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HeadlinesAugust 19, 2019

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Bombs Go Off on Afghan Independence Day, Following Wedding Attack That Killed 63

Aug 19, 2019

In Afghanistan, a series of bomb attacks rocked restaurants and other public spaces today in the eastern city of Jalalabad, injuring at least 66 people. Afghanistan is marking the 100th anniversary of its independence today. The attacks follow Saturday’s bloody suicide bombing at a wedding in Kabul that killed 63 people, wounding around 200 others. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State, was the deadliest this year in Afghanistan. This is the groom from the wedding.

Mirwais Elmi: “I’ve lost hope. I lost my brother, my friends who came to join my wedding party. The celebration of Independence Day does not matter to me anymore. I don’t care whether the government is going to light up the city. It’s the independence night, and it’s dedicated only to the rich people who celebrate it. All those killed were laborers and poor people attending the ceremony. Rich people do not come to participate in poor people’s ceremonies.”

The attack came as the U.S. and Taliban are reportedly close to a peace deal after months of talks between the two parties. The Afghan government, however, has not been a part of the negotiations. Afghanistan is due to hold elections next month.

Largest Hong Kong Protest in Weeks Defies Threats, Intimidation by China

Aug 19, 2019

In Hong Kong, organizers say as many as 1.7 million pro-democracy protesters took to the streets Sunday in the largest demonstration in weeks. Protesters marched in the rain as the popular uprising, which started 11 weeks ago, showed no sign of slowing down despite Chinese soldiers lining up on the border with Hong Kong and threats by local officials to jail protesters for life. No major incidents were reported after weeks of confrontations by police and organized gangs.

Kashmiris Protest Lockdown 2 Weeks After India Scraps Special Status

Aug 19, 2019

In the disputed region of Kashmir, at least two dozen people were injured and one man killed, according to local reports, as protests took place amid an ongoing lockdown. Indian forces reportedly used tear gas, chili grenades and pellets to disperse the demonstrations, which came almost two weeks after India revoked the special status of the Indian-controlled part of the Muslim-majority region. This is a protester speaking out against conditions in Kashmir

Riyaz Ahmed: “The day is of 24 hours, out of which they ease the movement restriction for half an hour. I am worried about everything, my children and my family.”

Activist Kavita Krishnan, who recently visited Kashmir on a fact-finding mission, said the region is under complete siege and even young children were being arrested as “an act of intimidation.” Pakistan has asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the crisis.

Gibraltar Releases Iranian Oil Tanker After U.S. Fails to Keep It Under Seizure

Aug 19, 2019

An Iranian oil tanker seized by British authorities in Gibraltar last month was released Sunday. The ship was released after Gibraltar rejected a U.S. request to keep detaining the ship, which it says is in breach of U.S. sanctions because it is operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Gibraltar said the sanctions, however, do not apply in the EU. Iran warned the U.S. against seizing the tanker as it departed from Gibraltar.

Israeli Soldiers Kill 3 People in Gaza

Aug 19, 2019

Israeli soldiers killed at least three Palestinians in the Gaza Strip Saturday night, according to local officials. Al Jazeera reported that the men were believed to be militants but had acted independently, according to a Hamas source. Earlier on Saturday, Israel launched air raids on parts of the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he was prepared to call a wide-scale military operation in Gaza.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Address Israeli Travel Ban

Aug 19, 2019

Back in the United States, Congressmembers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are set to hold a news conference today to address the travel restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli government. Last week, Israel barred the two from entering Israel to travel to occupied Palestine, after President Trump took the unprecedented step of publicly urging Israel to deny entry to the first two female Muslim members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for their “weakness” after the move.

In a statement, Omar called Netanyahu’s decision an “affront,” while Tlaib justified her decision not to make the trip, after she was granted a waiver to visit her grandmother on humanitarian grounds, by tweeting a quote from anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu: “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”
Meanwhile, Tlaib’s grandmother has spoken out since the news was announced.

Muftia Tlaib: “May God ruin him. I was happy she was coming. I was excited that she was coming, for her grandmother to see her.’’

The hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty — meaning “my Palestinian Grandma” — trended on social media over the weekend as users posted tributes to their grandmothers in Palestine in solidarity with Congressmember Tlaib.

Far-Right and Anti-Fascist Protesters Take to Portland Streets

Aug 19, 2019

Hundreds of far-right protesters took to the streets of Portland, Oregon, Saturday for what they dubbed the “End Domestic Terrorism” rally. They were outnumbered, however, by counterprotesters who gathered across the city as police escorted members of the Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and other right-wing groups across one of the city’s main bridges. Police arrested 13 people throughout the day and seized weapons, but the day’s events largely avoided “the worst-case scenario” Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city was prepared for. One of the rally’s organizers, Joe Biggs, told a reporter the event was a success, pointing to recognition by Trump, saying, “Go look at President Trump’s Twitter. He talked about Portland, said he’s watching antifa. That’s all we wanted. We wanted national attention, and we got it. Mission success.” Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted: “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an 'ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.' Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!” This is a spokesperson from Rose City Antifa speaking at Saturday’s dueling protests.

“Felix”: “We absolutely reject the label domestic terrorism. Anti-fascists are not domestic terrorists. We are the people who stand up for our community and defend it from the people who want to do our community great harm.”

A number of Republican politicians have called for antifa to be recognized as a terror organization. A Republican congressional memo obtained by the Tampa Bay Times cites antifa as a violent group responsible for gun violence despite zero deaths being attributed to antifa protesters. The FBI found the majority of domestic terror in the U.S. is caused by white supremacists.

Authorities Arrest Men in 3 States After They Threaten Mass Shootings

Aug 19, 2019

Three possible mass shootings were thwarted in recent days. Ohio police arrested a white supremacist Saturday after he posted a video appearing to threaten a Jewish community center. Twenty-year-old James Patrick Reardon posted an Instagram video last month showing a man shooting a semiautomatic firearm as sirens blare and people scream. The accompanying caption reads, “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon.” The Instagram post tags the location of the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown. The FBI raided his house Friday, seizing semiautomatic weapons, dozens of rounds of ammunition, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.

Meanwhile, Florida authorities arrested 25-year-old Tristan Scott Wix Friday after he sent text messages to an ex-girlfriend saying he wanted to commit a mass shooting. One of the messages said, “A school is a weak target.. id be more likely to open fire on a large crowd of people from over 3 miles away.. I’d wanna break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever.”

And in Connecticut, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was arrested and found in possession of a cache of weapons and ammunition after a Facebook post showed he may be planning a mass murder.

Gun control advocates rallied in cities nationwide this weekend to call for Congress to pass background checks on all gun sales and so-called red flag legislation, which allows family members to ask a judge to temporarily prevent someone from owning a firearm if they pose a risk of committing violence.

Prison Guard Who Drove Truck into Jewish Activists Has Resigned

Aug 19, 2019

A correctional officer in Rhode Island who last week drove his truck into a line of peaceful protesters calling for the release of asylum seekers has resigned. Captain Thomas Woodworth rammed into a group of Jewish activists with the Never Again Action coalition, sending two of them to the hospital. Another three demonstrators were hospitalized after being pepper-sprayed by correctional officers also on the scene at the for-profit Wyatt Detention Center. The ACLU of Rhode Island called the attack “an attempt to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by hundreds of peaceful protesters.” Matt Harvey, a spokesperson for Never Again Action, noted, “If this is what he’s willing to do to a crowd of mostly white protestors in front of cameras, just imagine what’s happening inside that prison where no one’s watching.”

NYPD Judge: Pantaleo “Untruthful” in Account of Eric Garner’s Killing

Aug 19, 2019

The New York Police Department judge who recently recommended Daniel Pantaleo be fired from the police force said Pantaleo was “untruthful” and his account of Eric Garner’s death was “implausible and self-serving.” Pantaleo killed unarmed African American Eric Garner in 2014 by using an illegal chokehold, but was never convicted or even removed from the police force. When questioned by investigators, the officer denied using the prohibited move, despite a viral video clearly showing that he did. Judge Rosemarie Maldonado issued her findings in a legal opinion reported by The New York Times. The final decision about Pantaleo’s fate will be up to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and is expected by the end of the month.

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