In our news wrap Friday, the chairman of Florida’s Democratic Party, Stephen Bittel, stepped down after allegations of improper behavior toward six women, including party staffers and consultants, who say he made suggestive comments and leered at them. Also, Jaime Johnson resigned from the Department of Homeland Security over racial remarks he made in 2008.
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In the day’s other news, The chairman of Florida’s Democratic Party stepped down after allegations of improper behavior toward women. Six former party staffers and consultants say Stephen Bittel made suggestive comments and leered at them. He apologized in a statement.
Reverend Jamie Johnson has resigned from the Department of Homeland Security over racial remarks. He took over the Office of Faith-Based Partnerships in April. Johnson stepped down Thursday, after CNN reported him saying in 2008 — quote — “America’s black community has turned cities into slums because of laziness, drug use and sexual promiscuity.”
In Iraq, government forces and tribal fighters today took back the last town held by the Islamic State group. The military said army tanks rolled into the town of Rawa in Anbar Province, and routed the militants in just five hours. Pockets of ISIS resistance remain in Iraq’s Western desert.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest on Tuesday. He showed up today at a university commencement in the capital city, Harare, even as talks continued on having him give up power.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for a quick return to civilian rule.
Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights. Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government.
Zimbabwe’s ruling party called today for Mugabe’s removal. And plans are under way for an anti-Mugabe rally tomorrow.
Tensions over Kenya’s disputed presidential election flared today, and at least five people were killed. Police in Nairobi fired tear gas and live rounds at supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga. They’d gathered to welcome him home from a trip overseas. President Uhuru Kenyatta won last month’s vote when the opposition boycotted over claims of fraud.
Back in this country, Reverend Jesse Jackson announced he has Parkinson’s disease. The civil rights leader is 76. In a letter to supporters, he said, “I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it, but can no longer ignore the symptoms.”
Cleanup workers have arrived at the scene of a Keystone pipeline oil spill in South Dakota. TransCanada shut down the line yesterday after it leaked 200,000 gallons. Next week, the state of Nebraska decides whether to allow construction of a related project, the Keystone X.L. pipeline.
The director of Puerto Rico’s power authority quit today, under fire. Ricardo Ramos was heavily criticized for hiring a small Montana company to rebuild a system badly damaged by Hurricane Maria. The contract has since been terminated. So far, about 45 percent of the island’s customers have gotten power restored.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 100 points to close at 23358. The Nasdaq fell 10 points, and the S&P 500 slipped six.