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HeadlinesFebruary 15, 2021

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Senate Acquits Trump for Inciting Jan. 6 Insurrection Despite Most Bipartisan Vote Ever

Feb 15, 2021

The Senate has acquitted Donald Trump for inciting the deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection in his second impeachment trial. Fifty-seven senators backed convicting the former president, but the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. It was the most bipartisan impeachment trial verdict ever, with seven Republicans voting with Democrats to convict.
Senate Major Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Republicans for siding with a president who tried to overturn an election and incited a mob to attack the Capitol.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “This was about choosing country over Donald Trump. And 43 Republican members chose Trump. They chose Trump.”

Shortly after the vote, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to clear Trump, took to the floor to criticize the former president.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

But McConnell went on to defend his vote to clear Trump on constitutional grounds.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: “But in this case, the question is moot, because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction.”

Trump could have been tried while still in office, but McConnell refused to bring senators back from recess in January to hold a trial.

Calls are now growing for Trump to face criminal prosecution, as well as the formation of a government commission to investigate what happened. Meanwhile, some Republicans who voted to convict Trump are already facing fallout. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy was censured by the Louisiana GOP, while the North Carolina Republican Party will vote on censuring Richard Burr today.

Roger Stone Security Guards and Dozens of GOP Officials Were Part of Mob Who Attacked U.S. Capitol

Feb 15, 2021

New information continues to emerge about the insurrection participants. The New York Times reports at least six people who were part of the mob that entered the Capitol worked as security for Trump ally Roger Stone and were linked to the far-right Oath Keepers. HuffPost is reporting at least 57 state and local Republican officials were at the Capitol insurrection, and almost all have faced calls to resign. Only two have stepped down — both were arrested for taking part in the riot. In one case, a Florida county commissioner, Joe Mullins, sponsored buses to transport people to Washington, D.C. In the lead-up to January 6, he said on a local radio program, “Maybe there are some liberals I’d like to see their heads cut off.”

U.S. COVID Cases Decrease, But Experts Warn Variant Spread, Relaxed Measures Could Derail Progress

Feb 15, 2021

New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to fall steadily as states around the country start to loosen restrictions. Republican governors in Iowa, Montana and North Dakota have lifted statewide mask mandates, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to leave mask requirements in place.
Public health experts warn daily case numbers remain dangerously high and that rapidly spreading virus variants could create new surges. Researchers have found at least seven fast-spreading coronavirus lineages in the U.S. with the same mutation — providing more evidence that variants are evolving to become more transmissible.

Most U.S. Adults Should Have Access to Vaccine Starting in April, Be Inoculated by Summer

Feb 15, 2021

The U.S. is now administering nearly 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccinations per day, on average, surpassing President Biden’s goal of 1.5 million a day. Chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC he believes the “overwhelming majority of people” in the U.S. could be vaccinated by the middle or end of summer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, you know, for better wording, open season — namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”

Fauci said vaccines for children as young as 6 or 7 could be authorized by the start of the next school year.

CDC Issues Safe Reopening Guidelines for Schools

Feb 15, 2021

The CDC issued new guidelines Friday for schools to reopen safely. The agency says vaccinating teachers is not a prerequisite, but schools must adhere to strict measures including mandatory face masks, physical distancing and contract tracing. CNN notes 89% of U.S. children live in what the CDC considers a “red zone,” an area with high levels of community transmission, for which the agency recommends virtual classrooms for middle and high schools and hybrid learning for elementary schools. A recent National Education Association survey found only 18% of teachers who responded were vaccinated, although a large majority wanted to be. White teachers have been vaccinated at over twice the rate of Black teachers around the U.S.

U.K. Gov’t Under Fire for Response to Disabled COVID Patients; New Zealand Locks Down Largest City

Feb 15, 2021

A new British government study builds on earlier reports that a fast-spreading variant first found in the U.K. leads to an increased risk of hospitalization and could be up to 70% more deadly.

This comes as disability rights advocates in Britain are condemning the discriminatory response by the government and hospitals in treating COVID-19 patients with mental disabilities. A recent investigation found “do not resuscitate” orders were given to people because they had mental disabilities, causing potentially avoidable deaths.

CNN reports a World Health Organization team probing the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, believes the outbreak was much more widespread in December of 2019 than officials have revealed.

Elsewhere, New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is in a three-day lockdown after three coronavirus infections were identified. It’s New Zealand’s first lockdown in six months, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government stamped out the virus.

Guinea Declares Ebola Epidemic After 3 Deaths, DRC Also Reporting Cases

Feb 15, 2021

Guinea has declared an Ebola epidemic after an outbreak killed at least three people and sickened four others. They’re the first cases in Guinea since 2016, when health officials declared an end to the world’s largest-ever Ebola epidemic, which killed more than 11,000 people across West Africa. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has identified three new cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Burmese Protests Continue as Fears Mount of Military Crackdown

Feb 15, 2021

In Burma, armored vehicles have been unleashed on the streets of major cities as mass protests opposing the military coup continued for the 10th consecutive day Monday. In the northern state of Kachin, security forces fired at a crowd of protesters that had gathered outside a power plant Sunday. They also used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Five journalists were arrested while covering the clash. On Sunday, security forces raided the homes of several prominent critics of Burma’s military coup.

Indian Climate Activist Arrested After Sharing Information on Supporting Farmworkers’ Protest

Feb 15, 2021

Activists around the world are calling on Indian authorities to free Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist who was arrested over the weekend. She is accused of sharing an online document, which was tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, with information on how to support the ongoing farmworkers’ protest. Ravi is one of the founders of the Indian Fridays for Future youth climate strike.

Blast in Mogadishu Kills 3 as Somali Government Embroiled in Election Crisis

Feb 15, 2021

In Somalia, a blast from a car bomb near the Parliament headquarters in the capital Mogadishu killed at least three people and wounded at least eight others Saturday. The attack came amid a deepening political crisis which led to the postponement of elections last week. The militant group al-Shabab has threatened to attack the polls.

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Haitian Protesters Accuse President Jovenel Moïse of Carrying Out a Coup to Remain in Power

Feb 15, 2021

Massive protests continue in Haiti as thousands are taking to the streets demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, accusing him of orchestrating a coup to remain in power beyond his term.

Ernest Bolivar: “Moïse had the support of Donald Trump, who he was using to bother Venezuela. We’re calling on the Americans to abandon Trump’s policy and to get rid of the terrorist Moïse, because his mandate has finished.”

This comes as immigrant justice advocates continue to denounce the Biden administration’s ongoing deportations of Haitian asylum seekers.

Asian Americans Call for Action and More Attention Paid to Surge in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Feb 15, 2021

Advocates across the United States are condemning the rise of racist violence against the Asian American community. Last month, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was killed in San Francisco after being attacked while on his morning walk. Just days later, a 91-year-old Asian man was shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown. And in New York City last week, a 61-year-old Filipino man was slashed in the face while on the subway. Asian Americans say hate crimes and discrimination against their communities have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. Some 2,800 incidents have been reported since last March, according to the group Stop AAPI Hate.

Activists and allies in Oakland held a rally over the weekend. This is Connie Wun, co-founder of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women Lead.

Connie Wun: “What about that violence of living in poverty under a system that doesn’t seem to care about our people? That’s the violence we need to answer to. The vigilantes coming out here calling for more police, I need you to answer to that violence. I want you to represent for that. Our communities are also suffering deportation. Answer to that violence! Our people are in detention centers for indefinite amount of times. I need you there for that, too. And then, you’re not even accounting for the gender violence that our women are experiencing. I need you to account for that.”

Allegiant Air Accused of Racial Profiling After Stranding Black Teens in Arizona

Feb 15, 2021

Allegiant Air has come under fire after they kicked four Black teenagers off a flight last week, leaving them stranded in Arizona, far from their homes in Sacramento, California. The teens were in Arizona with their basketball team and are part of a youth mentorship program called Voice of the Youth. Allegiant Air alleges they were not wearing their face masks properly, but the boys say they adjusted them when asked by airline staff. One teen says he was afraid for his life when police showed up to remove them from the plane.

U.N. Human Rights Commission to Hear Report on Racist U.S. Policing

Feb 15, 2021

A coalition of international human rights and legal groups are preparing to submit a report to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights about racist police practices in the United States. The report will be based on the findings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States. As part of three weeks of hearings, Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, testified before the commission about how her 26-year-old daughter was shot to death in her own Louisville home by plainclothes officers serving a no-knock warrant.

Tamika Palmer: “Breonna was in one of the safest places in the world to be: She was home with the person she thought would protect her from the world. And he tried to do just that, with the laws that are given to us to protect and serve our kingdoms. And when that law was broken, there was no accountability for the people that broke that law; for the people who perjured themselves to obtain a warrant that put those people in motion that night; for Daniel Cameron, who lied about the case he presented to the grand jury in getting justice for Bree and never gave them the opportunity to charge the other officers, even when asked.”

That was Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer. You can read and watch all the testimonies from the Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence at InquiryCommission.org.

New York Accused of Failing Unhoused People After Subway Stabbing Attacks

Feb 15, 2021

The New York Police Department has arrested an individual in connection with four stabbing attacks on unhoused people in the subway over the weekend, which left two of the victims dead. NYPD announced it was adding 500 more police officers to patrol subways. Organizer Whitney Hu responded on Twitter, “There’s always money for more cops in the subway system but never enough money to actually house the homeless and keep them safe & warm.”

White House Aide T.J. Ducklo Resigns After Threatening Reporter

Feb 15, 2021

In news from the White House, Deputy Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo has resigned following revelations last week he made threatening and misogynistic comments to Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, telling her, “I will destroy you,” after she asked him to comment on his romantic relationship with an Axios reporter. Ducklo had originally been suspended for a week. President Biden told incoming staff during a swearing-in ceremony that if anyone spoke to a colleague with disrespect, “I will fire you on the spot.”

James Ridgeway, Investigative Journalist Who Fought Prisoner Abuse, Dies at 84

Feb 15, 2021

Longtime investigative journalist James Ridgeway has died at the age of 84. Ridgeway was the Washington correspondent for The Village Voice for 30 years. He also wrote for Mother Jones, Ramparts, The New Republic, The Nation and other outlets in a career that spanned six decades. In 2010, Ridgeway co-founded Solitary Watch, focused on the plight of prisoners in solitary confinement. Some of their stories appeared in Ridgeway’s book, “Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement.” Click here to see our interviews with James Ridgeway.

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