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HeadlinesMarch 26, 2019

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Israel Continues Airstrikes in Gaza Amid Fragile Truce

Mar 26, 2019

Israel carried out a new wave of airstrikes on Gaza Monday in retaliation for a rocket Israeli authorities say was fired by Hamas, which destroyed a house near Tel Aviv and injured at least seven people. The airstrikes, which injured at least seven people in Gaza and destroyed several buildings, were met by additional rocket strikes from Gaza. An Egyptian-brokered truce between Hamas and Israel was announced late Monday, but Gaza residents reported more explosions and a build-up of tanks by the separation barrier with Israel on Tuesday. This is Gaza resident Yousef Abu Shaban speaking among the wreckage of Monday’s airstrikes.

Yousef Abu Shaban: “I do not know what to tell you. Where are we supposed to go? Where are we supposed to live? Our children and families have become homeless. We do not know where to go anymore.”

U.S. Officially Recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli Territory

Mar 26, 2019

The escalating attacks came as President Trump officially recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory at a signing ceremony with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday. Trump announced the move last week, which reverses decades of U.S. policy and is in defiance of international law. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing the territory from Syria during the 1967 war.

Trump Suggests Probes into “Traitors” in Wake of Mueller Report

Mar 26, 2019

As President Trump and Republican lawmakers continued to celebrate Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the special counsel’s report, congressional Democrats are pushing for Robert Mueller’s findings to be made fully available to the public, as well as to hold hearings with Barr. The long-anticipated report found that the 2016 Trump campaign did not collude with Russia; the attorney general also exonerated Trump from obstruction charges although Mueller’s report did not come to a definitive conclusion on the issue. Attorney General Barr is currently scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations Committee on April 9 for a budget hearing, but lawmakers may press him on the report. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler is requesting he appear before his committee, as well.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a vote on a nonbinding resolution to release the special counsel’s full report, although President Trump declared it “wouldn’t bother [him] at all” if the report was made public.

Speaking to reporters, Trump suggested he might seek to pursue unnamed individuals for “treasonous” acts now that the Mueller probe was over.

President Donald Trump: “There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things—I would say treasonous things—against our country. … Those people will certainly be looked at. I have been looking at them for a long time. And I’m saying, 'Why haven't they been looked at?’ They lied to Congress, many of them. You know who they are.”

Pentagon Authorizes Diversion of $1 Billion to Build Border Wall

Mar 26, 2019

The Pentagon has authorized the transfer of $1 billion to begin building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, over which Trump declared a national emergency. The first phase of funding will reportedly go toward 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the border. Democratic lawmakers immediately condemned the news, saying the administration did not go through the appropriate channels and request permission from the Senate Appropriations Committee to divert the money from military personnel funds. In a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Democratic senators on the committee wrote, “We have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.”

Father of 6-Year-Old Sandy Hook Victim Dies by Suicide

Mar 26, 2019

The father of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was found dead by apparent suicide Monday. Jeremy Richman was a neuroscientist who, after the death of his daughter Avielle, devoted his life to finding solutions to brain abnormalities that lead to violence. He founded the Avielle Foundation to support brain science research, with the ultimate goal of preventing violence and building compassion.

Richman’s death follows two apparent suicides in the last week by survivors of the Parkland massacre. An unnamed student who survived last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died by suicide Saturday, and 19-year-old Sydney Aiello, a former student and survivor from Parkland, died the previous weekend. Aiello suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt, according to her mother. We’ll have more on preventing suicide with Columbia University professor Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber later in the broadcast.

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

Parkland Survivors Urge Senators to Pass Background Check Act

Mar 26, 2019

Survivors of the 2018 Parkland massacre and gun control activists gathered outside Congress in Washington, D.C., Monday to demand lawmakers pass the Background Check Expansion Act, which was introduced in January of this year. Seventeen students, staff and teachers were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The action came one year after the historic March for Our Lives, which was inspired and led by students and took place in over 700 locations around the world. This is gun control activist and a survivor of the shooting, Emma González, reading her message to lawmakers.

Emma González: “Dear Senator, every year 1,600 children across the country lose their lives due to gun violence. The fabric you hold in your hands represents 16 lives that you can save by voting yes on S.42. What will you do?”

The rally follows two apparent suicides in the last week by survivors of the Parkland massacre.

In more gun control news, the federal ban on bump stocks—accessories that turn semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns—is going into effect today, despite last-ditch efforts from so-called gun rights groups to appeal the new law.

DOJ Backs Full Repeal of Affordable Care Act

Mar 26, 2019

The Justice Department said Monday the Affordable Care Act should be fully overturned, reversing course from a previous position that primarily opposed the so-called healthcare penalty. In a filing with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, administration officials said they agreed with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that declared President Obama’s signature health plan unconstitutional last December.

Mexico: Radio Reporter Killed Amid Spate of Journalist Murders

Mar 26, 2019

In the Mexican state of Sinaloa, local radio sports journalist Omar Iván Camacho was found dead in an apparent homicide Sunday, making him at least the fifth reporter to be killed in the country so far this year. Protesters gathered to call for justice for the slain journalist. This is fellow reporter and activist Alejandro Sicairos.

Alejandro Sicairos: “While there is insecurity, we are at a high risk, not just from criminals who attack us, but also from authorities who don’t do their job, and when there is a great indifference to journalists.”

Venezuela: New Power Outage Hits Residents Amid Political Turmoil

Mar 26, 2019

In Venezuela, a new power outage has hit over half the country, according to local reports. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez blamed the blackout on the opposition and their “imperial masters” in Washington, D.C. Power was restored in some parts of the country by late Monday, including the capital Caracas, but residents in other states said they were still in the dark. It comes less than three weeks after a massive power outage plunged most of Venezuela into darkness for days and reportedly resulted in at least 21 deaths.


Suspects in College Admissions Scam Plead Not Guilty

Mar 26, 2019

In Boston, 12 defendants in the elite college admissions scandal pleaded not guilty in a federal court Monday. The suspects include coaches and test administrators from some of the schools implicated in the scandal, including Georgetown, the University of Southern California and Wake Forest. One of the suspects, a former tennis coach at Georgetown University, is accused of accepting over $2.7 million in bribes to get at least 12 students recruited to the school as tennis players—including students who did not actually play tennis. Defendants in the case face hefty fines and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if found guilty. More defendants are expected to appear in court in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Yale University rescinded the admission of a current student who applied to the Ivy League school with fabricated endorsements from a soccer coach.

Green New Deal Goes to Senate Floor, Dems Call Out GOP “Stunt”

Mar 26, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is holding a vote on the Green New Deal today, in what is being called a “stunt vote” designed to force Democrats to take a stand on a still-divisive resolution that has no chance of passing in the Republican-controlled chamber. Democrats reportedly plan to block the move by voting “present” rather than for or against the resolution. Republicans have been spreading misinformation about the Green New Deal, while Democrats have accused them of failing to offer any solutions to the climate crisis. Democratic leadership has resisted backing the deal, although all 2020 hopefuls in congressional office have come out in support of it.

New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become the political face of the Green New Deal and introduced its House version, blasted the move by Republicans, tweeting, “The GOP’s whole game of wasting votes in Congress to target others 'on the record', for leg they have no intent to pass, is a disgrace. Stop wasting the American peoples’ time + learn to govern. Our jobs aren’t for campaigning, & that’s exactly what these bluff-votes are for.”

Michael Avenatti Charged with Extortion and Fraud

Mar 26, 2019

Attorney Michael Avenatti was charged with extortion, bank fraud and wire fraud in two separate cases Monday. In Los Angeles, Avenatti—who first came into the public spotlight as Stormy Daniels’s lawyer in her hush money case against President Trump—was accused of embezzling $1.6 million from a California client and using it to pay for expenses related to his coffee shop business.

Meanwhile, in New York, federal prosecutors accused Avenatti of attempting to extort Nike to the tune of over $20 million in what the Manhattan U.S. attorney called an “old-fashioned shakedown.” Avenatti allegedly threatened to reveal damaging information on improper payments made by Nike to student athletes unless they either paid him off or retained his services. Avenatti, who was arrested and later released on bond, has denied the charges.

SoCal Mosque Vandalized, Graffiti Cites NZ Christchurch Massacre

Mar 26, 2019

Police in Escondido, in Southern California, are investigating a fire and acts of vandalism at a mosque as a possible hate crime. After fire crews were called to the Islamic Center of Escondido on Sunday, they found graffiti referencing the recent mass murder in New Zealand, which was carried out by a white supremacist terrorist and killed 50 Muslim worshipers at two mosques. Police confirmed the reports but have not revealed the contents of the graffiti messages or identified any suspects. Congregants were able to contain the blaze, and there are no reported injuries. The head of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement, “While the majority of humanity has responded to the tragedy [in New Zealand] to draw closer to one another and refute hatred, a violent and hate-filled minority seeks further divisions. … We stand in solidarity with our community members.”

Mexican President Calls on Spain, Pope to Apologize for Colonial Past

Mar 26, 2019

And in Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is calling on Spain and the Vatican to apologize for the “abuses” of colonialism. AMLO released a video Monday, speaking in front of the archaeological site of Comalcalco in the state of Tabasco.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “I sent a letter to the Spanish king and another letter to Pope Francis for an account of incidents and to ask for an apology to the first peoples for the violations of what is now known as human rights. There were massacres, force, known as the conquest. It was done with the sword and the cross. They raised churches on top of temples.”

The government of Spain has rejected the request, saying events from 500 years ago “cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations.”

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