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The United Nations Security Council has failed to pass two resolutions to investigate the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. Russia first blocked a U.S.-introduced resolution to set up an independent commission to investigate the alleged attack, which killed at least 40 people in the rebel-held suburb of Damascus. Russia then introduced its own resolution to investigate the alleged attack, which was blocked by the U.S. and other countries.
The World Health Organization is demanding “unhindered access” to Douma to investigate the claims that at least 500 people were affected by the alleged chemical attack. The Syrian government is blocking anyone from entering the area. President Trump has blamed the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, for the alleged attack and has threatened military action. The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the attack. An independent investigation has not been conducted. On Tuesday, President Trump canceled a planned trip to Latin America, saying he would stay in the U.S. to oversee the response to the alleged weapons attack.
This morning, he tweeted, “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” This morning, Europe’s air traffic control agency warned planes flying into the eastern Mediterranean of a possible impending airstrike on Syria.
President Trump’s threats to carry out military action in Syria come as he is facing an escalating political crisis at home, after the FBI raided the offices of his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen early Monday morning. The New York Times reports the FBI agents were looking for records about payoffs to two women—Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford—who say they had affairs with Trump, before he was president. The Trump-appointed deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, personally signed off on the raid, which was carried out by the interim U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York, who was also appointed by President Trump. There’s now increasing speculation Trump may try to fire Rosenstein, or even special counsel Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “He certainly believes he has the power to do so.”
Republican lawmakers are urging Trump not to fire Rosenstein or Mueller, but have resisted passing legislation aimed at protecting the special counsel. This is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Well, it’s still my view that Mueller should be allowed to finish his job. I think that’s the view of most people in Congress. I haven’t seen clear indication yet that we needed to pass something to keep him from being removed, because I don’t think that’s going to happen. And that remains my view, that I don’t think he’s going to be removed from this office. He shouldn’t be removed from the office. He should be allowed to finish the job.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced off with lawmakers in a marathon 5-hour hearing Tuesday about how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of more than 87 million Facebook users, without their permission, in efforts to sway voters to support President Donald Trump. This is Zuckerberg being questioned by California Senator Kamala Harris.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “I’m also concerned that—when you personally became aware of this, did you or senior leadership do an inquiry to find out who at Facebook had this information, and did they not have a discussion about whether or not the users should be informed, back in December of 2015?”
Mark Zuckerberg: “Senator, in retrospect, I think we clearly view it as a mistake that we didn’t inform people. And we did that based on false information, that we thought that the case was closed and that the data had been deleted.”
Sen. Kamala Harris: “So there was a decision made, on that basis, not to inform the users. Is that correct?”
Mark Zuckerberg: “That’s my understanding, yes.”
We’ll have more on the 5-hour hearing and Facebook’s privacy scandals after headlines.
President Trump’s chief homeland security adviser, Thomas Bossert, has been ousted, one day after John Bolton began serving as Trump’s new national security adviser. Bossert’s resignation Tuesday makes him the latest in a slew of top officials to resign or be forced out of the Trump administration.
The Israeli military has censured Israeli soldiers who cheered after one of them shot an unarmed Palestinian man who was standing, motionless, in Gaza, on the other side of a heavily militarized barrier a few months ago in a video that has now gone viral. The video captures the sound of a gunshot, the Palestinian man falling to the ground, and then a voice shouting in Hebrew, “Wow, what a video! Yes! Son of a bitch!” Despite denouncing the soldiers for filming the shooting and celebrating it, the Israeli military defended the shooting itself. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Israeli sniper who shot the Palestinian across the border “deserves a medal.”
In Burma, seven soldiers have been sentenced to 10 years in prison for participating in the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in western Rakhine State. The bodies of 10 Rohingya men were discovered in a mass grave there last September. The massacre was uncovered by Reuters investigative journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are also imprisoned, facing up to 14 years in jail under Burma’s Official Secrets Act. This morning, a court in Yangon refused to dismiss the case against the two journalists, and their petition for bail was denied.
In India, the Supreme Court has upheld the right of interfaith marriage, in a high-profile case of a Hindu woman who married a Muslim man. In its ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed that the 26-year-old student named Hadiya has the right to choose her husband, Shafin Jahan, and convert to Islam, despite the opposition of her father, who tried to have the marriage nullified by claiming his daughter had been forced into the marriage as part of a plot by ISIS to recruit her to fight in Syria. The Supreme Court’s ruling is a major blow to right-wing Hindu nationalists, who have tried to brand interfaith marriage between Hindus and Muslims as “love jihad.”
In Oklahoma, dozens of teachers have completed a 7-day, 110-mile march from Tulsa to the state capital Oklahoma City, where they will now meet with lawmakers to demand they pass legislation to fund education in Oklahoma. Public schools across Tulsa and Oklahoma City remain closed as thousands of teachers continue their strike into its ninth day.
In Florida, the Broward County Public School District has officially voted not to arm teachers. This school district includes the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people—14 students and three staff—were killed in a Valentine’s Day shooting massacre, which sparked a nationwide student-led movement demanding increased gun control.
In California, a 12-year-old video has resurfaced of Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood claiming it is better financially for officers to kill, rather than wound, a suspect.
Sheriff Donny Youngblood: “Which way do you think is better financially—to cripple him or kill him—for the county?”
Unidentified: “Kill him.”
Sheriff Donny Youngblood: “Absolutely, because if you cripple him, we’ve got to take care of him for life, and that cost goes way up.”
The video has gone viral and caused widespread controversy. Sheriff Donny Youngblood is up for re-election. A 2015 investigation by The Guardian found Kern County had the highest number of police killings per capita of any county in the United States—with at least 79 people killed by police between 2005 to 2015.
In Arizona, the state Supreme Court has ordered Arizona public universities and community colleges to stop giving in-state tuition to students with DACA—that’s the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump has tried to cancel. The ruling means students with DACA will now have to pay up to three times as much in tuition to attend public universities in Arizona.
In New York City, immigration lawyers staged a walkout at a Queens courthouse on Tuesday to protest against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, for deploying its agents to the courthouse to arrest undocumented immigrants. Immigration lawyers say ICE’s practice violates the rights of defendants, victims and witnesses. In retaliation for the protest, court officers reassigned some of the protesting lawyers’ cases to other lawyers.
And sex workers and their advocates are speaking out against federal authorities’ move to shut down the popular classifieds website Backpage.com. Federal authorities have indicted the website’s co-founders and five others of conspiracy, facilitating prostitution and money laundering. But sex workers and their advocates say shuttering the website will make sex workers’ jobs more dangerous. The organizers of the Women’s March tweeted, “The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients. Sex workers rights are women’s rights.”
In breaking news, Wisconsin Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan is reportedly not seeking re-election this fall.
And in breaking news out of Algeria, up to 257 people have died in a military plane crash near Algiers this morning. Among the dead are reportedly 26 members of the Polisario Front, which is seeking Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco.