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Special Counsel Finds No Collusion btw. Trump & Russia; Dems Call for Release of Report

Mar 25, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller has ended his 22-month probe, concluding President Trump and his aides did not conspire or coordinate with Russia in order to influence the 2016 election. While the full Mueller report has not yet been made public, Attorney General William Barr sent a four-page letter to congressional leaders on Sunday laying out his interpretation of Mueller’s findings. Mueller also examined whether Trump could be criminally charged for obstructing justice, but he did not come to a definitive conclusion. Barr quoted a passage from the Mueller report saying, “[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” In his letter, Barr—who became attorney general just last month—announced that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had concluded there is not sufficient evidence to “establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” President Trump responded to Barr’s letter by tweeting, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are calling on Barr to release the full Mueller report, as well as underlying documentation. Many Democrats criticized Barr for taking just 48 hours to conclude Trump had not committed obstruction of justice. This is New York Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler “Attorney General Barr, who auditioned for his role with an open memorandum suggesting that the obstruction investigation was unconscionable and that a president—and that it was almost impossible for any president to commit obstruction of justice since he is the head of the executive branch, made a decision about that evidence in under 48 hours. His conclusions raise more questions than they answer, given the fact that Mueller uncovered evidence that, in his own words, 'does not exonerate' the president.”

Trump and his associates still face a number of investigations, including ones led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, the attorney general of New York and congressional Democrats. We’ll have more on the Mueller report after headlines with journalists Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston.

Cyclone Idai Death Toll Rises as Officials Warn of Health Risks

Mar 25, 2019

The death toll from the catastrophic Cyclone Idai has surpassed 750 people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Over 100,000 people are now living in camps for the displaced, 10 days after the cyclone made landfall. As rescue efforts continue in the southeastern African nations, officials are warning of cholera and malaria outbreaks. The U.N. says that nearly half of the 1.7 million people affected by Idai are children.

Brexit: 1 Million Take to Streets to Call for 2nd Referendum

Mar 25, 2019

In Britain, an estimated 1 million demonstrators filled the streets of London Saturday calling for a new referendum on Brexit. The fate of Britain’s exit from the European Union remains in the balance days after EU officials agreed to delay it at least until April 12, while Prime Minister Theresa May attempts to convince lawmakers to approve a deal. Political leaders addressed crowds at Saturday’s protest. This is London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mayor Sadiq Khan: “The British people didn’t vote for the government to gamble on our future. … You didn’t vote for the national nightmare we have. It’s time to give you, us, the British people, a final say on Brexit.”

France: Protesters Take to Streets for 19th Week Amid Gov’t Clampdown

Mar 25, 2019

In France, “yellow vest” protesters took to the streets for the 19th straight week of anti-government demonstrations, days after the French authorities announced a clampdown on the movement, including banning marching on the Champs-Élyseés and other areas, and the deployment of military forces. The “yellow vests” have called out French President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business economic policies and are calling for fair wages for working- and middle-class citizens, as well as heavier taxation on the wealthy. This is a demonstrator from Paris at Saturday’s protest.

Yellow vest protester: “Macron does nothing for us, for his people. On the contrary, he’s against his people. He prioritizes everyone else, not those who are French, not the French people, even those who are working and getting squeezed dry.”

Over 200 arrests were reported across the country over the weekend, along with some clashes between police and protesters.

Thailand: No Clear Election Winner as Pro-Military Party Takes Lead

Mar 25, 2019

In Thailand, voters took to the polls Sunday in the country’s first election since a 2014 coup put a military junta in power. The pro-military Palang Pracharath Party was ahead by a narrow lead with 94 percent of the votes counted. Two competing political parties have raised doubts about the results, citing irregularities. Pheu Thai, the party of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said it will try to form a government, even if it loses the popular vote, by building a coalition with other parties. Thailand’s government runs on a parliamentary system. Final results from the vote are not expected until later this week.

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Gaza: Israeli Forces Kill 3 Palestinian Protesters Over Weekend

Mar 25, 2019

In Gaza, mourners buried three Palestinians killed during weekend protests. Habib al-Masri was shot at a protest against the Israeli army Saturday and later died of his wounds. Nidal Shatat and Jihad Harara were shot and killed at Friday’s Great March of Return protest, while at least 60 others were injured. This week’s protests will mark one year since the start of the Great March of Return on March 30, 2018. Over 250 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the protest, according to local reports, and thousands more injured. Meanwhile, Israeli air raids struck parts of Gaza Sunday, including a refugee camp, causing damage but no reported deaths.

Netanyahu Cuts U.S. Trip Short After Rockets Hit Israeli Home

Mar 25, 2019

Israeli authorities reported rockets fired from Gaza struck a home in Israel near Tel Aviv Monday, injuring at least seven people. They said Hamas is responsible for the attack, but the group has not claimed responsibility. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will cut short his trip to Washington, D.C., and fly back after a meeting with President Trump some time today. “[Israel] will respond forcefully,” he said. Netanyahu had been scheduled to speak at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, on Tuesday.

Somalia: At Least 15 Killed in Gun Battle at Gov’t Bldg

Mar 25, 2019

In Somalia, at least 15 people died after a Saturday gun battle between security forces and al-Shabab militants at an official government building in the capital Mogadishu. The al-Shabab fighters detonated a car bomb outside the building before storming the ministries of labor and public works. Among the dead was the deputy minister of labor and social affairs, Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla.

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Mali: 134 People Killed Amid Mounting Ethnic Tensions

Mar 25, 2019

In the West African nation of Mali, the United Nations said armed men killed at least 134 people from a Fulani community Saturday. Tensions and violence between Fulani and Dogon communities have been on the rise; in December, Human Rights Watch said “militia killings of civilians in central and northern Mali are spiraling out of control.” The government has since banned the Dogon hunting militia that is believed to be responsible for this latest attack.

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Afghanistan: 14 Civilians Killed After Week of Attacks

Mar 25, 2019

In Afghanistan, an airstrike killed at least 14 civilians on Saturday in northern Kunduz province, according to Afghan officials. Four Afghan soldiers were also killed in the attack. The U.S. blamed the attack on the Taliban. On Friday, two U.S. Special Forces and four Afghan special forces fighters were killed in a joint operation in the same region. In a separate incident in southern Helmand province, four people were killed, and 30 people injured, by Taliban bombs, according to local officials. At least 40 Afghan security forces personnel are believed to have been killed in a Taliban attack in the region last week. The deaths come as the U.S. is in the midst of ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

SDF Announces Last Islamic State Enclave Has Been Defeated

Mar 25, 2019

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Saturday that the last territorial stronghold of the Islamic State has fallen. SDF fighters had been battling ISIS in the border town of Baghouz for several weeks before the announced defeat. The U.S. hailed the announcement, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo adding the U.S. mission was ongoing. He said, “Our mission there hasn’t changed. We still have work to do to make sure radical Islamic terrorism doesn’t continue to grow.”

PA: Ex-Cop Who Shot and Killed Unarmed Teen Antwon Rose Acquitted

Mar 25, 2019

Back in the U.S., a white former police officer charged with killing unarmed African-American teenager Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh last year was acquitted on Friday. Video of the June 19 shooting shows officer Michael Rosfeld shot Rose in the back while the teenager was trying to flee a traffic stop. Rosfeld had been sworn in to the city’s police department just three hours before the shooting. At a vigil Sunday, Rose’s mother Michelle Kenney said she would continue to fight for justice for her son.

Michelle Kenney: “The problem is the law. The problem isn’t the individual. If we rewrite the law, then all individuals gotta abide by it. So that’s where we gotta start at. So, no, it’s not over for me. I got a long fight ahead of me. A long fight. We gotta rewrite the law. And one way or the other, Michael Rosfeld gotta answer for what he did to Antwon.”

Trump Cancels Unannounced North Korea Sanctions

Mar 25, 2019

President Trump appeared to undermine his own administration Friday when he announced he was withdrawing new sanctions on North Korea. He tweeted, “It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!” The tweet likely refers to still-unconfirmed future sanctions, according to administration officials, as no new sanctions against North Korea were announced Friday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not clear up the confusion but indicated that Trump made the announcement because “President Trump likes Chairman Kim.” Last month, a second summit between the two leaders broke down without any progress made toward a denuclearization deal.

2 Survivors of Parkland Massacre Die by Suicide

Mar 25, 2019

A student who survived last year’s shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, died by suicide Saturday, according to local authorities. The unnamed student is the second Parkland survivor to die by suicide in a week, after 19-year-old Sydney Aiello’s death last weekend. Aiello suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt, according to her mother. Seventeen students, staff and teachers were killed in Parkland on February 14, 2018, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. David Hogg, a Parkland massacre survivor and gun control activist, tweeted Sunday, “How many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government / school district to do anything? Rip 17+2.”

You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Chelsea Manning Reportedly Being Held in Solitary Confinement

Mar 25, 2019

Supporters of U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning say she has been held in solitary confinement since being sent back to prison on March 8 after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury. Manning had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District for questioning over her 2010 release to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was imprisoned from 2010 to 2017 for the leak. During this time, Manning was also held in solitary confinement, which she described as a “practice that needs to be ended everywhere. Nothing justifies doing this to any human being.” The U.S. district judge in Virginia overseeing the case said Manning would remain in jail until either she agrees to testify or the grand jury concludes its work.

500+ Cities, Counties & Tribes Sue Sackler Family over Opioid Crisis

Mar 25, 2019

And a group of over 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes filed a lawsuit against members of the Sackler family for their role in creating “the worst drug crisis in American history” by lying about the dangers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin and deceitful marketing of the drug. The lawsuit, filed last week in the Southern District of New York, names eight members of the Sackler family, which founded and owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, differentiating the case from other lawsuits which have targeted Purdue and other drug companies. Government data found that deadly opioid overdoses are responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

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