’s believed to be the first deployment of U.S. troops to Lashkar Gah since 2014. A July report issued by a U.S. government watchdog says the Taliban now controls more territory across Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history.

Libya: Western-Backed Government Suffers No-Confidence Vote

Aug 23, 2016

In Libya, the Western-backed government suffered a no-confidence vote Monday. Members of the Libyan House of Representatives voted 61 to 1 against the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, known as the GNA. Thirty-nine Parliament members abstained from the vote. Libya currently has three competing governments that claim legitimacy. Earlier this month, the Pentagon began carrying out airstrikes in Libya against ISIS in what it says will be an ongoing campaign.

Mexico: Teachers Strike & Protest on First Day of School

Aug 23, 2016

In Mexico, teachers in the southern states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Guerrero and Chiapas are on strike to protest Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s so-called education reforms, which seek to implement standardized testing across Mexico and weaken the power of teachers’ unions. On Monday, which was the first day of classes across Mexico, teachers in Oaxaca City instead marched through the streets. This is Juan García from Section 22, the local chapter of the teachers’ union.

Juan García: “The school calendar that we’re going to propose and which we’re designing concerns the standards of work being fulfilled with the parents of families and not from the boss. It is a commitment to our students and parents of families.”

In June, a deadly police attack on protesting teachers in Oaxaca left at least nine people dead and more than 100 wounded.

Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte Loses 4 Sponsors, Including Speedo

Aug 23, 2016

And U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte has lost four corporate sponsorships, including Speedo and Ralph Lauren, amid the scandal over his decision to lie to Brazilian authorities about having been robbed. Swimmer Lochte and his teammates claimed they were robbed at gunpoint by men posing as police officers during the Olympic Games. But Brazilian authorities say the Olympic swimmers actually vandalized a gas station and then invented a story about having been the victims of a robbery.

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