News and Headlines. 9/3/2019

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In The News:

U.S. judge orders big drug companies to face opioid trial

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who oversees roughly 2,000 opioid lawsuits by states, counties and cities, said the plaintiffs can try to prove that drugmakers’ deceptive marketing of the painkillers caused a harmful, massive increase in supply that pharmacies and distributors did not do enough to stop.

“A factfinder could reasonably infer that these failures were a substantial factor in producing the alleged harm suffered by plaintiffs,” the Cleveland-based judge wrote.

The ruling was among seven decisions and orders totaling 80 pages from Polster ahead of a scheduled Oct. 21 trial by two Ohio counties against Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker accused of fueling the epidemic, and several other defendants.

Evangelical leader suggests teaching evolution contributes to mass shootings

“At some point, we have to realize as a nation that we have a problem,” Perkins, a former Republican Louisiana legislator, said on “Fox & Friends” on Sunday, just a day after a mass shooting in West Texas left eight people dead.

“And the problem is not the absence of laws. It’s an absence of morality.

It’s really the result of a decades-long march through the institutions of America, driving religion and God from the public square.”

“It’s not just about having a conversation about restricting those who should not have guns.

But it’s also a discussion of the absence of a moral core in our culture,” he said.

“I mean, look, we’ve taught our kids that they come about by chance through primordial slime, and we’re surprised that they treat their fellow Americans like dirt.”

“It’s time we talk about the result of the left’s systematic march through our institutions, driving religious expression from the public square,” he added.

Under Media, Democrat Pressure, Walmart To Pull Handguns And Ammunition From Stores

Walmart is also asking customers not to openly carry their firearms in the retail giant’s U.S. stores or in Sam’s Club, another retail chain owned and operated by Walmart.

Walmart will still continue to allow guests who have concealed carry permits to carry their firearms in stores, a policy that saved lives last month at one of its stores in Arkansas when an off-duty firefighter carrying a gun held a 20-year-old suspected shooter with tactical weapons and body armor at gunpoint until police arrived.

“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told employees in a memo, as reported by CNN.

McMillon went on to say the policy changes were in response to last month’s shootings in Ohio and Texas.

Gun owners are a significant part of Walmart’s consumer base, and McMillon, who says he owns a firearm, said he doesn’t want to alienate customers by making this political statement.

14-Year-Old Calls 911 After Reportedly Killing His Father, Stepmother And Siblings

Alabama authorities showed up to the home of the 14-year-old, who called about the gunshots to find one adult and two minors dead, according to a report published Tuesday by the Associated Press.

Another adult and one minor were injured and taken to the hospital where they later died from their injuries.

The teen called the police around 1:15 a.m. and reported hearing gunshots from the upstairs of his home, but the incident reportedly took place around 10:30 p.m. Monday night.

Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas revealed

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater forward-deployed four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews in support of search and rescue and humanitarian aid in the Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019.
Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater forward-deployed four MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews in support of search and rescue and humanitarian aid in the Bahamas, Sept. 2, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater)

The National Hurricane Center said, as of 1 p.m. EDT, the storm is continuing to produce maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and a “life-threatening” storm surge of 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels.

Dorian’s punishing winds and torrential rain have battered the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, which have a combined population of about 70,000 and are known for their marinas, golf courses, and all-inclusive resorts.

The Grand Bahama airport was under 6 feet of water and at least five deaths were reported.

Bikini pics in Hurricane Dorian posts? Instagram influencers criticized for tone-deaf ‘self-promotion’

tatielepolyana The Bahamas

Instagram influencers turning to the social media platform to express their concerns for those devastated by Hurricane Dorian have been accused of using the tragedy for self-promotion because of the sexy photos they are posting.

Influencer Tatiele Polyana posted a pic Monday of herself in a small bikini while standing in the clear blue water. The post is tagged “The Bahamas.”

Self-described beauty influencer Natalie Romo faced a similar backlash after posted a picture of herself posing on a rock in a purple bikini and visor next to beautiful clear water in the Bahamas.

Neighbor: Texas gunman was ‘violent, aggressive person

This undated photo provided by the City of Odessa via FBI shows Seth Aaron Ator. The gunman in a West Texas rampage
This undated photo provided by the City of Odessa via FBI shows Seth Aaron Ator. The gunman in a West Texas rampage “was on a long spiral of going down” and had been fired from his oil services job the morning he killed seven people, calling 911 both before and after the shooting began, authorities said Monday, Sept. 2, 2019.
(City of Odessa/FBI via AP)

Officers killed 36-year-old Seth Aaron Ator on Saturday outside a busy Odessa movie theater after a spate of violence that spanned 10 miles (16 kilometers), injuring around two dozen people in addition to the dead.

FBI special agent Christopher Combs said Monday that Ator called the agency’s tip line as well as local police dispatch on Saturday after being fired from Journey Oilfield Services, making “rambling statements about some of the atrocities that he felt that he had gone through.”

Fifteen minutes after the call to the FBI, Combs said, a Texas state trooper unaware of the calls to authorities tried pulling over Ator for failing to signal a lane change.

Google target of new U.S. antitrust probe by state attorneys general

Texas leads the group of 30-plus attorneys general, which plans to announce the probe on Sept. 9, the source said.

Google said that it was cooperating with the state officials.

The tech giants, among the richest and most powerful companies in the world, are facing increasing antitrust scrutiny from Congress, federal agencies and now state attorneys general.

The Justice Department said in July that it was opening a broad investigation of major digital technology firms, focusing on whether they engage in anticompetitive practices.

The investigation is believed to be aimed at Google, Inc (AMZN.O) and Facebook Inc (FB.O), and potentially Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

YouTube removes more than 100,000 videos for violating its hate speech policy

The company also states that comment deletion doubled this quarter as well. YouTube attributed the removal of more than 500 million comments largely to its new hate speech policy.

According to YouTube, the rise in video, channel, and comment removals are due to action taken against old content that was previously permitted on the platform.

Youtube also says that its automated systems have been able to flag 87 percent of the 9 million total videos the company removed in the second quarter.

When it comes to hate speech-related content, the company says that nearly
30,000 videos removed in the last month “generated just 3% of the views that knitting videos did over the same time period.”

Facebook may hide ‘like’ counts from public view

Bloomberg News/Landov

The new feature, first spotted by Jane Manchum Wong, would hide the number of likes on specific posts from everyone but the original poster.

Facebook Inc.confirmed to MarketWatch it is considering the change, but didn’t say when it would begin public testing.

The social-networking giant has already shown a willingness to make the change outside the U.S. Beginning in May, Facebook’s Instagram tested a like ban in Canada before spreading it to Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.

At the time, Instagram head Adam Mosseri characterized the move as a way to create a “less pressurized environment” on the app.

Woman arrested in toddler’s kidnapping said father ‘sold’ girl for $10G, officials say

The Amber Alert said Nalani was abducted by 25-year-old Sharena Nancy.

The child’s father, Paul Johnson, told cops Nancy, described as a jitney driver, took his daughter after she gave them a ride, according to reports.

He said Nancy sped away with Nalani and Nalani’s car seat, leaving him and a friend behind.

“When Ms. Nancy was stopped by the Penn Hills Police on Saturday evening following the abduction of Nalani, the car seat was not located within the vehicle,” Allegheny County police said Monday.

Nalani remains missing and the FBI is assisting in the search.

Man diagnosed with rare syphilis infection in brain after struggling to walk, talk

The scan revealed the man had neurosyphilis.
The scan revealed the man had neurosyphilis. (BMJ Case Reports 2019)

The 50-year-old man’s case was detailed in the British Medical Journal Case Reports (BMJ). Doctors did not identify the man.

A brain MRI later revealed the man – who denied “high-risk sexual exposure or any previous history of genital infections or ulcers,” doctors wrote in the report – had damage to his cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and speech, among other things.

Further tests revealed the man was positive for Treponema pallidum, a type of bacteria that causes syphilis — a sexually transmitted infection that first appears as a small, painless sore.

Doctors determined he had neurosyphilis, a rare infection which typically occurs if an initial syphilis infection is left untreated.

“Neurosyphilis tends to develop about 10 to 20 years after the initial infection with the bacterium.

Having HIV and untreated syphilis are major risk factors for neurosyphilis,” per Healthline.

Retired NYPD sergeant reportedly kills himself amid department’s ‘mental-health crisis’

A retired New York City police sergeant reportedly killed himself Monday — adding to the growing number of police officers protecting the country’s biggest city who have committed suicide this year.

While apparently retired, his death follows the deaths of nine NYPD officers who have killed themselves since January — a situation described by Commissioner James O’Neill as a “mental-health crisis.”

CA appeals court overturns gun conviction for illegal immigrant acquitted of Kate Steinle’s shooting death

Defense lawyer Matt Gonzalez talks to the media at the San Francisco Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 before the opening statements of the trial of Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, an undocumented immigrant accused of shooting and killing Kate Steinle. Garcia Zarate was sentenced to jail for gun possession.
(Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

The gun conviction of an illegal immigrant has been overturned by a California appeals court after the man’s controversial acquittal in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle.

A court document states that during the trial, Garcia Zarate said that he had picked up a wrapped item without realizing it was a gun and dropped the gun in the water after the weapon went off.

The appeals court chose to rule in “the light most favorable to the defense,” despite stating the evidence “permits at least two reasonable inferences.”


Varney slams progressives’ plans to ‘print money’ to pay for government programs

Commentary/Opinion: “What do you mean we can’t afford Medicare for all or the Green New Deal? Why don’t we just print the trillion dollars we need?

Welcome to the progressives new way of paying for everything,” said Varney on Fox Nation’s “My Take.”

“Just fire up the printing press, it’s the new economics. After all, only the government can create money, so just create what you need….why not,” he said.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Elizabeth Warren has long supported the idea of “rethinking financial accounting” in the United States, and Varney believes this would mean printing new money to support her proposed programs.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez echoed a similar sentiment, saying earlier this year that the government need not worry about how to pay for her Green New Deal because the United States “printed billions to bail out the banks in the financial crisis,” and could do it again.

McConnell trolls Dem rep who challenged him to five debates — by accepting

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded to a debate challenge issued by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., agreeing to square off if Yarmuth decides to run against him. (Reuters/Getty).

A Democratic congressman from Kentucky backed down Tuesday from his threat to run against Mitch McConnell – and admitted he was just joking — after the Senate majority leader called his bluff and agreed to his demand for five debates.

On Monday, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., was asked by a local news reporter from WHAS-TV if he planned on running against the Republican leader in 2020. Yarmuth initially said he had “no desire” to do so, but then smiled and said: “I will say this: If Mitch McConnell would agree to debate me five times in public, I’d do it.”

Yarmuth may not have expected the response.


Democrat Ilhan Omar is demanding that a telecommunications company founded and operated by a renowned terrorist financier, receive protection from that country’s government and peacekeeping forces.

An Israeli-based newspaper broke the story a few days ago, but the American mainstream media has been notably silent on the matter.

The company, Hormuud Telecommunications, was created and is operated by Ahmed Nur Ali Jim’ale, a chief financier of al–Shabaab, an east African-based jihadist group that serves as Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.

In her social media account, Omar writes that Somalia’s government and peacekeeping forces need to protect Hormuud and the Somali telecom industry as they make enormous contributions to the economy and provide vital services.

“During my visit to Somalia in 2011, I was surprised by the quick evolution of technology in Somalia,” Omar posts, indirectly praising the telecom firm with terrorist ties.

The Israeli article includes the links to a pair of United Nations Security Council reports documenting Hormuud’s direct support for al-Shabaab.

De Blasio logged a 7-hour work month at City Hall

The 11 appointments amounted to a meager one-fifth of the 50 meetings, calls and other events at City Hall on de Blasio’s calendar for May 2018. He had a total 152 city events scheduled for the month.

One former aide said de Blasio’s virtual disappearance from the Big Apple’s official seat of power sent a troubling message.

“If he’s trying to show New Yorkers that he’s over doing the job, he’s doing a good job of it,” the ex-aide said.

Graham calls on AG to declassify trove of documents tied to FBI surveillance during Trump-Russia probe

In a letter released Tuesday, the South Carolina Republican requested that Barr work with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to declassify documents, saying Horowitz’s probe of these warrants is nearing completion.

“In order for the Inspector General to be able to present the most complete results of his investigation to Congress and the American people, certain documents will need to be declassified and released to the public,” Graham said in the letter, dated Thursday.

In his letter, Graham detailed a wide range of documents he’d like to see, related to nine areas.

Joe Manchin Says He’ll Stay in Senate as He Passes on Run for West Virginia Governor

File photo, Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-West Va.), speaks at a roundtable on the opioid epidemic at Cabell-Huntington Health Center in Huntington, West Virginia, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Manchin said in a statement on Sept. 3 that he was officially staying in the seat.

“I have always said that ‘public service is not self-service.’

So, when considering whether to run for Governor, I couldn’t focus just on which job I enjoyed the most, but on where I could be the most effective for the Mountain State,” Manchin said.

“Ultimately, I believe my role as U.S. Senator allows me to position our state for success for the rest of this century.”

Manchin is a centrist Democrat who has shown support for pro-life positions and voted against his party around one-third of the time amid an increasingly partisan Senate.

World News:

Trump administration sanctions Iran’s space agency

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the sanctions were implemented against the space program and two of its research institutes for what the administration says are efforts to advance Iran’s ballistic missile program.

“The United States will not allow Iran to use its space launch program as cover to advance its ballistic missile programs. Iran’s August 29 attempt to launch a space launch vehicle underscores the urgency of the threat.

These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system,” Pompeo said.

At a sprawling tent camp in Syria, ISIS women impose a brutal rule

Women and children stand by a gate during a brief dust storm at the foreigners’ section of al-Hol camp.
Women and children stand by a gate during a brief dust storm at the foreigners’ section of al-Hol camp. (Alice Martins for The Washington Post)

Several guards have been stabbed by women who conceal kitchen knives in the folds of their robes. Women are threatened for being in contact with lawyers who might get them out of the camp or for speaking with other outsiders.

A pregnant Indonesian woman was murdered, medical officials say, apparently after speaking to a western media organization. Images of her body suggest she might have been whipped.

“It’s happening at night, and it’s happening in the shadows, but no one informs on who did it,” said a senior member of the camp’s intelligence department. “They’re afraid of each other here.”

In a report last month, the U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general, citing information from the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, warned that the SDF’s inability to provide more than ‘minimal security’ at the camp has allowed for the ‘uncontested’ spread of ISIS ideology there.

In some places, children, including an estimated 20,000 born in the caliphate, are literally a captive audience.

Israel claims to uncover Hezbollah missile plant in Lebanon

The army issued a statement saying that “in fear of strikes” by Israel, Hezbollah had moved key equipment from the site to “civilian locations in Beirut.” It didn’t specify when this happened.

The military said the factory was of “superior importance” to Hezbollah. An official, speaking anonymously under military rules, said the factory is operational but missing major components.

Israel has recently expressed concerns that Hezbollah and Iran are pursuing a missile-production industry in Lebanon.

On Saturday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah denied Israeli claims that the Iranian proxy group did not “have factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Lebanon.”

Shattering Taliban attack in Kabul even as US deal nears

Journalists and security forces stand next to a crater caused by Monday's suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019.
Journalists and security forces stand next to a crater caused by Monday’s suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. The attack occurred late Monday near the the Green Village, home to several international organizations and guesthouses. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

“People were screaming and saying, ‘My children are trapped in the rubble,’” one witness, Faiz Ahmad, said. A large crater was left in the street from a tractor packed with explosives.

Five attackers were killed in the Monday night attack and some 400 foreigners rescued, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

The Taliban continue to kill Afghan civilians in attacks they say are meant for foreign “invaders” or the Afghan government, apparently sacrificing the support of the people they might wish to rule, even as the U.S. envoy says the deal with the insurgents only needs the approval of President Donald Trump to become a reality.

The accord would include a troop withdrawal that the Taliban already portray as their victory.

New US-led patrols in Persian Gulf raise stakes with Iran

FILE – In this June 3, 2019 file photo, a pilot speaks to a crew member by an F/A-18 fighter jet on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea. The U.S. Navy is trying to put together a new coalition of nations to counter what it sees as a renewed maritime threat from Iran. Meanwhile, Iran finds itself backed into a corner and ready for a possible conflict. It stands poised on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, to further break the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
(AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

For decades, the U.S. has considered the waters of the Persian Gulf as critical to its national security.

Through the gulf’s narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz, 20% of all crude oil sold passes onto the world market. Any disruption there likely will see energy prices spike.

The U.S. has been willing to use its firepower to ensure that doesn’t happen. It escorted ships here in the so-called 1980s “Tanker War .”

America fought its last major naval battle in these waters in 1988 against Iran.

Now, the U.S. Navy is trying to put together a new coalition of nations to counter what it sees as a renewed maritime threat from Iran. But the situation decades later couldn’t be more different.

8 Elementary School Children Killed In Chinese Stabbing Attack

The attack happened in a Hubei province village at about 8 a.m. Monday, the first day of the new semester, police said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

The suspect has been identified by authorities as a 40-year-old man named Yu. The suspect is in custody as officers investigate the case further. Authorities have not determined the motive for the attack.

The suspect was reportedly released from Hubei prison in June 2018 after serving a sentence for attempted murder, according to the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly, citing prison staff.

ISIS using booby-trapped bovines to go after enemies in Iraq, reports say

The two cows (not pictured) were strapped with explosive belts and walked towards a military checkpoint
(2007 Getty Images)

The two cows were strapped with explosive belts and walked towards a military checkpoint in Diyala province when Iraqi soldiers opened fire on the animals, according to the Independent, which cited Rudaw, a Kurdish news site.

The weekend incident showed ISIS “has lost the ability to recruit young people and would-be suicide bombers, instead they are using cattle,” local official Saqid Husseini said.

For its part, ISIS has taken advantage of the territorial dispute and has worked to re-establish itself there.

In the southern part of the province, ISIS holds a “durable support zone” and has “increased its attack tempo against security forces, local tribal figures and commercial sites,” according to the Institute for the Study of War.

South African president condemns anti-foreigner violence

A group of men carrying sticks, claws and machetes gathered in front of a police officer in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Photograph: Guillem Sartorio/AFP/Getty Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the violence on Tuesday and said he was calling in ministers with responsibility for security “to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them”.

“The people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way.

There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries,” Ramaphosa said.

The violence started on Sunday when a protest march against drug-dealing by local residents in the centre of Johannesburg blamed on immigrants degenerated, with shops attacked and looted.

Murderer of boy, five, says probation service should have done more

Alex Malcolm, five, was killed in south London in 2016 Photograph: Handout

Alex Malcolm, five, sustained fatal head injuries after being battered in a south London park by Marvyn Iheanacho, who flew into a rage at the boy for losing a shoe.

Iheanacho, who was then the boyfriend of Alex’s mother, Lilya Breha, had a string of previous convictions for violent offences, including attacks on former girlfriends.

In a letter read to the jury for the inquest into Alex’s death, Iheanacho said:

“My probation worker did not do enough to help me settle down again.

Why did my probation officer not inform Lilya … perhaps if she had, things might be very different.”


James Mattis talks new book, relationship with Trump on ‘Fox & Friends’

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis weighs in on the military response to Hurricane Dorian, his new book about learning to lead and his relationship with the president on ‘Fox & Friends.’

Californicating America … Is Interstate Migration Wrecking The Heartland?