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HeadlinesAugust 13, 2019

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Trump Announces New Rule to Limit and Penalize Low-Income Immigrants

Aug 13, 2019

The Trump administration announced a new rule Monday that would make it harder for documented, low-income immigrants to stay in the country. The so-called public charge rule would penalize immigrants seeking benefits including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers by allowing officials to deny green cards and visa applications to those individuals. In addition, immigrants who have lower incomes or less formal education could be denied permanent status if deemed more likely to need public assistance in the future.

Experts say the new rule would severely impact family-based immigration from countries in Latin America and Africa and could lead to more deportations of immigrants with temporary or provisional immigration status that are already settled in the U.S. but do not meet the new requirements. Critics also say immigrants could disenroll from essential programs that protect children and families.

Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Kenneth Cuccinelli announced the rule at the White House.

Kenneth Cuccinelli: “Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America. Our rule generally prevents aliens who are likely to become a public charge from coming to the United States or remaining here and getting a green card.”

Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, responded to the announcement, saying, “This rule essentially says that for anyone who isn’t white, isn’t wealthy, that you must forego food, you must forego shelter and basic medical care.” The National Immigration Law Center, as well as attorneys general in California and other states, have announced they will challenge the rule, which for now is set to go into effect in October.

Trump Slashes Endangered Species Act

Aug 13, 2019

The Trump administration finalized changes rolling back the Endangered Species Act Monday. Regulators will now be allowed to factor in economic considerations when granting “endangered” status, species classified as “threatened” will see their protections weakened, and scientists will be limited in setting climate change-related protections. Critics say the changes were made to clear the way for mining, drilling and development projects in areas populated by protected species. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries. He is currently under investigation for possible ethics violations. The 46-year-old landmark Endangered Species Act has saved over 99% of classified animals, plants and insects since its inception. It’s credited with protecting the grizzly bear, the humpback whale and the bald eagle from extinction, among many others.

Environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and attorneys general have vowed to fight the changes. The Sierra Club called the move the “Trump Extinction Plan.” The International Fund for Animal Welfare said in a statement, “The most comprehensive assessment of biodiversity ever completed was released earlier this year and shows that more than one million species are at risk of extinction. These species are inextricably linked to our own well-being, livelihoods, economies, food security, and overall survival. Gutting key protections of the Endangered Species Act is precisely the wrong action for the U.S. to be taking.”

Hong Kong Protesters Shut Down Airport for Second Day

Aug 13, 2019

In Hong Kong, authorities suspended flights for a second day today as demonstrators continue to occupy the busy international airport. Following violent clashes over the weekend, which saw riot police firing tear gas inside a subway station and beating protesters with batons, the U.N. is warning law enforcement they must protect the right to peacefully demonstrate, and urging dialogue. China, meanwhile, has been ramping up its rhetoric against the pro-democracy movement, likening the protests to “terrorism” Monday. Legal experts warn it could be laying the groundwork to deploy repressive anti-terror laws against government critics.

Flooding, Landslides Kill Hundreds Across South and Southeast Asia

Aug 13, 2019

In India, massive floods and landslides have killed an estimated 200 people and displaced hundreds of thousands, as days of torrential monsoon downpours hit several southern and western states. In Kerala, a mudslide killed at least 50 people Sunday. This is a Kerala resident who was rescued.

Ajeet Pattankudi: “It has been at least five to six days. Everybody is stuck there in the flooded villages; animals and others all are stuck there. People are facing a lot of problems. Water has come from all directions. Water has entered all the houses.”

Meanwhile, in Burma, at least 60 people have been killed and over 100,000 displaced due to monsoon flooding. Homes were buried by mud as 30 inches of rain fell on a coastal district over two days. Environmentalists say that industry-driven deforestation has compounded the effects of mass flooding, as well as the droughts experienced during other parts of the year.

Ebola No Longer “Incurable” After Success of Experimental Treatments

Aug 13, 2019

Medical professionals say that Ebola is no longer an incurable disease, after two experimental drugs being used to treat infected patients in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shown a 90% survival rate. The treatments are most effective if administered shortly after Ebola is contracted. Since the latest outbreak began a year ago, the World Health Organization says at least 2,700 people have been infected with Ebola, with more than 1,800 deaths.


Reports: Director of Mexican Migrant Shelter Kidnapped

Aug 13, 2019

Local outlets are reporting the director of a migrant shelter in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, was kidnapped while defending asylum seekers at his shelter. Members of an organized crime group reportedly intended to kidnap Cuban migrants in exchange for ransom, when the shelter director, Aarón Méndez, was taken after trying to protect the migrants in his care. Little information is known about Méndez’s whereabouts. The kidnapping is said to have taken place over a week ago.

Doctors Without Borders warned last month that the border city of Nuevo Laredo was not safe for migrants waiting for possible asylum in the U.S. In a statement critical of Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy — which sends asylum seekers back to Mexico while their cases make their way through U.S. immigration courts — the nonprofit said, “This policy is putting vulnerable people in areas controlled by criminal organizations, which see migrants as a commodity and a source of income.”

Racist Border Patrol Agent Who Intentionally Ran Over Guatemalan Man Pleads Guilty

Aug 13, 2019

Matthew Bowen, an Arizona Border Patrol agent, has pleaded guilty to intentionally running over a Guatemalan migrant with a pickup truck in 2017. He now faces up to a year in prison and a possible fine of $100,000. He will also resign from the Border Patrol. The man he hit, Antolin Rolando López-Aguilar, survived. Court filings show Bowen had sent a slew of racist text messages on his phone referring to immigrants as “subhuman” and “beaners,” among other insults.

Friend of Dayton Shooter Says He Bought and Stored Gun Parts and Ammunition Used in Massacre

Aug 13, 2019

A friend of the Dayton, Ohio, gunman who killed nine people, including his sibling, in a shooting rampage outside a bar last weekend told federal investigators he bought and stored body armor, ammunition and part of the firearm used in the deadly attack. It’s unknown whether the friend, Ethan Kollie, was aware of gunman Connor Betts’s plan to commit a mass murder. Kollie was charged Monday with lying about his drug use on a firearms form for an unrelated purchase.

WaPo Editor Responds to Sanders Claim That Paper Writes Negative Stories Because of Amazon Criticism

Aug 13, 2019

The executive editor of The Washington Post is accusing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders of supporting a “conspiracy theory,” after the 2020 hopeful claimed during a New Hampshire campaign speech that The Washington Post writes negative stories about him because of his criticisms of Amazon. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the newspaper.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?”

Sanders supporters: “Nothing!”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Yeah. So, you know, I talk about that all of the time, and then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.”

Washington Post editor Marty Baron told CNN in a statement, “Senator Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage. Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

General Orders “Culture” Review After SEALs Accused of Drug Abuse, Sexual Violence

Aug 13, 2019

A four-star general has ordered a review of the ethics and culture of special operations units within the U.S. military. The directive comes after several recent cases involving members of SEAL teams engaging in forbidden and, in some cases, criminal acts. An entire SEAL platoon was recently sent home from Iraq after facing accusations of sexual assault and alcohol consumption. Last year, an internal investigation found that members of another SEAL team abused cocaine and other illegal drugs. And in a case that received nationwide attention, U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was acquitted of murder last month. Gallagher was accused of multiple war crimes, including shooting two Iraqi civilians and fatally stabbing a captive teenager in the neck. General Richard Clarke has ordered the ethics review be completed by November.

Water in Newark, NJ, Still Unsafe to Drink

Aug 13, 2019

In Newark, New Jersey officials have started handing out bottled water after recent tests of the city’s water supply showed that it is still unsafe to drink — some eight months after officials began distributing water filters to residents to cut levels of lead in the tap. The Environmental Protection Agency told Newark officials the filters may not be sufficiently effective, and they should instead hand out bottled water to residents “as soon as possible.” Studies show Newark has some of the highest levels of lead contamination in the country. The National Resources Defense Council is suing Newark for violating federal safe drinking water laws.

Estate of Layleen Polanco Sues NYC over Her Death at Rikers

Aug 13, 2019

The estate of Layleen Polanco — a transgender woman who was found dead in a jail cell at Rikers Island in June — is suing the city of New York over her death. The city’s medical examiner ruled last month that the 27-year-old Afro-Latinx woman died of complications from epilepsy. Polanco’s mother says that officials knew of her medical condition but still put her in solitary confinement without proper supervision. The suit alleges this violated the 14th Amendment, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Layleen Polanco was arrested in April on misdemeanor charges and jailed for two months after she was unable to post $500 bail.

Anti-Amazon Protests Mount over Collaboration with Palantir and ICE

Aug 13, 2019

A group of Whole Foods employees are the latest to protest Amazon’s involvement with immigration authorities and the software and data company Palantir. Whole Foods is owned by Amazon. A group of current and former employees known as “Whole Worker” wrote, in a letter published Monday, “Undocumented people must be welcomed with compassion and treated like the political and economic asylum seekers they are. Many it must be added, are fleeing from conditions created by destructive U.S policies, making it the responsibility of the U.S to welcome them. It also must be said that Palantir, in 2011, was involved in a plan to spy on labor unions and activists.”

This comes following a major day of action against Amazon. On Sunday, over 40 people were arrested in New York City as Jewish protesters from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Never Again Action took over an Amazon bookstore to demand they stop collaborating with ICE.

Yehudah Webster: “The camps, the hieleras, the separations, the roundups and deportations — none of this could happen without the web hosting Amazon provides ICE and the server providers it relies on, such as Palantir. We say, 'Alas, ekah.'”

Protesters: “Alas, ekah.”

Among those arrested were New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and artist Molly Crabapple. Meanwhile, Jewish activists in Baltimore blocked the entrance to the Howard County Detention Center Sunday to demand city officials close immigrant camps. The Howard County Executive’s Office said, following the action, they “will properly review and evaluate our contract” with ICE.

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