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HeadlinesSeptember 16, 2020

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Louisville, KY Reaches Wrongful Death Settlement over Breonna Taylor’s Killing by Police

Sep 16, 2020

The city of Louisville, Kentucky, announced Tuesday it will pay the family of Breonna Taylor $12 million and institute a slew of reforms to the police department responsible for her death, more than six months after police shot and killed the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician in her own apartment. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the historic settlement at a press conference with Breonna Taylor’s family. Attorney Benjamin Crump welcomed the agreement but demanded the criminal prosecution of the officers who entered Taylor’s apartment with a no-knock warrant and killed her on March 13.

Benjamin Crump: “We still are demanding that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron bring charges immediately against the police officers that murdered Breonna Taylor. Immediately. This week. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

As part of the settlement, Louisville named a dozen changes to how its police department will operate, including more oversight from top commanders and an early-warning system to identify police officers accused of excessive force. We’ll have more on the police killing of Breonna Taylor after headlines.

Trump Says “Herd Mentality” Will Make COVID-19 “Go Away”

Sep 16, 2020

The United States reported over 1,400 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — the highest daily total in over a month. The U.S. death toll is nearing 196,000. During a town hall event hosted by ABC on Tuesday, President Trump repeated his claim that the coronavirus would “go away.”

President Donald Trump: “We’re going to be OK. And it is going away. And it’s probably going to go away now a lot faster because of the vaccine. It would go away without the vaccine, George. But it’s going to go away a lot faster with the vaccine.”

George Stephanopoulos: “It will go away without the vaccine?”

President Donald Trump: “Sure, over a period of time. Sure, with time, it goes away.”

George Stephanopoulos: “And many deaths.”

President Donald Trump: “And you’ll develop — you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be — It’s going to be herd-developed.”

President Trump appeared to be referencing herd immunity. Epidemiologists don’t know how many millions more people would need to be infected for the United States to reach herd immunity — or even if herd immunity is possible for the novel coronavirus. By one count, adopting a herd immunity approach could lead to the deaths of over 2 million people in the U.S.

LSU Coach Says Most Football Players Have Already Caught COVID-19

Sep 16, 2020

The New York Times reports there have been over 88,000 cases of the coronavirus on nearly 1,200 college campuses around the United States. On Tuesday, Louisiana State University head coach Ed Orgeron said he was confident his team — the defending college football national champions — would have another successful season because so many players have already contracted COVID-19.

Ed Orgeron: “I think most of — not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it. … Hopefully that once you catch it, you don’t get it again. Now, I’m not a doctor. You know what I’m saying? I think they got that 90-day window, so most of the players that have caught it, we feel that they will be eligible for games.”

LSU has confirmed over 750 COVID-19 cases in the month since students returned to campus.

Meatpacking Executives Drafted Trump’s Order to Keep Plants Open Amid Pandemic

Sep 16, 2020

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is facing criticism for fining a JBS beef plant in Greeley, Colorado, under $16,000 after six workers — all immigrants — died at the plant from COVID-19. Nearly 300 workers became infected. One family of a deceased worker described the small fine as a “huge slap in the face.” Last year JBS reported over $50 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, ProPublica has obtained emails showing the text of President Trump’s controversial executive order keeping meatpacking plants open during the pandemic was based largely on language written by the meat industry.

India Surpasses 5 Million Cases as Coronavirus Infections Skyrocket

Sep 16, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India has surpassed 5 million, the second highest in the world after the U.S. India reported over 90,000 new cases and nearly 1,300 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the nation’s overall toll to over 82,000. Despite the surge in cases and deaths, India is continuing to lift restrictions across the country. On Monday, India’s Parliament opened for the first time in six months, but 25 lawmakers couldn’t take part in person after testing positive for COVID-19.

Catastrophic Flooding Feared as Slow-Moving Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall in Alabama

Sep 16, 2020

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Sally strengthened to a Category 2 storm this morning as it slowly came ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama, with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Forecasters are warning of extreme life-threatening flash flooding, with up to 30 inches of rain possible along parts of the Gulf Coast from southeastern Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle. Sally is part of a record-shattering hurricane season, with the forecasters currently tracking seven tropical disturbances across the Atlantic.

Record-Shattering Fires Continue to Shroud Western U.S. in Smoke

Sep 16, 2020

In the western United States, air quality alerts remain in effect for huge swaths of California, Oregon and Washington, as thick smoke from record-shattering wildfires continues to bring some of the world’s worst air pollution to millions of people. Forecasters are hoping cooler temperatures and calmer winds will help firefighters get the upper hand on containing the blazes. Over 5 million acres have burned, and at least 35 people have been killed by fires fueled by the climate crisis.

ICE Prepares to Deport Jailed Immigrant Who Says She Was Forcibly Sterilized

Sep 16, 2020

In immigration news, a Cameroonian mother who says she was involuntarily sterilized while held at the privately owned Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia might be deported today. Pauline Binam has lived in the United States since age 2 and has been detained at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement prison for nearly three years. Last fall, Binam was reportedly subjected to invasive surgery on her reproductive organs, without her knowledge. Binam’s looming deportation comes as whistleblower Dawn Wooten, who was a nurse at Irwin, has detailed how the jail performed hysterectomies on prisoners without their consent. Human rights advocates have condemned the disturbing practices, saying forced sterilization amounts to genocide.

In related news, a key witness in an ongoing investigation into sexual assault and harassment allegations at an El Paso, Texas, immigrant prison has been deported. The 35-year-old woman from Mexico had recently told her lawyers several guards “forcibly” kissed her, and at least one touched her intimate parts. She’s one of at least three people who have come forward about the systematic sexual violence at the ICE prison. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General launched a probe into the accusations after ProPublica and The Texas Tribune first reported them last month.

Israel Signs U.S.-Brokered Deal Normalizing Relations with UAE and Bahrain

Sep 16, 2020

Israel has signed a U.S.-brokered deal to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. President Donald Trump presided over a White House ceremony with the three countries on Tuesday. Trump spoke before a crowd of several hundred people on the White House lawn, most of them sitting in close proximity without face masks, prompting concern from security for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined Trump for the ceremony.

Neither Netanyahu nor Trump mentioned the Palestinians in their remarks. Earlier in the day, Palestinian activists in the West Bank and in Gaza protested the agreements.

Trump Admits to Plotting Assassination of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Contradicting Past Denial

Sep 16, 2020

In more news from the Middle East, President Trump admitted Tuesday he wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017 but did not go ahead due to opposition from then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. Trump made the admission on Fox News.

President Donald Trump: “I had a shot to take him out if I wanted, and Mattis was against it. Mattis was against most of that stuff. He’d keep you in military, but he didn’t know how to win.”

Investigative journalist Bob Woodward first reported on the assassination plan in 2018, but Trump claimed at the time the story was false.

This comes as fallout continues from the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani earlier this year in Iraq. Unnamed U.S. officials recently told Politico that the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in retaliation. Iran has denied the claim. On Monday, Trump warned Iran that if it took such action, the U.S. response will be “1,000 times greater in magnitude!”

Top Pentagon Official Disputes Reports That Russia Paid Taliban Bounties for Dead U.S. Soldiers

Sep 16, 2020

NBC News is reporting the Pentagon has been unable to corroborate press reports that the Russian government had paid bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. General Frank McKenzie, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, said, “It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me.”

Documents Show Rochester Police Tried to Cover Up Killing of Daniel Prude

Sep 16, 2020

New details have emerged about how the Rochester Police Department spent months attempting to cover up the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died from asphyxiation in March after police officers handcuffed him, put a hood over his head and pushed his face into the freezing cold ground for two minutes while kneeling on his back. Newly released internal documents show the department spent months attempting to block the release of video of the incident. In one email in June, the department’s deputy chief opposed releasing the video because it “could create animosity and potentially violent blow back in this community.” The police chief responded saying, “I totally agree.” Police also attempted to frame Prude, who had been suffering a mental health episode. In one police report, an officer wrote in red letters, “Make him a suspect.”

On Monday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren fired the city’s police chief, saying there is a “pervasive problem” in the city’s police department. On Tuesday, the Rochester City Council passed bills to authorize an independent investigation into Prude’s death, to transfer some money away from the police department and to repeal a previous vote to fund a new police station.

Demonstrators in Lancaster, PA Get $1 Million Bail for Protesting Police Killing

Sep 16, 2020

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at least seven people who were arrested Monday during protests over the police shooting of 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz are being held on a $1 million bail. Body camera footage shows a police officer shooting Munoz, who is holding a knife. Munoz’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia.

House Report Condemns Boeing and Federal Regulators for Deadly 737 MAX Crashes

Sep 16, 2020

A House committee has condemned Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration for their roles in two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed all 346 people on board 737 MAX airplanes. A report by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee finds “[The crashes] were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA — the pernicious result of regulatory capture on the part of the FAA.” Ahead of the 737 MAX crashes, Boeing’s former CEO Dennis Muilenburg famously thanked President Trump for giving airline companies more latitude to regulate themselves.

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden, Saying Trump “Rejects Evidence and Science”

Sep 16, 2020

For the first time in its 175-year history, Scientific American has endorsed a presidential candidate. In its new issue, the magazine’s editors back Joe Biden for president, writing, “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people — because he rejects evidence and science.”

University of Illinois Hospital System Workers Strike for Better Pay, Safe Staffing and PPE

Sep 16, 2020

In Chicago, over 4,800 hospital and university workers with the University of Illinois hospital system are in the third day of a strike demanding safe staffing levels, better pay and more personal protective equipment amid the pandemic. The unionized workers have been working without a contract for the past year. This is Dian Palmer, president of SEIU Local 73.

Dian Palmer: “We’re going to keep fighting until we get everything that we deserve. UIC counted us out, thought it couldn’t be done. But we’re proving them wrong every day. And we’re going to fight to make sure people get better wages, better working conditions, safe staffing, and PPEs for everyone.”

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