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HeadlinesFebruary 25, 2020

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Harvey Weinstein Found Guilty of Rape

Feb 25, 2020

Harvey Weinstein is guilty. The jury delivered the verdict against the former movie mogul on two counts: first-degree commission of a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. He was acquitted of two more serious charges of predatory sexual assault and first-degree rape. He faces a total sentence of up to 29 years in prison.

The charges in Weinstein’s New York rape trail involved two women: production assistant Miriam Haley and then-aspiring actor Jessica Mann. But over 100 women have accused the once-powerful Hollywood producer of sexual assault and misconduct. The Weinstein case propelled the #MeToo movement onto the national and global stage.

Weinstein was ordered to be taken to jail immediately after the verdict was announced and was taken to Bellevue Hospital after, his attorneys say, he experienced heart palpitations.

Ambra Gutierrez, one of Weinstein’s accusers — who in 2015 reported him to the New York police and later recorded him admitting he groped her — reacted to the verdict.

Ambra Gutierrez: “I can say that right now I’m happy to see that those years that I lost of my life are getting back. Of course, there is a lot of work to do, and I’m here to, you know, be there and speak to people so that situations like this will never happen again. And yeah, this is my mission right now.”

Weinstein’s sentencing hearing is set for March 11. We’ll have more on this story after headlines with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and award-winning actor, filmmaker and activist Rosanna Arquette.

2020 Democratic Candidates Gear Up for Debate as More Damning Comments by Bloomberg Surface

Feb 25, 2020

Seven Democratic presidential candidates will take the debate stage tonight in South Carolina as the state gears up for its primary Saturday. Among the contenders are two billionaires: Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg. Joe Biden holds a slight edge over Bernie Sanders going into the debate, according to recent polling. Meanwhile, Mike Bloomberg’s campaign is reportedly planning an anti-Sanders media blitz in the wake of his landslide victory in Nevada over the weekend.

In related news, yet more damning comments made by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg surfaced last week, in which he vows to “defend the banks” if elected president, and jokes about “droning” his political opponents. He also called progressives and fellow presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren “scary.” The remarks were reportedly made at a private event for Goldman Sachs in 2016.

Michael Bloomberg: “My first campaign platform would be to defend the banks. You know how well that’s going to sell in this country. But seriously, somebody’s got to stand up and do what we need. A healthy banking system that’s going to take risks because that’s what creates the jobs for everybody.”

Bernie Sanders Defends Praise for Fidel Castro’s Literacy Program

Feb 25, 2020

Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders has faced attacks following his praise of some aspects of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s government. On CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Sanders stated he opposed “the authoritarian nature” of Castro’s rule but lauded Cuba’s literacy program. Sanders reiterated his comments on a CNN town hall Monday night.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “They went out, and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing. I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world, including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia. I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism.”

Cuban Americans in Florida hit back at the remarks, as did some of Sanders’s presidential rivals, including Pete Buttigieg, who tweeted, “After four years of looking on in horror as Trump cozied up to dictators, we need a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad. We can’t risk nominating someone who doesn’t recognize this.”

Protests in India Kill At Least 7 as Trump Continues Visit

Feb 25, 2020

In India, protests in Delhi left seven people dead Monday, with another 90 people hospitalized, as President Trump continued his official visit. Police unleashed tear gas and smoke grenades against crowds who were protesting the new anti-Muslim citizenship law. Both pro- and anti-U.S. demonstrations rocked New Delhi and other cities around India.

Meanwhile, Trump held a news conference in New Delhi today in which he called on liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from “Trump-related” cases.

Former Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak Dies

Feb 25, 2020

Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has died at the age of 91. Egyptian state news announced the death today. Mubarak was the authoritarian president of Egypt for 30 years before being forced to step down amid the historic popular revolution in 2011 that was part of the Arab Spring. In 2017, Mubarak was acquitted on murder charges related to his violent crackdown on protesters in 2011, which killed hundreds of people. He spent six years behind bars before his release. His death comes less than a year after his successor, Mohamed Morsi, died after collapsing in court last June.

U.K. Court Opens Deliberations on Julian Assange’s Extradition Case

Feb 25, 2020

A British court has started deliberations on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges and up to 175 years in prison for his role in publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. A crowd of supporters, including Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, rallied in Central London to demand his release. This is Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson.

Jennifer Robinson: “WikiLeaks has published evidence of war crimes, human rights abuse and corruption the world over. It’s for this that Julian Assange sits in a high-security prison, facing 175 years in prison in the United States. As you’ve heard today, this case is an abuse of process. It’s an abuse of process, and it’s a political offense.”

A verdict in Assange’s extradition case is not expected until at least this summer.

As Coronavirus Spreads Around the Globe, White House Requests Emergency Funding

Feb 25, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the White House requested $1.25 billion in emergency funding to address the crisis on Monday. The Trump administration also said it will use more than half a billion dollars meant for addressing the Ebola virus — a move the chair of the House Appropriations Committee called “profoundly disturbing.” New York Senator Chuck Schumer said Monday Trump’s funding request was “too little, too late.” This comes just weeks after Trump’s proposed budget for 2021 cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 16%.

On a state visit to India Tuesday, President Trump said he believed China was getting coronavirus under control, and said, “I think that is a problem that is going to go away.” But as the rate of infection in China slows, infections are spreading around the globe, particularly in South Korea, Italy and Iran. Cases have also been identified in Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait and Afghanistan. The death toll worldwide is more than 2,700, with over 80,000 cases of infection.

China Sentences Bookseller Critical of Chinese Government to 10 Years in Prison

Feb 25, 2020

In China, a court sentenced bookseller Gui Minhai to 10 years in prison. The Chinese-Swedish owner of a Hong Kong-based bookstore first disappeared in 2015 before reappearing in Chinese custody several months later. He was detained again in 2018. Human rights and press freedom advocates called out his detention as politically motivated since he published sensitive materials on China’s ruling elite, including President Xi Jinping.

Clashes Between Haitian Police and Soldiers Leave One Dead as Anti-Gov’t Protests Rage On

Feb 25, 2020

In Haiti, a gun battle outside the presidential palace between police and soldiers ended in the killing of one soldier Sunday as political unrest continues to mount. Police officers and their supporters were protesting poor working conditions and a prohibition on unionizing. This comes as anti-government demonstrations have been rocking the country for months, calling for the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse. This is a protester speaking Sunday.

Protester: “Police aren’t paid. The people are hungry. Everyone has problems. People can’t pay for their homes. Police can’t do anything with the 3,000 gourdes they are paid. People are out on the street to demand money from Petrocaribe, which Jovenel and Martelly have robbed. We demand the arrest of Jovenel, for him to go to jail.”

Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince were canceled following the weekend violence. A U.N. envoy for Haiti warned last week political turmoil is pushing the country deeper into recession, weakening national institutions, including the police force, and has put 4.6 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

Canadian Police Clear Indigenous Protests Blocking Railways

Feb 25, 2020

In Ontario, Canada, police forcibly removed indigenous activists from a railway line Monday, where they were staging a protest against TransCanada’s 400-mile Coastal GasLink pipeline, in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. Ten members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation were arrested.

Equinor Abandons Plans to Drill for Oil in Australia’s Bight Marine Park

Feb 25, 2020

In Australia, Norwegian oil company Equinor announced it was abandoning plans to deepwater drill in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. Equinor is now the third major oil company to pull out of drilling in the Bight, after BP and Chevron, following a long campaign by indigenous leaders, activists and locals who are hoping to have the marine park recognized as a World Heritage Site.

JPMorgan to Stop Funding Arctic Drilling, Will Continue to Fund Oil and Gas Projects Elsewhere

Feb 25, 2020

JPMorgan Chase announced Monday it will stop providing financial services to companies pursuing oil and gas exploitation in the Arctic and phase out loans to the coal industry. JPMorgan will, however, still finance oil and gas projects outside of the Arctic region. The announcement comes just days after a leaked report by JPMorgan warned the planet is facing irreversible damage due to the worsening climate crisis. The bank is one of the biggest financial backers of the fossil fuel industry and other leading polluters.

Appeals Court Upholds Trump “Gag Rule” on Abortion Referrals

Feb 25, 2020

In San Francisco, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the Trump administration ban on letting family planning clinics refer patients for abortions by depriving these clinics of federal funds. The decision on the so-called gag rule lifts injunctions granted by three lower courts. Planned Parenthood said, “The gag rule puts up egregious barriers for people with low incomes to get birth control and preventive care like STI testing, education, and cancer screenings. Before being forced out of Title X, Planned Parenthood served 40% of patients in the program.” Planned Parenthood left Title X last year, rather than complying with the Trump rule.

SCOTUS to Take Up Discrimination Case Involving Gay Foster Parents

Feb 25, 2020

The Supreme Court said Monday it will take up a gay rights case to decide whether the city of Philadelphia can exclude a Catholic agency that refuses to work with same-sex couples from the city’s foster care system. Philadelphia stopped working with Catholic Social Services in 2018, and since then a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled against the agency. Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement, “We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children. … We can’t afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination.”

Bernie Sanders Unveils Universal Child Care Plan

Feb 25, 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders has unveiled his plan to introduce free, universal child care if elected president. Under the proposal, child care would be available to all families regardless of income, start at infancy and include free pre-kindergarten. The plan also would ensure living wages to educators and provide access to higher education and training for all caregivers. The $1.5 trillion proposal would be funded through taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

MSNBC Host Chris Matthews Apologizes for Comparing NV Victory to Nazi Takeover of France

Feb 25, 2020

MSNBC host Chris Matthews apologized on air to Bernie Sanders, after receiving widespread backlash and calls to resign for comparing Sanders’s landslide win in the Nevada caucuses to the Nazi takeover of France.

Chris Matthews: “As I watched the one-sided results of Saturday’s Democratic caucus in Nevada, I reached for an historical analogy and used a bad one. I was wrong to refer to an event from the last days — or, actually, the first days of World War II. Senator Sanders, I’m sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner. This is going to be a hard-fought, heated campaign of ideas in the days and weeks and months ahead. I will strive to do a better job myself of elevating the political discussion.”

UC Santa Cruz Says It Will Provide Stipend to Graduate Workers in Response to Strike

Feb 25, 2020

The University of California, Santa Cruz, announced it will provide graduate student workers with a stipend of $2,500, in response to a wildcat strike protesting the unaffordable costs of living on low teaching salaries. Organizers welcomed the announcement but said they would continue to push for additional compensation, to expand the financial relief to other campuses and to negotiate the terms of any agreement as part of a union contract.

Katherine Johnson, Pioneering African-American NASA Mathematician, Dies at 101

Feb 25, 2020

Trailblazing African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson died Monday at the age of 101. Johnson played a key role at NASA, where her calculations helped put an American in space for the first time in the 1961 Mercury mission, made John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, and landed Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. The hit 2016 film “Hidden Figures” portrayed the widely unrecognized work of Johnson and other black women at NASA during the space race.

Author Margot Lee Shetterly, who wrote the book “Hidden Figures” that the Hollywood film was based on, paid tribute to Johnson on Twitter, writing, “My life’s honor to tell the story of Katherine Johnson’s contributions to NASA, science, our country, and #HamptonRoads VA. Her brilliance helped us to see and celebrate other #hiddenfigures in history. You changed the narrative… Godspeed, Katherine Johnson.”

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