Violence first erupted in December when a group of Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, overthrew the Central African Republic's government. But, as Krista Larson reports for The Associated Press, the bloodshed didn't end when Seleka was forced from power only a month later. Christian civilians, who had been brutalized under the regime, then turned on their Muslim neighbors.
Larson details a country in which nearly 300,000 people have already fled the violence. Yet thousands more, especially in Muslim communities, are trapped in their small neighborhoods, with no way of crossing dangerous areas to escape the war zones.
Read Larson's whole story over at The Associated Press — it's worth your time.
And see the images below, a reminder that for some, fleeing is not even an option. --Sarah Eberspacher
March 5: Children play outside a mosque in the besieged town of Boda. | (AP Photo/Krista Larson)
Feb. 23: Muslims pray at a Catholic church, where they were hiding, in the town of Carnot. Christian militiamen discovered the families. | (AP Photo/Krista Larson)
March 19: A boy sits next to a street-side kiosk near Kilometer 12, the last checkpoint out of capital city Bangui, where many Muslims are stranded. (REUTERS/Siegfried Modola)
Feb. 7: Thousands of Muslims flee Bangui in a mass exodus. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, rejected President Trump's claim that the FCC could shut down a network that broadcasts "fake news."
"Under the law, the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content," Pai said at an AT&T forum Tuesday. "The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment."
Trump tweeted criticism of NBC on Wednesday, after the network reported that he had called for a tenfold increase of the nation's nuclear stockpile, and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called Trump a "moron." Reuters reports that Democrats had been pressuring Pai to make a statement against Trump's threats.
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
Pai's silence drew criticism, but at Tuesday's event, he opposed the president's suggestion in no uncertain terms. Pai, who was appointed by Trump, was sure to point out that it's "not within the FCC's jurisdiction to handle fake news."
More than two million U.S. retailers will accept Venmo payments online starting this week. Shoppers will be able to use Venmo, the mobile app that makes person-to-person payments, to pay for purchases made on participating retailers' mobile websites. The funds can be deducted from either their existing app balance or linked bank accounts and credit cards.
PayPal Holdings, Inc., which acquired Venmo in 2013, is hoping the move will capitalize on the app's younger demographic, enticing retailers with the chance to get to know shoppers over the embedded social feed where users may share information about their transactions.
PayPal wants retailers to see Venmo as an "entirely new way for merchants to increase awareness and open new purchase opportunities," the company said in a statement. "Merchants can reach a new audience of shoppers, many of whom skew millennial and engage with Venmo multiple times throughout the day."
Any mobile site that accepts PayPal is now open for business through Venmo, meaning that retailers from Lululemon Athletica to Foot Locker to Forever 21 can now be paid with the typically emoji-laden transactions.
Venmo processed $8 billion in payments in the second quarter of 2017, and the company thinks its app's ease-of-use has the potential to boost sales for retailers. Venmo will be charging merchants fees for processing its payments, and CNBC reports retail purchases will be covered by PayPal's purchase protection scheme, allowing users to receive refunds in case of any mistakes in an order. Summer Meza
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has had a tough go of it in eight months as America's top diplomat, Jason Zengerle wrote for The New York Times Magazine. As the boss at Exxon Mobil, Tillerson was the "ultimate decision-maker," as he told reporters in July — a post quite different from the one he occupies now, serving President Trump as his foreign policy leader.
Or, as Tillerson puts it, "accommodating" the president, whose whims change often — and often on Twitter. "I take what the president tweets out as his form of communicating, and I build it into my strategy and my tactics," Tillerson told Zengerle. "I wake up the next morning, and the president's got a tweet out there. ... Okay, that's a new condition. How do I want to use that?" Tillerson added: "Our strategies and the tactics we're using to advance the policies have to be resilient enough to accommodate unknowns, okay? So if you want to put [Trump's tweets] in an unknown category, you can. ... But it doesn't mean our strategies are not resilient enough to accommodate it."
The tense relationship between Tillerson and Trump has undercut the secretary of state in external affairs — such as his efforts to mitigate this summer's Gulf states crisis — and in internal proceedings, like how one of Tillerson's preferred candidates for deputy secretary of state was axed by Trump for his opposition to the president during the campaign. The frustration also occasionally leaks out in meetings, Zengerle reports:
According to a former administration official, in private conversations with aides and friends, Tillerson refers to Trump, in his Texas deadpan, as the dealmaker in chief. And in meetings with Trump, according to people who have attended them, he increasingly rolls his eyes at the president's remarks. [The New York Times Magazine]
A Massachusetts pet supply company owner claims he was "duped" by the White House into appearing in the background of a photo of President Trump signing an executive order on health care. "I want to say strongly and clearly: I do not support this executive order," wrote Dave's Soda & Pet City owner Dave Ratner. "I had absolutely no clue he was adding all the onerous changes. I was duped, I am an idiot. I did not vote for Trump and I am not a Trump supporter."
Ratner said he was invited to the White House because of his involvement with the National Retail Federation, but that White House officials had not fully revealed what Trump would be signing:
We have long supported an effort that would give small businesses more flexibility in purchasing health insurance and we were told that a ceremony would announce that Associations could now provide members with group insurance rates (making health insurance more affordable for our employees).
It was obviously an error in judgment to believe the White House that this was the only change they would be announcing. Many of the other changes in the executive order are likely to make it harder for local residents to get affordable health care — the exact opposite of what I was hoping for when I went to Washington. [Dave Ratner, via MassLive]
Read the full letter at MassLive and check out the photo — with Ratner second from the left — below. Jeva Lange
Portugal began three days of national mourning Tuesday for the victims of the wildfires that have spread across the Iberian Peninsula. At least 37 have died in Portugal, as well as four across the border in Spain.
Monday night rain and cooler temperatures helped to bring fires under control, but officials are blaming more than just the weather for igniting the blazes. Iberian officials said investigators are looking into suspected arson to explain the strength of the fires.
"We are ready to extinguish fires, but we are not ready for arsonists," said Spanish Environment and Agriculture Minister Isabel Garcia Tejerina.
Frustration is mounting as the last of the wildfires are extinguished, as many question why the Portuguese government was unprepared for such an event. Portugal has had a rough year; another set of wildfires killed more than 60 people just months ago.
CBS reported that Portugal reduces its firefighting force by half in October, when peak wildfire season comes to an end. Now government officials are hearing sharp criticism from opposition parties, who say the country should have been prepared for the late-season heat wave and high winds that spread fires over the nation's landmass.
Spain's Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the regional president of Galicia, echoed the sentiment, referring to the fires as "terrorist acts" in a tweet Monday. "A day like yesterday is not the result of chance," he wrote. Summer Meza
The FBI had already uncovered evidence of bribery and kickbacks in the United States that benefited the Russian nuclear industry prior to a controversial 2010 uranium deal between the Obama administration and Moscow, The Hill reported Tuesday, citing FBI and court documents.
The 2010 Uranium One deal involved the Hillary Clinton-headed State Department and Committee on Foreign Investment's approval of the partial sale of a Toronto-based uranium mining company to Russia's atomic energy corporation, Rosatom. It is unclear if the FBI or Justice Department told members of the committee about their findings before the members unanimously approved the partial sale.
Lawmakers, at least, were kept in the dark. Former House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said: "Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them." Rogers added, "The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking."
Documents indicate that the FBI was already aware that the head of Rosatom's U.S. arm, Vadim Mikerin, was involved in extortion. Additionally, Russian nuclear officials reportedly "routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton's charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow," The Hill writes based on "eyewitness" accounts and documents.
The implications are long-lasting. As The Hill adds:
The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired earlier this year. [The Hill]
When President Trump issued the third version of his travel ban in late September, the Supreme Court canceled oral arguments for two challenges to the policy's second iteration. But this week the ban is back in court as a federal judge in Maryland has held hearings to determine whether the new ban codifies religious discrimination against Muslims, as well as whether it exceeds Trump's executive authority to regulate immigration.
At the hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang pressed the Justice Department attorney defending the ban about the contents of the classified report that informs the new rule. "How is this different than Korematsu?" Chuang asked, referring to inaccurate information presented by the federal government to the Supreme Court in 1944's Korematsu v. United States, in which SCOTUS approved the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Chuang has yet to issue a ruling. The new ban is scheduled to take effect Wednesday, Oct. 18, which gives him a tight deadline to decide whether to suspend Trump's order. Bonnie Kristian