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Iran to Suspend Part of Nuclear Deal, Citing U.S. Sanctions

May 08, 2019

Iran has announced it will stop complying with parts of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and resume high-level enrichment of uranium in 60 days if other signatories of the deal do not take action to shield Iran’s oil and and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions. This comes a year after the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal. In a speech earlier today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran wants to stay in the nuclear deal but that it is rolling back its commitments due to Washington’s actions. In the short term, Rouhani said Iran would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program.

President Hassan Rouhani: “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, is here, and it remains in place. But today we have shown the flipside of the JCPOA coin. This is the same nuclear deal that states if the other parties are failing to meet their obligations, then we can also reduce our obligations in the deal. Today, we are announcing a reduction of our obligations under the deal. We are not leaving the nuclear deal.”

Russia responded by blaming the United States for provoking Iran into rolling back the terms of the nuclear deal. The Iranian-American author Trita Parsi said, “Trump has initiated a chain reaction that will make America and the world less safe.”

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Pompeo Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq as U.S.-Iran Tensions Mount

May 08, 2019

Iran’s announcement comes just days after the Trump administration moved to deploy a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region, claiming there was a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.” On Tuesday, U.S. officials announced four B-52 bombers would be part of the deployment. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday to meet Iraq’s prime minister and discuss Iran’s presence in Iraq.

U.N. Rapporteur Slams U.S. for Using Sanctions to Precipitate Humanitarian Disasters

May 08, 2019

This comes as a high-ranking United Nations official is openly criticizing the United States for imposing unilateral sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Venezuela that could lead to mass starvation. U.N. Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy said, “Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof.” A recent report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and economist Jeffrey Sachs estimates 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of U.S. sanctions.

1 Dead, 8 Injured in Colorado School Shooting Near Columbine

May 08, 2019

In Colorado, an 18-year-old student was killed and eight were injured on Tuesday in a school shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch south of Denver. Authorities have taken two students into custody. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock spoke to reporters outside the school.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock: “Two individuals walked into the STEM school, got deep inside the school and engaged students in two separate locations. … We do have eight students that are in area hospitals right now. Several of them are in critical condition. … Both of the suspects, we believe, are students of the STEM school.”

Reporter: “Are they among the injured?”

Sheriff Tony Spurlock: “They are not injured.”

The STEM School Highlands Ranch is located just seven miles from Columbine High School, where 12 students and a teacher were shot dead 20 years ago, on April 20, 1999. The school is also about 20 miles from Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman killed 20 people at a movie theater in 2012. Tuesday’s shooting in Colorado came a week after two students were killed and four were injured in a mass shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

NYT: Trump’s Tax Records Show He Lost Over $1 Billion Between 1985 and 1994

May 08, 2019

The New York Times has obtained tax information on Donald Trump showing that his businesses lost $1.17 billion from 1985 to 1994. While Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns, the Times obtained printouts from his official IRS tax transcripts for a 10-year period ending in 1994. In multiple years during that stretch, Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual taxpayer in the country. In 1990 and 1991, Trump lost more than $250 million each year—more than double any other individual U.S. taxpayer, according to IRS documents. In eight of the 10 years, Trump paid no federal income taxes.

House Prepares to Hold Barr in Contempt as Justice Dept. Advises Trump to Invoke Executive Privilege

May 08, 2019

Tension continues to escalate between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration. The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to vote today on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide lawmakers with an unredacted copy of the Mueller report. The Justice Department is now advising Trump to invoke executive privilege over the entire unredacted report and underlying evidence. In related news, the White House has directed former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena to hand over documents related to the Russia probe. Meanwhile, FBI Director Christopher Wray appears to have directly contradicted Attorney General William Barr on whether federal authorities spied on the Trump campaign in 2016. Last month Barr said “spying did occur.” On Tuesday, Wray said he has not seen any evidence of illegal surveillance.

Georgia Enacts One of Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Bans

May 08, 2019

Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp has signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The law bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which often occurs at around six weeks into pregnancy, before many women even realize they are pregnant. The new law goes into effect on January 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Southeast and the Center for Reproductive Rights have announced plans to challenge the abortion ban. Reproductive rights groups are also challenging “fetal heartbeat” bills that were recently passed in Mississippi and Kentucky.

Uber & Lyft Drivers Strike Ahead of Uber’s Wall Street Debut

May 08, 2019

In labor news, Uber and Lyft drivers are planning to strike today in over a dozen cities ahead of Uber’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange. While Uber is expected to be valued as high as $90 billion, the drivers say they have not benefited from Uber’s success, citing low earnings and no benefits. Uber driver Esterphanie St. Juste is taking part in the strike in Los Angeles.

Esterphanie St. Juste: “Well, at first, you know, it was good. I was able to make probably, I would say, easily over $1,000 a week and still have two days off. So it seemed to make sense at the time. … Well, now I haven’t had a day off since January, because I can’t afford to have a day off.”

Tens of Thousands of Teachers in Oregon to Walk Out of Classes

May 08, 2019

Tens of thousands of teachers in Oregon are planning to walk out of classes today, forcing at least 23 school districts to preemptively cancel school. The teachers are calling for legislators to increase school funding and reduce large class sizes.

Sandra Bland’s Family Calls for Probe of Her Death to Be Reopened After Cellphone Footage Is Aired

May 08, 2019

The family of Sandra Bland is calling for authorities to reopen an investigation into her death. The 28-year-old African-American woman died in a Texas jail cell in 2015, three days after she was arrested for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. Authorities have claimed Sandra Bland committed suicide while in jail by hanging herself with a garbage bag, but her family has long rejected this claim. On Monday, the Dallas TV station WFAA aired cellphone video filmed by Bland capturing the moment when she was pulled over. In the 39-second video, you can see the officer—Brian Encinia—drawing his stun gun and saying, “I will light you up.”

Brian Encinia: “Get out of the car! Now!”

Sandra Bland: “Why am I being apprehended? You’re trying to give me a ticket for a failure”—

Brian Encinia: “I said get out of the car!”

Sandra Bland: “Why am I being apprehended? You just opened my car door.”

Brian Encinia: “I am giving you a lawful order.”

Sandra Bland: “You just opened my car door.”

Brian Encinia: “I am going to drag you out of here.”

Sandra Bland: “So, you’re going to—you’re threatening to drag me out of my own car.”

Brian Encinia: “Get out of the car!”

Sandra Bland: “And then you’re going to stun me?”

Brian Encinia: “I will light you up! Get out!”

Sandra Bland: “Wow! Wow!”

Brian Encinia: “Now!”

Sandra Bland: “Wow!”

Brian Encinia: “Get out of the car!”

Sandra Bland: “Really? For a failure to signal. You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal.”

Brian Encinia: “Get over there!”

Sandra Bland: “Right, yeah. Yeah, let’s take this to court. Let’s do it.”

Brian Encinia: “Go ahead!”

Sandra Bland: “For a failure to signal. Yeah, for a failure to signal!”

Brian Encinia: “Get off the phone!”

Sandra Bland: “On my school!”

Brian Encinia: “Get off the phone!”

Sandra Bland: “I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record.”

Brian Encinia: “Put your phone down.”

Sandra Bland: “This is my property.”

Brian Encinia: “Put your phone down!”

Sandra Bland: “This is my property. Sir?”

Brian Encinia: “Put your phone down! Right now!”

Attorneys for the Bland family say the cellphone video proves the officer lied when he had claimed he felt his safety was in jeopardy when he pulled over Sandra Bland.

Pamela Anderson Visits Julian Assange in London Prison as He Fights Possible Extradition to U.S.

May 08, 2019

The actress Pamela Anderson visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the high-security Belmarsh Prison in London on Tuesday. Assange is serving a 50-week prison sentence for skipping bail in Britain and faces possible extradition to the United States to face charges related to the Chelsea Manning leaks. Pamela Anderson spoke outside the prison after seeing him.

Pamela Anderson: “Obviously, it’s been very difficult to see Julian here, and to make our way through the prison to get to him was quite shocking and difficult. He does not deserve to be in a supermax prison. He has never committed a violent act. He’s an innocent person. … He’s sacrificed so much to bring the truth out, and we deserve the truth. And that’s all I can say. I’m sorry. I’m just really—I feel sick. I feel nauseous.”

Pamela Anderson was wearing a cloak covered with references to the history of free speech in Britain, as well as prisons, tyranny and the Levellers.

Trump Pardons Soldier Who Murdered Naked Unarmed Iraqi Prisoner

May 08, 2019

President Trump has pardoned a former U.S. soldier who was found guilty of “unpremeditated murder.” In 2008, First Lt. Michael Behenna drove an unarmed Iraqi prisoner into the desert for an interrogation. He then stripped the prisoner naked, interrogated him at gunpoint and then shot him in the head and chest. Behenna was initially sentenced to 25 years in 2009. He was released on parole in 2014. Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union criticized Trump’s move. She said, “This pardon is a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military’s own code of justice.”

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