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HeadlinesAugust 23, 2017

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Phoenix: Thousands Protest Trump as He Threatens Gov’t Shutdown over Border Wall

Aug 23, 2017

In Phoenix, Arizona, thousands of people poured into the streets outside the Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday night to protest President Trump’s campaign rally. During his speech, Trump defended his response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He also spent at least 20 minutes attacking the corporate media and its coverage of his response to last weekend’s events in Charlottesville. Trump read from a printout of remarks he made on three separate occasions, yet omitted that he blamed “both sides” for the violence.

Trump did not pardon notorious Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday as many had expected. But during his speech he did speak highly of the sheriff, who has been convicted of contempt of court for defying a court order to stop his deputies from racial profiling.

President Donald Trump: “By the way, I’m just curious. Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? That’s what—he should have had a jury. But you know what? I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine. OK? But—but I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that OK? All right?”

Arpaio is a major supporter of Donald Trump whose policies have included racial profiling and detaining immigrants in a scorching outdoor tent city jail, which Arpaio once referred to as his own “concentration camp.” During Trump’s speech, police attacked the thousands of protesters with tear gas and pepper balls. There are also some reports that the police fired rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters. We’ll go to Phoenix after headlines for more on the protests and Trump’s speech.

Judge Rules Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban is Unconstitutional

Aug 23, 2017

In a victory for educators and ethnic studies advocates, a federal judge has ruled the state of Arizona violated students’ First and 14th Amendment rights by eliminating a Mexican-American studies program from Tucson public schools. In 2010, Arizona passed a controversial law banning the teaching of any class designed for a particular ethnic group that would “promote resentment toward a race or class of people.” The law ended up eliminating Tucson’s ethnic studies program and banning seven books from public school classrooms, including “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years,” Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire and “Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”

After Massive Boston Protest, White Nationalists & Right-Wing Groups Cancel 67 Planned Rallies

Aug 23, 2017

A slew of right-wing and white supremacist rallies have been canceled following the massive nationwide protests against white supremacy over the weekend. On Saturday, up to 40,000 people poured into the streets around the Boston Common to protest a planned so-called free speech rally by white nationalists. The flood of counterprotesters so overwhelmed the white nationalist rally that aerial photos show only a handful of the extremists even showed up and that they spent the day huddled in a gazebo on the Boston Common. Thousands more rallied over the weekend against white supremacy in dozens of other U.S. cities. In response, far-right and white nationalist groups have canceled 67 upcoming rallies, saying the protests will instead be held online.

After Charlottesville, Four Universities Refuse to Allow Richard Spencer to Speak

Aug 23, 2017

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania State University has become the fourth university to refuse a speaking request by white nationalist Richard Spencer since the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.

Missouri Gov. Stays Execution of Marcellus Williams After New DNA Evidence

Aug 23, 2017

In Missouri, Governor Eric Greitens issued a last-minute stay of execution for death row prisoner Marcellus Williams, only hours before he was slated to be put to death Tuesday night.

The stay of execution came after DNA found on the murder weapon did not match Williams, but instead matched another man. Williams, who is African-American, was convicted in 2001 of killing former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle, who was white, during a robbery.

He was convicted by 11 white jurors and one black juror, after the prosecution was allowed to preemptively strike out six other prospective black jurors. Williams has always maintained his innocence. Amnesty International and other groups are now urging Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to grant Marcellus Williams clemency.

Did a Photo of Afghan Women in Miniskirts Influence Trump’s Decision on U.S. War?

Aug 23, 2017

More information is emerging about the deliberations that led to President Trump’s new commitment to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history. In a televised address Monday night, President Trump announced the U.S. is doubling down on the war, a reversal from his earlier position that “we should leave Afghanistan immediately.” The Washington Post reports that one of the arguments that swayed Trump’s position was a 1972 photo, shown to the president by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, of Afghan women wearing miniskirts walking through Kabul. McMaster reportedly used the photo to convince Trump that “Western values”—or at least outfits—could exist in Afghanistan. In response, Afghan journalist Ali Latifi, who is based in Kabul, said the use of the photo was sexist, adding, “But then again, it’s the reality host who said 'grab ’em by the pussy.'”

Israeli-Imposed Power Shortages in Gaza Cut Water Access by One-Third

Aug 23, 2017

The United Nations Children’s Fund says the power shortages in the Gaza Strip have reduced access to water by one-third in recent months, in the midst of a sweltering summer heat wave. The Israeli government-imposed power reductions have also disrupted the functioning of hundreds of water and wastewater facilities, causing the number of waterborne cases of diarrhea to double for children under the age of three. The United Nations has warned the Gaza Strip has become unlivable for its 2 million residents.

Up to 800 Dead in Flooding Across India, Bangladesh and Nepal

Aug 23, 2017

In South Asia, historic flooding has killed up to 800 people this month in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. International aid groups say up to 24 million people have been affected. Nearly 50,000 homes have been destroyed in Bangladesh alone, where a full one-third of the country is underwater. The Red Crescent says it’s the worst flooding in Bangladesh’s history. Massive swaths of farmland have also been inundated, wiping out crops and sparking concerns about food security. Scientists have linked increasing rainfall and deadly flooding in South Asia to climate change.

U.S. Cuts Military Funding to Egypt Amid Human Rights Concerns

Aug 23, 2017

The United States has denied Egypt nearly $100 million in military funding and other aid, citing the deteriorating human rights conditions under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The U.S. has withheld another nearly $200 million in foreign military financing, saying the money would be released when the human rights conditions improve. Sisi’s government has launched a wide-ranging crackdown against human rights activists and press freedom advocates in Egypt. The cuts to military funding come as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is slated to visit Egypt as part of Kushner’s upcoming Middle East trip.


U.S. Court Revives Lawsuit Seeking to Block Construction of New U.S. Base in Japan

Aug 23, 2017

A U.S. appeals court has revived a lawsuit seeking to block the construction of a new U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, over concerns about the base’s impacts on an endangered marine mammal called a dugong. The lawsuit is being brought by the Center for Biological Diversity. On Monday, a three-judge panel in San Francisco ruled the case can move forward. The proposed military base has also faced massive resistance by peace activists in Okinawa, who for decades have called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from their island.


Energy Transfer Partners Sues Greenpeace & Earth First!, Accusing Groups of “Eco-Terrorism”

Aug 23, 2017

Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, is suing Greenpeace, Earth First! and other environmental groups, accusing them of inciting an “eco-terrorism” campaign against the pipeline’s construction. The pipeline’s construction was delayed for months last year after thousands of Native Americans led by the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, and their non-Native allies, launched a nonviolent encampment to stop the pipeline from crossing the Missouri River, saying a spill could contaminate the drinking source for millions.

Peru: Indigenous Nations in Amazon Seize Control of Canadian Company’s Oil Facilities

Aug 23, 2017

In Peru, members of indigenous Amazonian nations have seized control of some of the oil facilities operated by the Canadian company Frontera Energy Corp., demanding the Peruvian government carry out a consultation with the indigenous nations before signing a new contract with the oil company. This is the leader of the Rio Pastaza Tribe, Aurelio Chino.

Aurelio Chino: “If they don’t give us a good answer to our previous demand, then I can assure you my people will rise up. We’re not going to just sit around. And, for sure, we are going to defend ourselves to the end and to teach them to respect us.”

Nicaragua: Hundreds of Former Sandinista Fighters March to Demand Housing, Pensions

Aug 23, 2017

In Nicaragua, hundreds of former Sandinista fighters marched in the capital Managua Tuesday to demand the housing, healthcare and pension payments promised to the retired veterans of the Nicaraguan resistance movement that brought Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to power. This is retired fighter Carlos Garcia.

Carlos Garcia: “To us, those mutilated from the war, injured by combat, where are we immortalized? We’re not immortalized, Commander Daniel Ortega. We’re still alive, and we want a dignified resolution. The necessary time to do this has been since 1978. To ask for this right, like revolutionary Rosario Murillo said, is a right that we deserve, a right that won’t be lost. And now, all of us here are demanding our right.”


Justice Dept. Drops Request for 1.3M Visitor IP Addresses for Website

Aug 23, 2017

The Justice Department has dropped its request for IP addresses of 1.3 million visitors to the website, which helped organize the Inauguration Day protests against President Trump. The Justice Department is continuing to press the web hosting company DreamHost to turn over information about what it claims was a “premeditated riot” during Trump’s inauguration. More than 200 protesters were arrested during the Inauguration Day protests and are now facing decades in prison on trumped-up charges.

The Village Voice to Stop Printing After 62 Years

Aug 23, 2017

In New York City, the influential alternative weekly newspaper The Village Voice has announced it will stop its print publication after 62 years. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer, the left-leaning paper was the first alternative weekly in the United States. It’s won multiple Pulitzer Prizes over the years. It’s also helped launch the careers of some of the nation’s best writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Hilton Als and Colson Whitehead. The Village Voice will now continue as an online publication.

St. Louis: Black Transgender Woman Kiwi Herring Killed by Police

Aug 23, 2017

And in St. Louis, Missouri, friends and family held a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening for Kiwi Herring, an African-American transgender woman who was killed by a St. Louis police officer. Relatives say the police officer shot Herring earlier on Tuesday while responding to a dispute between Herring and her neighbors. On Tuesday night, mourners criticized the police for misgendering Herring in the police report, and disputed the police’s claims that she had attacked an officer with a knife.

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