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HeadlinesAugust 15, 2022

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Senators Ask to See Top-Secret Records Seized by FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Home

Aug 15, 2022

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee have made a joint request for lawmakers to be allowed to see the classified documents seized last week by the FBI during its raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Marco Rubio made the request Sunday to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

On Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida unsealed and released the search warrant for the raid. The warrant revealed Trump is being investigated for three federal crimes: violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. The FBI reportedly seized 11 sets of classified documents during its search, including papers marked as “top secret/SCI” — which stands for “sensitive compartmented information” — one of the highest levels of classification. Last week The Washington Post reported part of the FBI search focused on classified documents related to nuclear weapons. 

According to The New York Times, an attorney for Trump had signed a statement in June telling the Justice Department that all classified material had been returned. But investigators later learned that was not true. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the raid on Friday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “There are laws against the improper handling of this material. There are laws against that. And we have to recognize that. This information, as it is coming across — and we don’t, we’ll know more later — is highly classified, well above top secret. It is, again, higher than top secret. It’s top secret/SCI. It’s about our national security, as we are told, and we’ll see.”

Donald Trump’s response to the raid has shifted day by day. He has called the probe a hoax. He has claimed to have declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago. And he has demanded the FBI return some documents, claiming they are protected by attorney-client and executive privileges. 

Fallout from the FBI raid is continuing to grow across the country as Republican lawmakers denounce the FBI, with Florida Senator Rick Scott comparing the agency to the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. The FBI is reportedly investigating an “unprecedented” number of threats against its agents over the past week. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have also issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning of “violent threats” against federal agents, court officials and government facilities. We will have more on this story after headlines.

Salman Rushdie Faces Long Road to Recovery After Surviving Assassination Attempt

Aug 15, 2022

Renowned Indian British novelist Salman Rushdie is in critical condition and faces a long road to recovery, after he survived an assassination attempt Friday morning in western New York. Rushdie was being introduced to the audience at a literary event at the Chautauqua Institution when a man wielding a knife climbed on stage and began stabbing him. The attack left Rushdie hospitalized with severed nerves in one arm, a punctured liver, and other injuries that left him on a ventilator overnight Friday. Rushdie’s agent says he’s likely to lose one eye as a result of the assault.

Twenty-four-year-old Hadi Matar of New Jersey was restrained by audience members and later arrested. He was arraigned on Saturday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors have not yet established a motive for the attack. 

Salman Rushdie is one of the most highly acclaimed writers in the world today. He was forced into hiding and lived underground for many years, after the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa in 1989 calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie over his book “The Satanic Verses.” The novel portrays the Qur’an in an unconventional light and models one of its main characters on the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The fatwa was finally lifted by Iran in 1998.

New York Governor Kahty Hochul spoke Sunday from the Chautauqua Institution.

Gov. Kathy Hochul: “And those who are motivated to violence because of calls from foreign leaders, even domestic leaders, calls for violence cannot be tolerated. And so, we’re going to continue. And I want it out there that a man with a knife cannot silence a man with a pen.”

House Passes Sweeping $739 Billion Climate, Healthcare and Tax Bill

Aug 15, 2022

President Biden is set to sign a sweeping $739 billion bill to address the climate crisis, reduce drug costs and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations. On Friday, the House passed the Inflation Reduction Act on a party-line vote of 220 to 207. No Republicans supported the legislation. The White House released a video of Biden praising the bill. 

President Joe Biden: “The American people are going to see lower prescription drug prices, lower healthcare costs and lower energy costs. And big corporations are finally going to start to pay their fair share. Those that are paying $0 in federal income tax will now have to pay a minimum tax. And America is going to take the most aggressive action we’ve ever taken in confronting the climate crisis and strengthening the energy security of America, and the world, quite frankly.”

Despite Biden’s high praise, many climate groups criticize the package for including major handouts to the fossil fuel industry, which were added to win the support of conservative Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who is the largest recipient of fossil fuel industry donations in Congress. The Center for Biological Diversity described the bill as “a climate suicide pact.”

Idaho Supreme Court to Allow Near-Total Abortion Ban to Take Effect Aug. 25

Aug 15, 2022

Idaho’s Supreme Court has signed off on a law outlawing nearly all forms of abortion. On Friday, justices rejected lawsuits filed by abortion care providers who sought to stop Idaho’s so-called trigger law from taking effect later this month. The new law criminalizes abortions just six weeks into a pregnancy and makes it a felony to perform an abortion — with limited exceptions for cases of rape, incest or medical emergency. Idaho’s abortion ban still faces a legal challenge from the Department of Justice in a federal court. 

Kansas Orders Hand Recount of Vote That Affirmed Reproductive Rights

Aug 15, 2022

Kansas’s secretary of state has signed off on a hand recount of ballots cast on August 2, when voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum that would have removed reproductive rights from the Kansas Constitution. The recount was requested by a private citizen who has spread baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election; it will be paid for by anti-abortion activists. The recount is unlikely to change the outcome of the election, which saw Kansans affirm abortion rights by a 165,000-vote margin.

China Renews Warning to U.S. as Another Congressional Delegation Visits Taiwan

Aug 15, 2022

China is warning the United States is “playing with fire on the Taiwan question” after another U.S. congressional delegation made an unannounced trip Sunday to the island to meet the Taiwanese president. Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts is leading the delegation, which comes less than two weeks after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in a quarter-century. Meanwhile, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is warning about U.S. policy on Taiwan and Ukraine. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kissinger said, “We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to.”

Taliban Uses Rifle Butts to Beat Women Protesters in Kabul

Aug 15, 2022

In Kabul, Afghanistan, members of the Taliban fired warning shots into the air and used rifle butts Saturday to beat women protesters outside the headquarters of Afghanistan’s Education Ministry. The women had been chanting “bread, work and freedom.” Protesters were demanding the Taliban end its ban on girls attending classes beyond the 6th grade, as well as a ban on women holding most government jobs or traveling alone. 

U.N. Warns 95% of Afghans Are Going Hungry One Year After Fall of Kabul to Taliban 

Aug 15, 2022

Today marks the first anniversary of the fall of the U.S.-supported government in Kabul to the Taliban. According to the United Nations, 95% of Afghans are going hungry, in a food crisis exacerbated by the Biden administration’s decision to freeze the Afghan central bank’s assets. This is Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, speaking from the packed malnutrition ward at a children’s hospital in Kabul.

Dr. Mohammad Ashraf: “It is a fact that misery and poverty is increasing in our country day by day. The higher the poverty rates, the more malnutrition cases there are. I urge the international community and other assisting organizations to help the poor people, especially those suffering from this disease, malnutrition.”

U.N. Rights Chief Blasts Israel’s “Unconscionable” Killing of 19 Children in 10 Days

Aug 15, 2022

Israeli forces have shot dead a 21-year-old Palestinian man during a raid on his home earlier today in occupied East Jerusalem. According to Palestinian officials, Mohammad Ibrahim Shham was shot in the head at point-blank range. In related news, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed alarm over the number of Palestinian children killed recently by Israel. Over the past 10 days, Israeli forces have killed 19 Palestinian children — 17 in Gaza and two in the occupied West Bank. In a statement, Bachelet said, “Inflicting hurt on any child during the course of conflict is deeply disturbing, and the killing and maiming of so many children this year is unconscionable.”

Spanish Wildfire Explodes in Size as Historic Drought Grips Europe

Aug 15, 2022

In northeastern Spain, authorities ordered 1,500 people in eight villages to evacuate their homes after a large wildfire exploded in size overnight Saturday. It’s Spain’s 43rd large wildfire of the year. This comes as firefighters from across Europe are battling huge fires in France, where recent rains have helped bring some blazes under control. The European Forest Fire Information System reports a record pace of wildfires this year with over 1.6 million acres burned. Much of Europe has faced record heat this summer, with meteorologists warning the climate crisis could soon bring about the continent’s worst drought in more than 500 years.

Colombia: Gustavo Petro Replaces Military Commanders & Moves to Resume Peace Talks

Aug 15, 2022

Colombia’s new president, Gustavo Petro, has named new commanders to head Colombia’s military and police as part of a push to bring peace to the country. Petro, who is Colombia’s first-ever leftist leader, said he picked commanders who had never been accused of human rights violations.

President Gustavo Petro: “The new commanders that will lead Colombia’s public forces are aligned with the human security politics goals we promised and that we want to turn into a reality and evaluate in due time to know about its effectiveness to guarantee peace, to guarantee a decrease in violence and crime, to guarantee a substantial respect toward human rights and citizens’ freedoms as every democracy should.”

In other developments in Colombia, President Petro has taken steps to resume peace talks in Cuba with the ELN, Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla group. Meanwhile, Colombia’s new vice president, Francia Márquez Mina, was symbolically sworn in by Indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders in her hometown of Suárez on Saturday. Márquez is Colombia’s first Afro-Colombian female vice president.

Vice President Francia Márquez Mina: “Our commitment with peace is our most important commitment. An ethnic chapter was created for the Indigenous people and Afro-Colombians in the peace treaty signed by the government. I will be the person in charge of ensuring the ethnic chapter for peace will advance.”

Family of Austin Tice Still Hopeful 10 Years After His Disappearance in Syria

Aug 15, 2022

Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former U.S. marine who was abducted in Syria on August 15, 2012. At the time, he was working as a freelance journalist covering Syria’s civil war. The McClatchy news service recently reported secret negotiations have been taking place between the U.S. and Syrian governments over his possible release. On Sunday, Austin Tice’s family spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. This is his sister Meagan Tice. 

Meagan Tice: “You know, just reflecting on these last 10 years, it’s amazing to think, I mean, I have two children now that have never met my brother, and just the hole is felt so deeply. And we’re so ready for him to come home.”

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