Browsing articles from "September, 2018"

Teaching High School Students About Sexual Assault Through Literature

Sep 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Teaching High School Students About Sexual Assault Through Literature

NPR’s Michel Martin talks with high school English teacher Eric Devine and author Laurie Halse Anderson about teaching high schoolers about sexual assault.

Latvia Pushes To Limit Russian Language In Effort To Strengthen National Identity

Sep 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Latvia Pushes To Limit Russian Language In Effort To Strengthen National Identity

A century after it first became an independent country, Latvia is still grappling with identity issues surrounding it’s decades of Soviet rule.

New Book Peeks Inside American Prison System

Sep 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on New Book Peeks Inside American Prison System

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with journalist Shane Bauer about his new book, American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment.

Remembering Guitarist Otis Rush

Sep 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Remembering Guitarist Otis Rush

Guitarist Otis Rush helped shape the Chicago blues sound, and deeply influenced a generation of musicians including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. He died on Saturday at the age of 84.

Tsunami Hits Indonesia, Leaving More Than 300 Dead

Sep 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Tsunami Hits Indonesia, Leaving More Than 300 Dead

Hospitals and rescuers are struggling to deal with the aftermath of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that triggered an unexpected tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, killing at least 384 people.

Indonesian disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said bodies of some victims were found trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, adding 540 people were injured and 29 were missing, according to Reuters.

Authorities said that “tens to hundreds” of people were by the ocean in the hard-hit city Palu for a beach festival when the tsunami struck on Friday just after 5:02 PM Western Indonesian Time.

“The tsunami didn’t come by itself, it dragged cars, logs, houses, it hit everything on land,” Nugroho told reporters.

Nugroho tweeted that Indonesia’s military has been mobilized to assist search and rescue teams.

Yenni Suryani, Catholic Relief Services’ country manager in Indonesia, said that this number “doesn’t yet account for anyone who might have been swept to sea by the tsunami.”

“I’m worried about people who might have been washed away,” she added.

Nugrogo tweeted photos of local hospitals that are overflowing with the injured. Many people are being treated in makeshift medical tents set up out on the streets.

Medical team members help patients outside a hospital after an earthquake and a tsunami hit Palu, on Sulawesi island on September 29, 2018.

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Medical team members help patients outside a hospital after an earthquake and a tsunami hit Palu, on Sulawesi island on September 29, 2018.

Muhammad Rifki /AFP/Getty Images

Multiple attempts have been made to reach out to Palu’s main hospital, but it appears that its telephone lines may be disconnected.

Dramatic videos show rising waves smashing into buildings and people running away in fear.

Other footage has shown the aftermath: destroyed buildings and body bags lying in the street.

A man looks for his belongings amid the debris of his destroyed house in Palu after a strong earthquake and tsunami struck the area.

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A man looks for his belongings amid the debris of his destroyed house in Palu after a strong earthquake and tsunami struck the area.

Bay Ismoyo /AFP/Getty Images

Several mosques, a shopping mall and many houses have collapsed, according to the CRS. The impact is significant, but the scope of the destruction is unclear because communications are down and emergency teams have not reached all affected areas.

Palu’s airport also suffered damages, its runway badly cracked from the quake.

The Jakarta Post reported that one of the air traffic controllers, Anthonius Gunawan Agung, 21, died after he jumped off the traffic control tower when the earthquake hit the area.

His colleagues had evacuated the tower when they felt the trembling, but he stayed behind to ensure that an airplane safely took off, Air Nav Indonesia, the agency that oversees aircraft navigation, said in a statement.

Nugroho said that the casualties and the damage could be greater along the coastline 190 miles north of Palu in a regency called Donggala, which is closer to the epicenter of the quake.

Communications “were totally crippled with no information” from Donggala, he added. More than 600,000 people live in Donggala and Palu.

NPR’s Anthony Kuhn tells our Newscast unit that this is the most serious quake to hit Indonesia since August, when a series of tremors killed hundreds on Lombok Island.

Republicans Push Kavanaugh Nomination Forward, But At What Cost?

Sep 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Republicans Push Kavanaugh Nomination Forward, But At What Cost?

Judge Brett Kavanaugh scowls as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Thursday. Afterward, many observers felt he had revealed a partisan side never before seen from a Supreme Court nominee.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh scowls as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill Thursday. Afterward, many observers felt he had revealed a partisan side never before seen from a Supreme Court nominee.

Melina Mara/AFP/Getty Images

Everything was on track. The show was out of the way. It was time to vote.

That’s what Republican leadership and those supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court thought — until Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake upended those plans, calling for a “short pause” for a limited, one-week FBI investigation.

By day’s end, the White House had acceded and asked for an investigation, too. President Trump tweeted Friday night that the investigation is started and Kavanaugh “will someday be recognized as a truly great Justice of The United States Supreme Court!”

It was a day of drama and tortured consciences, giving Democrats and those opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination one last hope that something will emerge to derail Kavanaugh for good. Republicans, on the other hand, hope the FBI investigation will exonerate Kavanaugh, who has maintained he has committed no sexual misconduct amid allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and two other women.

Republicans are putting everything in place for a vote late next week on Kavanaugh’s nomination. But at what cost?

Trump Orders Limited FBI Investigation To Supplement Kavanaugh Background Check

In a year when women, especially Democratic women, are fired up to vote and wanting to send a message to President Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by at least 22 women, Republicans are taking a gamble that Kavanaugh’s confirmation won’t hurt them at the polls in November’s midterm elections.

The Women's Wave: Backlash To Trump Persists, Reshaping Politics In 2018

In this cultural moment — when many women thought the #MeToo movement had moved the country beyond the he said, she said perceptions of the 1991 Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and into a new era — it’s hard to see those women not being even more fired up to turn out at the polls if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

At the same time, few things fire up the Republican base like a Supreme Court confirmation fight. And the elevation of this battle — with Kavanaugh’s and Republicans’ pitched and partisan cries — could have the effect of firing up a GOP base that sees the opposition as unyielding, unfair and willing to do anything to score a political point at Trump’s expense.

New Poll Finds Americans Deeply Divided By Gender On Kavanaugh Nomination

And confirming Kavanaugh even if the allegations from Ford are true is what 54 percent of Republicans want, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released this week before Thursday’s hearing.

Republicans believe the limited FBI investigation will give wavering Republican senators confidence — and a degree of political cover — to vote for Kavanaugh.

Then they can say to Democrats, you wanted an investigation, you got one, now it’s time to vote. And Republican leadership is moving apace for that vote to happen as quickly as possible late next week.

The FBI Is Going To Investigate Kavanaugh After All. What Does That Mean?

Nearly immediately after Flake emerged from a backroom Friday, where he was huddling with Democrats on the compromise plan for an investigation, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, began the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Quickly, Kavanaugh was approved 11-10, along party lines, and moved along to the full Senate, even as Democrats on the committee were asking what exactly they were even voting on.

Not wasting much time, either, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got a procedural vote, originally scheduled for Saturday, out of the way Friday night to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor.

So the table is set, but what of the china?

Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The California professor has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while in high school decades ago, which he denies.

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Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The California professor has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while in high school decades ago, which he denies.

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The hearings Thursday featured a “terrified” and, even as Republicans including the president said, “credible” Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of a sexual assault while in high school decades ago — an allegation the federal appeals court judge has vehemently denied.

Millions watched, tears were shed and stomachs churned.

Kavanaugh then emerged — emotional, angry, defiant and partisan.

Brett Kavanaugh Offers Fiery Defense In Hearing That Was A National Cultural Moment

“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” Kavanaugh said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

Kavanaugh was one of the lawyers working with independent counsel Kenneth Starr and helped author the report that led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

A man walks past televisions broadcasting Christine Blasey Ford testifying on Thursday.

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A man walks past televisions broadcasting Christine Blasey Ford testifying on Thursday.

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Washington's Latest New Normal: High Court Nominees Stop Playing Nice

It was the most partisan performance by a Supreme Court nominee in history. Republicans say it was justifiable outrage, because Kavanaugh’s reputation has been forever marred and he maintains he has been wrongly accused. But Kavanaugh ripped off a veil of impartiality Americans have come to expect from Supreme Court justices. That veil is one reason Supreme Court justices — and the court itself – have been held in higher regard than Congress or the partisan politicians who occupy the Capitol.

Kavanaugh’s performance Thursday, with the help of Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, rallied the GOP — and that all-important audience of one, President Trump – to his side. After the hearing, Trump tweeted that “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, riveting.”

'Exactly Why I Nominated Him': Trump Gives Kavanaugh Positive Review After Hearing

It’s not clear at this point whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed. But for many Americans, regardless of political stripe and for different reasons, Thursday was emotional and frustrating, fist-shaking and embarrassing. It highlighted the kind of grievances and cultural divides that separated the country over the years and burst into full view with Trump’s election, after simmering during much of the 2016 campaign.

Thursday’s hearing bruised a nation. It represented something of a de-evolution — of an institution in the Senate that has been progressively moving in this direction and of American politics itself, something few thought could get even worse.

Is The Record Number Of Women Candidates A 2018 Blip — Or A Lasting Trend?

So where does that leave the country? There isn’t a much better motivator to vote than anger, and Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight — with the ideological direction of the Supreme Court hanging in the balance — is only likely to drench an already angry electorate with even more fuel.

Trump Administration Moves To Escalate Census Lawsuits To Supreme Court

Sep 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Trump Administration Moves To Escalate Census Lawsuits To Supreme Court

The administration is asking a lower court to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ deposition as it prepares to ask the Supreme Court to review the lawsuits over the 2020 census citizenship question.

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The administration is asking a lower court to block Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ deposition as it prepares to ask the Supreme Court to review the lawsuits over the 2020 census citizenship question.

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The Trump administration is taking steps to move the legal fight over its controversial plan to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census to the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to a court filing submitted Friday, attorneys at the Justice Department — which is representing the administration in the six lawsuits around the country over the hotly contested question — are preparing to appeal recent orders by lower courts for the depositions of two key Trump administration officials behind the question: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department official John Gore.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the two lead cases have been gearing up to question Ross and Gore in their final weeks of evidence-gathering. A potential trial for the two New York cases is set to start on Nov. 5 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

But in the administration’s request to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, its lawyers asked to block all remaining depositions and document requests for those two cases “pending review” by the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration is challenging Furman’s order allowing the plaintiffs’ attorneys to question Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau as the head of the Commerce Department. Ross announced in March that he approved the Justice Department’s request to add a citizenship question to forms for the upcoming national head count. On Friday, a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put Ross’ deposition on hold while the appeals court reviews the administration’s request to block it.

Earlier this week, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit upheld Furman’s order for the deposition of Gore. He leads the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which argues that it needs responses to the citizenship question to better enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections of racial and language minorities from discrimination.

Trump Officials Prepared For Supreme Court Fight Over Census Question

The plaintiffs, who include dozens of states, cities and other groups that want the question removed, claim that Ross misused his authority and discriminated against immigrant communities of color by ordering the 2020 census to inquire about U.S. citizenship status — a topic the Census Bureau has not asked all U.S. households since 1950.

Critics of the question point to Census Bureau research suggesting that asking about citizenship status could discourage households with noncitizens, including unauthorized immigrants, from participating in the once-a-decade head count of every person living in the U.S., as required under the Constitution.

The Trump administration argues that deposing Ross and Gore is not necessary to resolve these lawsuits and that the courts should instead rely on the record of internal memos, emails and other documents already released by the administration.

Census Citizenship Question Trial Could Start Day Before Midterm Elections

“The validity of the Secretary’s decision is properly judged on that objective record, without inquiry into Secretary Ross’s deliberative process and any subjective reasons he might have had for favoring the reinstatement of a citizenship question,” the Justice Department attorneys wrote in their request for the 2nd Circuit to block Ross’ deposition.

But Furman has ruled, in part, that the officials should be deposed because of documents suggesting that better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act was not the main driver behind the push for a citizenship question.

“Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue in these cases,” Furman wrote in an opinion filed last week.

Trump Officials Say They Can't Recall Discussing Census Citizenship Question

As NPR has reported, an internal email exchange released as part of the lawsuits provided an early indication that the Trump administration was preparing to defend the citizenship question at the Supreme Court months before the Justice Department formally submitted its request for the question in December 2017.

“Since this issue will go to the Supreme Court,” Commerce Department official Earl Comstock wrote to Ross in an August 2017 email discussing a citizenship question, “we need to be diligent in preparing the administrative record.”

Ross later wrote back: “we should be very careful,about everything,whether or not it is likely to end up in the SC.”

U.S. Closes Consulate In Basra, Citing Iran-Backed Violence

Sep 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on U.S. Closes Consulate In Basra, Citing Iran-Backed Violence

An Iraqi protester waves a national flag while demonstrating outside the burned-down local government headquarters in the southern city of Basra on Sept. 7, during demonstrations over problems including poor public services.

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An Iraqi protester waves a national flag while demonstrating outside the burned-down local government headquarters in the southern city of Basra on Sept. 7, during demonstrations over problems including poor public services.

Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

The State Department is temporarily closing the U.S. Consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and evacuating all diplomats stationed there, following a rocket attack early Friday morning.

Although there were no casualties, concerns back in Washington grew. The decision comes out of concern for the safety of U.S. personnel stationed in that Iraqi city near the border with Iran.

In a statement released Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited “repeated incidents of fire” from Iranian-backed militias.

“I have made clear that Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” Pompeo said.

He blamed the security threat specifically on Iran, its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and militias under the control of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force.

The Basra airport was also the target of an attack earlier this month. NPR’s Jane Arraf reported that according to Iraqi security officials, the attacks didn’t land on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate compounds. There were no injuries or serious damage, but the White House, in a statement, called them “life-threatening attacks” against its diplomatic missions.

“Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons,” the White House said.

Basra hosts one of three U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq. It is the country’s oil capital and main port but has been battered by successive wars and neglect for decades. After the U.S. invasion in 2003, Basra fell under militia control and as a result, there was rampant corruption.

Hundreds of anti-government protests have descended on the city since the beginning of July.

Protesters duck as Iraqi security forces fire tear gas during a demonstration against unemployment and a lack of basic services in Basra.

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Protesters duck as Iraqi security forces fire tear gas during a demonstration against unemployment and a lack of basic services in Basra.

Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Arraf reported that protesters are demanding much needed government services, and a water crisis has pushed them to the edge.

Months Of Protests Roil Iraq's Oil Capital Basra

Nasser Jabar, one of the protesters, told Arraf, “We are tired of their killing. We are tired of their corruption. All the parties in the government now — they are corrupted, all of them.”

“We want to change them,” he added.

Earlier this month, protesters turned their rage on neighboring Iran, blaming its outsize influence on Iraq’s political affairs for their misery. They stormed the Iranian Consulate and set it on fire, causing significant damage.

An Iraqi protester stands flashing the victory gesture outside the burning headquarters of the Iranian Consulate in Basra on Sept. 7.

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An Iraqi protester stands flashing the victory gesture outside the burning headquarters of the Iranian Consulate in Basra on Sept. 7.

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Pompeo tweeted Tuesday that militias supported by Iran had launched the attacks, warning, “We’ll hold Iran’s regime accountable for any attack on our personnel or facilities, and respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.”

“I have made clear that Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” Pompeo added in the statement.

Angered Protesters In Basra Torch Iranian Consulate

The decision comes at a particularly fraught time as tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated during the Trump presidency.

In a speech addressing the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, President Trump hammered Iran over its support for terrorism and aggression against U.S. allies in the Middle East.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump said.

“They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.”

Facebook Says Hackers Accessed Information Of 50 Million Users In Latest Data Breach

Sep 28, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Facebook Says Hackers Accessed Information Of 50 Million Users In Latest Data Breach

Facebook announced a new data breach on Friday. Hackers accessed the information of 50 million Facebook users, as Facebook remains under pressure for misuse of users’ personal data.

What Is The Difference Between An FBI Investigation And What Senate Investigators Do?

Sep 28, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on What Is The Difference Between An FBI Investigation And What Senate Investigators Do?

Democrats and outside groups want the FBI to conduct an investigation into the accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford and others about the conduct of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

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