August 24, 2019

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro announced plans on Friday to send armed forces to fight forest fires in the Amazon, reversing course after days of dismissing concern about the ecological disaster.

"Whatever is within our power we will do," Bolsonaro told reporters. "The problem is resources." He added that the government will take a "zero tolerance" approach to environmental crimes. Researchers and environmental groups said the Amazon fires were started by humans.

This comes after Bolsonaro, who has made pledges to ease restrictions on protected areas and under whom deforestation has increased sharply across the country, said the fires were the result of warmer weather and criticized international concern as "sensationalist." But environmental groups blame Bolsonaro's policies, which have reportedly "emboldened" farmers and ranchers to clear land by setting fire to it.

However, Bolsonaro changed his stance as European leaders threatened a trade agreement, protesters took to the streets outside Brazilian embassies, and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products gained momentum. The New York Times notes that any punitive measures could "severely damage" Brazil's economy, which is already in trouble.

CNN reports that the Group of Seven leaders, who are convening in France on Saturday, are in accordance that stopping the fires is a priority. France's President Emmanuel Macron called it an "international crisis," and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said international action is necessary to protect the world's rainforests and that "we will use G-7 to call for a renewed focus on protecting nature and tackling climate change together." President Trump, whose past praise of and cordial relationship with the right-wing Bolsonaro has drawn criticism, offered U.S. assistance. Tim O'Donnell

1:25 p.m.

Harvey Weinstein has officially been convicted of rape, and Time's Up is hailing this as a "historic moment."

The disgraced movie producer on Monday was found guilty of forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann in 2013. Weinstein, who was acquitted on the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Time's Up CEO Tina Tchen in a statement on Monday highlighted the significance of the Weinstein verdict, which comes more than two years after the flood of sexual misconduct allegations against him helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

"This trial — and the jury's decision today — marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work," Tchen said.

Tchen went on to say that the verdict "sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement," adding that now, "abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back."

Gloria Allred, attorney for several Weinstein accusers, also celebrated the verdict on Monday, saying, "This is a new day for victims of gender violence."

Weinstein on Monday was sent right to jail, where he'll await his sentencing on March 11. His lawyer said on Monday he plans to appeal and that "the fight is not over." Brendan Morrow

12:50 p.m.

Coronavirus? Never heard of her.

Fox Business host Charles Payne is attributing Monday's massive stock market drop — which is widely considered to be connected to the deadly coronavirus outbreak — to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

According to Payne, Sanders' recent presidential primary win in Nevada is what caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to tumble to its biggest one-day point drop in three years, rather than the deadly COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed over 2,600 lives and continues to surge in new countries.

Sanders decisively won the Nevada Democratic caucuses Saturday, boasting high numbers in the Democratic primary's most diverse contest thus far. Payne pointed to a dive in several health insurance stocks following Sanders' win, saying "the Bernie factor is finally rearing its head in the stock market."

Sanders' has made health care the hallmark of his campaign, but Payne attributing this to the stock market plunge might be a little iffy.

China, where the outbreak originated, boasts the world's second-largest economy, so it shouldn't be too surprising that the largest economy would be affected. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, on Monday, and several major industries, including several that rely heavily on Chinese consumers, have taken hits.

Still, Payne said this may be the first time Wall Street is taking "Sanders very seriously."

But Payne should know that age-old wisdom tells us Sanders' Nevada win wouldn't travel far anyway — what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. Marianne Dodson

12:48 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) recent comments about the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro are brewing up a storm among Florida lawmakers, especially in the Democratic Party.

During a 60 Minutes interview Sunday evening on CBS, Sanders argued it was unfair to malign every aspect of Castro's regime, praising achievements like the country's literacy program. He condemned its authoritarian nature, but despite that clarification, Sanders' comments were enough to cause a backlash in Florida, which is home to a large Cuban-American population, including refugees from the Castro era. Some Democratic lawmakers even went so far as to say that if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, it could hand Florida, which always a crucial and often controversial swing state in presidential elections, to President Trump in November.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said the comments will likely "alienate" Florida voters, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) said his words were "unacceptable."

Meanwhile, State Rep. Javier Fernandez (D) said the 60 Minutes interview is a "perfect illustration as to why" Sanders is the Democratic presidential candidate "least capable" of winning Florida and that "our country and party deserve better." Tim O'Donnell

12:13 p.m.

It's Warren Buffett season.

The billionaire and CEO and chair of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. sent his annual shareholder letter out this weekend, and appeared Monday on CNBC's Squawk Box, where he weighed in on various topics, including the 2020 presidential election.

Buffett normally supports Democratic candidates, but he admitted he's not a "card-carrying" member of the party and has contributed to and voted for Republicans in the past. There was no indication he'd support President Trump's re-election in the interview, but he did seem hesitant about supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) if he winds up as the Democratic nominee. Buffett didn't denounce Sanders — in fact, he said he agrees with him on some counts, especially the argument that "we ought to do better by the people who get left behind by our capitalist system" — but he said he'll wait to see what happens before making any sort of declaration.

One Democratic candidate he doesn't seem concerned about voting for is his fellow billionaire, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Buffett said he'd "certainly" vote for Bloomberg, but his own self-awareness seems likely to prevent him from endorsing him during the primaries. "I don't think another billionaire supporting him would be the best thing to announce," he said. "But sure, I would have no trouble voting for Mike Bloomberg." Read more at CNBC. Tim O'Donnell

12:12 p.m.

Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty on two counts in his rape trial and could now receive more than 20 years behind bars.

Jurors on Monday found Weinstein guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree, Variety reports. He was found not guilty on the two most serious charges of predatory sexual assault and was also acquitted on the first-degree rape charge.

Weinstein was facing five charges that centered around the allegations of two women: Mimi Haleyi, who alleges Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006, and Jessica Mann, who alleges Weinstein raped her in 2013. Another accuser, Annabella Sciorra, testified in support of the predatory sexual assault charges, which could have landed Weinstein a life sentence.

The jury on Friday had asked if it could be hung on the counts of predatory sexual assault after spending multiple days examining Sciorra's allegations. The criminal sexual act in the first degree charge that Weinstein was convicted of relates to the Haleyi's allegations, while the rape in the third degree charge relates to Mann's allegation.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, and the allegations against him helped ignite the #MeToo movement. With this conviction, Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison, The Washington Post notes. He is also facing charges in Los Angeles. Brendan Morrow

11:30 a.m.

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose story was brought to life in the film Hidden Figures, has died at 101.

NASA confirmed Johnson's death on Monday morning, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine remembering her as "an American hero" whose "pioneering legacy will never be forgotten."

"At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her," Bridenstine also said.

While working at NASA's Flight Research Division, Johnson calculated trajectories that made the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing possible, not to mention the flights of Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, The New York Times reports. She was the Flight Research Division's first woman to receive credit as the author of a research report, NASA says.

The 2016 movie Hidden Figures, in which Johnson was played by Taraji P. Henson, helped shed light on her career. Former President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, saying at the time, "In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science and reach for the stars." Brendan Morrow

11:11 a.m.

The Bloomberg campaign seems a little exasperated with Democratic presidential primary competitor Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has directed a bevy of criticism at their candidate, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Over the weekend, Warren was asked whether she considered the Democratic frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) a risky candidate — a term which she has used to describe Bloomberg. Warren didn't directly respond to the question about Sanders, instead reiterating her feelings about Bloomberg, who she said has a history of hiding his taxes, harassing women, and supporting racist policies, before launching into an argument about why she's the least risky candidate.

The clip set off Bloomberg's senior adviser Tim O'Brien, who accused Warren of "smearing" Bloomberg and ignoring his track record when it comes to advocating for women's rights, while "running interference" for Sanders, who he thinks deserves more scrutiny over some writing he produced about women in the past. Tim O'Donnell

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