News Briefs: National and International News



Mueller completes report

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation found no conspiracy between President Donald Trump and Russia during the 2016 election, according to the Justice Department. In a letter to Congress regarding the report, Attorney General William Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had reviewed the report and determined there was insufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice. However, Barr noted that Mueller had stopped short of completely clearing Trump: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Mueller had been investigating accusations that Trump conspired with Russia for the country to interfere with the U.S. presidential election that Trump won in 2016. The announcement came as a blow to Democrats, who had wielded the investigation as ammunition against the president’s agenda. For his part, Trump celebrated Mueller’s findings, calling them a “total exoneration” in a tweet.

Fraternity members expelled following video of mock whipping

Four students from the University of Georgia were expelled from Tau Kappa Epsilon after a video was released of the students engaging in a mock whipping. In the video, one student was seen making a whipping motion with a belt toward another student, telling him to “pick my cotton.” After a couple more times, the student said the phrase again, this time followed by a racial slur, eliciting laughter from all four students. In a statement, the fraternity said the university’s chapter had been temporarily suspended and that the four members in the video were expelled. The university has been criticized for not punishing the students itself but has released a video condemning the students’ actions.

Groups seek to tax soda consumption, reduce childhood obesity

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association released policy recommendations that urge lawmakers at the federal, state and local level to make policies reducing child consumption of sugary drinks. The targeted drinks would include sodas, sports drinks and juice. Among the specific policies outlined in the recommendations are: an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; limiting purchases of sugary drinks in hospitals; federal nutrition assistance programs to ensure access to healthy food while discouraging the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks; and making drinks like milk and water the default on children’s menus. Several American cities, including Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco, have already imposed a so-called “sugar tax,” and many others have considered it.


African country sees more than 1,000 Ebola cases since August

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northeastern province has seen more than 1,000 cases of Ebola since Aug. 1, the second-largest and second-deadliest outbreak in history. With a fatality rate of about 60 percent, more than 625 people have died so far. According to ABC News, no cases have spread beyond the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. However, the World Health Organization said the risk of national and regional spread remains very high. The only outbreak with a higher death toll was the 2014-2016 outbreak across West Africa that killed 11,325 people out of 28,652 that were reported to be infected. Through its fight against Ebola, the country has vaccinated more than 96,000 people and at least 321 have recovered.

Montreal priest stabbed during Mass, suspect charged

A 26-year-old male suspect has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon after allegedly stabbing a Montreal priest during Mass last Friday. Vlad Cristian Eremia, who was charged with the crime, is accused of running onto the altar while the Rev. Claude Grou, 77, celebrated Mass. About 60 people were in attendance at St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, and others were watching on the oratory’s livestream. After an initial scare, Grou was treated for his injuries and released, with a spokeswoman for the oratory saying he would take some time to rest before returning for work at the church. According to police, the attack is not being considered a terrorist attack and was described as “an isolated act committed by one individual.”

Franciscan brother wins $1 million Global Teacher Prize

A Franciscan friar and teacher from rural Kenya was awarded the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize during a ceremony in Dubai on Sunday. Brother Peter Tabichi was chosen out of 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. Tabichi, a math and science teacher in Kenya’s Rift Valley, has been known to donate 80 percent of his salary to help his students. His school, Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School, features many students who go without food and face drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and suicide as an everyday reality. According to Vatican News, the school has a 58:1 learner-teacher ratio and has only one desktop computer. Tabichi said he hopes to help his students reach their full potential.