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HeadlinesSeptember 17, 2019

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Iran Rejects Talks with U.S. Following Disputed Drone Attacks in Saudi Arabia

Sep 17, 2019

Iran has rejected possible talks with the United States as tensions between the two countries continue to mount following weekend drone attacks on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. This is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “If the U.S. took back its words, if they repent and return to the agreement they breached, if they became a member country of the JCPOA, then they can participate in the group of countries negotiating with Iran. Without doing so, no negotiation will take place at any level between the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Americans, neither in New York nor anywhere else.”

The JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is most commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the attack, which was claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen, though Trump had also suggested he might meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly. He then went on to attack the media for quoting him. On Monday, Trump said the U.S. was “locked and loaded” but waiting to hear from the Saudis before taking any action. The Saudi government has stopped short of outright blaming Iran for the attack, though they say Iranian weapons were used.

Israelis Head to Polls to Decide Netanyahu’s Fate

Sep 17, 2019

Israelis are casting ballots today in the country’s second parliamentary elections this year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote after he failed to build a coalition government following April’s election. Netanyahu has vowed to annex nearly a third of the occupied West Bank if he wins today’s election. He is currently facing possible indictments over multiple corruption cases. Netanyahu and his far-right Likud party are facing off against ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party. If both parties fail again to win a majority, they may end up forming a unity government.

Afghanistan: Blast Near Presidential Rally Kills Dozens Amid Mounting Violence

Sep 17, 2019

In Afghanistan, a bomb exploded today near a campaign rally for President Ashraf Ghani in the country’s northern Parwan province. Ghani was reported safe, but the blast killed at least 24 people. Another explosion in the capital Kabul, near the American Embassy, reportedly killed at least three more. Afghanistan is gearing up for elections later this month.

In more news from Afghanistan, NATO reported an American military member was killed Monday — the 17th so far this year. This comes after Afghan government officials reported 85 Taliban fighters, including two senior officials, were killed Sunday in attacks by U.S.-backed Afghan forces. The Taliban, however, says only seven fighters were killed. Earlier this month, President Trump abruptly called off a meeting with warring parties in Afghanistan and said peace talks were “dead.”

Massive Blackout Hits Four Central American Nations

Sep 17, 2019

In Central America, a massive blackout Monday left millions of people without power for hours in Nicaragua and Honduras, as well as parts of El Salvador and Guatemala. The blackout was reportedly caused by a failure in the region’s electrical grid, which is located in Honduras. In Nicaragua, internet services and water distribution were also affected by the power outage, raising major concerns for the country’s hospitals and other health services.

2 Italian Officials Indicted over Migrant Deaths from 2013 Shipwreck

Sep 17, 2019

In Italy, two high-ranking officials have been indicted on multiple charges of manslaughter and negligence for the deaths of more than 260 migrants, including 60 children, in the Mediterranean Sea in 2013. The Coast Guard officials reportedly received emergency calls from the migrant ship as it slowly sank, but delayed alerting Italian and Maltese authorities for hours.

2019 Was Northern Hemisphere’s Hottest Summer on Record

Sep 17, 2019

The Northern Hemisphere had its hottest summer on record since 1880 this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The past five summers have been the hemisphere’s five hottest, as global temperatures skyrocket due to climate change.

Autoworkers Continue Strike with Support from Dems, Environmental Activists

Sep 17, 2019

The United Auto Workers’ nationwide strike enters its second day today. It’s the first such strike in the auto industry since 2007, affecting over 50 General Motors facilities across nine states. UAW representatives met for further talks with GM Monday but have so far failed to come to an agreement. Workers’ demands include fair wages, affordable healthcare, job security and profit sharing.

A number of Democratic 2020 candidates have come out in support of the strike, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former San Antonio mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who noted in a tweet that GM’s CEO, Mary T. Barra, made nearly $22 million last year, which amounts to 281 times the median GM worker. Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, also threw her support behind the strike, tweeting, “All workers deserve a right to fair wages, guaranteed healthcare, job security & basic dignity.”

Manhattan DA Subpoenas Trump Tax Returns

Sep 17, 2019

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has subpoenaed President Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of Trump’s “personal and corporate tax returns.” New York City prosecutors are investigating hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign and whether the reimbursements made to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, were illegally accounted for as a legal expense. Trump has refused to release his tax records, claiming for years he is under audit. House Democrats have attempted to obtain his federal tax returns via subpoena from the Treasury Department and IRS but have so far been unsuccessful.

Acting Intelligence Dir. Refused to Turn Over Whistleblower Complaint That Could Involve Trump

Sep 17, 2019

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff has accused the acting director of national intelligence of refusing to turn over a whistleblower complaint to protect an unnamed high-ranking official. Schiff subpoenaed Joseph Maguire, the acting head of national intelligence, who has refused to hand over the complaint. Schiff says Maguire consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint before deciding to withhold it. Schiff wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoena, “The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.”

House Dems Investigating Elaine Chao for Ethics Violations

Sep 17, 2019

House Democrats are investigating Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for possible ethics violations and whether she used her office to benefit herself and her family. The House Oversight Committee is probing whether Chao took any action to benefit Foremost Group, a shipping company owned by her father and sisters, to “increase its influence and status with the Chinese government,” including by sitting for interviews with Chinese media outlets where she appeared to represent both the U.S. government and Foremost Group. China has reportedly provided hundreds of millions of dollars in low-interest loans to the company. In June, reports emerged Secretary Chao was using her office to bolster projects benefiting her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in his home state of Kentucky.

Florida Judge Refuses to Toss Epstein “Sweetheart” Plea Deal

Sep 17, 2019

A federal judge in Florida has refused to undo a 2008 plea deal that granted immunity to serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirators — despite a ruling that prosecutors violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by failing to consult with Epstein’s accusers. The decision means Epstein’s accusers will not see compensation or be granted access to FBI records related to the Epstein investigation. It also means Epstein’s alleged co-conspirators will retain their immunity. Epstein died of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell last month while awaiting trial. The U.S. attorney general has vowed to pursue Epstein’s collaborators.

Study: 1 of Every 16 Women and Girls’ First Sexual Experience Was Rape

Sep 17, 2019

A new study reveals that the first sexual experience for one out of every 16 women and girls in the U.S. is rape. Almost half of those surveyed said they were physically forced into the act, and over half said they were verbally pressured into sex against their will. The average age of the assaults is 15. In the following years, the affected women had poorer mental and reproductive health outcomes, including more unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Sen. Warren Launches Anti-Corruption Plan, Receives 2020 Endorsement from Working Families Party

Sep 17, 2019

The Working Families Party has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary. “Senator Warren knows how to kick Wall Street kleptocrats where it hurts, and she’s got some truly visionary plans to make this country work for the many,” said Maurice Mitchell, the Working Families Party’s national director, in a statement. The endorsement provoked a backlash among some supporters of Bernie Sanders, whom the group endorsed in 2016.

On Monday, Warren released her plan to end corruption in politics. The sweeping plan includes a lifetime ban on lobbying for senior government officials and imposing strict conflict-of-interest laws on the president. Warren gave a speech to a crowd of supporters in New York City Monday night.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Our democracy is paralyzed. And why? Because giant corporations have bought off our government. Americans are killed by floods and fires in a rapidly warming planet. Why? Because huge fossil fuel corporations have bought off our government.”

Warren delivered the speech near the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which killed 146 garment workers, mostly women, and spurred an organized campaign to improve working conditions.

Saturday Night Live Fires Racist, Homophobic New Cast Member

Sep 17, 2019

“Saturday Night Live” has fired newly announced cast member Shane Gillis after clips emerged of the comedian making racist and homophobic comments. In now-deleted clips from Gillis’s podcast, he refers to Chinese people with anti-Asian ethnic slurs and mimics a fake Chinese accent. He also attacked 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. The comments are from last year. Andrew Yang responded to the news on Twitter, writing, “It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever known. I have certainly felt that–the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization.” Andrew Yang has since said Gillis reached out and the two would be speaking soon.

This comes as ”SNL” — which has come under fire for years for its lack of diversity — has also hired its first-ever Chinese-American cast member, Bowen Yang. Bowen Yang is openly gay and has been writing for the show since 2018. He is one of a small handful of cast members of Asian descent to ever appear on the show.

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