Puerto Rico’s government has acknowledged that 1,427 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. The figures cited in the Puerto Rican government report are from death registry statistics. Yet the Puerto Rican government says it has still not updated the official death toll, which continues to be 64—a figure 20 times lower than the number of people the government is now claiming died. A Harvard study has estimated that as many as 4,645 people may have died in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
A federal judge has threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt of court after learning immigration authorities had already begun the deportation of a Salvadoran mother and her daughter, despite the two being plaintiffs in a pending ACLU lawsuit challenging Sessions’s efforts to stop people fleeing gang violence and domestic violence from qualifying for asylum. Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan slammed the administration, saying, “This is pretty outrageous. That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?” Judge Sullivan has now ordered the administration to return the mother and daughter to the United States immediately. They had already been flown to El Salvador. They’ve now been returned to Houston.
The Trump administration has admitted that it has still not reunited 559 children immigration officials forcibly separated from their parents at the border. The hundreds of children are still in government custody more than two weeks after a court-imposed deadline requiring the Trump administration to reunite all of the separated families. The separation of families has sparked massive condemnation and protest, including an Instagram campaign called “Dear Ivanka,” in which celebrities, including Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler, are calling on the president’s daughter and senior White House adviser to take action on the ongoing crisis of family separation.
An Iranian woman with a life-threatening brain disease is being denied entry into the United States for treatment by Trump’s travel ban. A Louisville, Kentucky, doctor, who is the first in the world to find a cure for the brain disease, has offered to treat Marzieh Taheri, but the Trump administration has so far refused to approve her for an exemption waiver from the travel ban.
First lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, became United States citizens Thursday using a family unification program that’s been repeatedly attacked by President Trump as “chain migration.” Trump has repeatedly called for the end of a long-standing U.S. policy allowing citizens to sponsor their parents and siblings for legal residency.
Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham is facing a backlash after she went on a racist tirade against immigration on Wednesday night.
Laura Ingraham: “Because in some parts of the country it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically, in some ways, the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration, that, of course, progressives love.”
Former Klan leader David Duke expressed his support for Laura Ingraham’s comments.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Pentagon Thursday about President Trump’s idea to create a new military “space force” as a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
Vice President Mike Pence: “Just as in the past, when we created the Air Force, establishing the Space Force is an idea whose time has come. The space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation. What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial. Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.”
Pence also called on Congress to allocate $8 billion for military activities in space over the next five years. President Trump tweeted Thursday, “Space force all the way!”
In Yemen, new details are emerging about the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing massacre of schoolchildren in Yemen’s northern Saada province Thursday. The United Nations says the airstrike hit a bus carrying children from a summer camp, killing and injuring dozens of children. Most of the victims were between 10 and 13 years old. This is eyewitness Moussa Abdullah.
Moussa Abdullah: “The strike happened in the middle of the market, and it targeted a bus carrying children. Our shops were open, and the shoppers were walking around as usual. All of those who died were residents, children and shop owners.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for an independent investigation into the attack.
The American Psychological Association has voted to reject a proposal, pushed by the Pentagon, to reverse its new rules barring its psychologists from participating in interrogations. The APA approved the rules in 2015 after an independent investigation showed how the APA leadership actively colluded with the Pentagon and the CIA torture programs. The American Psychological Association is the largest group of psychologists in the world.
In a newly leaked audio recording, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes of California says Republicans must keep control of the House in order to protect President Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Rep. Devin Nunes: “So, therein lies—so it’s like your classic Catch-22 situation, where we were at a—this puts us in such a tough spot. If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger. That’s why I keep—and thank you for saying it, by the way—I mean, we have to keep all these seats. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”
In New Town, North Dakota, hundreds of people marched in honor of Olivia Lone Bear and other missing and murdered indigenous women across the country. The march came days after Lone Bear’s body was found in Lake Sakakawea, nine months after she went missing.
In education news, the Common Application used by students to apply to college will no longer ask students for their criminal histories. The move is a victory for proponents of “ban the box”—a movement to stop employers and universities from asking for criminal records.
The National Football League’s preseason games began Thursday night with a number of players protesting during the national anthem—kneeling, raising their fists or staying in the locker room during the anthem. Among the protesting players, Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles both raised their fists, while Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the playing of the anthem and headed to the team bench. On the Miami Dolphins, wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both took a knee during the anthem, while Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Kenny Stills both raised their fists. Colin Kaepernick, the player who started the protests in 2016, also tweeted a photo with Stills, writing, “My brother @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee…stay strong brothers.” The two are wearing shirts reading “I know my rights.” The NFL says it will not punish the players for protesting, saying it has suspended its newly implemented policy of fining teams with protesting players, because the league did not consult with the players association before implementing the policy.
And this weekend marks the first anniversary of the white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, which became the biggest and deadliest white supremacist rally in decades in the United States. The violence began on the night of August 11, when hundreds of white men bearing torches marched on the University of Virginia campus and attacked a small group of anti-racist protesters. The following day, up to a thousand white supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville, attacking anti-racist counterprotesters and killing one woman, Heather Heyer. White supremacists have now planned anniversary rallies this weekend in Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. Anti-racist protesters are mobilizing for counterdemonstrations.