U.S. Issues New Sanctions on Russia, China to Pressure North Korea

The U.S. Treasury Department announced new sanctions against ten Russian and Chinese entities and six individuals on Tuesday in an attempt to pressure North Korea to back off its nuclear program, CNBC reported. The sanctions are aimed at entities and people who help those dealing “in the North Korean energy trade” and missile program. In the past, the U.S. has tried to use economic pressure from China to curb the rogue country's behavior. Earlier this month President Trump warned that he would respond to North Korean threats with “fire and fury.” U.S. officials are hoping to avoid military action and want to continue using diplomatic efforts to get China to cooperate.


Report: Trump to Send Up to 3,900 More Troops to Afghanistan

Up to 3,900 additional U.S. troops will be sent to Afghanistan under the Trump administration’s new strategy to stabilize the country’s government, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing senior officials. The report comes a day after President Trump said during a primetime address that his administration would not “telegraph” a specific strategy and would not set an arbitrary timetable for withdrawal. Trump did not say how many additional troops would be sent to Afghanistan, but the AP reports the number is around 3,900.


Prisoner Almost Executed Before New DNA Test Saved His Life

Missouri’s governor stayed the execution of a death-row inmate on Tuesday, just hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Marcellus Williams was sentenced to death in 2001, after being found guilty of stabbing reporter Felicia Gayle to death in 1998. The prosecution argued that Williams had been burglarizing her home when Gayle surprised him, prompting him to stab her 43 times as she tried to fight back.

Over the past year, however, recently tested DNA evidence has raised questions regarding Williams’s guilt. DNA on the murder weapon did not match Williams and instead was found to belong to an unknown male.

Greitens said he will appoint a board of inquiry to review the case and the “newly discovered DNA evidence, which was not available to be considered by the jury that convicted him.” The board will recommend whether Williams’s death penalty will remain or be commuted.

“A sentence of death is the ultimate, permanent punishment. To carry out the death penalty, the people of Missouri must have confidence in the judgment of guilt,” Gov. Eric Greitens said in a statement.

The Missouri Supreme Court previously gave Williams a stay of execution in 2015 to allow time for the new DNA testing, which had not been available at his trial. Williams’s attorneys have maintained his innocence and argue that the DNA evidence exonerates him, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Just last week the state’s highest court  denied petitions to stop the execution due to the new evidence. A spokesperson for Attorney General Josh Hawley argued that the DNA tests made no difference since the state had enough non-DNA evidence proving Williams is not innocent. The state said it has two witnesses who said Williams confessed to them, and can also prove that he sold Gayle’s laptop after her murder, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“The item was a kitchen knife with both male and female DNA on the handle,” Hawley’s office argued in a court  filing. “It is reasonable to assume people not involved in the murder handled the knife in the kitchen. And there is no reason to believe Williams would not have worn gloves during a burglary and murder, as he wore a jacket to conceal his bloody shirt after he left the murder scene.”

Williams’s lawyers appealed to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, circuit justice for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after rejection by the state Supreme Court. Gorsuch has not yet addressed the case.

So far there have been 16 people executed in the United States this year, one of which was in Missouri. The state has executed 47 men since 2000. Death sentences overall, however, have been decreasing in the United States over the past few decades. In 1996, 315 people were sentenced to death, compared to 31 last year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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Nikki Haley Had ‘Personal’ Talk With Trump About His Charlottesville Response

Nikki Haley said Tuesday that she had a “personal conversation” with President Trump about his botched response to the violent white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations initially told CNN that she would “leave it at that,” before divulging to ABC that “I picked up the phone and I had a private conversation with the president about Charlottesville, and it was taken very well.” When asked whether the president understood why he generated controversy by equating white supremacists to “alt-left” counter-protesters, Haley said, “The president clarified so that no one can question that he’s opposed to bigotry and hate in this country.”


‘Village Voice,’ Iconic Alt Weekly, to End Its Print Edition

New York City’s iconic magazine The Village Voice will end production of its print edition, The Hollywood Reporter reported Tuesday. Peter Barbey, who purchased the alt-weekly magazine in 2015, cited declining ad revenues in its free print edition as one of the primary reasons for the production halt. “The most powerful thing about the Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week,” Barbey said. “It was that The Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want The Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people—and for generations to come.”


George and Amal Clooney Donate $1M to Combat Hate Groups

George and Amal Clooney are donating a million dollars through their Clooney Foundation for Justice to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization committed to fighting hate groups, CBS News reported. “Amal and I wanted to add our voice (and financial assistance) to the ongoing fight for equality. There are no two sides to bigotry and hate,” George said in a statement, indirectly criticizing President Trump for saying “hate on many sides” led to violence at a white-supremacist rally. “What happened in Charlottesville, and what is happening in communities across our country, demands our collective engagement to stand up to hate.”


Jerry Seinfeld's First Netflix Special Gets Premiere Date

Jerry Before Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld's first stand-up special since 1998's I'm Telling You for the Last Time, is set for a Netflix premiere on September 19. In the special, Seinfeld will return to The Comic Strip in New York City, where he started his career. And, as demonstrated in the clip below, he will reveal handwritten notes of some of his earliest material from his personal archives. The special is part of a $100 million deal Seinfeld made with Netflix that also includes old and new episodes of his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.


Louise Linton, Steve Mnuchin’s Wife, Lashes Out at Instagram Critic

Louise Linton, the wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, belittled an Instagram critic as “adorably out of touch” on Monday night in response to criticism of her lavish lifestyle. Linton had posted a photograph of herself getting off a U.S. military jet accompanied by hashtags for luxury items and brands, including #hermesscarf, #tomford, and #valentino. The post was met with scorn by some social media users, with one Oregon woman writing, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #Deplorable.” Linton responded with a tirade in which she told the woman, “Your life looks cute” and urged her to “Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones.” Linton set her page to private after the outburst, but not before screenshots of her comments were picked up by The New York Times and other outlets. “Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” she wrote. “Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

10. R.I.P.

Commander: Remains of Navy Sailors Found in USS John McCain Compartment

Remains of the some of the 10 Navy sailors who went missing after the USS John McCain crashed near Singapore on Sunday have been found in a compartment of the warship, according to the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. CNN reported on Monday that the ship suffered a steering malfunction just before the collision, though it still isn't clear why the warship's backup steering capabilities weren't utilized to regain control. In addition to the 10 sailors who went missing in the accident, five other service members were injured.