December 16, 2017
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HEADLINES: AUGUST 7, 2017

South Asia: Heat Waves Could Make 1.5 Billion People's Homes Uninhabitable by 2100

Meanwhile, a new separate study, published by The Lancet, says heat waves could kill up to 152,000 people a year across Europe by 2100. Europe is currently experiencing a sweltering, record-breaking heat wave called "Lucifer."

Back in the United States, in Louisiana, torrential downpours flooded parts of New Orleans over the weekend, submerging cars, inundating homes and schools, and forcing people to wade through hip-deep water in some neighborhoods. The flash floods overwhelmed the city’s sewerage system. The head of the Sewerage and Water Board, Cedric Grant, says the flooding was part of climate change.

Cedric Grant: "The frustration is that we are now in a different era. We are in the era of climate change, where we have these kind of rains every week—or, every month. And it’s not just us. It’s the rest of the country that’s experiencing the same weather patterns. We are in a situation where we now receive more rain than anybody could have imagined, on a recurring basis."

On Friday, the Trump administration delivered an official notice to the United Nations saying it would withdraw the U.S. from the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.

Minnesota Mosque Bombed Saturday Before Morning Prayers

In Minnesota, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed on Saturday, in an act that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has condemned as terrorism. The explosive device was thrown through the mosque office’s window around 5 a.m. as people were gathering for morning prayers. No one was injured, but the bombing shattered windows and damaged the office. Most of the mosque’s worshipers are members of suburban Minneapolis’s Somali community. The FBI has taken over the investigation. President Trump has not said anything about the attack. Islamophobic attacks against Muslims and mosques across the United States have been rising since President Trump was elected. This is Hamdy El-Sawaf, president of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota.

Hamdy El-Sawaf: "We assure those who do not have the consciousness of who we are, we will never come to our knees in front of them. We will keep resisting to assure that the value of this country are in the highest level ever. It cannot be perpetrated by one individual or a group of people or a group of terrorists. We’re here all together in order to defend the values of our country, the values of our faith, the values of our people."

Court Overturns Sentences for Blackwater Contractors in 2007 Massacre

A federal appeals court has thrown out the prison sentences of former Blackwater contractors who were involved in a 2007 massacre in Nisoor Square in central Baghdad, killing 17 civilians when they opened fire with machine guns and threw grenades into the crowded public space. The attack by Blackwater contractors has been called the "My Lai massacre of Iraq." On Friday, the appeals court ruled three of the contractors could be resentenced, meaning their 30-year prison sentences could be dramatically shortened. A fourth contractor’s murder conviction was thrown out entirely, meaning he’ll now face a new trial.

U.N. Imposes New Round of Sanctions on North Korea over Missile Tests

The United Nations Security Council has imposed a new round of sanctions against North Korea over its test launches of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. The sanctions ban North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood, which could slash up to one-third of the country’s export revenue. North Korea has slammed the sanctions as "a violent violation of our sovereignty." Over the weekend, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with China’s foreign minister and other Asian leaders at a regional security meeting in the Philippines capital Manila. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for dialogue to reduce the escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

Wang Yi: "Sanction is necessary, but sanction is not the ultimate purpose. Our purpose is to bring all parties involved in the nuclear issues back to the negotiation table table, to find the resolutions through talks, to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Rod Rosenstein Says Mueller Can Investigate Any Crimes Uncovered in Probe of Trump

In news from Washington, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller can investigate any crimes he may discover within the scope of his probe into Trump’s ties to Russia and whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to sway the 2016 election. Rosenstein’s comments come only days after President Trump claimed that it would be inappropriate for Mueller to investigate the Trump family finances. Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., giving the investigation the power of subpoena and opening the door to possible criminal charges against President Trump and his associates.

Sessions Launches Administration-Wide Crackdown on Leaks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised an administration-wide crackdown on leaks, announcing the FBI has formed a new team specifically focused on investigating potential leaks to the press.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: "So, today, I have this message for our friends in the intelligence community: The Department of Justice is open for business. And I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don’t do it. I have listened to our career investigators, FBI agents and others, and our prosecutors, about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters. At their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas."

On Twitter, Trump praised Sessions’ speech, writing, "After many years of LEAKSgoing on in Washington, it is great to see the A.G. taking action! For National Security, the tougher the better!" Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, also warned staff over the weekend about leaks to the press—although his warning itself was promptly leaked.

Trump Considering Naming Stephen Miller as Communications Director

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the Trump administration is considering naming senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to be the next communications director. Stephen Miller is a well-known xenophobe and Islamophobe. He was the architect of Trump’s first Muslim travel ban, and he’s been praised by white nationalists, including Richard Spencer. If named, Miller would take over for former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who was ousted after only five days on the job following an expletive-laced rant in which he threatened to kill leakers and called former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus "a paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."

Civil Rights Groups to Sue Trump Admin for Barring Trans People from Military Service

Civil rights groups have announced they will sue the Trump administration over the plan to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Trump announced the change last month on Twitter, seemingly without consulting top military officials.

Chicago Sues Trump Admin for Withholding Funding to Sanctuary Cities

The battle between the Trump administration and sanctuary cities is escalating. Chicago has announced it will sue the federal government for threatening to withhold $3.2 million in grants to the police department unless Chicago mobilizes its police to participate in the Trump administration’s mass deportation plans. This is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate. Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated. And Chicago will never relinquish our status as a welcoming city."

Afghanistan: Up to 50 Killed by Taliban and ISIS Militants 

In northern Afghanistan, up to 50 people were killed by Taliban and ISIS militants, when the fighters attacked a police checkpoint and then entered a village, killing women and children. The Taliban had denied killing civilians, saying it killed only Afghan security forces and members of a pro-government militia.

Yemen: U.S.-Backed, Saudi-Led Airstrike Kills 12 Civilians, Including Children

n Yemen, a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrike has killed at least 12 civilians, including women and children, sparking condemnation from the United Nations. The airstrike on Friday killed at least six children when it struck their home in Saada province.

Syria: U.S.-Led Airstrikes Reportedly Kill 6 Civilians in Raqqa

In Syria, U.S. marines and U.S.-backed Syrian troops, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, continue the campaign to seize control of the city of Raqqa from ISIS. The local journalistic group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently reports that at least six civilians were killed during U.S.-led airstrikes on Raqqa on Saturday. This comes as more information is emerging about a U.S.-led missile attack that killed up to seven members of the same family on August 2 in Raqqa. Among the victims was 1-year-old Saad al Shabshol, along with his grandfather.

Venezuela: Maduro Condemns Right-Wing Paramilitary Attack as Terrorism

In Venezuela, authorities have quelled a right-wing antigovernment paramilitary attack on a military base in Valencia. In a video message, armed men claimed the attack was a rebellion against the Maduro government. Maduro has denounced the attack as U.S.-funded terrorism.

President Nicolás Maduro: "I can’t say it another way. It is a terrorist attack against the armed forces of the Bolivarian National Army. And the armed forces responded in a united manner, with morality and decisiveness. The bill for the attack was paid for from Miami and from Colombia. Mark Rubio has come out and said there was a military uprising in Venezuela and to support it."

The attack killed two people and came one day after the controversial National Constituent Assembly held its first session. Critics say Maduro is using the Assembly, which will have the authority to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, to consolidate his power.

Human Rights Groups Denounce Israel's Plan to Shut Down Al Jazeera

Journalists and human rights groups are denouncing Israel’s plan to shut down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem and revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera’s journalists in Israel. The Committee to Protect Journalists called the shutdown undemocratic and said, "Censoring Al Jazeera or closing its offices will not bring stability to the region, but it would put Israel firmly in the camp of some of the region’s worst enemies of press freedom."

Third Fox News Host Suspended over Accusations of Sexual Harassment 

Fox News host Eric Bolling has been suspended by the network amid accusations that he’s been texting unwanted photos of his genitals to female co-workers. He’s the third Fox News host to be suspended this year amid Fox’s sexual harassment scandal. In July, host Charles Payne was suspended after he was accused of coercing a female political analyst to have sex with him in exchange for a paid contributor’s position. Former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly was fired in April amid revelations that he and Fox News had paid out $13 million to settle lawsuits by five women who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.

Nebraska: Hundreds Rally to Protest Construction of Keystone XL Pipeline

In Nebraska, hundreds of people rallied at the state Capitol Sunday to protest construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was resurrected by President Trump as one of his first acts in office. The pipeline has faced years of resistance from Native Americans, farmers, ranchers, landowners and environmentalists. If completed, it would carry 830,000 barrels per day of tar sands from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would join an existing pipeline and carry the oil down to the Gulf.

UAW Condemns Nissan Scare Campaign, After Unionization Bid Fails

The United Auto Workers are accusing car manufacturer Nissan of running a vicious scare campaign against its effort to unionize a plant in Canton, Mississippi. On Thursday and Friday, the 3,500 workers at the plant voted against a bid to unionize.

NFL Legends Speak Out Against Racism at Football Hall of Fame Ceremony

In sports news, multiple former football players spoke out against racism during Saturday night’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Former safety Kenny Easley said "Black Lives Matter" during his speech, while former running back LaDainian Tomlinson gave an emotional speech about his great-great-great-grandfather George, who was kidnapped from West Africa and forced into slavery in the United States.

LaDainian Tomlinson: "My great-great-great-grandfather George. One hundred seventy years ago, George was brought here in chains on a slave ship from West Africa. His last name, Tomlinson, was given to him by the man who owned him. Tomlinson was the slave owner’s last name. What extraordinary courage it must have taken for him to rebuild his life after the life he was born to was stolen. ... I’m of mixed race, and I represent America."

NYC Mayor de Blasio Proposes Tax on Rich to Pay for Subway Upgrades

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he will push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers in order to pay for essential upgrades to New York City’s overstretched and ailing subway system, which has been engulfed in crisis this summer. The so-called millionaire’s tax, which de Blasio is announcing today, will require approval from state lawmakers.

Martin Shkreli, "Most Hated Man in America," Convicted of Financial Fraud

And former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli is facing decades in prison after being convicted of three counts of financial fraud on Friday. Shkreli has been dubbed "the most hated man in America" after he hiked the price of a life-saving drug by more than 5,000 percent overnight.


Courtesy of Democracy Now

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