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Today in History – ABC News

Today in History

Today is Tuesday, Oct. 27, the 301st day of 2020. There are 65 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Oct. 27, 1904, the first rapid transit subway, the IRT, was inaugurated in New York City.

On this date:

In 1787, the first of the Federalist Papers, a series of essays calling for ratification of the United States Constitution, was published.

In 1858, the 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was born in New York City.

In 1941, the Chicago Daily Tribune dismissed the possibility of war with Japan, editorializing, “She cannot attack us. That is a military impossibility. Even our base at Hawaii is beyond the effective striking power of her fleet.”

In 1954, U.S. Air Force Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was promoted to brigadier general, the first Black officer to achieve that rank in the USAF. Walt Disney’s first television program, titled “Disneyland” after the yet-to-be completed theme park, premiered on ABC.

In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down while flying over Cuba, killing the pilot, U.S. Air Force Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr.

In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (men-AH’-kem BAY’-gihn) were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their progress toward achieving a Middle East accord.

In 1995, a sniper killed one soldier and wounded 18 others at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (Paratrooper William J. Kreutzer was convicted in the shootings, and condemned to death; the sentence was later commuted to life in prison.)

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch cut through the western Caribbean, pummeling coastal Honduras and Belize; the storm caused several thousand deaths in Central America in the days that followed.

In 2001, in Washington, the search for deadly anthrax widened to thousands of businesses and 30 mail distribution centers.

In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4, 3-0.

In 2005, White House counsel Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court after three weeks of brutal criticism from fellow conservatives.

In 2018, a gunman shot and killed 11 congregants and wounded six others at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history; authorities said the suspect, Robert Bowers, raged against Jews during and after the rampage. (Bowers, who is awaiting trial, has pleaded not guilty; prosecutors are seeking a death sentence.) Hundreds of Mexican federal officers carrying plastic shields blocked a Central American caravan from advancing toward the United States after several thousand migrants turned down the chance to apply for refugee status in Mexico and obtain a Mexican offer of benefits.

Ten years ago: Dozens of Jewish extremists hoisting Israeli flags defiantly marched through the Arab-Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, chanting “death to terrorists” and touching off clashes between rock-hurling residents and police. Former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner died at age 60. The San Francisco Giants won the first game of the World Series, defeating the Texas Rangers 11-7.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama, addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago, defended officers who had come under intense scrutiny amid a breakdown in relations between law enforcement and minority communities, and said police couldn’t be expected to contain problems that society refuses to solve. Walgreens confirmed it was buying rival pharmacy chain Rite Aid for about $9.4 billion in cash.

One year ago: In an address from the White House, President Donald Trump announced that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had died after U.S. special operations forces cornered him during a raid in Syria. (Al-Baghdadi blew himself up as U.S. forces approached.) Former U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus who’d been one of the longest-serving members of Congress, died at his home in Detroit at the age of 90; he’d been among the high-profile politicians toppled by sexual harassment allegations in 2017. Freshman Rep. Katie Hill, a rising Democratic star in the House, resigned amid an ethics probe; she said explicit private photos of her with a campaign staffer had been “weaponized” by her husband and political operatives.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian John Cleese is 81. Author Maxine Hong Kingston is 80. Country singer Lee Greenwood is 78. Producer-director Ivan Reitman is 74. Rock musician Garry Tallent (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band) is 71. Author Fran Lebowitz is 70. Rock musician K.K. Downing is 69. TV personality Jayne Kennedy is 69. Actor-director Roberto Benigni is 68. Actor Peter Firth is 67. Actor Robert Picardo is 67. World Golf Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan is 64. Singer Simon Le Bon is 62. Country musician Jerry Dale McFadden (The Mavericks) is 56. Internet news editor Matt Drudge is 54. Rock musician Jason Finn (Presidents of the United States of America) is 53. Actor Sean Holland is 52. Actor Channon Roe is 51. Actor Sheeri Rappaport is 43. Actor David Walton is 42. Violinist Vanessa-Mae is 42. Actor-singer Kelly Osbourne is 36. Actor Christine Evangelista is 34. Actor Bryan Craig is 29. Actor Troy Gentile is 27.

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Taiwan says new arms purchases to boost credible defense

Taiwan says recent proposed purchases of U.S. missiles and other arms systems will boost the island’s ability to credibly defend itself, amid rising threats from China

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan said Tuesday that recent proposed of U.S. sales of missiles and other arms systems will boost the island’s ability to credibly defend itself, amid rising threats from China.

The comments from defense ministry spokesperson Shih Shun-wen came a day after China said it would exact unspecified retaliation against companies that make the weapons systems, including Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co.’s defense division, the lead contractor on a $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan.

Facing a potential Chinese foe with overwhelming superiority in missiles, soldiers, ships and planes, Taiwan has struggle to assure its own people and key ally the U.S. that it is capable of and willing to see to its own defense. The sides split amid a civil war in 1949 and China considers Taiwan its own territory to brought under its control by force if necessary.

“The purchase of these weapons will enhance Taiwan’s credible combat capabilities and asymmetric combat capabilities,” Shih told reporters at a briefing, using a term for countering a much stronger foe with precision weapons and advanced tactics. “This will also enhance our overall combat capabilities to contribute to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

The Trump administration on Monday notified Congress of plans for the Harpoon system, whose missiles are capable of striking ships and land targets. Boeing says the missile uses GPS-aided inertial navigation and delivers a 500-pound blast warhead. It can target coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, ships in port, and port and industrial facilities.

That followed another proposed sale announced Oct. 21 to provide $1.8 billion worth of weaponry, including missile and rocket systems, and upgraded equipment for Taiwan’s F-16 jet fighters.

Taiwan has long been an irritant in U.S.-China relations. Washington has no formal relations with the island’s democratically elected government but is its main ally. U.S. law requires the government to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. In recent years, weapons sales to the island have increased in quantity and quality, as China builds the world’s second most powerful military dedicated largely to defeating Taiwan and achieving its goal of annexation.

Stepped-up patrols by Chinese warplanes this year have put Taiwan’s forces under increasingly strain, increasing the importance of developing new weapons systems or buying them from abroad.

Beijing regularly pressures American companies including Boeing in an effort to influence U.S. policy. China is one of Boeing’s biggest markets for commercial aircraft, which might make it vulnerable to a boycott, but China’s defense ministry mentioned only Boeing’s military arm, Boeing Defense, not its civilian jetliner business.

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Long prison stint looms for defiant self-help guru

A self-improvement guru whose organization, NXIVM, attracted millionaires and actresses among its adherents, faces sentencing Tuesday on convictions that he turned some followers into sex slaves branded with his initials

NEW YORK — Keith Raniere, a self-improvement guru whose organization NXIVM attracted millionaires and actresses among its adherents, faces sentencing Tuesday on convictions that he turned some female followers into sex slaves branded with his initials.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis will announce an almost-certain lengthy prison term Tuesday for Raniere after hearing victims speak.

The court proceeding in Brooklyn culminates several years of revelations about NXIVM, which charged thousands of dollars for invitation-only self improvement courses at its headquarters near Albany, New York, and had branches in Mexico and Canada.

Guests included Hollywood actors and other affluent or prominent individuals, some of whom were willing to endure humiliation and pledge obedience for Raniere’s vision of how to pursue perfection.

Prosecutors seek life in prison while defense lawyers say he should face 15 years behind bars for his conviction on charges including racketeering, alien smuggling, sex trafficking, extortion and obstruction of justice.

NXIVM has been the subject of two TV documentary series this year, HBO’s “The Vow,” and the Starz series “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult.”

Prosecutors said Raniere, 60, led what amounted to a criminal enterprise, inducing shame and guilt to influence and control co-conspirators who helped recruit and groom sexual partners for Raniere.

They said that among other crimes, Raniere began a sexual relationship in 2005 with a 15-year-old girl and confined another teenager to a room for nearly two years.

The likelihood of leniency seemed to dissipate with the recent sentencing of Clare Bronfman, 41, an heir to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, for her role in what has been described by some ex-members as a cult. Bronfman was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison. Prosecutors had only sought five years.

Ex-followers told the judge that Bronfman for years had used her wealth to try to silence NXIVM defectors.

Reniere’s followers called him “Vanguard.” To honor him, the group formed a secret sorority comprised of female “slaves” who were branded with his initials and ordered to have sex with him, the prosecutors said. Women were also pressured into giving up embarrassing information about themselves that could be used against them if they left the group.

Along with Bronfman, Raniere’s teachings won him the devotion of Hollywood actors including Allison Mack of TV’s “Smallville.” Mack also has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

In a sentencing submission, lawyers for Reniere said he “continues to assert his complete innocence to these charges.”

They wrote that his jury conviction at an unfair trial resulted from a media campaign involving witnesses who were motivated to testify falsely as part of a “heavy-handed prosecution that threatened potential defense witnesses.”

And they noted that prosecutors have criticized him for not showing remorse as he tried to create a podcast to amplify his claims of innocence.

“He has acted precisely how an innocent man would act, shouting from every rooftop every waking hour that the system has wrongfully convicted him,” the lawyers wrote.

His lawyers said the life prison term prosecutors sought seemed out of line with a case involving no guns, knives or force.

“No one was shot, stabbed, punched, kicked, slapped or even yelled at,” they said. “Despite the sex offenses, there is no evidence that any woman ever told Keith Raniere that she did not want to kiss him, touch him, hold his hand or have sex with him.”

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Minnesota couple avoids prison time in son’s drowning death

A judge says a Minnesota couple accused in the drowning death of their 21-month-old son after leaving three children unsupervised for nearly two hours will not have to serve prison time

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge says a Minnesota couple accused in the drowning death of their 21-month-old son after leaving three children unsupervised for nearly two hours will not have to serve prison time.

Eddy Louis, 55, and Sabina Lewis, 26, of Bloomington, pleaded guilty in August to second-degree manslaughter for the September 2019 death. Hennepin County District Court Judge William Koch on Friday sentenced the couple to six months of home monitoring, three years of probation and 150 hours of community service.

The criminal complaint says the couple left the house before 8 a.m. on a Saturday and went shopping at Cub Foods and Walmart. They told police the children were asleep at the time, and they thought the kids would continue to sleep until they returned.

When the couple came home, they said the oldest child was still sleeping but they heard their 4-year-old in the bathroom, where they discovered the baby in the tub.

As part of the sentence, the couple must also engage in family therapy and complete a parenting class.

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Salt Lake Tribune to stop printing daily after 149 years

The Salt Lake Tribune will stop printing a daily newspaper after nearly 150 years at the end of the year and move to a weekly print edition

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Tribune announced Monday it will stop printing a daily newspaper at the end of the year after nearly 150 years and move to a weekly print edition.

The change won’t result in cuts to the newsroom staff of about 65 people, though some would be “redeployed,” the newspaper reported. Reporters and editors will continue to file breaking news online as it happens.

The new publication will be delivered by mail. Nearly 160 press operators, carriers and other employees will lose their jobs.

The news comes after two recent ownership changes: The paper was purchased in 2016 by Paul Huntsman, son of the late billionaire industrialist Jon Huntsman Sr. and brother to former U.S-Russia Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr.

“This is a historic moment in the industry, but one that reflects the reality of today’s news consumption,” Huntsman, who remains chair of the nonprofit board, said in a statement.

The new weekly publication is expected to be profitable, showcasing the reporters’ best enterprise work and in-depth stories, as well as obituaries and expanded editorial content.

“While we mourn the loss of our daily print edition, we eagerly embrace the opportunity of bringing an exciting new weekly product to our readers’ homes,” interim Editor David Noyce said.

The decision also ends a joint operating agreement with the other major daily in Salt Lake City, the Deseret News. It is owned by the state’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The agreement, once common when many cities had two newspapers, had the two publications cooperating on printing, delivery and advertising but not stories.

The Deseret News has not announced its future plans for print, but did say in a story on its website it was laying off six journalists and giving severance packages to 18 staffers in visual editing and sales departments.

The change marks the end of an era that began in 1871, when daily press runs began for the publication then called “The Tribune & Utah Mining Gazette.” The newspaper once carried hundreds of pages a day, thick with print advertising. It had a daily circulation of nearly 200,000 subscribers in its heyday but has since plummeted to 36,000.

Newspapers scaling back printing days is an emerging trend in the industry that faces declines in advertising and circulation revenue, said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute.

The Tampa Bay Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette are among other newspapers to have moved away from daily printed papers as the traditional business model gets pinched, he said.

The trend is disappointing for longtime newspaper people like Edmonds even if it’s understandable from a business perspective.

“Something is lost when you don’t print every day,” he said.


This story has been corrected to show the change marks the end of an era that began in 1871, not 1971.

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UN investigator says Belarus must stop repressing its people

The U_N_ human rights investigator for Belarus is demanding that the government “stop repressing its own people.”

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. human rights investigator for Belarus demanded Monday that the government “stop repressing its own people,” saying at least 20,000 were detained in August and September and hundreds reported beaten, intimidated, tortured or ill-treated in custody.

That appeal was echoed in a statement to the committee later from 52 mainly European countries and the European Union. They also called for an end to violence against peaceful demonstrators, abuses against those in the pro-democracy movement, and intimidation of opposition leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and protesters.

Belarus has been rocked by big demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election to a sixth term in the Aug. 9 vote that the opposition argues was rigged. Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet nation with an iron fist for more than 26 years, has accused the United States and its allies of fueling the protests.

Sunday’s rally in the capital Minsk was one of the largest in weeks and drew nearly 200,000 people. On Monday, factory workers, students and business owners began a strike to demand that Lukashenko resign in response to a call by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, but most state-run enterprises continued to operate.

Marin urged Belarus’ authorities to release all those still detained “for exercising their right to peaceful assembly and expression, and to allow all those forced to exile to safely return” so a dialogue with all representatives of civil society can be held “to jointly overcome the current political crisis.”

Dave Elseroad, head of advocacy at the Oslo-based Human Rights House Foundation, said, “Autocrats all over the region are watching to see if it’s possible to get away with violating human rights to stay in power.”

“The threat of being disbarred is used to arbitrarily pressure those lawyers who are perceived as being critical of the government because of the type of clients they defend,” Marin said. “This often leaves human rights defenders without a lawyer to defend them in court.”

She cited the example of Aliaksandr Pylchenka, a lawyer who was defending detained opposition leaders Viktar Babaryka and Marya Kalensnikava and had his license withdrawn Oct. 15.

“Establishing an independent judicial system should top the agenda for future reforms,” Marin said.

The United States and the EU have rejected the August election as neither free nor fair and introduced sanctions against top Belarusian officials accused of vote manipulation and a crackdown on peaceful protesters.

The EU has warned it is ready to sanction Lukashenko himself if he fails to enter talks with the opposition. The president has ignored demands to negotiate and relied instead on political and economic support from Russia, his main ally and sponsor.

The statement from the 52 countries and EU supported “the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their own path through free and fair elections” and strongly condemned the “crackdown carried out by Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters.”

The statement, read by Estonia’s U.N. ambassador, Sven Jurgenson, expressed alarm at reports of “more than 500 cases of torture and other severe abuses including sexual violence in the post-election period” and at a number of arrested or detained people who remain unaccounted for.

The signatories — also including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Liberia, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Australia and New Zealand — urged Belarusian authorities to open a dialogue with opposition leaders and civil society.

“The Belarusian people have spoken and we support them in their calls for unrestricted dialogue, free and fair elections, accountability for human rights violations and buses and the release of all those arbitrarily detained,” the statement said.

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Authorities: 2 girls in truck led police on 30-mile chase

Two young girls in a pickup truck led police on a chase of at least 30 miles through metro Birmingham, Alabama

ARGO, Ala. — Two young girls in a pickup truck led police on a chase of at least 30 miles through metro Birmingham, Alabama authorities said.

News outlets reported the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office received a report about the unauthorized use of a vehicle. Bessemer police spotted the vehicle Sunday afternoon with an 11-year-old girl and another girl believed to be 11 or 12 inside.

A chase that reached speeds of 80 mph went up Interstate 59 and ended when the truck wound up in a ditch.

Justin O’Neal, a spokesman for the Alabama state troopers, said no one was injured. Both girls were in custody awaiting transfer to the Department of Human Resources.

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Another lawyer who accused Texas AG of crimes resigns

Another one of the top deputies who accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of bribery and abuse of office is set to leave the agency

DALLAS — Another top deputy to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leaving his agency, continuing the exodus of lawyers who earlier this month accused the Republican of crimes including bribery and abuse of office.

Darren McCarty, the deputy attorney general over civil litigation, confirmed his resignation Monday but declined to comment further. He’s set to depart the attorney general’s office next week.

McCarty’s resignation comes as Texas is involved in a landmark antitrust lawsuit brought with other states and the U.S. Department of Justice against Google.

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to questions about the resignation or how the top civil lawyer’s departure might affect the case against the online search giant.

McCarty was one of seven senior lawyers who reported their boss to law enforcement for alleged crimes tied to an investigation requested by one of the Paxton’s wealthy donors. Most of them have since resigned, been put on leave or fired.

Paxton’s office dropped the investigation into claims made by Austin developer Nate Paul after his staff’s revolt became public. He has denied any wrongdoing and refused calls for him to leave office.

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Judge refuses to block ‘No Boycott of Israel’ measure

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which a Muslim civil rights group sought to block the state of Maryland from enforcing its ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A federal judge on Monday threw out a lawsuit in which a Muslim civil rights group sought to block the state of Maryland from enforcing its ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake didn’t reach a decision on whether the executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017 is constitutional. The judge ruled that a software engineer who is named as the lawsuit’s plaintiff hasn’t shown he has suffered any “direct injury” giving him the legal standing to challenge the order.

Hogan’s order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don’t boycott Israel. The order was called “Prohibiting Discriminatory Boycotts of Israel in State Procurement.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. CAIR argued the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting the Palestinians.

The executive order says a boycott based on religion, national origin or ethnicity is discriminatory. A business boycott of Israel and its territories “is not a commercial decision made for business or economic reasons,” it says.

“Contracting with business entities that discriminate make the State a passive participant in private-sector commercial discrimination,” the order says.

Ali’s lawsuit said Hogan’s order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that “contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.”

But Ali hasn’t submitted any bids, so Blake ruled Monday that he cannot proceed on the basis of a “direct injury.”

Last October, the judge initially dismissed Mr. Ali’s complaint “without prejudice,” meaning he could refile the case. In that ruling, the judge said Ali would have to plausibly show that his First Amendment free speech rights had been violated.

Ali filed an amended complaint later that month, claiming Hogan’s order violates his constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. He also claimed the order and the mandated “No Boycott of Israel” certification in Maryland bids and contracts are unconstitutionally vague.

In Monday’s ruling, the judge said Ali hasn’t shown that his free speech has been “chilled” by the certification requirement or that he engaged in any self-censorship.

“Mr. Ali has not presented any allegations that he has ceased any boycotting activities that would be covered by the Executive Order, or that but for the certification he would have expanded his boycotting activities,” she wrote.

Blake also said Ali doesn’t allege that he boycotts Israel in his business capacity, except possibly for one sentence in a court filing that says he “will continue to refuse to do business with, for instance, American citizens who operate in the West Bank.”

“Other than this,” the judge wrote, “Mr. Ali does not allege that he intends to participate in any activities that would be covered under the Executive Order, and it is not clear from Mr. Ali’s amended complaint that any of his potential work for the state — were he to bid on and obtain a contract — would require him to work with other businesses.”

In January 2019, when it filed the initial version of the suit, CAIR said 25 other states had enacted measures similar to Maryland’s through legislation or executive orders.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

Ali, a resident of Gaithersburg, served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011 and represented Montgomery County as a Democrat. He accused Hogan, a Republican, of making an “end around” the Legislature by signing the executive order after lawmakers repeatedly rejected several “anti-BDS” bills targeting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.