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HeadlinesAugust 16, 2019

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Israel Bars Reps. Omar & Tlaib from Official Trip to West Bank Due to Their Support for BDS

Aug 16, 2019

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has rejected an Israeli offer to visit her family in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds, one day after Israel barred her and fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from entering Israel to travel to occupied Palestine for an official trip. Israel initially blocked entry to both lawmakers after President Trump took the unprecedented step of publicly urging Israel to bar entry to the women, the first two female Muslim members of Congress. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s initial decision to bar both of the U.S. lawmakers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “By law, we are not willing to admit anyone into Israel who calls for the boycott of the state of Israel and acts to delegitimize the state of the Jews.”

Israeli authorities say Rashida Tlaib will now be allowed entry on humanitarian grounds to visit her ailling 90-year-old grandmother, on the condition that she does not promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement during her visit. Israel’s initial decision was widely denounced even by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. On Thursday, Tlaib tweeted that Israel’s decision to bar her and Omar was “a sign of weakness [because] the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.” The prominent Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi decried Israel’s initial decision.

Hanan Ashrawi: “This is really unacceptable. It’s a direct insult to the American people. It’s a direct insult to the representatives of the American people. And it’s a way in which Israel shows that it is a dictatorship that cannot tolerate any criticism, and that it will prevent anybody from interacting with the Palestinian people or seeing the reality of this cruel and illegal occupation on the ground.”

The family of Rashida Tlaib in the West Bank has also expressed outrage that the congresswoman must accept conditions on her visit.

11 Die in Kashmir as Pakistani & Indian Troops Exchange Fire

Aug 16, 2019

Tension is growing in Kashmir as Pakistani and Indian troops have repeatedly exchanged fire across the Line of Control. Al Jazeera reports six Indian soldiers as well as three Pakistani soldiers and two Pakistani civilians have died over the past 24 hours. This comes just over a week after India revoked the special status of the Indian-controlled part of the Muslim-majority region. Meanwhile, in London, thousands of demonstrators rallied on Thursday to protest India’s crackdown in Kashmir. Sheikh Ramzy is the director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre.

Sheikh Ramzy: “It is totally wrong, totally wrong to capture the countries, totally wrong to occupy the countries. It’s going to be a second Palestine. It’s going to be many people dying. And, of course, unfortunately, two countries are nuclear. And one of them gets stupid, they can destroy the whole world.”

U.S. Puts Pressure on Crew of Iranian Oil Tanker Seized in July

Aug 16, 2019

Authorities in Gibraltar have ordered the release of an Iranian oil tanker which had been seized by British marines in July. The Trump administration responded to the news by threatening to deny visas to any crew members who rejoin the ship. Meanwhile, reports have emerged that the United States has taken part in secret talks between the United Arab Emirates and Israel on developing new ways to confront Iran.


North Korea Test-Fires Two Missiles as It Rejects New Talks with S. Korea

Aug 16, 2019

North Korea test-fired two missiles off its eastern coast earlier today. This makes the sixth North Korean missile test in the past month. It comes a day after North Korea rejected calls for more peace talks with South Korea.

NOAA: July Was Officially the Hottest Month on Record

Aug 16, 2019

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has confirmed July was the Earth’s hottest month since record keeping began 140 years ago. In a statement, the NOAA said, “Much of the planet sweltered in unprecedented heat. The record warmth also shrank Arctic and Antarctic sea ice to historic lows.” July was the 415th consecutive month with above-average temperatures.

Australia Accused of Watering Down Pacific Island Climate Agreement

Aug 16, 2019

Meanwhile, Australia is facing criticism for watering down a climate agreement at the Pacific Island Forum, which has just wrapped up in Tuvalu. Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama tweeted, “We came together in a nation that risks disappearing to the seas, but unfortunately, we settled for the status quo in our communique. Watered-down climate language has real consequences — like water-logged homes, schools, communities, and ancestral burial grounds.”

Study: Surge in Methane Gas Emissions Is Linked to Fracking Boom

Aug 16, 2019

A new Cornell University study finds that a global surge in methane gas emissions over the past decade is largely due to the fracking boom in the U.S. and Canada. Publishing in the journal Biogeosciences, professor Robert Howarth finds the recent increase in methane gas emissions is massive, with chemical fingerprints indicating a large increase of leaked gas from shale drilling. Methane is far more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and methane is the second-largest greenhouse gas contributor.

270 Die, 1 Million Displaced in India from Heavy Monsoon Rains

Aug 16, 2019

In other climate news, more than 270 people have died over the past two weeks in India due to heavy monsoon rains. More than 1 million people have been displaced.

Federal Court: Trump Admin Can’t Deny Soap & Toothpaste to Migrant Children

Aug 16, 2019

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an attempt by the Trump administration to deny detained migrant children soap, toothpaste and beds. Justice Department attorney Sarah Fabian had argued that the government is not required to provide such necessities to children detained at the border. At a hearing in June, her claim was questioned by all three judges on the panel, including Judge Wallace Tashima.

Judge Wallace Tashima: “If you don’t have a toothbrush, if you don’t have soap, if you don’t have a blanket, it’s not safe and sanitary. Wouldn’t everybody agree with that? Do you agree with that?”

Sarah Fabian: “Well, I think it’s — I think those are — there is fair reason to find that those things may be part of safe and sanitary.”

Judge Wallace Tashima: “Not 'may be.' 'Are' a part. What do you say, 'may be'? You mean there are circumstances when a person doesn’t need to have a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap for days?”

Sarah Fabian: “Well, I think, in CBP custody, there’s — it’s frequently intended to be much shorter-term, so it may be that for a shorter-term stay in CBP custody that some of those things may not be required.”

In their ruling on Thursday, the federal judges wrote, “Assuring that children eat enough edible food, drink clean water, are housed in hygienic facilities with sanitary bathrooms, have soap and toothpaste, and are not sleep deprived are without doubt essential to the children’s safety.”

Dozens of Immigrant Families Plan to Sue over Family Separation & Abuse in Foster System

Aug 16, 2019

In related news, the Associated Press has revealed dozens of immigrant families are planning to sue the U.S. government for harm suffered after being separated at the border from their loved ones. The AP reports several of the claims involve young children who were sexually, physically or emotionally abused in federally funded foster care.

Prison Guard Drives Truck into Crowd of Jewish Protesters Outside Immigrant Detention Center

Aug 16, 2019

A correctional officer in Rhode Island has been placed on leave after he drove his truck into a line of protesters calling for the release of asylum seekers being jailed in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Wednesday’s protest was organized by Jewish activists with the group Never Again Action. Protesters were peacefully blocking a driveway to the Wyatt Detention Center when the correctional officer, Captain Thomas Woodworth, drove his large pickup truck into the crowd, striking several protesters. Two protesters were hospitalized, including a 64-year-old activist who fractured his leg and suffered from internal bleeding. Three other protesters were later hospitalized after police used pepper spray to disperse the peaceful protest. In a statement, Never Again Action said, “We will continue to fight until we close the concentration camps, shut down ICE, and secure permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.”

Dayton Police Release More Information on Response to Mass Shooting

Aug 16, 2019

More information has come to light about the Dayton Police Department’s handling of last week’s mass shooting when a gunman shot dead nine people in a span of 32 seconds before the police killed him. A preliminary autopsy shows the police fired 24 to 26 bullets at the gunman, who had 52 wounds on his body. The Dayton police have also revealed at least one of the victims who died was shot by both the gunman and the police, but authorities claim the lethal round was fired by the gunman. The police also accidentally shot and injured another person at the scene.

Democratic Officials in Pennsylvania Push for New Gun Control Measures

Aug 16, 2019

In Pennsylvania, more than two dozen government officials, including Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, called on the Republican-led state Legislature to enact new gun control measures, after a gunman in Philadelphia shot and injured six police officers. This is Pennsylvania state Senator Sharif Street.

Sen. Sharif Street: “We in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have not done everything we’re supposed to do. We are derelict in our duties. And it is because the majority caucus is afraid of the NRA. They refuse to call a vote on this legislation. They are derelict in their duties. They’ve turned their backs on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They turn their backs on the people that were murdered in Squirrel Hill. They turn their backs on the people that are shot in our communities every day. They turn their backs on people that are killed in Allentown and Reading and York and Erie. And, yes, they turn their backs on the people of North Philadelphia, including its police department, who should not have to go up against people who have firearms that can shoot at a distance, fire weapons in rapid fire.”

Huawei Accused of Helping Uganda & Zambia Spy on Political Dissidents

Aug 16, 2019

In news from Africa, The Wall Street Journal is reporting employees of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei helped authorities in Uganda and Zambia to spy on political opponents and journalists. In Uganda, the actions of Huawei helped the government intercept the WhatsApp and Skype messages of prominent opposition leader Bobi Wine, who was later arrested along with dozens of his supporters. Wine is now running for president. In Zambia, Huawei helped authorities locate opposition bloggers, leading to their arrest.

Hickenlooper Drops Out of Presidential Race, May Run for Colorado Senate Seat

Aug 16, 2019

In campaign news, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has dropped his bid to become president, but he is now considering running for Senate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.

Greenland Is Not For Sale: Denmark Rejects Trump Proposal to Buy Territory

Aug 16, 2019

The Wall Street Journal is reporting President Trump has repeatedly asked advisers if it would be possible for the United States to buy Greenland from Denmark. Trump is said to be interested in Greenland’s abundant natural resources and geopolitical importance. The United States already has a major military base in Greenland — the Thule Air Base. But the government of Greenland has a message: “Greenland is not for sale.” One Danish politician said, “The idea that Denmark should sell 50,000 citizens to the U.S. is completely insane.” Trump is scheduled to meet with the prime minister of Denmark next month.

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