Headline: July 18, 2018
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President Donald Trump this morning is defending his performance in Helsinki, Finland on his Twitter feed. In one tweet he said, “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”
But only a day earlier Trump had attempted to walk back his position on believing Russian President Vladimir Putin over his intelligence agencies findings. The President said that during the now-infamous press conference in Helsinki he misspoke. After massive pushback from his own party he said, “The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, or why it wouldn’t be Russia'” instead of “why it would.” Trump made no attempt to correct all the other instances where he sided with Mr. Putin.
He also tried to revise his position on the election-related investigations albeit with a caveat, saying, “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place…It could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all.”
Trump is celebrating the win in Alabama of a candidate he backed in a special election that took place Tuesday. Representative Martha Roby, who had denounced Trump and then embraced him, won a Republican primary against the Democrat-turned-Republican Bobby Bright.
Meanwhile James Comey the former FBI Director that Trump had fired, posted a serious endorsement for Democrats despite the fact that he has been a Republican for a long time. Comey tweeted, “This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that “Ambition must … counteract ambition.” All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.”
Five potential witnesses in the government’s case against Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort are requesting immunity. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked a federal judge in Virginia to grant immunity to the witnesses who say they won’t speak without it. Mr. Mueller is preparing for a high-profile tax fraud trial against Manafort who remains incarcerated.
Former President Barack Obama gave a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday on what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. During the speech Obama noted the, “strange and uncertain,” times we live in and that, “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.” Here is Obama’s veiled reference to Trump and Trumpism.
In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May is slowly rebuilding her power base after a crisis over the Brexit negotiations led to two ministers resigning from her government. In a vote on Tuesday a bill that would have allowed Britain to join a “European customs union” failed by 3 votes. Now, according to AP, “The bill gives the government the power to set up new international trade relationships after Britain leaves the EU next March. The win is the second for May in two days, as her government avoided defeat in Parliament on a separate bill.”
Back here in the US, MGM Resorts has filed a lawsuit against the survivors of the deadliest mass shooting in US history that took place on the grounds of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas last October. MGM, which operates Mandalay Bay is suing those people who have threatened to sue or already sued over the shooting and withdrawn their claims. The company is citing a post 9-11 federal law to say it has “no liability of any kind” to those who lost their lives, lost loved ones at the shooting, or were injured.
In Washington DC, local newspaper companies are likely to be hurt by Trump’s tariffs on Canadian newsprint said lawmakers on Tuesday. Members of Congress including Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King argued at a hearing against making US tariffs on Canada permanent. Democrats also testified. No one spoke in favor of the hefty 25-30% tariffs on newsprint from Canada that were designed in response to one paper manufacturer’s complaint.
The fear over Trump’s tariffs also appeared at the Federal Reserve chairman’s regular testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. Chairman Jerome Powell was asked a number of questions by lawmakers about the impacts of the tariffs on the US economy as industries are halting long-term spending plans because of the economic uncertainty. Mr. Powell said, “If it results in broader, higher tariffs across a broad range of traded goods or services that remain that way for a longer period of time, that will be bad for our economy and for other economies too.”
A devastating report on the conditions facing undocumented children and families under the Trump’s administration’s harsh policies has been filed in court as part of an on-going case over whether the government violated the 1997 Flores Settlement. The report culled interviews with more than 200 parents and children that had been held in detention in border states in June and July. Peter Schey, an attorney representing some of the children said, “They have spoken out loud and clear, and what they’ve said is they are experiencing enforced hunger, enforced dehydration, enforced sleeplessness. They are terrorized, and I think it is time for the courts and the public to hear their voices.” Among the conditions described in the report are young children being shoved into crowded cages, being made to sleep on the cold floor, not given adequate or clean food to eat, and kicked in their feet by guards while sleeping.
The State of Texas has executed a 34-year old African American man named Christopher Young despite pleas from the family of Mr. Young’s victim to spare him. Young did not deny killing Hashmukh Patel at a convenience store in San Antonio but says he was intoxicated at the time. He knew the victim and the victim’s family before the fatal confrontation. Mr. Patel’s surviving family begged the courts to grant Young clemency but was denied the request. The family refused to attend his execution as victim’s families often do. Young was executed by lethal injection and becomes the 8th person to be killed by Texas this year. Another 7 are slated to die in the next few months.
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has been named the richest man in history with a worth of more than $150 billion. At the same time his company faces pressure from workers especially in Europe who launched a three-day strike to coincide with Amazon’s highly advertised “Prime Day” specials that attracted so many shoppers it brought down the site. Thousands of workers in Spain, Germany, and Poland are engaging in work stoppages or slowdowns this week. Amazon workers in Europe are calling for a boycott of their employer over poor working conditions and pay.