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HeadlinesOctober 21, 2020

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Nigerian Soldiers Open Fire on Protesters Opposing Police Brutality

Oct 21, 2020

Security forces in Nigeria opened fire on protesters in Lagos Tuesday as authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew to stem growing demonstrations against police brutality. There are conflicting accounts of how many protesters were shot. Amnesty International said it had received “credible but disturbing evidence” that protesters had been killed. One Nigerian police officer told The New York Times that 11 protesters had died. Dozens of protesters have also been hospitalized. Some witnesses posted videos on social media where rapid gunfire could be heard.

Witness: “Please tell people. Please tell people. People are having to run. They’re shooting at them at the Lekki toll gate. Please tell social media.”

The killings in Nigeria come two weeks after protests began against a branch of the Nigerian police known as SARS, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which has long been accused of committing torture, murder and extortion. The killings on Tuesday sparked outrage from Nigerians across the globe. The soccer star Odion Ighalo, who plays for Manchester United, posted this video online.

Odion Ighalo: “I’m not the kind of guy that talks about politics, but I can’t keep quiet anymore for what is going on back home in Nigeria. I will say, Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets to kill unharmful protesters because they are protesting for their rights. It’s uncalled for.”

Here in the United States, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden urged Nigerian authorities to “cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria.”

As U.S. Faces Third Coronavirus Surge, CDC Reports 300,000 Excess Deaths in 2020

Oct 21, 2020

The United States reported more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases and over 900 deaths Tuesday, as a third surge of U.S. infections appears set to rival two previous peaks. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of deaths from all causes across the U.S. so far this year is about 300,000 more than expected. Thirty-one states now qualify as “red zones” under the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s policies. 

In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered new restrictions on retail stores, restaurants and bars, as a surge of COVID-19 cases has left over 80% of adult hospital beds in New Mexico filled. 

Health officials have ordered students at the University of Michigan to quarantine in their homes and dormitories after off-campus parties were blamed for more than half of all new coronavirus cases in the city of Ann Arbor. 

On Tuesday, a House committee on the coronavirus crisis released White House reports revealing the Trump administration has been aware of an alarming nationwide rise in cases for over a month — even as President Trump publicly downplayed the crisis, got sick with COVID-19 and held crowded campaign events that contributed to the spread of the disease. 

Pope Wears Mask at Public Event for First Time as EU Coronavirus Cases Surge

Oct 21, 2020

Coronavirus cases continue to surge across the European Union as colder weather drives people indoors and pandemic fatigue sets in. In Germany, some residents of Bavaria were ordered to shelter at home for two weeks in the nation’s first new lockdowns since April.

Belgium’s health minister is warning hospitals could soon be overrun by what he called a “tsunami” of COVID-19 patients.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis wore a face mask throughout a public service Tuesday — the first time the pontiff has fully complied with Vatican City protocols that went into effect on October 6.

In Latin America, Brazil’s official COVID-19 death toll is approaching 155,000. Argentina just recorded its one millionth coronavirus case, surpassing Spain as the world’s fifth most affected country.

Justice Department and 11 States Sue Google in Biggest Antitrust Lawsuit in Decades

Oct 21, 2020

Back in the United States, the Department of Justice has sued the internet giant Google, in a massive antitrust lawsuit that will have major implications for the rest of Big Tech — and could lead to the company’s breakup. The DOJ complaint was joined by attorneys general in 11 states. It reads, in part, “Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire.” We’ll have more on the Google antitrust lawsuit after headlines. 

ACLU Can’t Find Hundreds of Asylum-Seeking Parents Separated from Children by Trump Admin

Oct 21, 2020

In immigration news, attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union working to identify families that were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border say they haven’t been able to find the parents of 545 children in U.S. custody, as most of those parents have already been deported to Central America. NBC News reports the ACLU and other legal groups were appointed to help reunite children taken from their parents under a Trump administration 2017 “zero tolerance” pilot program which separated over 1,000 families. Only about half of them have been reunited. The government also does not know the whereabouts of a number of the children.

L.A. Times: Just Three of 265 Reported Crimes at California ICE Jails Led to Prosecutions

Oct 21, 2020

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times has uncovered 265 calls to police reporting physical and sexual violence against asylum seekers inside California’s four privately run immigration prisons — nearly all of which went unprosecuted. Half of those reports were cases of rape and sexual assault, and the rest were reports of assault and battery. One case involves an asylum seeker from El Salvador who was beaten by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer in 2018 after the agent threatened to “F— him up” if the asylum seeker refused to sign paperwork. The asylum seeker says the agent then slammed him into a concrete wall. Altogether only three cases of prisoner abuse were prosecuted. 

Early Voting Opens for Pretrial Prisoners in Chicago’s Cook County Jail 

Oct 21, 2020

In Chicago, early voting got underway Saturday for hundreds of prisoners at the Cook County Jail. They’re among 20,000 pretrial prisoners in Illinois given access to absentee ballots — and in some cases voting machines at jails.

Cook County prisoner: “I’m able to voice my opinion and let everyone know that we’re still human beings, and it still counts. We still have to deal with the same things everybody else has to deal with when it comes to society and living and our rights.”

A recent report by the Sentencing Project found 5.2 million U.S. citizens are forbidden from voting due to laws that disenfranchise people with felony convictions. One out of 16 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised. 

Armed Poll Watchers Deploy to Democratic Precincts as Trump Jr. Calls Up “Army for Election Security”

Oct 21, 2020

In Texas, a federal appeals court has ruled that election officials can void people’s mail-in ballots if they determine a signature on the ballot cannot be verified. Under the court’s ruling, officials don’t have to inform voters that their ballots were rejected until after the election. 

In Minnesota, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is suing the private security company Atlas Aegis for recruiting ex-U.S. military Special Operations soldiers to deploy to polling places, calling it illegal voter intimidation and a breach of the Voting Rights Act. 

Michigan’s secretary of state is ordering a ban on the open carrying of firearms within 100 feet of polling places. 

In Florida, the Miami Police Department says it will discipline police officer Daniel Ubeda after he was photographed in uniform, wearing a pro-Trump mask and a holstered firearm, outside a voting site. This all follows Donald Trump Jr.'s call for volunteers to deploy to Democratic precincts to “join Army for Trump's election security.”

Joe Biden Vets Republicans for Cabinet Positions, Won’t Disclose Names of Major Fundraisers

Oct 21, 2020

Joe Biden’s transition team is vetting several prominent Republicans for Cabinet positions. Politico reports the candidates include former Ohio Governor John Kasich, corporate executive Meg Whitman, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, and former Pennsylvania Congressmember Charlie Dent, who’s been working as a healthcare industry lobbyist since resigning from Congress in 2018.

This comes as The New York Times reports the Biden campaign has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000. The campaign is also refusing to reveal the names of so-called bundlers who organize and collect checks from other major donors.

First Lady Skips Campaign Rally in Erie, PA, Due to “Lingering Cough” from COVID-19

Oct 21, 2020

President Trump campaigned in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where thousands of supporters ignored social distancing guidelines to pack a rally at Erie International Airport, where many were not wearing masks. First lady Melania Trump was due to join the event but remained at the White House. Her chief of staff said the first lady has a “lingering cough” as she continues to recover from COVID-19. 

Trump Cuts Short “60 Minutes” Interview, Demands AG Barr Investigate Bidens

Oct 21, 2020

President Trump railed against “60 Minutes” and its host Lesley Stahl on Tuesday, after he cut short an interview with the CBS News program at the White House. After the interview, Trump tweeted, “for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, PRIOR TO AIRTIME! This will be done so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about.” 

Separately on Tuesday, Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to launch a probe of the Bidens over unverified claims of corruption tied to Hunter Biden’s time spent on the board of a Ukrainian oil company. This is Trump speaking on Fox News Tuesday.

Will Cain: “Will you be appointing a special prosecutor?”

President Donald Trump: “We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”

Fiancée of Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Files Suit Against Saudi Crown Prince 

Oct 21, 2020

The fiancée of the slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi has filed a civil lawsuit in Washington, D.C., against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering his torture and killing two years ago inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The lawsuit also names more than two dozen other Saudis who the lawsuit claims were part of a plot to “permanently silence” Khashoggi, who had begun writing articles critical of the Saudi royal family.

Two Colombian Social Leaders Assassinated in Latest Politically Motivated Killings

Oct 21, 2020

In Colombia, two leaders with the leftist political movement Colombia Humana were assassinated Tuesday in two different regions of the country. Eduardo Alarcón was reportedly shot to death at his home by assailants on a motorcycle, and Gustavo Herrera was fatally shot while out on the street.

This comes as thousands of Indigenous and other social leaders are planning a national strike in Bogotá today protesting against the government’s social and economic policies, and demanding the government of right-wing President Iván Duque end the violence and murders against social leaders in Colombia.

Venezuelan Tanker Idled by U.S. Sanctions Puts Caribbean at Risk of Massive Oil Spill

Oct 21, 2020

In the Caribbean, environmentalists are warning of a looming oil disaster as a stricken tanker threatens to unleash a spill that could rival the 1989 Exxon Valdez catastrophe. Images of the ship show it listing drastically to starboard as it continues to take on water not far from Trinidad and Tobago. The Venezuelan-flagged tanker has 80 million gallons of oil on board. The ship has been idled in the Gulf of Paria since the Trump administration imposed an embargo on Venezuela’s petroleum industry in January.

Grand Jurors in Breonna Taylor’s Killing “Not Given the Opportunity” to Bring Homicide Charges

Oct 21, 2020

In Kentucky, a member of the grand jury that heard evidence in the case of Breonna Taylor’s killing says jurors were never given the opportunity to consider homicide charges against the Louisville police officers who shot Taylor to death as they served a no-knock warrant in Taylor’s home last March. In a statement issued through their lawyer, the anonymous juror wrote, “The grand jury didn’t agree certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case. The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges.” The juror released the statement after a judge issued a ruling Tuesday allowing jurors to speak publicly.

SCOTUS Nominee Barrett Was Trustee of School That Bans LGBTQ Students, Faculty

Oct 21, 2020

The Associated Press has revealed Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett served for nearly three years on the board of a private Christian school which barred openly gay teachers and effectively barred admission to children of same-sex parents. Trinity Schools ran schools in Indiana, Minnesota and Virginia. It is affiliated with the secretive religious group People of Praise, of which Barrett is a longtime member. The schools teach students that homosexuality is an abomination against God. The Senate Judiciary Committee is planning to vote on Barrett’s confirmation on Thursday despite protests by Democrats who accuse Republicans of rushing her confirmation ahead of the election.

Study Finds Lead in Tap Water of 80% of U.S. Homes, with African Americans Most Affected

Oct 21, 2020

A new report looking into the presence of lead in tap water shows that of nearly 800 families from across the country included in the study, most homes had detectable lead in their tap water, and at least 15% had levels of lead that could potentially cause a drop in the IQ of infants who are exclusively fed with formula mixed with tap water. The study also found that Black babies are at a much higher risk of being exposed to lead in tap water.

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