News Roundup: Here’s What You Missed 2/22/2017

By Jullian Aiden Bravo

1. Trump Administration Reverses Rules on Restrooms For Transgender Students:
The Trump administration took a stand on a contentious issue of LGBTQ rights on Wednesday by revoking federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have a right to use public restrooms that match their gender identities. The federal Education and Justice departments notified the Supreme Court that the administration is ordering schools to ignore memos from the Obama administration regarding the rights of transgender students. The memos said that prohibiting transgender students from using public restrooms that match their gender identity violates federal anti-discrimination laws. The two-page letter from the Trump administration revokes the federal guidelines but does not provide any new guidance.
- Source: The Washington Post

2. Emails Show EPA Head’s Close Ties to Oil and Gas Producers:
Emails from the Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt indicate close ties with oil and gas producers, fossil fuel companies, electric companies, as well as political groups tied to the Koch Brothers during his time as Oklahoma Attorney General. The 7,000 pages of emails were made public by an Oklahoma Judge in response to a lawsuit from the Center for Media and Democracy—a liberal watchdog group. The emails indicate a coordinated effort between Pruitt and Koch-backed groups to undermine the Obama administration's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and prevent climate change.
- Source: ABC News

3. A Show of Support For Vandalized Jewish Cemeteries:
An outpouring of support from cleanup volunteers, well-wishers and financial contributors comes after 154 headstones were damaged by vandals on Monday at a Jewish cemetery. Muslim groups have launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal reaching $20,000 dollars. The campaign has already raised nearly $75,000. In an unannounced visit to the St. Louis suburb of Fenton, MO, Vice President Mike Pence condemned “this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it.” Investigators are reviewing surveillance footage to determine who was responsible and the Anti-Defamation League offered a $10,000 reward for the vandals’ arrest and conviction.
- Source: The Guardian

4. Astronomers Discover Seven Earth-Sized Planets:
Thirty-nine light years away, orbiting a small, faint star in the constellation of Aquarius, seven Earth-sized planets huddle closely together—thrilling astronomers and raising hopes of discovering life beyond Earth much sooner than previously anticipated. The discovery of multiple Earth-sized planets is a first for astronomers and suggests the Milky Way may be harboring more worlds similar to Earth. The seven planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, which is only slightly bigger than Jupiter yet still capable of warming the planets and creating the necessary conditions for life.
- Source: The Guardian

5. Liberation of Western Mosul Underway:
After U.S.-backed Iraqi forces retook the strategically important town of Abu Saif from the Islamic State on Tuesday, the battle-hardened troops focused their line of sight on Mosul’s international airport, which lies just beyond the newly liberated town. Tunnel networks used by militant fighters run throughout Abu Saif so some resistance is expected. Driving the Islamic Sate out of the city of Mosul is a crucial step toward ousting the militant group from Iraq, as the city is the last major stronghold still under Islamic State control. Eastern Mosul was liberated just last month. Due to Western Mosul’s narrow streets and civilian-populated areas, Iraqi forces expect a tough battle.
Source: BBC News