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HeadlinesOctober 24, 2017

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Pentagon Promises Niger Probe as Widow of Slain Soldier Blasts Trump

Oct 24, 2017

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Joseph Dunford on Monday laid out a timeline of a deadly October 4 ambush in which five soldiers from Niger and four U.S. troops were killed while on patrol, promising the military would conduct a thorough and transparent investigation. The general’s explanation came as the widow of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson spoke out against Donald Trump’s handling of the aftermath of the attack, saying that during a condolence call the president couldn’t remember the name of her husband. In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday, Myeshia Johnson reaffirmed that she and others heard President Trump say, “He knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway”—refuting President Trump’s claim that the remark was “totally fabricated.”

Myeshia Johnson: “And it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said—he couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name, because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him. And that’s when he actually said 'La David.' I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name. And that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”

Trump responded on Twitter, “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Myeshia Johnson also said she wasn’t allowed to view her husband’s body, and demanded answers about how he died during a patrol in Niger on October 4. We’ll have more on the Niger attack and the growing U.S. troop presence in Africa after headlines.

Philippines: Marawi in Ruins as Government Declares Victory After Long Fight

Oct 24, 2017

U.S. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis arrived in the Philippines Monday for an annual meeting of regional defense ministers, as the Philippines government declared victory in its months-long battle to dislodge ISIS-allied militants in the city of Marawi. Human rights groups say the fighting displaced over 200,000 people and left more than 1,000 civilians dead. Over the summer, the Pentagon confirmed U.S. troops assisted the fight with training, aerial surveillance and electronic eavesdropping.

Video Shows DEA Agents Opening Fire on Civilians in 2012 Honduras Raid

Oct 24, 2017

Newly released video shows the moment that agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration opened fire on a boat in Honduras in 2012, killing four civilians—including two pregnant women. The video, obtained by ProPublica and The New York Times, appears to show the civilians did not open fire on DEA agents, as the agency has long claimed in public statements and in congressional testimony. The video’s release followed a scathing report by the inspectors general of the Justice and State Departments who say the DEA repeatedly lied about the incident. The agents were part of a now-shuttered task force known as the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team, or FAST, which was trained in military-style anti-drug raids.

Sen. John McCain Appears to Criticize Trump Draft Deferments

Oct 24, 2017

Republican Senator John McCain took an apparent swipe at President Trump over his multiple deferments from the draft during the Vietnam War—including a 1968 medical exam that declared Trump unfit to serve due to bone spurs in his heels. Sen. McCain was speaking in an appearance Monday on ABC’s “The View.”

Sen. John McCain: “One of the great inequities of the Vietnam conflict was the lowest-income Americans went and fought and were drafted, and those who were wealthy enough to have a doctor to say, 'Hey, you've got a bone spur,’ or ’You’ve got migraines,’ or whatever it is, then they were excused.”

McCain made a similar comment to C-SPAN over the weekend. He later insisted the “bone spur” references weren’t directed at the president. In 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump said McCain was only considered a war hero because he was captured by the Vietnamese army, adding, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Donors Pledge $434 Million to Rohingya Refugees as U.S. Mulls Sanctions

Oct 24, 2017

The United Nations says international donors have pledged $434 million to aid more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh to escape ethnic cleansing in Burma. The pledges at a one-day donor conference came as refugee agencies warned more than 1,000 Rohingya continue to cross each day, fleeing rape, killings and the burning of their villages in Rakhine state. The pledges came as the Trump administration said it was withdrawing military assistance units from Burma and considering sanctions against Burmese officials believed to be behind “violent, traumatic abuses.”

Russian Journalist Critical of Kremlin Stabbed at Her Radio Station

Oct 24, 2017

In Moscow, a popular radio talk show host is in critical condition after a man burst into her Moscow radio station on Monday and stabbed her in the throat. The editor-in-chief of the Echo of Moscow radio station says 32-year-old Tatyana Felgenhauer was not on the air at the time of the attack, which left the green room of the radio station splattered with blood.

Alexei Venediktov: “With full understanding of where he was going, he came though here, entered the room and stabbed Tatyana with a knife into the neck. That’s what we know. It is a penetrating injury, lots of blood. But Tatyana left on her own legs to an ambulance downstairs.”

Doctors say they’ve since placed Tatyana Felgenhauer on a ventilator and in an induced coma. The attacker was later arrested on charges of attempted murder. Russian state media claimed the man was motivated by “hooliganism” and had a personal fixation on Felgenhauer. Reporters at the station say they’ve been the target of repeated death threats after offering airtime to dissidents, including opponents of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian Dissidents Pussy Riot Protest for Political Prisoners at Trump Tower

Oct 24, 2017

In New York City, members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot dropped a banner and scattered hundreds of leaflets inside Trump Tower Monday, shutting down access to the building for about a half-hour. The activists’ banner read “Free Sentsov”—a reference to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who’s currently serving a 20-year prison term in a Russian prison on terrorism charges. His supporters say he’s innocent of any crime and was jailed over his criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Amnesty International has called for his release.

Department of Education Rescinds Papers on Rights of Disabled Students

Oct 24, 2017

The Department of Education has revoked 72 policy documents detailing the rights of disabled students, calling them “outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective.” The documents spelled out ways that schools should comply with two civil rights laws—the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Among the documents rescinded was one offering guidance to schools on how to use federal funds for special education. A spokesperson for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declined to comment on the changes. During her confirmation hearings last January, DeVos told senators that states should be left to decide whether to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. That prompted a follow-up question to DeVos by New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Sen. Maggie Hassan: “I want to go back to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. That’s a federal civil rights law. So do you stand by your statement a few minutes ago that it should be up to the states whether to follow it?”

Betsy DeVos: “The law must be—federal law must be followed where federal dollars are in—in play.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan: “So were you unaware, when I just asked you about the IDEA, that it was a federal law?”

Betsy DeVos: “I may have confused it.”

New York Opens Civil Rights Probe into Weinstein Company

Oct 24, 2017

New York’s attorney general has opened a civil rights probe into the Weinstein Company, after dozens of women came forward alleging rape and other sexual crimes by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed company records relating to sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints, investigating whether the company broke state civil rights law or New York City human rights law. The probe comes after a former assistant to company co-founder Bob Weinstein said she warned her boss 25 years ago about sexual misconduct of his brother, Harvey Weinstein. Bob Weinstein faces his own charges of sexual misconduct, after producer Amanda Segel told Variety magazine he made unwanted romantic overtures toward her while asking “highly intimate questions” during a production in June of 2016.

Megyn Kelly Blasts Fox News and Bill O’Reilly over Sexual Harassment

Oct 24, 2017

NBC morning show host Megyn Kelly blasted her former Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly Monday, saying she complained about O’Reilly’s sexual harassment of women at the network but was repeatedly ignored.

Megyn Kelly: “O’Reilly suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained. … Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked, when raising complaints about men in authority positions. They stay silent so often out of fear—fear of ending their careers, fear of lawyers, yes, and often fear of public shaming.”

Kelly made the remarks after O’Reilly denied he’d committed sexual misconduct, telling radio host Glenn Beck he was the victim of a smear campaign by The New York Times. On Saturday, the Times reported O’Reilly reached a $32 million settlement with former Fox News presenter Lis Wiehl to settle sexual harassment claims just weeks before Fox News signed him to a $25 million-a-year contract. It was at least the sixth such settlement during O’Reilly’s time at the network.

Montreal Protesters Defy Face Veil Ban in Solidarity with Muslim Women

Oct 24, 2017

In Montreal, Canada, protesters have begun riding the city’s buses and trains wearing traditional Islamic face veils known as niqabs, as well as scarves and other coverings, in solidarity with Muslim women and in defiance of a new law requiring people to show their faces when receiving public services. Protesters say Quebec’s Bill 62 is an Islamophobic law aimed at stigmatizing the province’s Muslim minority.

Afifa Suleman: “Throughout the whole bus ride, I have to uncover my face. Like what is the reason behind it? What did I do? What crime did I commit that I have my fundamental rights violated?”

Sarah Brand: “Even if you believe that the niqab is oppressive in some way and that women are struggling with this, if that really is a problem, cutting them out of public transit and access to education and medical care is simply not the solution.”

Supporters of the bill point to similar laws passed in France and say it’s aimed at upholding Quebec’s secular traditions. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned in 2015 against former premier Stephen Harper’s Islamophobic rhetoric, offered muted criticism of Quebec’s niqab ban and said it’s “not up to the federal government to challenge the law.”

Pipeline, Barge Disasters Lead to Gulf of Mexico Oil Spills

Oct 24, 2017

In the Gulf of Mexico, officials with the LLOG Exploration Company say a rupture in a pipeline south of Louisiana this month led to the Gulf’s largest oil spill since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The spill dumped an estimated 672,000 gallons of oil into one-mile-deep water about 40 miles off the coast. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has called off a search for two workers who went missing Friday after their oil barge exploded in waters off the coast of Port Aransas, Texas. The barge was carrying 133,000 barrels of crude oil, some of which spilled into the Gulf.

Nicaragua to Join Paris Climate Accord, Leaving U.S. and Syria as Lone Holdouts

Oct 24, 2017

Nicaragua says it will join the Paris climate accord, leaving Donald Trump and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the only world leaders rejecting the landmark 2015 agreement. Nicaragua had been a holdout, arguing far more dramatic action is needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. But the country’s vice president said Monday the deal is “the only instrument” the world has to tackle global warming. President Trump announced in June he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord, prompting condemnation from climate activists and heads of state in every corner of the globe.

GAO Report: Climate Change Costs Taxpayers Billions Each Year

Oct 24, 2017

Meanwhile, a new report from the Government Accountability Office finds climate change is already costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars per year, with costs expected to skyrocket over the coming years. The GAO report found taxpayers paid out more than $350 billion over the last decade on flood and crop insurance along with disaster assistance programs. That figure is before factoring in the massive costs of this year’s three major hurricanes and devastating wildfires in western states.

Climate Activists Call for Divestment from Banks That Fund Fossil Fuels

Oct 24, 2017

And activists rallied in dozens of cities across the U.S. and worldwide under the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe Monday, calling on people to pull their funds from banks that invest in the fossil fuel economy. In Oakland, California, indigenous women led a march to branches of Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank, urging patrons to close their accounts. In Seattle, police arrested seven activists as they nonviolently shut down major bank branches over their financing of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. This is Rachel Heaton, a leader of the Muckleshoot Tribe, speaking outside a Bank of America branch.

Rachel Heaton: “We are not just affected here in the United States. These banks are causing problems all over the world. They’re privatizing water. They’re causing deforestation. There is pollution. And so, today, we are divesting the globe. And here in Seattle, we are shutting down—we are visiting over a hundred banks today.”

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