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HeadlinesSeptember 19, 2018

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North and South Korea Vow to Denuclearize, Co-Host 2032 Olympics

Sep 19, 2018

The leaders of North and South Korea have wrapped up their third summit this year with a vow to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Earlier today South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a joint press conference in Pyongyang. Kim vowed to move toward denuclearization if the United States takes steps of its own.

Kim Jong-un: “We adopted a military pact to end a history of brutal and tragic confrontation and hostility, and agreed to make efforts to turn the Korean Peninsula into a land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the North Korean offer. He said, “The era of no war has started.”

President Moon Jae-in: “South and North Korea agreed on a denuclearization plan for the first time. It is a very meaningful outcome. The North has decided to permanently abolish the Tongchang-ri engine test site and missile launchers, with the attendance of experts from relevant countries.”

The two leaders also agreed to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Olympic Games, and Moon said he expects Kim Jong-un to soon become the first North Korean leader to ever visit Seoul.

Kavanaugh Accuser Faces Death Threats, Asks for FBI Investigation Before Testifying

Sep 19, 2018

The woman who has accused Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her decades ago has asked for the FBI to investigate her claims before she testifies to the Senate. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley had invited the woman—Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—and Kavanaugh to both testify on Monday. In a letter to Grassley, Blasey Ford’s attorneys wrote, “While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.” The letter went on to reveal that Christine Blasey Ford has received multiple death threats in the past few days and has been forced to move her family out of her home. On Tuesday night, one of her attorneys, Lisa Banks, appeared on CNN.

Lisa Banks: “Any talk of a hearing on Monday, frankly, is premature, because she just came forward with these allegations 48 hours ago. And since that time, she has been dealing with hate mail, harassment, death threats. So she has been spending her time trying to figure out how to put her life back together, how to protect herself and her family. And there hasn’t been an investigation. And these are serious allegations.”

On Tuesday night, Senator Grassley said there’s no reason for any further delay of the hearing, even if Dr. Christine Blasey Ford does not testify. Meanwhile, President Trump dismissed the need for an FBI probe into her allegations.

John Decker: “To that end, what would be the problem with the FBI reopening their background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh? Would you support such a thing?”

President Donald Trump: “It wouldn’t bother me, other than the FBI, John said, that they really don’t do that. That’s not what they do.”

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California responded on Twitter by writing, “Fact check: The FBI can investigate Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations as part of its background investigation—that is their job. To say otherwise is FALSE. It investigated Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. It should investigate this too.”

President Trump also defended Brett Kavanaugh, describing him as a “great gentleman.”

President Donald Trump: “I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this, to be honest with you. I feel so badly for him. This is not a man that deserves this. … And we will see what happens. But I just think he is at a level that we rarely see, not only in government, anywhere in life. And, honestly, I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman, and for his beautiful, young daughters. I feel terribly for them.”

President Trump did not refer to Kavanaugh’s accuser by name, just calling her “the woman.”

Florence Death Toll Rises to 35, Includes 2 Detainees in Police Custody

Sep 19, 2018

The death toll from Hurricane Florence has risen to 35, while the flooding is worsening in some parts of North Carolina. President Trump is heading to North Carolina today, where some 10,000 people are still living in shelters and nearly 350,000 are without power. Meanwhile in South Carolina, two women detainees died Tuesday when they were being transported in a sheriff’s van which was overcome by floodwaters. The women were both mental health patients being detained for medical transport. Two sheriff’s deputies in the vehicle were able to be rescued from the rising waters.

Trump Considers Building Permanent Military Base in Poland

Sep 19, 2018

President Trump has confirmed the United States is considering building a permanent U.S. military base in Poland.

President Donald Trump: “We’re looking at it very seriously. I know Poland likes the idea very much. And it’s something that we are considering, yes.”
Trump made the comment during a White House meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda, who suggested naming the base “Fort Trump.” Poland has been pushing for an increased U.S. presence as a counter to what it has described as Russian aggression in the region.

NATO Building Permanent Military Structures in Afghanistan as 17th Anniversary of War Approaches

Sep 19, 2018

In other military news, Stars and Stripes is reporting the U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan is building new hardened permanent structures in Kabul, in the latest sign that the 17-year war won’t be ending anytime soon. NATO is seeking bids to build a massive concrete command-and-control center at its compound.

Yemen: New Evidence of U.S.-Made Bombs; Charity Warns of Starvation on “Unprecedented Scale”

Sep 19, 2018

In news from Yemen, U.S.-backed Saudi forces have launched a new series of attacks on the port city of Hodeidah, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis. The charity Save the Children has warned disruption to supplies coming through Hodeidah could “cause starvation on an unprecedented scale.” The group warns 5 million children are at risk of famine. Meanwhile, CNN is reporting new evidence confirms U.S.-made bombs have been used in a series of attacks killing Yemeni civilians since the Saudi assault began in 2015. The CNN probe was based on shrapnel found at the scene of multiple bombings. Several of the bombs were manufactured by Raytheon.


Israeli Forces Kill 2 Men in Gaza Protest and 1 Palestinian in Occupied East Jerusalem

Sep 19, 2018

In Gaza, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians on Tuesday and wounded 46, firing shots at a crowd of thousands protesting near the Erez checkpoint border fence with Israel. The protest was in part calling out the recent halt in funding by the U.S. to the U.N. agency UNRWA. Meanwhile, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man in occupied East Jerusalem.

U.N. Report Condemns Burma for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Sep 19, 2018

A new U.N. report is slamming Burma’s leadership for the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority. The report details violence in the western state of Rakhine and finds that the Burmese military committed “the gravest crimes under international law” when Rohingya villages were cleared a year ago. The report builds on an earlier U.N. report from August which called for top Burmese military leaders to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide. A top U.N. human rights investigator also called out Burma’s civilian leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for being a “fig leaf for military atrocities.” This is Marzuki Darusman, chair of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

Marzuki Darusman: “Repressive laws are being used to silence those that seek to scrutinize. We have verified instances of reprisals against individuals for sharing information with the United Nations. Peaceful protests are blocked, sometimes violently, as occurred in the village of Mrauk U. While voices critical of the government are muted by threats and arrest, hate speech is thriving, particularly against the Rohingya. Patience will not help Myanmar’s democratization; it will only help those that seek to derail it, as it has for over 70 years.”


U.S.-China Trade War Ramps Up with Retaliatory Chinese Tariffs

Sep 19, 2018

China hit back at President Trump’s recently announced tariffs on the country by confirming its planned tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. The tariff rates were lowered from previous proposals and continues the ongoing trade war between the two nations. In response, Trump warned that he may impose additional tariffs on all remaining Chinese goods.


Pussy Riot Activist Was Likely Poisoned, German Doctors Confirm

Sep 19, 2018

A member of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot remains hospitalized in Berlin after losing the ability to speak or walk. On Tuesday, German doctors said the activist, Pyotr Verzilov, was likely poisoned. Verzilov was hospitalized last week after falling gravely ill. In July, he was arrested and jailed after rushing the field during a World Cup match to protest Russian police brutality and human rights abuses. He reportedly started having severe symptoms after attending a court hearing in Moscow. In 2012, Pyotr appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about Russia’s jailing of his former wife Nadia Tolokonnikova, also of Pussy Riot.

Pyotr Verzilov: “A week later, I went to see Nadia, and around 20 or 25 FSB officers just like were jumping out of nowhere and apprehended us. We were put to the ground, guns stuck to our heads, and then we were taken to interrogation. And the same thing happened with the other two girls.”

Wilbur Ross Lied Under Oath About Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

Sep 19, 2018

In voting rights news, Mother Jones reports that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied under oath in testimony about the controversial citizenship question in the 2020 census. Ross claimed that the Justice Department requested the addition of the question in order to better enforce the Voting Right Act, but new emails confirm that he was the one who approached the Justice Department about including the controversial question after consulting with senior White House officials. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, then-head of the widely discredited and now-defunct “Election Integrity Commission,” was one of the officials who lobbied Ross to add the question “at the direction of Steve Bannon.” Multiple lawsuits are challenging the inclusion of the citizenship question in the census.


Brooklyn Catholic Diocese to Pay Massive Settlement in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Sep 19, 2018

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, has agreed to pay out $27.5 million to four men who were sexually abused by a religious teacher between 2003 and 2009. It is one of the largest settlements ever awarded to abuse victims within the Catholic Church.

Workers Strike Across U.S. Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment at McDonald’s

Sep 19, 2018

And McDonald’s workers around the country went on strike against the fast-food giant on Tuesday to protest sexual harassment. At rallies in various cities, workers decried sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace and said that the company has not addressed their complaints in many cases.

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