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HeadlinesJuly 09, 2019

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NY Prosecutors Charge Jeffrey Epstein with Trafficking Dozens of Girls

Jul 09, 2019

Billionaire hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein was charged in a Manhattan federal court Monday with sex trafficking and conspiracy. He is accused of sexually assaulting and trafficking dozens of underage girls between 2002 and 2005 at his homes in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, where he paid them hundreds of dollars to perform sex acts and help recruit other girls for him to abuse. Epstein has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors seized a trove of photos of nude or partially nude young women and girls from Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse on Saturday—the same day he was arrested at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport. More accusers are continuing to come forward, prosecutors say. This is FBI official William Sweeney.

William Sweeney: “The estimated dozens of victims were as young as 14 years old at time of recruitment, children who provided Epstein massages while they were nude or partially nude, children who were asked to engage in direct and indirect sex acts for money, children who were enticed to do all these things at the hands of a man more than or nearly three times their age.”

Epstein previously received what’s been described as “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history” for abusing and trafficking potentially hundreds of girls, by the U.S. prosecutor in Florida. That man, Alexander Acosta, is now Trump’s labor secretary. New York prosecutors say their case is not bound by that deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for Acosta to resign.

Attorney General William Barr said Monday he has recused himself from the case because his former law firm Kirkland & Ellis has represented Epstein. He did not mention that his father, the former headmaster of New York’s private Dalton School, hired Epstein to teach there in the '70s despite his not having a college degree. Prosecutors are asking that the judge deny Epstein bail, as he may be a flight risk. We'll have more on this story after headlines with the Miami Herald’s Casey Frank.

DOJ Says They Will Pursue New Path to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

Jul 09, 2019

Attorney General William Barr says the Trump administration has found a pathway to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census that would be accepted by the Supreme Court—though he did not offer any further details. The Justice Department also announced Monday it was replacing members of the legal team charged with arguing the administration’s case. Experts say it’s unclear whether the administration will even be able to amend or add to the constitutionally mandated census at this stage. When asked about the battle over the census, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the White House is trying to “make America white again.”

New NY Bill Allows Congress to Access Trump’s State Tax Returns

Jul 09, 2019

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Monday which would give three key congressional committees access to President Trump’s New York state tax returns. The new rule, which requires New York tax officials to release the returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose,” will also apply to the president’s staff, as well as New York elected officials and judges.

House Democrats have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining Trump’s financial records through subpoenas or other means. The Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department and the IRS last week over their refusal to hand over the documents.

Democrats Probe Trump Emoluments Violations, Issuing Dozens of Subpoenas

Jul 09, 2019

Congressional Democrats issued dozens of subpoenas to Trump businesses, including the Trump Organization, Monday as part of a lawsuit into possible emoluments violations by Trump. Lawmakers say Trump is profiting off his many businesses through the office of the presidency. The Justice Department asked an appeals court to block the subpoenas and the lawsuit.

Protesters Vow to Stay in the Streets After Hong Kong Leader Calls Extradition Bill “Dead”

Jul 09, 2019

Protesters in Hong Kong have vowed to continue their fight following Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement today that the highly contested “extradition bill” is “dead.” Protesters have been demanding Lam withdraw the bill, and accuse her of deliberately using misleading language and making nonbinding promises to quell unrest. Protesters have also been calling for the resignation of Lam and say they want the government to listen to all of their demands.

Ken Hui: “A lot of people are complaining about issues of the police abusing their powers, and there are also just fundamental questions of institutional governance. The government does not listen to the will of the people, and so I think this is a really good time to bring back the fight for genuine universal suffrage.”

Organizers say hundreds of thousands took to the streets again Sunday, including a massive march in Kowloon, where many mainland Chinese go to shop. That protest ended with several arrests and clashes with riot police, who at one point charged into a group with batons.

Report: China’s Separation of Uyghur Children from Families a “Cultural Genocide”

Jul 09, 2019

In China, a new report by the BBC found evidence that authorities are systematically taking Muslim children—many of them from the Uyghur community—from their families, in the far western region of Xinjiang. According to the report, China is rushing to build boarding schools where children are deliberately removed from their language and culture. Meanwhile, an estimated 1 million adults from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned in camps that China claims are “vocational training centers” designed to combat extremism. Many of the children who have detained parents or other family members are more vulnerable to removal. The author of the report concludes that “the evidence points to what we must call cultural genocide.”

2 Indigenous Rights Activists Killed in Guatemala

Jul 09, 2019

Two indigenous rights activists and land protectors were murdered in eastern Guatemala on Friday. Isidro Pérez and Melecio Ramírez were attending a peaceful action organized by the peasants’ rights group CODECA, when 15 armed men stormed in and started shooting at the group. CODECA’s leader Thelma Cabrera ran for president in last month’s Guatemalan elections, placing fourth in the race. Last year, six members of CODECA were murdered for their activism in Guatemala. No one has been arrested for the crimes.

24 Ex-South American Officials Sentenced for Role in Operation Condor

Jul 09, 2019

In Italy, 24 people were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in Operation Condor, in which six South American countries conspired to kill tens of thousands of political opponents in the 1970s and ’80s. Twenty-three Italians were among those killed as part of the campaign of coordinated terror and assassinations carried out by the U.S.-backed dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Operation Condor was coordinated out of Chile, then under dictator Augusto Pinochet, and with the knowledge of the U.S. government, in particular then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Among those sentenced were former Peruvian President Francisco Morales Bermúdez, the former Bolivian interior minister, the former Uruguayan foreign minister and a former top Chilean intelligence chief. All but one of the 24 were sentenced in absentia.

German Charity Ship Saves 44 People at Sea as Clash Btw. Italy and Rescuers Continue

Jul 09, 2019

A German rescue ship has picked up 44 people, including babies and children, off the Libyan coast today, after they were stranded at sea. The charity vessel, operated by Sea-Eye, recently transferred another 65 migrants to Malta after Italy refused to let the ship enter its ports.

This comes as human rights groups and German officials blasted Italy for arresting Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old German captain of the Sea-Watch 3 refugee rescue ship, as she tried to bring dozens of asylum seekers to safety. Rackete has since been freed and says she plans to sue Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for defamation. Over the weekend, thousands marched in German cities in support of Rackete and to call out the criminalization of humanitarian aid.

Trump Lashes Out at U.K. Ambassador, PM Theresa May Following Leaked Cables

Jul 09, 2019

President Trump said Monday the U.S. would “no longer deal” with British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, following a recent leak of diplomatic cables in which the ambassador calls the Trump administration “inept” and “dysfunctional.” In cables going back as far as 2017, Darroch questioned whether the Trump administration “will ever look competent.” Trump also attacked outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May for creating “a mess” around Brexit. Theresa May’s office said in a statement it continues to support Darroch.

U.N. Human Rights Chief Blasts U.S. Detention of Migrants

Jul 09, 2019

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the dire conditions in which jailed migrants are being held in the U.S., and the ongoing separation of children from their families. In a statement released Monday, she warned that the detention of migrant children “may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that is prohibited by international law.” This is U.N. human rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

Ravina Shamdasani: “What we appear to be seeing in the U.S. are policies that are based on detection, detention and expeditious deportation of migrants, without much regard for their human rights. This appears to be taken on as a policy of deterrence; however, this is completely a breach of the state’s human rights obligations.”

Bernie Sanders and AOC to Introduce Resolution Declaring Climate Emergency

Jul 09, 2019

Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Earl Blumenauer are introducing a joint resolution today declaring a “climate emergency.” If passed, the resolution in itself would not compel any practical actions, but it aims to push Congress toward enacting a “national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale.”

Speaking to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Senator Sanders’s office said, “President Trump has routinely declared phony national emergencies to advance his deeply unpopular agenda, like selling Saudi Arabia bombs that Congress had blocked. On the existential threat of climate change, Trump insists on calling it a hoax.”

Trump Touts “Environmental Leadership” Despite Destructive Climate Policies

Jul 09, 2019

The resolution comes one day after Trump gave an address touting his administration’s “environmental leadership.” Trump reportedly made the speech after consultants from his 2020 campaign said he was lacking support from several key demographics who are concerned with climate change. Environmental groups and scientists have repeatedly condemned Trump’s attacks on the environment, which include leaving the Paris climate agreement, cutting clean water and air protections, and promoting coal production. Last year saw a hike of 3.4% in greenhouse gas emissions—the biggest rise since 2010.

Arizona Man Fatally Stabs Teenager for Playing Rap Music

Jul 09, 2019

In Arizona, a man admitted to fatally stabbing a 17-year-old boy on July 4 because the teenager’s rap music made him feel “unsafe.” Twenty-seven-year-old Michael Paul Adams was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He has previously been charged with assault, theft and drug violations, and had been released from prison just two days prior to Thursday’s deadly attack. The victim, Elijah Al-Amin, was two weeks shy of his 18th birthday and had plans to move to Seattle and work in hotel management, according to his father.

Queens DA Race Headed to Recount After Latest Tally Separates Candidates by 16 Votes

Jul 09, 2019

And in New York City, the Queens district attorney Democratic primary race is headed for a recount after a tally of paper ballots last week left Borough President Melinda Katz with a lead of just 16 votes ahead of newcomer, 31-year-old public defender and Democratic Socialist Tiffany Cabán. Cabán originally declared victory on election night, as early results put her ahead of Katz by around 1,000 votes. Cabán, who is backed by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, ran on a progressive platform of ending cash bail, stopping the prosecution of low-level offenses, decriminalizing sex work, and going after bad landlords, cops and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Cabán’s supporters say over 2,000 affidavit ballots were thrown out, and are calling for those to be counted in the final tally.

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