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HeadlinesAugust 12, 2019

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Investigations to Continue as Questions Mount Over Apparent Suicide of Jeffrey Epstein

Aug 12, 2019

Federal investigators are probing the death of 66-year-old accused serial sex abuser and trafficker Jeffrey Epstein after he was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell Saturday morning of an apparent suicide by hanging. Jeffrey Epstein was reportedly unsupervised in his cell despite being put on suicide watch in July after he was found unconscious with marks on his neck. He had since been removed from suicide watch but should have been checked by guards every 30 minutes, and was supposed to have had a cell mate — neither of which were the case at the time of his death.

Epstein’s death came less than 24 hours after hundreds of pages of court documents were unsealed with testimonies from former employees and new details of sexual abuse committed by Epstein, which also implicated a number of well-known politicians and others in the public eye, including former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell; Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor; Prince Andrew; and “a well-known Prime Minister.” Many have denied the allegations.

As public speculation mounted following news of his death, President Trump joined in by retweeting, without evidence, a conspiracy theory that Epstein’s death was the result of foul play and somehow connected to the Clintons.

Epstein’s accusers spoke out over the weekend. Jennifer Araoz, who last month came forward to say that Epstein raped her when she was just 15, said in a statement, “We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed, the pain and trauma he caused so many people. Epstein is gone, but justice must still be served. I hope the authorities will pursue and prosecute his accomplices and enablers, and ensure redress for his victims.” New York prosecutors said that the investigation into Epstein’s alleged crimes would continue despite his death. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with the Miami Herald’s senior editor for investigations, Casey Frank.

Hong Kong Airport Shuts Down as Protests Rage for 10th Straight Week

Aug 12, 2019

In Hong Kong, where mass popular protests are now in their 10th week, officials have closed the international airport, grounding all flights. Many protesters are now rushing to clear the airport, fearing threats of more police action, but hundreds of activists remain. Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered over the weekend to protest police brutality and call for pro-democracy reforms, as they say the Beijing-aligned government is attempting to weaken Hong Kong’s autonomy. Clashes broke out between protesters and police forces, turning especially violent Sunday night as riot police fired tear gas inside a subway station and were filmed beating protesters with batons. Meanwhile, mainland China has been ramping up actions to oppose the demonstrations. Last week, China ordered Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific to suspend any staff who support pro-democracy protests. We’ll have more on Hong Kong later in the broadcast.

Dozens Arrested as Pro-Democracy Protests Ramp Up in Russia

Aug 12, 2019

In Russia, up to 60,000 protesters gathered in Moscow Saturday for the fifth mass demonstration in a month — and the largest demonstration the country has witnessed for years. Dozens were arrested in Moscow, as well as in other cities across the country. Saturday’s protest was organized to denounce the recent barring of opposition candidates from running in an upcoming election for Moscow City Council. We’ll have more on this later in the broadcast with The New School’s Nina Khrushcheva.

Questions Remain Over Deadly Russian Explosion as Threat of Nuclear Arms Race Looms

Aug 12, 2019

Questions are mounting over last Thursday’s explosion in the White Sea off the northern coast of Russia, which killed at least seven people, mostly nuclear scientists. The blast caused a radiation spike in the surrounding area, and U.S. experts suspect it was caused during a test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. This comes as concerns are growing over a renewed nuclear arms race between U.S. and Russia following Trump’s withdrawal from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Earlier this month, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the INF Treaty “formally dead.”

Norway Mosque Shooter Has Online History of Praising White Supremacists

Aug 12, 2019

In Norway, police say the suspected gunman who attacked a mosque near the capital Oslo Saturday has a history of posting white supremacist content online. The man, who was identified by local press as 22-year-old Philip Manshaus, praised the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend, which targeted Mexican immigrants, and April’s shooting at a San Diego synagogue. He also praised the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 Muslim worshipers in March. Saturday’s shooting at the al-Noor Islamic Center, which injured one elderly worshiper who helped tackle the gunman, is being investigated as a “possible act of terrorism.” After the attack, the dead body of the suspected shooter’s stepsister was found at his home. She was 17 years old. In last week’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, the gunman shot and killed his [sibling], along with eight others. This is Irfan Mushtaq, the director of the mosque.

Irfan Mushtaq: “For so many years, the secret police says the Muslims are the biggest risk for this country. But if you look at those last two major incidents of terrorist activities, it’s not Muslims who have done this. So, this is affecting our children, because the identity of our children has been broken up. We are harassed on a daily basis. It’s time for the Norwegian government to take a clear standpoint what they’re going to do moving forward to make us secure in Norway.”

Yemeni Foreign Minister Concedes Defeat to UAE After Southern Separatists Take Aden

Aug 12, 2019

In Yemen, officials from the U.N.-recognized government conceded defeat Sunday to the United Arab Emirates in the port city of Aden after southern separatists took control of government military camps and the presidential palace. This came after days of fighting that killed a reported 40 people, including civilians. Saudi Arabia threw its support behind Yemen’s exiled president as the Saudi-UAE coalition appeared to fracture over recent days. The International Crisis Group warned Friday that the situation in Aden “threatened to tip southern Yemen into a civil war within a civil war.” Tens of thousands have been killed by fighting in Yemen since 2015, and the ensuing food crisis has caused the death by starvation of an estimated 85,000 children.

Israeli Forces Storm Holy Site of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Eid

Aug 12, 2019

In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces fired tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sunday as Palestinians gathered for the first day of Eid al-Adha. Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the attack. Clashes arose after authorities allowed hundreds of religious Israeli Jews to enter the holy site of Al-Aqsa for prayer during Eid. Jews are usually allowed to enter the site, but are not permitted to pray there. Palestinian diplomat and member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Hanan Ashrawi said, “The storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Israeli occupation forces this Eid morning is an act of recklessness and aggression.”

The clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque came as Israeli soldiers killed five men in Gaza at the separation barrier with Israel. The Israeli military said it fatally shot four armed Palestinians Saturday and another man on Sunday.

Right-Wing Candidate Alejandro Giammattei Wins Guatemala Presidency

Aug 12, 2019

In Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei of the ultraconservative Vamos party won the presidency after a runoff vote Sunday, where he faced off against former first lady Sandra Torres. He got 58% of the vote, with just 42% of eligible voters casting ballots. Giammattei, a former head of Guatemala’s prison system, ran on a law-and-order platform, promising to bring back the death penalty and deploy soldiers to the streets. He has been accused of money laundering, ties to drug traffickers, and extrajudicial killings.

Giammattei has said he wants to modify the controversial immigration deal signed last month between President Trump and outgoing President Jimmy Morales. The deal requires asylum seekers heading to the U.S. border to apply for asylum in Guatemala instead of at the U.S.-Mexico border, and would primarily affect Honduran and Salvadoran migrants.

Biden Under Fire After Saying “Poor Kids” as “Bright and Talented as White Kids”

Aug 12, 2019

In the U.S., former vice president and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden is coming under fire after he contrasted “poor kids” with “white kids” at an event hosted by the Iowa Asian & Latino Coalition.

Joe Biden: “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor, you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids — wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”

Biden later said he “misspoke” while delivering his remarks. On Saturday, Biden said that survivors from the Parkland massacre visited him when he was vice president, when in fact the mass shooting took place last year, over a year after Biden’s tenure in the White House.

Trans Activist Gavin Grimm Wins 2-Year Fight Against Virginia School Board

Aug 12, 2019

In a victory for transgender rights, a federal judge ruled Friday that a Virginia school board’s policy which barred a transgender student from using the bathroom that corresponded to his gender identity is unconstitutional. The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a former Virginia student. Judge Arenda Wright Allen wrote, “Transgender students are singled out, subjected to discriminatory treatment, and excluded from spaces where similarly situated students are permitted to go.” Grimm celebrated the ruling, tweeting, “I promise to continue to advocate for as long as it takes for everyone to be able to live their authentic lives freely, in public, and without harrassment and discrimination.” Click here to see our interview with Gavin Grimm.

Simone Biles Breaks New Records, Uses Platform to Speak Out Against Sexual Abuse

Aug 12, 2019

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles won her sixth U.S. national championship Sunday, completing two historic moves in the process. She became the first woman to land a double backflip with three twists in a floor competition, one day after after she became the first person ever to complete two twists and two somersaults coming off the balance beam.

During an interview with reporters at the championship games last week, Biles called out USA Gymnastics for failing to protect young athletes from Larry Nassar, the former team doctor, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing more than 160 young female athletes. Last year, Biles revealed she was a survivor of Nassar’s abuse.

Simone Biles: “It’s hard coming here for an organization and having had them fail us so many times. And we had won gold. We’ve done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us.”

U.S. Athletes Protest Trump, U.S. Policies as They Win Golds at Pan American Games

Aug 12, 2019

In more sports news, two U.S. athletes used their victories at the Pan American Games in Peru to protest President Trump and U.S. policies as they took to the podium. Hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist at the end of the national anthem after accepting her gold medal. She told USA Today Sports, “Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse.”

A day earlier, Race Imboden, a member of the gold medal-winning men’s fencing team, took the knee while on the podium. He later tweeted, “We must call for change. This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.” The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Boden could face disciplinary action for his protest.

Manfred Max-Neef, Acclaimed Chilean Economist and Environmentalist, Dies at 86

Aug 12, 2019

Acclaimed Chilean economist and environmentalist Manfred Max-Neef died Thursday at the age of 86. Max-Neef taught economics at various colleges, including the University of California at Berkeley and the Austral University of Chile, where he taught until last year. He promoted development alternatives to address poverty. In 1993, he ran as an independent for president of Chile. Max-Neef won the Right Livelihood Award — known as the alternative Nobel Prize — in 1983, two years after the publication of his book “Outside Looking In: Experiences in 'Barefoot Economics.'” This is Manfred Max-Neef, speaking to Democracy Now! in 2010 in Bonn, Germany.

Manfred Max-Neef: “In poverty there is an enormous creativity. You cannot be an idiot if you want to survive. Every minute, you have to be thinking, what next? What do I know? What trick can I do here? What’s this and that, that, that, that? And so, your creativity is constant. In addition, I mean, that it’s combined, you know, with networks of cooperation, mutual aid, you know, and all sort of extraordinary things which you’ll no longer find in our dominant society, which is individualistic, greedy, egoistical.”

That was Chilean economist and environmentalist Manfred Max-Neef, speaking in 2010. He died last week at his home in Valdivia, Chile, at the age of 86. Click here to see the full interview.

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