Kilauea Forces more Evacuations. Mass protests at Gaza. Suicide Bombings in Indonesia and More!


This is the transcript for the news segment on The Morning Brew for May 14, 2018. The show airs Monday-Friday at 10:30 AM EST.

You can catch the edited stream on YouTube here (If not available, it’s probably still uploading/rendering):

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Noisy Hawaiian volcano lava fissure prompts more evacuations

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PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — A new fissure in Hawaii’s Puna District sent gases and lava exploding into the air on Sunday, spurring officials to call for more evacuations as residents waited for a possible major eruption at Kilauea volcano’s summit.  Hawaii County Civil Defense issued an emergency cellphone alert after the fissure was discovered early Sunday morning. The agency said one “unidentified structure” was destroyed by the new vent, bringing the total number of homes and other buildings lost to the lava to nearly 40.  Lava spread across hundreds of yards of private land and loud explosions rocked the neighborhood not far from Leilani Estates subdivision, where more than a dozen other active vents have opened in the past week.  The new opening was still showing signs of activity through early Monday morning.  The fissure measures about 1,000 feet (300 meters) long, and is officially the 18th fissure that has opened up thus far. Fissures 16 and 17 opened up on Saturday night into Sunday. So far since the eruption in early May, the lava field has consumed 117 acres.  The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said new fissures, ground deformation and abundant volcanic gases indicate eruptions on the eastern flank of Kilauea are likely to continue.  The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported the new fissures opened just east of the Puna Geothermal Venture energy conversion plant, where steam and hot liquid are brought up through underground wells and the steam feeds a turbine generator to produce electricity. Plant workers last week as a precaution removed 50,000 gallons (189,265 liters) of a flammable gas stored at the site.  Geologists warn that Kilauea’s summit could have an explosive steam eruption that would hurl huge rocks and ash miles into the sky.

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Mass protests in Gaza ahead of US Embassy event in Jerusalem

By FARES AKRAM and ILAN BEN ZION, Associated Press

*According to the current AP news alert, Gaza Health Ministry says the death toll at the Israeli border is now at 37, with over 1,400 injured.

gaza picGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the border with Israel on Monday, drawing Israeli fire in a potentially bloody showdown as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.  At least two Palestinians were killed in the area of Monday’s march, which was to be the biggest yet in a weeks-long campaign against a decade-old blockade of the territory.  As crowds began to swell at midday, Israeli troops began firing from across the border fence. Palestinian health officials reported two people killed and at least 69 others wounded by live fire, nine seriously.  The relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the new one in Jerusalem has infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.  Monday marked the biggest showdown in recent weeks between Israel’s military and Gaza’s Hamas rulers along the volatile border. It is the culmination of a campaign, led by the Islamic militant Hamas and fueled by despair among Gaza’s 2 million people, to break the decade-old border blockade of the territory by Israel and Egypt. Since weekly border marches began in late March, 44 Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 1,800 wounded by Israeli army fire.  Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the army had bolstered its front-line forces along the border, but also set up additional “layers” of security in and around neighboring communities to defend Israeli civilians in case of a mass breach. He said there already had been several “significant attempts” to break through the fence.  The timing of the embassy move, and the marches, was deeply symbolic.  The U.S. said it chose the date to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.  But it also marks the anniversary of what Palestinians call their “nakba,” or catastrophe, a reference to the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled from what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s independence.  Protesters have used the thick smoke as cover against Israeli snipers perched on high sand berms on the other side of the border.  Leaflets dropped over Gaza by army jets warned that those approaching the border “jeopardize” their lives. The warning said the army is “prepared to face all scenarios and will act against every attempt to damage the security fence or harm IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians.”  In Jerusalem, top Trump administration officials attended events linked to the inauguration of the embassy later Monday.

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Police: Indonesia suicide bombings work of 2 families

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SURABAYA, Indonesia — An Indonesian family bought its 8-year-old daughter to a suicide bomb attack it launched Monday on the police headquarters in the country’s second-largest city. A day after members of another family conducted coordinated suicide bombings on three city churches that killed 12 people.  National police chief Tito Karnavian said the girl, who was with two of the attackers on a motorcycle, survived being thrown by the blast at Surabaya’s police headquarters. The attack killed the four perpetrators. Six civilians and four officers were wounded.  The attack came just hours after police said the family that carried out the church bombings included girls aged 9 and 12.  The flurry of bombings raised concerns that previously beaten-down militant networks in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation have been reinvigorated by the return of some of the estimated 1,100 Indonesians who went to fight with the Islamic State group in Syria. Experts have warned for several years that when those fighters return, they could pose a significant threat. IS claimed responsibility for the church bombings in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency. Karnavian, however, said earlier police comments that the family had spent time in Syria were incorrect.  He said the church bombers and the police headquarters attackers were friends, as were another family whose homemade bombs exploded in their apartment Sunday night.  All told, 25 people have died since Sunday including a total of 13 militants and their children.

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Powerful storms kill at least 43 across northern India

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LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Powerful winds and rainstorms swept across a crowded swath of northern India, demolishing houses, uprooting trees and killing at least 43 people as winds turned the skies brown with dust and sand.  Most of the deaths occurred when wind and falling trees caused buildings to collapse, leaving people buried in the wreckage. In the town of Bareilly, the minaret of a mosque fell on a group of people taking shelter in the courtyard, killing eight people. In another town, one man was killed when he was hit by a billboard that had been blown loose.  Less than two weeks ago, similar storms caused 134 deaths and injured another 400. The extreme weather comes amid withering summer heat, and approaching monsoon rains.  “These storm are not unusual at this time of the year,” said J.P. Gupta, the meteorological office director for Uttar Pradesh state. “But the wind speed this year is a bit abnormal.”  Winds reached speeds up to 109 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour) Sunday. Trains and commuter rail lines were paused and dozens of flights were diverted from New Delhi’s international airport as the storm blew into the city.  At least 42 people were killed in sprawling Uttar Pradesh state, which has a population of more than 210 million people. 50 people were injured when uprooted trees fell on houses, with 38 of those people admitted to hospitals. At least one more person was killed in New Delhi.  A large swath of Uttar Pradesh was also without electricity overnight because of broken power lines.  Separately, at least 13 people were killed by storms elsewhere in India, including nine in Andhra Pradesh and four in West Bengal.

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Shiite cleric al-Sadr leads in Iraq’s initial vote results

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BAGHDAD — The political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took an early lead in Iraq’s national elections in partial returns announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission.  An alliance of candidates linked to Iraq’s powerful Shiite paramilitary groups was in second. The alliance is headed by Hadi al-Amiri, a former minister of transport with close ties to Iran who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group.  Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi performed poorly across majority Shiite provinces that should have been his base of support.  The announcement came just over 24 hours after polls closed across the country amid record low voter turnout. It included full returns from only 10 of the country’s 19 provinces, including the provinces of Baghdad and Basra.  Seats in parliament will be allocated proportionately to coalitions once all votes are counted. The commission gave no indication on when further results would be announced.  Celebrations erupted in Baghdad’s Sadr City, an impoverished quarter that is home to some 3 million people and is named after the cleric’s late father, Ayatollah Mohammad Sadq al-Sadr. The younger al-Sadr campaigned on a cross-sectarian platform of fighting corruption and investing in services and struck a surprising alliance with the Communist Party in the capital.  Al-Sadr commanded fighters in the war against the IS group and headed a powerful militia that fought U.S. forces in Iraq prior to 2011.  Al-Abadi sought to retain his post as prime minister after overseeing the military defeat of the IS movement, but faced stiff competition from his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, as well as al-Sadr and the Fatah alliance of candidates with paramilitary ties.  Many of the candidates on Fatah were militia commanders before they cut their official ties with the force in order to seek office.  Fatah’s strong result will be seen as a victory for Iran as it seeks to protect its interests in Iraq, including the militias it finances and has sometimes directed to fight alongside its forces in Syria. Al-Sadr is a staunch foe of Iranian and American influence in Iraqi politics.  This is the fourth election since the 2003 U.S.-led toppling of Saddam Hussein. Officials said turnout was only 44 percent, the lowest ever since Saddam’s ouster.  Political power in Iraq is traditionally divided along sectarian lines among the offices of prime minister, president and parliament speaker. Since the first elections following the 2003 U.S.-led toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Shiite majority has held the position of prime minister, while the Kurds have held the presidency and the Sunnis have held the post of parliament speaker.

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Spotify Removes R. Kelly Music From Its Playlists As Part of New Hate Content & Hateful Conduct Policy

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Thanks to Penina for providing this story.

May 10th, Spotify users will no longer be able to find R. Kelly’s music on any of the streaming service’s editorial or algorithmic playlists. Under the terms of a new public hate content and hateful conduct policy Spotify is putting into effect, the company will no longer promote the R&B singer’s music in any way, removing his songs from flagship playlists like RapCaviar, Discover Weekly or New Music Friday, for example, as well as its other genre- or mood-based playlists.  Spotify told Billboard in a statement. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it. We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”  Over the past several years, Kelly has been accused by multiple women of sexual violence, coercion and running a “sex cult,” including two additional women who came forward to Buzzfeed this week. Though he has never been convicted of a crime, he has come under increasing scrutiny over the past several weeks, particularly with the launch of the #MuteRKelly movement at the end of April. Kelly has vociferously defended himself, saying those accusing him are an “attempt to distort my character and to destroy my legacy.”  Kelly is the only artist that Spotify specifically acknowledged would fall under this new public policy, though others may also be affected. Later on Thursday, Billboard was able to confirm that controversial rapper XXXTentacion had also been removed from playlists, namely the highly influential RapCaviar.  The hateful conduct provision is one part of the new policy. The company is making a point to acknowledge there are different cultural standards as to what could be considered offensive in different regions around the globe — Spotify is available in more than 50 countries worldwide — but worked together with several advocacy groups to determine its definition of hate content, including The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, Color Of Change, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), GLAAD, Muslim Advocates and the International Network Against Cyber Hate.  “Hate content is content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability,” the policy reads. “When we are alerted to content that violates our policy, we may remove it (in consultation with rights holders) or refrain from promoting or manually programming it on our service.”  The company acknowledges that, with more than 35 million tracks on its service, it cannot police everything, and has introduced a three-pronged reporting system for hate content or hateful conduct, including internal monitoring from its teams already in place; consultations with expert partners, such as the advocacy groups it worked with to develop the policy; and user comments and reports. The company also says it has created a monitoring tool called Spotify AudioWatch to help it screen for and flag hate content (YouTube wanna be’s).

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Cartels recruiting high school students to smuggle drugs, people, into the US, feds say

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Cartels recruiting high school students to smuggle drugs, people, into the US (and the politicians say there is no jobs out there today).  A high school senior in Southern California was charged in federal court last week with recruiting his fellow classmates to smuggle drugs from Mexico to the United States, which federal officials say is part of a larger problem affecting the region.  Phillip Junior Webb, 18, was charged Monday with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and smuggling foreign nationals for financial gain, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The 18-year-old was caught on May 4 attempting to bring in a Chinese national and Mexican national into the U.S. in the trunk of his vehicle, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.  In an unrelated criminal complaint, 27-year-old Alejandro Barba from San Diego was also charged last Monday with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine after agents spotted a juvenile enter his car parked at San Ysidro High School, removed items from his backpack and get out. Agents who later stopped Barba found 5 kilograms of methamphetamine in his backseat. He is accused of recruiting a high school student to smuggle the meth across the U.S. border from Mexico earlier that day.  Walker-Hobson told Fox 5 that authorities are seeing more students recruited by drug cartels at schools in San Diego County, primarily in the South Bay.  “I had a case where a defendant went to Mexico and got less than 2 grams of fentanyl and it led to five overdoses in Alpine,” she said.  Six students were arrested for smuggling in March, including one student said he did it at least 20 times, according to Walker-Hobson.  “The money is out there for these kids, so it’s up to the community to go in and educate these kids so they don’t do this,” she told Fox 5. “It’s not worth your freedom and your liberty. Your parents are going to be very unhappy with you for bringing drugs into the U.S. for $400.”

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Lousy anti-rat campaign reminds New Yorkers not to feed rodents

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Please don’t play with the rats!  Mayor de Blasio’s latest attempt to curb the city’s rat population involves telling New Yorkers what they already know — don’t feed the rodents.  The city has begun stationing an army of workers in 30 parks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx to warn people that it “has experienced problems with rats” and make sure they know that “rats are a health hazard, especially to children and seniors,” according to internal Parks Department e-mails and sources (instead of wasting man hours to warn people what they already know, why don’t they use those man hours to clean up the city, just saying). But some residents say the move only shows that City Hall is a Mickey Mouse operation.  “You know what would be more useful? If de Blasio had them empty the trash more often,” said Rob Wooster, in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village Sunday.  Union members with the Parks Department said workers with both the agency’s Parks Enforcement Patrol and Urban Park Rangers divisions were first dispatched last week. The union said the move is sapping valuable manpower that is meant to police the city’s 30,000 acres of park land.  PEP officers’ starting salaries are about $47,000 annually, according to a city job posting, suggesting that the rat-patrol workers are making at least $22 an hour to tell people there are rodents in New York City.  “PEP officers are executing core responsibilities by educating New Yorkers on Parks’ littering rules and rat-related issues,” said Mike Dockett, assistant commissioner for the Urban Park Service.  Many of the locations already have signs telling people not to feed rats or litter.  Twenty of the 30 parks also have new, supposedly rat-proof trash cans. The administration last year announced a $32 million plan to battle rats that included buying 336 of the trash-compacting litter bins for $7,000 a pop.  The city would not respond to questions about whether the cans have been effective.  The furry invaders left Hizzoner red-faced during a press conference last month in which he touted rat-killing dry ice at a NYCHA development, only to have one of the wily rodents escape while city workers were supposed to be demonstrating how effective the measure was.

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Stories were edited by Merlin and the show is produced and by Maddy. Merlin was ill this day.

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