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HeadlinesMarch 06, 2019

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NY Regulators Probe Trump Org. Insurance Company

Mar 06, 2019

One week after Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen delivered an explosive congressional testimony, The New York Times is reporting that New York state regulators are investigating insurance claims and policies of Trump’s businesses and have subpoenaed the Trump Organization’s insurance broker, Aon. Michael Cohen told lawmakers last week that the Trump Organization regularly inflated the value of its assets for insurance purposes. The news comes one day after the House Judiciary Committee requested documents from 81 people and groups in Trump’s inner circle. Cohen returns to the Hill to continue his closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee later today.

BLM Occupies Sacramento Police Dept. After Police Get Off for Killing Stephon Clark

Mar 06, 2019

In Sacramento, California, protesters continue to take to the streets following the news Saturday that the county’s district attorney would not file criminal charges against the two police officers who shot and killed 22-year-old unarmed African American Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard last year. On Monday night, police arrested 84 protesters, including local religious leaders. Tanya Faison, founder of the local Black Lives Matter chapter, said there was heavy police presence prior to the crackdown, which she attributed to the demonstration taking place in a wealthy neighborhood. Demonstrators are now occupying a local police station, in an action called by Black Lives Matter Sacramento after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced his office will not file charges. The Justice Department, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI, said Tuesday it was launching its own investigation into the killing.

Whistleblower: Chicago PD Tried to Falsify Report on Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen

Mar 06, 2019

In Chicago, a police officer filed a whistleblower lawsuit Monday, alleging he was directed to falsify a report on the 2017 police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Ricardo Hayes. Sergeant Isaac Lambert, who investigated the shooting, says he was told by superiors to portray the police officer as a victim, and Hayes as an aggressor. He was demoted from his position after refusing to alter his report. At the time of the 2017 police shooting, officer Khalil Muhammad claimed he shot Ricardo Hayes—who, court documents say, has “profound intellectual and developmental disabilities”—after an “escalated” encounter where Hayes appeared to be pulling out a gun. But footage of the events, that was later released, instead showed officer Muhammad chasing after the teen in his car before shooting directly at him.

House Updates Anti-Semitism Resolution to Include Islamophobia

Mar 06, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that a resolution condemning anti-Semitism will now also condemn anti-Muslim bias. The resolution is seen as a direct rebuke of recent comments by Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar questioning the U.S.'s relationship with Israel—even though the draft resolution does not explicitly name the freshman congressmember. The resolution was announced after comments by Omar at an event last week, in which she called out the “political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country”—referring to Israel. Omar has repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism.
Prior to Pelosi's statement, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a flurry of tweets Monday and Tuesday, accusing Omar’s critics of using a double standard, tweeting, “[I]ncidents like these do beg the question: where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll 'send Obama home to Kenya?'”

Alabama Tornado Kills At Least 23, 8 Still Missing

Mar 06, 2019

In eastern Alabama, search and rescue teams have recovered and identified 23 bodies following Sunday’s devastating tornado—the nation’s deadliest in six years. The 170-mile-an-hour tornado ripped through homes in Lee County, claiming lives from 6 to 93 years old. As of Tuesday, up to eight people were still reported missing. This is Kathy Carson of the local emergency management agency.

Kathy Carson: “This is the worst natural disaster that has ever occurred in Lee County. And we have never—most of us cannot remember anything ever creating this much of loss of life and injuries in our citizens.”

On Tuesday, President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Alabama, allowing the devastated community to receive federal assistance funds.

U.K. Labour Leader Calls for End to Israeli Arms Sales

Mar 06, 2019

In Britain, Labour Party and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is renewing calls for the U.K. to stop selling arms to Israel in light of the recent U.N. inquiry that found that Israel may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in their response to protesters in Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return demonstrations last March. The report says that Israeli forces targeted unarmed protesters in Gaza with lethal force—including children, journalists and the disabled—and that they killed 189 Palestinians, almost all of them with live ammunition. “The UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings and freeze arms sales to Israel,” Corbyn tweeted after the report was published. The Labour Party, which is not currently in power, passed a motion last year calling for an embargo on arms sales to Israel.

Egypt: Noted Photojournalist Shawkan Released After 5 Years in Jail

Mar 06, 2019

In Egypt, authorities released award-winning photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid—better known as Shawkan—on Monday, after five years in prison. Shawkan was arrested while covering a violent crackdown on a 2013 protest in Cairo following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi. Security forces killed hundreds of protesters at the demonstration. Shawkan was tried and sentenced alongside hundreds of other defendants in a mass trial that was widely condemned by human rights groups. This is Shawkan speaking after his release.

Shawkan: “The first night is the hardest. You are sleeping in jail. It is a long night. You are kidnapped from your life and forced in a place. It is a long night. Day after day, though, you get used to it. … I am not the first journalist to be arrested or killed. And I will not be the last. This is our job.”

White House Rejects Dems’ Request for Security Clearance Info

Mar 06, 2019

Back in the U.S., the White House rejected a request Tuesday from the House Oversight Committee for documents about the process for granting security clearances. House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings said last week he would issue a subpoena if the White House failed to comply with the request.

CNN: Trump Pressured Staff to Grant Security Clearance for Ivanka

Mar 06, 2019

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting Trump pressured then-Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House counsel Don McGahn to grant security clearance for his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump. When they both refused, Trump reportedly granted her the clearance directly. The news comes a week after The New York Times reported President Trump ordered John Kelly to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance last year—despite the objections of intelligence officials.

GOP Senators Confirm 37-Year-Old Judge with Anti-LGBT History

Mar 06, 2019

The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Allison Jones Rushing, who once interned for a far-right, Christian anti-LGBT group, to a lifetime federal judgeship Tuesday. The 37-year-old Trump pick came under fire from Democrats and civil rights groups, namely for her time working as an intern with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group that has attempted to recriminalize homosexuality in the U.S. and has defended the sterilization of transgender people. The Senate is expected to vote on more right-wing Trump judicial nominees in the coming days.

JPMorgan Chase to Stop Serving Private Prisons

Mar 06, 2019

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has announced Tuesday it will stop financing private prisons, after a sustained grassroots campaign and increasing scrutiny over private prisons’ role in jailing immigrants. JPMorgan Chase will stop lending to GEO Group and CoreCivic. Around 75 percent of immigrants in ICE custody are in privately run facilities. Elizabeth Chavez of Make the Road New York, one of the groups campaigning for banks to break up with private prisons, said of the news, “We have marched to the bank headquarters and branches. … And we will continue to work to put the private prison industry out of business as we fight for respect and dignity for every member of our community.”

Students Protest Yale’s Investments in Fossil Fuels, Puerto Rican Debt

Mar 06, 2019

At Yale University, 17 students were arrested by the school’s police Monday, after they occupied the investments office to demand Yale divest its nearly $30 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies and Puerto Rico’s debt. The student activists say that climate change worsens economic inequality, and that in the case of Puerto Rico, vulture funds holding the island’s debt are demanding repayment as many are still reeling from Hurricane Maria.

Hampshire College Students Stage Sit-In in Face of Closure Threat

Mar 06, 2019

And in Massachusetts, students at Hampshire College have been staging a weeks-long sit-in in the president’s office, protesting what they fear may be the future shuttering of their school. In January, the president of Hampshire College announced they would seek to merge the school with a “strategic partner,” before laying off staff in the following weeks and announcing it would not be admitting a new class in the fall. This is a Hampshire College student with the group Hamp Rise Up, which has been organizing the protests.

Ola’i Wildeboar: “We’re fighting for transparency, better representation and an educational system that listens to us and actually serves our best interests. … It’s really tragic, the fact that schools like this are closing down so rapidly. And now that we’re here in the midst of this movement, I realize how important education is and how essential it is for these places to exist.”

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