Top 5 News Headlines Wednesday 27th January 2016


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Grand Jury Probing Planned Parenthood Instead Indicts 2 Anti-Abortion Activists

In a surprising reversal, a grand jury that was tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who filmed undercover and highly edited videos of Planned Parenthood officials. The grand jury had been set up to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue, a claim the organization has repeatedly denied. But on Monday, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson instead announced anti-abortion activist David Daleiden had been indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a government record and a misdemeanor charge related to the purchase of human organs. David Daleiden is the director of the anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress. He pretended to be a biotechnology representative to record covertly the videos of Planned Parenthood officials explaining how they share fetal tissue with researchers. The videos were then highly edited to suggest falsely the tissue is sold for profit, not shared. Sandra Merritt, another employee of the Center for Medical Progress, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record. Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens spoke about the indictments.

Dawn Laguens: “At Planned Parenthood, we were always very confident that the grand jury would find no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. But the indictment today begins to unravel the criminal lengths that David Daleiden and the so-called Center for Medical Progress went to to perpetrate this fraud. And I think there will be more charges to come in the future.”

 Democracy Now


Report: Warming Seas Expanding Twice as Fast as Previously Thought

A new study suggests that warmer water temperatures are causing the seas to expand twice as fast as previously thought, leading to greater sea level rise. The study analyzed more than a decade of satellite data. It was published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study also found sea level rise varied by location, with the Philippines experiencing sea level rise at five times the average global rate.

Democracy Now


Danish parliament approves plan to seize assets from refugees

European states have reacted in some of the most drastic ways yet to the continent’s biggest migration crisis since the second world war, with Denmarkenacting a law that allows police to seize refugees’ assets.

The vote in the Danish parliament on Tuesday, which followed similar moves in Switzerland and southern Germany, came as central European leaders amplified calls to seal the borders of the Balkans, a move that would risk trapping thousands of asylum seekers in Greece.

Under the new Danish law, police will be allowed to search asylum seekers on arrival in the country and confiscate any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 kroner (£1,000) that have no sentimental value to their owner.

The Guardian


UN chief and Israeli PM trade barbs over settlements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reacted angrily to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s comments about Israeli settlements, accusing the UN chief of “encouraging terror”.

Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on the Middle East in New York on Tuesday, Ban criticised Israel over reports it was planning to build “150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank”.

“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” he said.

“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community. They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

Ban went on to say that Palestinian frustration is growing and that, “as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism”.



Hillary Clinton Doing Back-to-Back Finance Industry Fundraisers Just Before Iowa

Despite being dogged with questions about her ties to Wall Street, Hillary Clinton will take a detour from the campaign trail in Iowa to do back-to-back finance industry fundraisers in other states later this week.

Clinton will appear in Philadelphia at a “gala” fund-raiser hosted by executives at Franklin Square Capital Partners, a $17 billion investment fund. Rocker Bon Jovi will reportedly play an acoustic set for “friends” who pledge $1,000 and hosts who bundle up to $27,000.

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that “Franklin Square employs Ivy League-educated money managers and salespeople with experience at big Wall Street firms – plus four personal trainers and a dietitian to keep staff happy and productive amid the gym, yoga and nap rooms, Sol LeWitt art installations, and fancy cafeteria.”

Clinton will then head to New York City, where she will speak at a lunchtime “Conversations With Hillary” fund-raiser. This one is co-hosted by Matt Mallow, a senior managing director and general counsel at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. As we’ve reported before, having a conversation with Hillary is not cheap.

BlackRock’s ties to Clinton go particularly deep: Cheryl Mills, one of Clinton’s closest advisors at the State Department, sits on BlackRock’s board, and perhaps not surprisingly, Clinton’s plans for the industry align with the company’s financial strategy.

As David Dayen wrote for The Intercept, the company “buys and holds most of its investments, meaning that any policy punishing short-term capital gains and rewarding longer-term strategies would personally benefit the firm….You could see Clinton’s proposals [to limit high-frequency trading] as clearing much of the competition to BlackRock’s asset management business.”

While Clinton certainly has an interest in raising money for her campaign, the organizers are banking on less government regulations in the future.

The Intercept