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Conservationists cheer after Navy agrees to limit use of sonar and explosives near marine mammals

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In a court settlement described as “historic” by conservation groups, the US Navy has agreed to limit its use of sonar equipment and explosives that harm whales, dolphins and other marine mammals.

The settlement, approved on Monday by a federal judge in Hawaii, concerns navy activity off the coast of southern California and Hawaii.

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Environmental groups that had filed two lawsuits against the Navy for years have been arguing that training and testing in the two regions and beyond are harmful to sea creatures and their habitats.

David Henkin, an attorney with Earthjustice, one of the firms involved in the lawsuits, said the settlement was “historic” in that it showed the Navy could play war games while at the same time respecting marine life.

“For years, the Navy has said it is impossible for them to keep out of biologically important areas for marine mammals,” Henkin told AFP. “They have now acknowledged that they can.”

Zak Smith, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which was also involved in the lawsuits, said Monday’s settlement was a “huge victory” in that it means the Navy will finally be complying with the law.

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“The Navy had for years done a very good job of advancing our understanding of the impact their activities were having on whales and dolphins,” Smith said. “But they chose to do the minimum.”

Both Henkin and Smith said the settlement will allow the Navy to continue with its training exercises while reducing the hazard to marine life.

Environmentalists had argued that Navy-funded studies had shown the damage wreaked on marine life by training activities, including the use of sonar and explosives that can damage the hearing of whales and dolphins.

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“If a whale or dolphin can’t hear, it can’t survive,” Henkin said.

“By agreeing to this settlement, the Navy acknowledges that it doesn’t need to train in every square inch of the ocean and that it can take reasonable steps to reduce the deadly toll of its activities.”

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Harvey Weinstein to face new indictment in #MeToo sexual assault trial

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Fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is awaiting trial on two sexual assault charges, will return to court next week to hear a new indictment against him, prosecutors said Thursday.

Weinstein, 67, will appear in a New York state court on Monday, said a spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney, declining to comment on the details of the indictment.

He added, however, that it did not contain new charges and that the film producer's trial would start as scheduled on September 9.

The indictment is likely to allow another alleged victim of Weinstein to testify at the trial.

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El Paso hospital forced to call out Trump’s lie that surgeons left the operating room to see him

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President Donald Trump bragged that he got an overwhelming welcome from Ohio and Texas when he went to visit survivors of the mass shootings before his latest vacation. Now, however, El Paso's University Medical Center is being forced to dispute the president's account of events.

"Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the room. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn’t even walk on it. So, you know, there’s a lot to happen," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn Wednesday.

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Priest bound and gagged teen boy with masking tape and held him hostage in church’s janitor room

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A Michigan Catholic priest has been charged with one count of false imprisonment after he wrapped a teenage boy in plastic wrap and covered his eyes and mouth with masking tape, all while trapping him in the janitor's room of a church, ClickOnDetroit reports.

Rev. Brian Stanley, 57, faces up to 15 years in prison and would also have to register as a sex offender if convicted.

Stanley was reportedly entrusted by the teen's family as a counselor before the incident took place in the fall of 2013 at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Otsego.

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