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HeadlinesFebruary 21, 2020

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Roger Stone Sentenced to 40-Month Prison Term

Feb 21, 2020

President Trump’s longtime ally and former adviser Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in federal prison for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness to prevent investigators from obtaining evidence on how the 2016 Trump campaign tried to benefit from stolen Democratic Party emails. During a sentencing hearing at a U.S. district courtroom in Washington, D.C., Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that Roger Stone was “not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” President Trump lashed out against Stone’s conviction — even tweeting about the perceived unfairness of the case during Thursday’s sentencing. After the decision, Trump said he would wait before making any decision to grant Stone clemency or a pardon.

President Donald Trump: “But I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do. Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated. And I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”

More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials have called on Attorney General William Barr to resign, after he intervened in Stone’s case to lower sentencing recommendations. Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the case, and one resigned from his job, over Barr’s actions. On Thursday, Justice Department prosecutor John Crabb, who took over Stone’s case, supported the original sentencing guidelines arguing for a stiffer sentence.

Trump Lashed at Intel Chief over Warning of Russian Meddling in 2020 Election

Feb 21, 2020

The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting that a top intelligence official told members of Congress last week that Russia is actively meddling in the 2020 election in an effort to get President Trump re-elected. The briefing to the House Intelligence Committee by Shelby Pierson — the intelligence community’s election threats executive — reportedly enraged Trump, who called Pierson’s boss, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, to the Oval Office for an angry meeting. Yesterday Trump announced he’s replacing Maguire with Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, who will serve as Trump’s new acting DNI. Last March, special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report concluded the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia to win the 2016 election.

Germany Mourns Victims of Right-Wing Terror Attacks

Feb 21, 2020

In Germany, thousands of people joined vigils across the country Thursday, one day after a racist far-right gunman shot and killed 10 people, most of them at a shisha bar and a cafe in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau. It was the deadliest in a series of far-right and neo-Nazi attacks in Germany in recent months. Early press accounts said the shooter used a high-powered rifle, but German media are now saying the murder weapon was a 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic pistol — one of several firearms the 43-year-old gunman purchased legally online. The attack prompted calls for Germany to strengthen its gun laws, which allow civilians to register for a weapons possession card.

Suspect Arrested in Stabbing at London Mosque

Feb 21, 2020

In Britain, a white man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a man in his seventies was stabbed while he attended one of London’s biggest mosques. The man was taken to the hospital, where he is now in stable condition. Eyewitnesses said at least 100 people were in the mosque during the attack, and several of them helped pin down the attacker. Others said the attacker had been seen at the mosque in recent weeks.

U.K. to Close Borders to “Unskilled” and Non-English-Speaking Immigrants

Feb 21, 2020

British government officials are planning to close the United Kingdom’s borders to what they describe as “unskilled workers” and people who can’t speak English. The new regulations are part of a massive overhaul of immigration laws as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. The British government says this is their opportunity to take “full control” of British borders, as well as to end an era of cheap labor in factories, warehouses, hotels and other industries where migrant labor is common. Business leaders argue this is a disastrous assault on the British economy that will result in loss of jobs. Among other regulations, immigrants who want to work in Britain must have a job offer with a salary threshold of at least $32,000 a year.

Protests Erupt as Acting ICE Director Challenges New York Pro-Immigrant Laws

Feb 21, 2020

In Troy, New York, dozens of immigrant rights activists gathered outside the local county sheriff’s office Thursday protesting a visit from acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence. Activists say this is part of ongoing retaliation for New York’s pro-immigrant laws such as the Green Light Law, which allows for undocumented people to apply for driver’s licenses while protecting their personal information from federal agencies like ICE. Thursday’s protests could be heard through the walls of a press briefing room inside the Rensselaer County Jail, where Sheriff Patrick Russo, flanked by elected officials and law enforcement officers, blasted New York’s Green Light Law. 

Sheriff Patrick Russo: “One of my concerns is our border to the north. After speaking to members of Customs and Border Patrol, I was informed that this sector is the busiest port of entry on our northern border.”

Aide: “We’ll just pause for one minute until we get the noise settled.”

An aide then stepped in to pause the press conference until protesters could be pushed back.

Mexican Radio Journalist Murdered in Ciudad Juárez

Feb 21, 2020

In Mexico, a radio broadcaster was shot to death Tuesday afternoon outside her home in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. She was known as Bárbara Greco on air. The 37-year-old had recently spoken out on violence against women and children in Mexico in response to the recent killing of a 7-year-old girl in Mexico City. Her friends and colleagues reported that her real name was Teresa Aracely Alcocer. Last December, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Mexico had suffered the second-highest number of journalist killings in 2019, after Syria.

February Flowers Bloom in Moscow Amid Record-High Winter Temperatures

Feb 21, 2020

In climate news, a top Russian government scientist is warning that human-driven climate change is behind unprecedented spring-like temperatures recorded this winter. January was Moscow’s warmest on record, with little snow cover and average temperatures hovering around freezing — or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Flowers began blooming in mid-February, and some animals have already ended their winter rest. This is Roman Vilfand, director of the Russian government’s Hydrometeorological Centre. 

Roman Vilfand: “The warming that is being observed, not only during the wintertime, but also in the summertime, is dangerous, because it causes the permafrost to thaw. The concept of 'permanent' disappears, and the frost turns out not to be eternal.”

28 Arrested in Seattle Protesting Chase Bank Fossil Fuel Ties

Feb 21, 2020

In Seattle, Washington, 28 climate activists were arrested Thursday after they held a sit-in protest at a downtown Chase Bank branch and refused to leave. The protesters are demanding that JPMorgan Chase end its investments in fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis. The protest came one day after activists shut down Seattle’s busy 2nd Avenue for about two hours, where they held a large banner reading “Road closed due to Chase’s funding of climate disaster.” Chase Bank is one of the largest financiers of TC Energy — formerly known as TransCanada — the company working to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline across British Columbia.

South Korea Reports First Two Coronavirus Deaths

Feb 21, 2020

South Korea has reported its first two deaths from the new strain of coronavirus, urging two-and-a-half million people in a southern city to remain indoors while health officials struggle to contain an outbreak first linked to a church congregation. In the capital Seoul, officials closed a major park and banned large public gatherings downtown, as workers in protective gear sprayed disinfectant around the city’s subways. Over 200 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in South Korea. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have reported new infections at prisons around the country, accounting for about half of the 1,100 new cases of coronavirus reported Friday.

Report: 20 Million Americans Used Crowdfunding to Pay Medical Expenses

Feb 21, 2020

In healthcare news, researchers at the University of Chicago estimated this week that 8 million people in the United States have turned to internet-based crowdfunding campaigns like GoFundMe to help pay for medical expenses. A further 12 million people have set up crowdfunding campaigns for someone else, while an estimated 50 million people have contributed to at least one such campaign. In response, Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders tweeted, “Enough is enough. No one should have to beg for money to get the health care they need in the richest country on Earth. Medicare for All now.” 

California Apologizes for WWII-Era Incarceration of Japanese Americans

Feb 21, 2020

California has formally apologized for its role in imprisoning more than 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. As survivors of internment camps and their families stood by, state lawmakers unanimously approved on Thursday a resolution lamenting the state’s “failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans.”

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