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HeadlinesMarch 19, 2019

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New Zealand Mourns Victims of Mosque Terror Attack, Calls for Support of Muslims

Mar 19, 2019

Burials are beginning in New Zealand as the country mourns the loss of 50 Muslim worshipers gunned down by a white supremacist Friday in the deadliest attack in New Zealand’s history. The worshipers killed in the Christchurch massacre came from around the world. Most of them were immigrants, or refugees who had come to New Zealand seeking safety. Six Pakistanis, four Jordanians, four Egyptians and at least three Bangladeshis are among the dead. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said that six of the victims were of Palestinian origin. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been calling for unity and support for Muslim communities following the horrific attack. On Friday, she was asked about her phone call with President Trump.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “I spoke with Donald Trump this morning. He sought to call us directly. He very much wished for his condolences to be passed on to New Zealand. He asked what offer of support the United States could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.”

Ardern has been widely praised for her response to the attacks. In the immediate aftermath, the youngest female head of state vowed to reform gun laws and visited with Muslim communities in New Zealand, wearing a hijab as a sign of respect. She also recently pledged to never use the terror suspect’s name, instead calling on people to say the names of those killed in the attacks. We’ll have more on the Muslim community in New Zealand after headlines.

Lawmakers to Hold Hearing on Rise of White Nationalism

Mar 19, 2019

The Daily Beast is reporting the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks on the rise of white nationalism, hate crimes and hate speech in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that membership in white nationalist groups increased by nearly 50 percent last year. Government agencies including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have warned that white nationalist attacks are on the rise and pose a major domestic threat.

HuffPost: 7 Active U.S. Military Are Members of Far-Right “Identity Evropa”

Mar 19, 2019

Meanwhile, a recent HuffPost investigation has found seven current members of the U.S. military belong to white nationalist group Identity Evropa, which was founded by a former marine and was involved in organizing the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The military says it is investigating those servicemembers.

Mozambique: Cyclone Idai Death Toll Could Top 1,000

Mar 19, 2019

In Mozambique, President Filipe Nyusi said Monday that the death toll from Tropical Cyclone Idai could reach over 1,000 people. The devastating cyclone brought winds of 110 miles per hour and massive flooding to Mozambique and neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi from Thursday to Saturday, in what Mozambique’s environment minister called the “biggest natural disaster” the country has ever faced. Aid agencies warned that Idai destroyed 90 percent of the low-lying port city of Beira, which has a population of over half a million people.

Nebraska: Flooding Submerges Air Force Base

Mar 19, 2019

Meanwhile, in other climate news, massive flooding has forced the closing of much of the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Flooding submerged as many as 60 structures on the base, which is the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command. In January, the Pentagon released a report warning that climate change could threaten two-thirds of the nation’s military installations. In October, Hurricane Michael severely damaged Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. Vice President Mike Pence is due to visit the damage later today.

NYT: Saudi Crown Prince Approved Campaign to Silence Opponents

Mar 19, 2019

The New York Times is reporting that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved a covert campaign to silence opponents and critics of the Saudi government. The campaign, which started in 2017 and whose acts were carried out by a group known as the “Saudi Rapid Intervention Group,” included surveillance, forcible repatriation, kidnapping and torture of dissidents.

Some of the covert missions were reportedly carried out by the same individuals involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last October. A top aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, is said to have overseen the campaign. The group is also believed to be involved in the jailing and abuse of at least a dozen women activists who campaigned against the kingdom’s ban on female drivers.

In more news about Saudi Arabia, Turkey said last week that Interpol had issued a “red notice” for the arrest of 20 suspects in journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, including Saud al-Qahtani.

U.N. Condemns Israel for Use of Lethal Force on Gaza Protesters

Mar 19, 2019

A United Nations commission presented its full report on Israeli crimes in Gaza to the Human Rights Council Monday. The panel called on Israel to stop using live ammunition against unarmed protesters and to investigate the shooting of thousands of Palestinians. This is Santiago Cantón, chair of the U.N. War Crimes Commission, speaking in Geneva.

Santiago Cantón: “We believe that in situations of crowd control and in situations that we deem to be civilian in nature, if there are individuals in the crowds that may be legitimate targets, you still cannot shoot at the crowd, because you may shoot or kill innocent individuals.”

A summary of the report released last month found that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting protesters in Gaza with lethal force—including children, journalists and the disabled. The report looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier; it found Israeli forces killed 189 Palestinians—almost all of them with live ammunition.

New Brexit Vote Blocked Less Than 2 Weeks from Deadline

Mar 19, 2019

In Britain, the speaker of the House of Commons dealt a new blow Monday to Prime Minister Theresa May by barring another vote in Parliament on her Brexit agreement—just 11 days before the U.K. is set to leave the European Union.

Speaker John Bercow: “What the government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition, or substantially the same proposition, as that of last week, which was rejected by 149 votes.”
That was Speaker John Bercow. Britain may now request a Brexit extension from European leaders.

France to Crack Down on “Yellow Vest” Protests

Mar 19, 2019

France has announced tough new measures on “yellow vest” protests as the anti-government demonstrations entered its fourth month over the weekend, marked by clashes with the police, nearly 200 arrests and damage to businesses by some protesters. Police used tear gas and water cannons on crowds in Paris. On Monday, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe banned the yellow vests from the Champs-Élysées and certain neighborhoods, as well as announced the shutdown of any protest that included violent or “ultra-radicalized” groups. Prime Minister Philippe also said the Paris police chief would be replaced and police officers would be granted more autonomy.

Dutch Police Arrest Suspect Who Shot and Killed 3 People in Utrecht

Mar 19, 2019

In the Netherlands, authorities have arrested a man suspected of shooting passengers on a tram in the city of Utrecht, killing three people and injuring five others. Thirty-seven-year-old Gokmen Tanis, who is originally from Turkey, reportedly has a criminal record, including a possible rape charge. One of the victims of the shooting may be the gunman’s ex-wife, according to some reports. Dutch authorities initially believed the attack may have a “terrorist motive,” but later said it was no longer being treated as such.

Mexico: Journalist and Radio Host Santiago Barroso Killed by Gunmen

Mar 19, 2019

Another Mexican journalist and radio host has been killed at his home in Sonora, which lies on the U.S.-Mexico border, neighboring Arizona. Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Santiago Barroso Friday, making him the fourth known reporter to be killed in Mexico this year. Shortly before his murder, Barroso reported on smugglers attempting to bring a group of migrants across the border.

Human rights and press freedom groups are calling on the Mexican government to investigate the killing and put in place measures to better protect journalists. British nonprofit Article 19 found that there is a 99 percent impunity rate for crimes against journalists in Mexico.

Venezuelan Opposition Takes Control of Diplomatic Properties in U.S.

Mar 19, 2019

Representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took control of multiple diplomatic properties in the U.S. Monday, with the support of the U.S. State Department, including the consulate in New York and two diplomatic buildings in Washington, D.C. The government of sitting President Nicolás Maduro, which cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. over its support for his ouster, called on U.S. officials to “reverse this forcible occupation.”


Nicaragua: Police Arrest Over 100 as Protesters Call for Release of Political Prisoners

Mar 19, 2019

In Nicaragua, police arrested over 100 people over the weekend, after protesters took to the streets demanding the government of President Daniel Ortega release all political prisoners and following Friday’s release of 50 prisoners amid an ongoing crackdown on journalists and government critics. Last month, Ortega vowed to reopen talks with political opponents. This is a protester speaking in Managua Saturday.

Protester: “We are calling for freedom for all our political prisoners. The government has accepted that there are political prisoners. The only crime that they committed was to raise their flag and their voices for Nicaragua.”

House Judiciary Cmte Receives 10,000s of Documents in Trump Probe

Mar 19, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee said it received tens of thousands of documents from some of the 81 individuals and groups contacted as part of the committee’s sweeping probe into President Trump and his businesses over possible obstruction of justice, corruption and other crimes and abuses of power. The committee did not reveal specifically who handed over records, but Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler told MSNBC on Monday that former Trump campaign adviser Stephen Bannon was one of the people who handed over “a few thousand” documents.

Meanwhile, The Daily Beast is reporting that Trump’s legal team told Congressmember Nadler they would not be handing over any requested documents. The House panel has said they would likely issue subpoenas to anyone who refused to comply with their request.

Report: U.S. Gov’t Operates “Secret Shelters” for Unaccompanied Migrant Youth

Mar 19, 2019

A new report by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that the U.S. government operates “secret shelters” to detain some unaccompanied migrant minors. The facilities, which are outside of the regular Office of Refugee Resettlement network, reportedly specialize in housing youth with mental or behavioral challenges. The practice may be in violation of a long-standing agreement that says the government must provide lawyers with accurate information on the whereabouts of all children in their care. It’s unknown how many such sites exist, but Reveal identified at least five locations, where at least 16 immigrant youths are detained, some as young as 9 years old. At least one of the facilities has previously been accused of numerous violations, including sexual and physical abuse.

Sen. Warren Calls for Ending Electoral College

Mar 19, 2019

At a town hall Monday night, senator and 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren called for voting reforms, including doing away with the Electoral College.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”

Senator Warren was responding to a question from Rukia Lumumba, activist and former campaign manager for her brother Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.

Ex-President Bush Attends Naturalization Ceremony

Mar 19, 2019

In Dallas, Texas, former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush attended a naturalization ceremony in Dallas in a rare public appearance. Bush said, “Amid all the complications of policy, may we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.” His comments came a few days after President Trump signed his first veto, overturning Congress’s vote on blocking his national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Steve King Posts Facebook Meme Imagining New Civil War

Mar 19, 2019

Iowa congressmember and supporter of white nationalists Steve King posted an image to Facebook over the weekend showing two figures—formed by red and blue states—in a fight, with the words: “Folks keep talking about another Civil War. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.” Steve King added the caption “Wonder who would win.” The “bathroom” reference is an apparent mocking of transgender rights. The image was later removed from King’s page. The congressmember was stripped of his House committee assignments earlier this year over his support for white supremacy.

U.S. Veterans for Peace Held in Ireland After Protest at Military Base

Mar 19, 2019

And two U.S. veterans for peace are being held in Ireland after protesting U.S. warplanes refueling there. Military planes regularly refuel at Shannon Airport before continuing on to U.S. wars in the Middle East. Veterans for Peace members Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, currently in Limerick Prison, could be held for up to two years pre-trial after entering the airfield carrying a large banner that said: “U.S. Veterans Say Respect Irish Neutrality. U.S. War Machine Out of Shannon Airport. Veterans for Peace.”

Ed Horgan, coordinator of Irish Veterans for Peace, said, “This process is a clear attempt to punish the two VFP activists before any trial takes place. We are calling on all peace and human rights activists in Ireland and internationally to campaign not only on behalf of Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, but, more important, on behalf of all the innocent people being killed and injured by U.S. illegal wars.”

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