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HeadlinesFebruary 13, 2020

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Attorney General William Barr to Testify Before House Judiciary Committee

Feb 13, 2020

Attorney General William Barr is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, as calls mount for his resignation after he intervened to lessen the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone. Earlier this week, four federal prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case — and one resigned from his job entirely — after senior Justice Department officials demanded Stone receive a shorter prison sentence than the initially recommended seven to nine years, even though this sentence range was based on federal sentencing guidelines.

Attorney General Barr’s intervention came after Trump went on a late-night Twitter rampage attacking federal prosecutors and calling the initial sentence a “miscarriage of justice.”

After the intervention, Trump tweeted in praise of Barr: “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.”

This comes as a judge has indefinitely postponed the sentencing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, even though Flynn has already pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. And Trump’s former chief of staff, General John Kelly, criticized Trump during a speech at Drew University, slamming the president over his policies on an array of issues, including North Korea, immigration, military discipline and Ukraine.

Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Skyrocket in Hubei, China

Feb 13, 2020

In China, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus skyrocketed Thursday, after authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases of the deadly virus. The number of infections in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, soared to nearly 50,000 cases and set a new daily record. Nearly 1,400 people have died in China from the virus so far. One of the world’s largest trade shows, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, has been canceled amid fears of the virus’s spread, which the World Health Organization says poses a “grave threat” to the world.

Bloomberg Would Pay Billions Less Under His Tax Plan Than Sanders’

Feb 13, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has released his tax plan, under which he would pay nearly $5 billion less under his wealth tax than he would under Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposal. That’s according to a CBS analysis, which found Bloomberg’s plan would also generate far less government revenue than Sanders’s plan. This comes as Bloomberg continues to face questioning about newly surfaced audio in which he defends the New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policies in 2015 at the Aspen Institute. This is Bloomberg being questioned by reporters about the audio Wednesday.

Michael Bloomberg: “I don’t think those words reflect what — how I led the most diverse city in the nation. And I apologized for the practice and the pain that it caused.”

Reporter: “But why did you say it?”

Michael Bloomberg: “It was five years ago. And, you know, it’s just not the way that I think. And it does not the way — doesn’t reflect what I do every day.”

New York Times columnist Charles Blow writes in a new opinion piece, “What Bloomberg did as mayor amounted to a police occupation of minority neighborhoods, a terroristic pressure campaign, with little evidence that it was accomplishing the goal of sustained, long-term crime reduction. … No amount of Democrats’ anti-Trump fear and panic will ever erase what Bloomberg did. … If Democrats cast aside all of these [other] candidates in favor of Bloomberg and his wealth, I fear they will be making it harder to defeat Trump in November.”

U.N. Releases List of 100 Companies Linked to Israeli-Occupied West Bank Settlements

Feb 13, 2020

The United Nations human rights office has released a list of more than 100 companies linked to the Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law. The long-awaited report included 94 companies based in Israel and 18 international companies, which it said are complicit in the violation of Palestinians’ human rights. The companies include Airbnb, the American Israeli Gas Corporation, Delta Israel, the Bank of Jerusalem, Expedia, Booking.com, General Mills, TripAdvisor and Motorola. This is Rupert Colville of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Rupert Colville: “The fact-finding mission highlighted 10 types of business activities it viewed as being of particular concern, given the well-established illegal nature of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and their impact on the daily lives and the human rights of the Palestinian people on whose land the settlements have been built and continue to be built.”

The U.N. report does not accuse the companies of violating international law, but it does come amid the global nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that calls for the boycott of companies linked to illegal settlements.

Mexico: Outrage over Murder of 25-Year-Old Ingrid Escamilla

Feb 13, 2020

In Mexico, outrage is growing over the murder of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, who was stabbed to death and then mutilated and dismembered by her partner. Her brutal killing comes as feminist activists have been protesting against the high rates of femicides — that’s the murder of women because of their gender — across Mexico.

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Former Guatemalan Presidential Candidate Sentenced to 15 Years by U.S. Court

Feb 13, 2020

Former Guatemalan presidential candidate Mario Estrada has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a U.S. court, after he was convicted of plotting to work with Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel to import cocaine to the United States. Prosecutors accused Estrada of offering free access to Guatemala’s airports and maritime routes for smuggling in exchange for millions of dollars in campaign financing from the cartel. Prosecutors also say Estrada conspired to assassinate political rivals. He ran for president in 2018 with Guatemala’s center-right National Change Union party.

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2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill May Have Been 30% Bigger Than Thought

Feb 13, 2020

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have been 30% bigger than previously estimated. A new study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, used three-dimensional computer simulations to track the spilled oil, finding the contamination reached the Texas shore, the Florida Keys, the coast of Tampa and parts of the east coast of Florida. The 2010 BP oil spill was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, which killed 11 workers and dumped at least 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

New York Has Highest Number of Premature Deaths from Out-of-State Air Pollution

Feb 13, 2020

A major new study on air pollution found that New York state has the largest number of premature deaths from out-of-state pollution. Published in the journal Nature, the study found that across the lower 48 states, about half of all premature deaths caused by poor air quality are linked to air pollutants that blew in from across state lines. The study also found commercial and residential emissions are now the leading cause of cross-state early deaths.

El Paso Walmart Shooter Pleads Not Guilty to 90 Criminal Charges

Feb 13, 2020

In Texas, the suspected shooter in the El Paso Walmart rampage that killed 22 people has pleaded not guilty. Patrick Crusius is facing more than 90 criminal charges, include federal hate crimes, for allegedly targeting Latinos and Mexicans in a racially motivated massacre. Shortly before the August 3 shooting, Crusius published a racist online manifesto echoing President Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. Crusius faces the death penalty.

In Victory for Students, Court Rescinds $2.5M Settlement over UNC’s Confederate Statue

Feb 13, 2020

In North Carolina, students and a professor at the University of North Carolina have won a legal victory in state court that reverses a settlement that would have allowed UNC to spend $2.5 million in university funds to preserve the Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam.” Protesters tore down the Confederate monument in 2018 amid a national wave of protests against symbols of racism and the Confederacy. Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented the students, said the new ruling is “a reminder that we can’t stand silent in the face of injustice or tolerate actions that perpetuate dangerous racial ideology.”

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