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HeadlinesSeptember 28, 2020

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Trump Nominates Amy Coney Barrett to SCOTUS; GOP-Led Senate Could Confirm Before Nov. 3

Sep 28, 2020

President Trump announced Saturday the nomination of federal appeals judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Forty-eight-year-old Barrett is a devout Catholic who has taken conservative stances on abortion, gun rights, immigration and LGBTQ rights. A former Notre Dame law professor, she clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican-controlled Senate could confirm Amy Coney Barrett just days before Election Day, as hearings are set to begin on October 12.

Over the weekend, demonstrations were held across the country calling on Democratic lawmakers to do everything in their power to delay proceedings until after the results of the election are known. Meanwhile, House Democrats will introduce a bill Tuesday setting an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court justices. We’ll have more on Judge Barrett and the Supreme Court later in the broadcast.

NYT: Trump Paid $750 in Fed. Income Taxes in 2016, No Income Taxes in 10 of Last 15 Years 

Sep 28, 2020

The New York Times published an explosive report diving into over two decades of President Trump’s tax returns, which reveal he paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the last 15 years. The report also finds he paid just $750 in federal income tax in 2016, the year he was elected. According to the Times, Trump minimized his taxes by reporting massive losses across his businesses, including his golf courses and his hotel in Washington, D.C. The Trump family also reduced its tax bill by paying so-called consulting fees to Ivanka Trump as an employee of the Trump Organization.

The Times also reveals Trump has been locked in a battle with the IRS over a $73 million tax refund he claimed after his casino business in Atlantic City collapsed. Trump could be forced to pay over $100 million if he loses. In addition, Trump has over $300 million in loans he personally guaranteed that will soon come due. Trump dismissed The New York Times report as “fake news.” We’ll have more on this story after headlines. 

Protests Continue over Impunity in Breonna Taylor’s Case as Her Family Speaks Out

Sep 28, 2020

In Louisville, Kentucky, over two dozen protesters were arrested Saturday as demonstrations continue over a grand jury decision last week clearing police officers of shooting and killing Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American EMT, in her own home in March. On Friday, Taylor’s family spoke publicly for the first time since the grand jury’s decision. Bianca Austin, Taylor’s aunt, read a statement written by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.

Bianca Austin: “When I speak on it, I’m considered an angry Black woman. But know this: I am an angry Black woman. I am not angry for the reasons that you would like me to be — I’m sorry — but angry because our Black women keep dying at the hands of police officers, and Black men.”

This comes as new bodycam footage obtained by Vice News shows police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s killing breaking several department policies, raising questions about the integrity of the crime scene and the investigation that followed. We’ll have more on this later in the broadcast.

U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 7 Million, on the Rise in Two Dozen States

Sep 28, 2020

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have now topped 7.1 million, with nearly half of all states reporting a rise in daily cases over the past week and major surges reported in the Midwest. Despite the mounting cases, recent numbers published in the journal The Lancet show only 9% of the country’s population may have been exposed to the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority of people remain susceptible going into the fall and winter months.

Florida said Friday it will fully reopen its economy, allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity and banning localities from ordering closures.
In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19. President Trump repeatedly attacked the Democratic governor at his rally in Newport News, Virginia, Friday night, hours after news of Northam’s infection was announced. Virginia officials had attempted to halt the rally, which violates an executive order by Northam banning gatherings of more than 250 people.

In labor news, the airline industry is set to cut over 35,000 jobs by the end of the week, barring a move from Congress to continue funding payroll protections included as part of the CARES Act, due to expire at the end of this month.

In education news, New York City’s principals union unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking that he cede control of city schools to the state Education Department for the duration of the pandemic. This comes just days before the now-twice-delayed reopening of the city’s public schools, which is scheduled to happen this week.

Global Coronavirus Deaths Approach 1 Million; Latin America Has Half of Most Infected Nations

Sep 28, 2020

The global COVID-19 death toll is nearing 1 million, with over 33 million reported cases. Latin America continues to suffer the ravages of the virus, with five out of the top 10 most infected countries. Mexico has the fourth-highest death toll in the world, topping 76,000, and Brazil has recorded over 141,000 deaths, second only to the U.S.

Manaus, the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon, reported a fresh surge in cases, days after scientists speculated a recent decline in cases might be attributable to reaching a certain level of “herd immunity.”

In Israel, thousands of protesters took to the streets for a 14th straight week to demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign, despite government attempts to quell demonstrations through strict new lockdown measures as it battles one of the world’s worst outbreaks.

Armenia and Azerbaijan Declare Martial Law as Fighting Kills at Least 23 People

Sep 28, 2020

Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law and mobilized their militaries, after heavy fighting broke out Sunday between the two nations in a disputed territory in the Caucasus Mountains. There are reports of at least 23 dead and over 100 wounded, including civilians, as both sides traded tank, artillery and drone fire in a region that’s internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory but whose population is mostly ethnic Armenians. It’s the worst fighting in the area since a five-day war in 2016 left over 100 people dead. 

Belarus Protests Continue as EU and U.S. Refuse to Recognize Lukashenko as Legitimate Ruler

Sep 28, 2020

In Belarus, police again deployed tear gas and arrested scores of protesters during the seventh straight week of demonstrations demanding the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko was quietly inaugurated last week, but both the U.S. and the EU said they do not recognize his rule as legitimate. Critics say last month’s election was rigged, and many of the leaders of the opposition have gone into exile.

At Least 16 Refugees Feared Dead After Shipwreck Off Libya’s Coast

Sep 28, 2020

At least 16 refugees are feared dead after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast Thursday. At least 22 people were rescued. This year alone, over 620 refugees are believed to have drowned attempting the passage to Europe from North Africa.

Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Steps Down

Sep 28, 2020

In Lebanon, Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib has stepped down after he failed to form a new government. Lebanon has been left reeling, with mounting calls for reform, following the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut on August 4 that killed 200 people and led to the collapse of the previous government.

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Salvadoran Woman Who Was Jailed for Having Stillbirth Released After 6 Years Behind Bars

Sep 28, 2020

In El Salvador, a 29-year-old woman sent to prison for having a stillbirth has been released on conditional freedom after six years. In 2014, Cindy Erazo suffered an obstetric emergency, unaware she was eight months pregnant. She woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed, accused of having an abortion and charged with aggravated homicide. El Salvador has long criminalized abortions, with a total ban since 1998. Dozens have been convicted and imprisoned after having miscarriages and stillbirths. 

Youth Climate Activists Mark Global Day of Climate Action

Sep 28, 2020

Young climate activists around the world staged thousands of protests, strikes and other actions Friday for a Global Day of Climate Action. In Uganda, activist Vanessa Nakate, who launched the Fridays for Future climate strike in Uganda, led a march in Kampala.

Vanessa Nakate: “This is a personal issue, because many people are dying, many people are suffering, ecosystems are collapsing, our life support systems are being destroyed. That is why I speak up and demand for action, because I want to see change, because I want to have a future.”

Activists Take Aim at KKR’s New York Building, in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders

Sep 28, 2020

Here in New York City, activists projected anti-colonial and environmental messages on the Manhattan headquarters of KKR overnight, calling out the private equity firm over its investment in Coastal GasLink, a $4.7 billion pipeline in western Canada. It’s part of a day of action against KKR in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en First Nation land defenders who are in a protracted battle to protect their territory from construction of the 400-mile natural gas pipeline. Protesters are also demanding KKR divest from Safariland, a major producer of tear gas and other crowd-control weapons.

Wildfires Continue to Ravage California; At Least 1,200 Fatalities Linked to Inhaling Toxic Smoke 

Sep 28, 2020

In California, firefighters struggled to contain more than two dozen major fires as hot weather and gusty dry winds fanned existing flames and sparked new blazes overnight. The latest fires in Northern California’s Napa and Shasta counties have consumed some 10,000 acres, destroying wine vineyards and homes, and prompting evacuation orders.

As California enters the peak of its historic fire season, a record-shattering 3.4 million acres have already burned. Climate scientists warn greenhouse gas emissions have led to searing record heat and an enduring drought that’s dried out vegetation and left Californians vulnerable to explosive fires.

This comes as Stanford University researchers found at least 1,200 people — and as many as 3,000 — died as a result of inhaling toxic smoke that’s blanketed California in recent weeks.

Judge Blocks Trump’s Unlawful Public Lands Head from Serving 

Sep 28, 2020

A federal judge ruled Friday Trump’s head of public lands has been serving in his role unlawfully, blocking him from carrying on in his position. William Perry Pendley has been the acting director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management for the past year — allowing him to bypass Senate confirmation. The Interior Department said it would appeal the ruling.

Last month, 300 organizations signed on to a letter calling on the Senate to reject Pendley as head of the Bureau of Land Management, highlighting his “radical anti-science and anti-conservation positions,” which include once calling the Endangered Species Act a “joke.” He has also repeatedly attacked immigrant, Indigenous and communities of color.

Judge Orders Halt to Trump’s Ban on TikTok Downloads

Sep 28, 2020

A federal judge Sunday ordered an 11th-hour injunction halting Donald Trump’s executive order banning the smartphone app TikTok — owned by the Chinese company ByteDance — from online stores in the U.S. Trump’s ban was due to take effect at midnight as a first step toward a complete U.S. ban on the popular social media platform. That ban is still set to take effect on November 12.

Philadelphia Housing Activists to Set Up Community Land Trust for Unhoused People

Sep 28, 2020

In Philadelphia, housing activists celebrated a historic victory Friday, after city officials agreed to hand over 50 vacant homes to a community land trust following months of organizing by unhoused people, including protest encampments and taking over vacant homes. Fifty mothers and children who have been occupying 15 vacant city-owned houses will also be permitted to stay as part of the deal. Philadelphia Housing Action, the group behind the direct action campaign, will set up the community land trust.

Sterling Johnson, an organizer with Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, welcomed the news but stressed it is only a first step, saying, “There was already a major housing crisis in Philadelphia, and we anticipate a wave of mass evictions on top of that due to COVID-19. The scale of the housing crisis would require thousands of new units of low-income housing … This is only the beginning.” Click here to see our interview with Sterling Johnson in July about the Philadelphia encampments.

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