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HeadlinesApril 22, 2019

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Easter Sunday Attacks Kill Nearly 300 Across Sri Lanka

Apr 22, 2019

In Sri Lanka, nearly 300 people were killed and more than 500 injured after a series of bomb attacks tore through churches and luxury hotels across the island nation on Sunday. A first round of deadly attacks hit busy Easter services at Catholic churches in the heart of Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community in and around the capital Colombo, as well as a Protestant church in the eastern city of Batticaloa. Bombs also exploded in three luxury hotels in Colombo, with another blast striking a hotel near a zoo south of the capital, and a final blast at a private home believed to be tied to the attackers. Government officials blamed a local Islamist extremist group called the National Thowheed Jama’ath for the attacks, prompting a nationwide curfew for more than 21 million people. Authorities also shut down all social media sites in the wake of the attack—including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s telecommunications minister said a government memo circulated by Sri Lanka’s top police official 10 days earlier warned of a possible attack, but that the warning was ignored. After headlines, we’ll go to Colombo, London and Washington, D.C., for the latest.

House Judiciary Chair Subpoenas Unredacted Mueller Report

Apr 22, 2019

On Capitol Hill, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler has subpoenaed the Justice Department to turn over an unredacted version of the Mueller report, along with all evidence obtained by investigators about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The subpoena came as President Trump and his media surrogates continued to insist the report showed no evidence that Trump obstructed justice, and that no one on the Trump campaign committed a crime in 2016 when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others met a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. This is President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, speaking on CNN on Sunday.

Rudy Giuliani: “Any candidate in the whole world, in America, would take information, negative to your”—

Jake Tapper: “From a foreign source? From a hostile foreign source?”

Rudy Giuliani: “Who says it’s even illegal? Who says it’s even illegal?”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls on Congress to Impeach President Trump

Apr 22, 2019

On Friday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful to call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump over what she called his repeated efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “I took an oath to the Constitution of the United States. And the Constitution makes clear that the accountability for the president lies through Congress, and that’s the impeachment process.”

Mueller left whether President Trump should be indicted or found guilty of obstruction of justice to Congress. Another Democratic presidential candidate, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, said it would be “perfectly reasonable” for Congress to begin impeachment hearings. House progressives, including prominent freshman lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, have called for Trump’s impeachment. That contrasts with senior Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who said last week impeachment is “not worthwhile at this point.”

Afghanistan: 10 Killed in Suicide Attack as Taliban Peace Talks Collapse

Apr 22, 2019

In Afghanistan, suicide attackers stormed the Ministry of Communications in the capital Kabul on Saturday, trapping thousands of people inside the building for hours while security forces battled the assailants. At least 10 people died in the fighting. The self-proclaimed Islamic State group claimed credit for the attack, which came a day after U.S.-led peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan leaders broke down in Qatar, with no immediate plans to reschedule negotiations.

Libya Death Toll Climbs to 227 as Trump Backs Renegade General

Apr 22, 2019

In Libya, the death toll from fighting around Tripoli has risen to at least 227, with more than 1,100 injured, since a Libyan warlord launched an assault on the capital city on April 5. The World Health Organization said Sunday the fighting has displaced more than 30,000 people. The fighting pits the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord against a militia led by former Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who already controls much of eastern Libya. Haftar has dual U.S.-Libyan citizenship and is a former CIA asset. On Friday, the White House revealed that President Trump spoke by phone with Haftar on April 15. According to a statement, Trump “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.” News of Trump’s support for Haftar drew thousands of protesters into Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square on Friday.

Nour Mohamed: “We, the Libyan people, are against Trump and against Haftar. We want civilian rule, freedom, science and culture. We just want to live as other people do.”

Hundreds of Thousands of Algerians March Demanding Democratic Reforms

Apr 22, 2019

In Algeria, hundreds of thousands of protesters returned to the streets of the capital Algiers after Friday prayers, calling on leaders of an interim government to resign and for sweeping democratic reforms. The protests come less than three weeks after longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned amid a popular uprising. Algeria’s military has promised national elections on July 4; protesters are demanding an overthrow of Algeria’s entire ruling elite, who have been in power since the country gained independence in 1962.

Thousands March on Morocco’s Parliament, Demanding Release of Political Prisoners

Apr 22, 2019

In Morocco, thousands marched on the Parliament in the capital city Rabat on Sunday, demanding the release of 42 activists jailed for organizing nonviolent protests that call for social and economic reforms. The demonstration came two weeks after an appeals court in Casablanca upheld prison sentences of up to 20 years against the activists, who have since launched a hunger strike to protest their confinement.

Sudan Protest Leaders End Talks with Ruling Military Council

Apr 22, 2019

In Sudan, protest leaders say they’ve cut off talks with the ruling military council that replaced longtime leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this month. Sit-in protesters continue to hold the space outside the military’s headquarters in the capital Khartoum. Protest leader Mohamed al-Amin said Sunday the military could not be trusted to oversee a transition to democracy and civilian rule.

Mohamed al-Amin: “To the masses of our people, the role of the armed forces is not to rule, but to protect and defend the borders of the country. There is no recognition for any transitional authority and any coup d’état authority. Any such authority will be met with complete rejection by us, or any military power and all of this will be considered unlawful.”

The African Union has given Sudan until the end of April to install a civilian government or face possible removal from the bloc. On Saturday, prosecutors said Omar al-Bashir will face charges of money laundering, after a search of his home turned up cash totaling more than $130 million. Al-Bashir has been held in a maximum-security prison since last week, following his ouster by the military on April 11. It is the notorious prison where he had so many people imprisoned and assassinated.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Who Played a President on TV, Elected to Lead Ukraine

Apr 22, 2019

In Ukraine, a political novice who played a president on TV won a landslide national election Sunday over incumbent President Petro Poroshenko. Forty-one-year-old comedian Volodymyr Zelensky leveraged his celebrity in a campaign that saw him promise to root out corruption and to end the war against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The U.N. says the conflict has killed 13,000 people, a quarter of them civilians, since fighting broke out in 2014. In his hit show, “Servant of the People,” Zelensky portrays a president who resigns after facing down the International Monetary Fund. But as a candidate, Zelensky promised to cooperate with the IMF as it doles out multibillion-dollar loans to Ukraine in exchange for unpopular austerity programs.


France: Weekly Yellow Vest Protests Channel Anger over Notre-Dame Donations

Apr 22, 2019

In France, riot police fired tear gas and water cannons Saturday to disperse thousands of yellow vest protesters, who took to the streets of Paris and other cities for the 23rd straight weekend. The weekly protests began last year to call out President Macron’s pro-business economic policies, with demands for fair wages and higher taxes on the wealthy. Many of the protesters are resentful that wealthy donors funding the reconstruction of Paris’s Notre-Dame cathedral will get huge tax breaks. This is a 62-year-old retiree who joined Saturday’s protests.

Odette: “The moment I saw the Notre-Dame burning, I was overcome with emotion. But when I saw such large donations of money to save Notre-Dame, my long-held thoughts were proven absolutely true, that these billionaires donating this money will get tax breaks as large as if they had donated nothing. Well, this put more pressure on me to be here today and to continue defending the little people, of whom I am part.”

2,000+ French Climate Campaigners Hold Civil Disobedience Actions

Apr 22, 2019

Elsewhere, more than 2,000 climate activists held a nonviolent blockade of France’s environment ministry just outside of Paris on Friday, calling out government complicity with fossil fuel companies and the banks that fund them. Climate activists are calling it one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in French history. The blockade also successfully targeted French oil giant Total; Société Générale, an investment bank that funds dirty energy projects; and a state-run electric utility that relies heavily on nuclear power.

Police Clear Extinction Rebellion Sit-In Protesters as Arrest Total Nears 1,000

Apr 22, 2019

In London, police have cleared Parliament Square and the Oxford Circus shopping district of sit-in protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion, as they continued a week of actions demanding urgent action on climate change. Since mid-April, London police have arrested nearly 1,000 people as protesters stopped trains, blocked roads and superglued themselves to buildings in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. On Sunday, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined the protests.

Greta Thunberg: “We are now facing an existential crisis, the climate crisis and ecological crisis, which have never been treated as crisis before. They have been ignored for decades. And for way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything at all to fight the climate crisis and the ecological crisis. But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer.”

Last week, Greta Thunberg was welcomed to the Vatican by Pope Francis, where she urged the pontiff to join her international climate strike.

FBI Arrests Leader of Militia That Detained Migrants at Gunpoint

Apr 22, 2019

Back in the United States, the FBI has arrested the head of a vigilante militia group that has repeatedly filmed itself holding migrant border crossers at gunpoint in New Mexico. Sixty-nine-year-old Larry Mitchell Hopkins is the leader of the far-right, pro-Trump group calling itself United Constitutional Patriots, which the ACLU described as an “armed fascist militia organization.” His arrest Saturday on firearms charges comes 12 years after he was arrested in Oregon for unlawfully impersonating a police officer. Last week, videos posted on social media showed members of Hopkins’s militia pursuing migrants in New Mexico’s desert west of El Paso, Texas, holding them at gunpoint and coordinating their arrests with U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Washington State Rep. Discussed Violence and Surveillance of Opponents

Apr 22, 2019

In Washington state, an investigation by The Guardian reveals a prominent Republican lawmaker held private discussions with far-right figures about spying on political opponents—and even targeting them with violence. Records from the private chat room show state Representative Matt Shea discussed disrupting a planned demonstration by anti-fascist protesters in Spokane with Jack Robertson, host of the far-right show “Radio Free Redoubt,” and with Anthony Bosworth, a veteran of the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by an anti-government militia. The chat logs show Shea agreed to carry out background checks on the protesters and did not object when Robertson proposed attacking a woman activist with the threat: “Fist full of hair, and face slam, to a Jersey barrier. Treat em like communist revolutionaries. Then shave her bald with a K-Bar USMC field knife.” After The Guardian published its exposé, Washington’s lieutenant governor called on Republicans to eject Rep. Shea from their caucus.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton Enters 2020 Presidential Race

Apr 22, 2019

In Massachusetts, Congressmember Seth Moulton has become the 19th Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race. Moulton is a 40-year-old veteran of the U.S. Marines who touted his military service in a campaign video announcing his candidacy. He’s promised to grow the U.S. economy while battling climate change and enhancing U.S. cybersecurity.

31,000 Stop & Shop Grocery Workers End 10-Day Strike with Contract Victory

Apr 22, 2019

And some 31,000 grocery workers at hundreds of Stop & Shop stores across New England have ended a 10-day strike after reaching a tentative contract with the supermarket chain. The workers are claiming victory after the company met their demands for pay increases, a better health insurance plan and other benefits.

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