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HeadlinesOctober 25, 2017

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Tiny Firm Linked to Trump & Zinke Wins $300M Contract to Restore Puerto Rico’s Electricity

Oct 25, 2017

In Puerto Rico, less than 10 percent of the island’s public schools were able to resume classes on Tuesday—now a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Of the schools that were able to reopen, most had no electricity or internet access.

On Tuesday, Congress approved a $36.5 billion emergency spending plan to fund the recovery from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The spending plan gives Puerto Rico access to $4.9 billion in loans. The plan also gives billions to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program.

Meanwhile, a tiny Montana company called Whitefish Energy has won a $300 million contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, to restore parts of Puerto Rico’s devastated electrical power grid. The company is only two years old and had only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. It’s based in Whitefish, Montana—the tiny hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke has admitted he knows the company’s CEO, although Zinke claims he had no role in brokering the contract. The company, Whitefish Energy, is backed by the private equity firm HBC Investments, whose founder donated $27,000 to Trump’s primary election campaign and another $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election.

At least 80 percent of Puerto Rico still has no electricity, and about a quarter of the island still lacks clean drinking water. There are dozens of suspected cases of the leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection caused by contact with water contaminated by animal urine. Authorities are investigating whether four deaths were caused by the disease.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a 31-year-old man who was helping repair homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey has died after he was diagnosed with a rare flesh-eating bacterial disease. He’s at least the second person now in Texas to die after contracting the extremely rare disease from Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters.

Sweltering Heat Wave Smashes Records Across Southern California

Oct 25, 2017

A sweltering heat wave is smashing temperature records across Southern California. At least eight cities set new daily records on Monday, including Long Beach, which hit 105 degrees. On Tuesday night, the professional baseball teams the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers faced off at the hottest World Series game ever played. It was 103 degrees at the Dodgers’ stadium in Los Angeles—smashing the previous temperature record by nearly 10 degrees. The Dodgers beat the Astros 3-1.

Climate Change & War Fuels Rising Hunger Worldwide

Oct 25, 2017

In more news on climate change, a new study by the World Bank says that the amount of food destroyed by drought could feed 80 million people every day for a year. Scientists have linked increasing and worsening droughts to climate change. The United Nations reports global hunger is now on the rise after declining for the last 15 years. The U.N. study says 815 million people went hungry in 2016 and that the rise was primarily caused by war and climate change.

Sen. Flake Slams Trump for “Reckless, Outrageous & Undignified Behavior”

Oct 25, 2017

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake has announced he will not run for re-election in 2018, and condemned President Trump in a blistering speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Flake: “The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that one should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided. … We must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal. Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as 'telling it like it is,' when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified.”

#AlertTheDaycareStaff: Sen. Corker Again Criticizes Trump for Lying, Bullying

Oct 25, 2017

Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker also slammed President Trump on Tuesday, after Trump took to Twitter to disparage Corker for not supporting his tax plan, which would shower massive tax breaks onto the wealthiest Americans, including Trump himself. Trump tweeted that Senator Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.” Corker responded by tweeting, “Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff.” Senator Corker also slammed Trump in an interview with reporters, hours before Trump joined Senate Republicans for a lunch on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Bob Corker: “The standing up in front of the American people and stating untruths that everybody knows to be untrue, just the attempted bullying that he does, which everybody sees through, just the dividing of our country … as president of the United States, is something that is, I think, debasing to our country.”

“Trump is Treason”: Protester Throws Russian Flags at Trump at Capitol

Oct 25, 2017

A protester was arrested after he threw Russian flags at President Trump and repeatedly shouted “Trump is treason” as Trump walked into a lunch with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol building Tuesday.

Ryan Clayton: “Trump is treason! Trump is treason! Trump is treason!”

The protester, Ryan Clayton, with the group Americans Take Action, also accused President Trump of colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

Clinton Campaign & DNC Funded Research for Trump Dossier

Oct 25, 2017

New details have emerged showing that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the research that led to the dossier alleging Trump had ties to Russia and that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russian government ahead of the 2016 election. The Washington Post reports a lawyer with the Clinton campaign and the DNC contracted a Washington, D.C.-based firm, which went on to hire former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to investigate and prepare the dossier.

Senators Draft Legislation to Impose New Terms on 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Oct 25, 2017

Senators have drafted legislation that would impose new terms on the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, following President Trump’s refusal to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal. The legislation is being drafted by Republican Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton with the backing of the Trump administration. Opponents say the legislation could violate the international agreement. Reuters reports it would impose new terms related to trade and aviation and would instantly reimpose sanctions if Iran were deemed capable of developing a nuclear weapon within one year.

With Pence as Tie-Breaker, Republicans Kill Rule to Allow Americans to Sue Banks

Oct 25, 2017

Senate Republicans voted down a rule that would have made it easier for Americans to sue banks and credit card companies. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote Tuesday night. It was a major victory for Wall Street. The rule, developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would have allowed people to file class action lawsuits that could have costed the banks billions of dollars.

FCC Eliminates Rule to Ensure Residents Have Say in Local Community Broadcast

Oct 25, 2017

In media news, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to eliminate a decades-old rule that ensures community residents can have say in their local broadcast station. The regulation, known as the “main studio rule,” requires broadcasters to have a physical studio near where they have a license to transmit. Opponents say the elimination of the rule will accelerate the consolidation of the media industry, allowing massive corporate media companies, such as the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group, to buy up and control even more local stations.

Magazines Blacklist Photographer Terry Richardson After Sexual Harassment Allegations

Oct 25, 2017

A number of prominent fashion magazines and companies have announced they will no longer work with photographer Terry Richardson, following nearly two decades of accusations of sexual harassment. Richardson is one of the most prominent photographers in the world. He’s photographed everyone from former President Barack Obama to model Kate Moss. He has long faced accusations that he coerces young women into exploitative positions and sexually harasses them during photo shoots. His blacklisting comes after dozens of women came forward to accuse now-disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

Philippines: Community Radio Journalist Christopher Iban Lozada Murdered

Oct 25, 2017

In the Philippines, community radio journalist Christopher Iban Lozada was murdered by gunmen on Tuesday night in the city of Bislig in the southern region of Mindanao. Lozada had received multiple death threats leading up to his murder. The Philippines is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.

Poll: U.S. Troops Say White Nationalists Pose Greater Threat Than Iraq, Afghanistan

Oct 25, 2017

Back in the United States, 30 percent of U.S. servicemembers say they consider white nationalists to be a significant threat to U.S. security—ranking it above the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. That’s according to a new poll by the newspaper Military Times. The poll also shows one in four U.S. servicemembers say they have seen displays of white nationalism by their fellow soldiers.

Federal Appeals Court Rules Detained Undocumented Teenager Can Get an Abortion

Oct 25, 2017

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., has ruled an undocumented teenager detained in a refugee resettlement shelter in Texas does have the right to have an abortion. The ruling comes after the Trump administration tried to stop the pregnant 17-year-old from accessing an abortion. Her lawyer says the staff at the refugee shelter in Brownsville, Texas, forced the girl to call her abusive parents to tell them about her pregnancy—despite the fact that her parents allegedly beat the girl’s older sister until she miscarried for getting pregnant out of wedlock. The lawyer also says the staff retaliated against the girl after learning about her plans to get an abortion, limiting her time with other kids at the shelter and allegedly repeatedly asking her what she planned to name the baby.

Philadelphia Eagles Players Lobby for Clean Slate Act to Seal Criminal Records

Oct 25, 2017

And football players on the Philadelphia Eagles traveled to Pennsylvania’s Capitol to lobby for criminal justice reform Tuesday. The three players—Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith—lobbied for the passage of the Clean Slate Act, which would seal criminal records for nonviolent misdemeanors after 10 years, making it easier for people to get jobs and housing. Malcolm Jenkins’s brother was convicted of marijuana possession while still a teenager—a conviction that continues to make it difficult for him to find jobs. Torrey Smith’s mother also had trouble finding well-paying jobs after she was convicted of a felony stemming from her abusive relationship with her ex-husband. She was later pardoned by then-Virginia Governor Mark Warner.

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