A Southern California school district is revising an assignment that asked eighth grade students to write an argumentative essay on the Holocaust, and whether it was an "actual event in history," or "merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth."
The San Bernardino Sun discovered the assignment's instructions over the weekend. The Rialto Unified School District middle-schoolers were directed to use three sources in their essay, including one that called concentration camp gassings and The Diary of Anne Frank a "hoax," claiming that no evidence has been found proving that Jews died in gas chambers. KTLA reports that the source is a page on the website biblebelievers.org.au that says: "In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America's welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans."
The district first defended the assignment, with spokeswoman Syeda Jafri saying the point was to engage students in "critical thinking." But on Monday, Jafri read a statement that announced interim Superintendent Mohammed Z. Islam would talk to administrators to "assure that any references to the Holocaust 'not occurring' will be stricken on any current or future argumentative research assignments."
"This was a mistake," Jafri said. "It should be corrected. It will be corrected. We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax.... I believe our classroom teachers are teaching it with sensitivity and compassion."
The Rialto Unified School District serves 26,000 students in the suburbs east of Los Angeles. Jafri told The Sun that the district did not receive complaints from parents, teachers, or administrators over the assignment, and added that since the press picked up the story, district officials have received death threats. For more on the story, watch this news report from CBS Los Angeles. --Catherine Garcia
For the first time in its history, The Arizona Republic newspaper is supporting a Democrat over a Republican for president, endorsing Hillary Clinton.
In an editorial published Tuesday night, the board said Clinton, not Donald Trump, understands that the "challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head, and the ability to think carefully before acting." Clinton not only has the "temperament and experience to be president," but she knows how to "compromise and to lead with intelligence, decorum, and perspective," the editorial says. For decades, Clinton has withstood "scrutiny so intense it would wither most politicians," including some attacks that "strain credulity," while Trump "hasn't even let the American people scrutinize his tax returns, which could help the nation judge his claims of business acumen." The board goes on to tick off several of Trump's "demeaning comments" about women, a disabled reporter, and POWs, saying they prove he has a "stunning lack of human decency, empathy, and respect."
When it comes to immigration, Arizona "went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels," the editorial says, and it earned the state "international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration." The editorial board does believe Clinton has made some "serious missteps," like the use of a private email server while secretary of state, but she "does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies" and is the "superior choice" to Trump, who "responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads." Read the entire editorial at The Arizona Republic. Catherine Garcia
Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the Oslo Accords, died Tuesday. He was 93.
Peres suffered a stroke two weeks ago, and was on a respirator at a hospital near Tel Aviv when his health quickly declined and he died, the official Israel News Agency reports. During his long career in politics, Peres, who in 1934 emigrated at age 11 from Poland to British Mandate Palestine, held almost every significant position in the Israeli government. He was first elected to parliament in 1959, and had two brief turns as prime minister.
Peres served a seven year term as president from 2007 to 2014, and believed in a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a key player in putting together the Oslo Accords, and was jointly awarded the Nobel prize in 1994 with Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister at the time, and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Peres, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012 and founded the Peres Center for Peace, is survived by his wife, Sonya, and three children. Catherine Garcia
More than 84 million Americans watched Monday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and thousands of miles away in a secret location somewhere in Afghanistan, so did leaders of the Taliban.
A spokesman for the militant organization, which has killed thousands of people during two decades of violence, told NBC News they were "very interested in watching," but said there was "nothing of interest to us in the debate as both of them said little about Afghanistan and their future plans for the country." Zabihullah Mujahid also gave his opinion on Trump, declaring he says "anything that comes to his tongue" and is "non-serious." Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, President Obama nominated Jeffrey DeLaurentis as the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than a half-century.
Since 2014, when the U.S. Embassy in Havana reopened, DeLaurentis has been the country's chief diplomat in Cuba, but he's able to get a promotion to ambassador now that the diplomatic freeze is over. "Jeff's leadership has been vital throughout the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, and the appointment of an ambassador is a common-sense step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between our two countries," Obama said in a statement.
DeLaurentis must be confirmed by the Senate in a simple majority, but some senators, including Cuban-American Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, have both said they will oppose any ambassador named by Obama. "A U.S. ambassador is not going to influence the Cuban government, which is a dictatorial and closed regime," Rubio said Tuesday. "This nomination should go nowhere." Catherine Garcia
The next time you have a kidney stone, don't go to the doctor or stay home in excruciating pain — head to your local amusement park.
After hearing from patients who said their kidney stones passed without pain after going for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain at Disney World, researchers at Michigan State University decided to conduct a test. Using a 3D printer, they created silicone models and put in kidney stones of various sizes, then took them for a ride. The scientists say even the largest stones were dislodged after two or three rides, and sitting in the back was more effective than being in the front.
Dr. Clayton Lau, a urologist at City of Hope in Duarte, California, told ABC Los Angeles the bumpiness of a roller coaster likely does not create enough turbulence to pass a stone, and the rush of adrenaline probably causes movement in the ureter, helping propel the stones. The researchers say their models show the stones did pass all the way after at least one ride, and suggest that people who are prone to getting kidney stones go for regular rides to keep them at bay. Lau doesn't see thrill ride therapy becoming the next big thing, saying, "I think that's the last thing you want to do when you're in pain is jump on a roller coaster," but ask any patient and even while hurting, they might choose Disneyland over the doctor's office. Catherine Garcia
Wells Fargo is opening an independent investigation into the company's retail banking practices, following the revelation that employees trying to meet sales targets opened as many as 2 million phony accounts for customers without their knowledge, the firm announced Tuesday.
During the investigation, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf will not receive a salary and will forfeit equity awards valued at around $41 million. Carrie Tolstedt, the former head of retail banking, has also left Wells Fargo, and will not receive a severance package. The firm says it has fired 5,300 people, mostly low-level employees, in connection with the fraudulent practices, and has paid a $190 million fine. It also will eliminate sales goals in retail banking on Jan. 1, 2017. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Syrian government troops and allies attempting to take over the rebel-held side of Aleppo stepped up their ground attacks in the Old City.
The move comes after the collapse of a ceasefire, backed by the United States, after just one week, and the U.S. says it's proof Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will do anything to defeat the opposition, ignoring the peace process. Over the past week, hundreds of people in Aleppo have been killed in bombings, including 12 members of two families on Tuesday. It's thought that more than 250,000 people live in the besieged part of Aleppo, with only 30 doctors remaining to take care of the hundreds of people wounded daily.
Before the civil war began nearly six years ago, Aleppo was the biggest city in Syria. The army has control of the western zone, and soldiers and militia fighters supporting Assad told Reuters they are starting to move in armored vehicles and tanks for more attacks against rebels. Catherine Garcia