Headlines: April 23, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:27 — 7.7MB)
The death toll from the suicide bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka has jumped to 321. As the first funerals began to be held at the church where nearly a third of the victims were killed, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. The terrorist group’s news outlet published the names of seven suicide bombers and called them “Islamic State fighters.” They also said that the bombings were in retaliation for the massacre of 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand where a white supremacist shooter targeted mosques. ISIS also said it targeted foreign nationals in Sri Lanka hailing from those countries battling the Islamic State in the Middle East. Sri Lanka’s government is also under fire for not acting on information that churches would be targeted.
Here in the United States the man identified as the leader of the armed militia group United Constitutional Patriots in New Mexico, was apparently planning assassinations of President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, and that the FBI knew about the plans in 2017. Larry Mitchell Hopkins was arrested over the weekend after news reports emerged that his group was detaining asylum seekers near the border at gunpoint. The details of his assassination plans were revealed when he appeared in federal court on Monday. According to the New York Times, Hopkins,“had so many run-ins with the law that his police record stretched across much of the United States.” The Times also said, “The F.B.I. also did not specify why agents waited to arrest Mr. Hopkins after finding his home awash in guns in 2017.”
Across the border in Mexico, Central American migrants faced a massive raid by Mexican police on Monday that led to the detention of hundreds of people including women and children in the state of Chiapas. Those who escaped spent the night in the woods and remain fearful. According to Associated Press, “Mexican immigration authorities said 367 people were detained Monday in what was the largest single raid so far on a migrant caravan since the groups started moving through the country last year.” Additionally AP journalists reported seeing “police target isolated groups at the tail end of a caravan of about 3,000 near Pijijiapan, wrestling migrants into police vehicles for transport and presumably deportation as children wailed.” One Honduran man named Javier Núñez who is traveling with his family said, “They were hunting us…Now we are afraid of everyone who looks at us or approaches.”
A Federal appeals court has refused to release former whistleblower Chelsea Manning from jail, rejecting her appeal. Manning has been held in contempt of court since March 8th for refusing to testify against Wikileaks or its founder Julian Assange. According to Shadowproof.com which has closely followed her story, “Judges for the appeals court offered no explanation as to why they believed a lower court committed no error in finding Manning in civil contempt. They also provided no reasons for why it was justified to keep Manning in jail.”
The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former White House Counsel Don McGahn requiring him to turn over documents and give public testimony about President Donald Trump’s conduct as revealed in the Special Counsel’s report. In response Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have begun railing against McGahn in what appears to be a clear effort to discredit anything he says that could help build the case for Trump’s impeachment. The Washington Post summarized that the Mueller report showed how McGahn, “testified that Trump tried to instruct him to carry out one of his most glaring efforts to obstruct justice — and then to lie to cover it up. After the [New York] Times reported that Trump had ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, and then backed down when McGahn threatened to quit, Trump dismissed the story as ‘fake news.'”
Two Democratic Presidential contenders are now on board with starting impeachment proceedings against Trump. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday at a CNN Townhall announced that after she read the Mueller report she saw plenty of cause for impeachment. California Senator Kamala Harris who is also running for President during her televised CNN Townhall also agreed that impeachment should proceed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to take the lead in pursuing impeachment but 3/4s of Democratic voters now disagree.
In other news on Tuesday reports emerged that the House Oversight committee is holding Carl Kline former White House personnel security director in contempt of Congress. Kline refused to appear at a Congressional committee hearing on lapses in White House security clearances. Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said, “The White House and Mr. Kline now stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump.”
President Trump and his supporters are resisting any and all efforts by Democratic leaders to view his business and financial dealings. After House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal formally requested 6 years of Trump’s tax returns from the IRS, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin effectively ordered the IRS not to comply. Mr. Neal says it is up to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, not Mnuchin. He has given Rettig a second deadline of Tuesday at 5 pm – a deadline that is likely to also be unmet. Writing to Rettig, Neal said, “Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.”
The US has come under fire for vetoing a United Nations resolution on sexual violence against women during war. According to a UN source speaking to CNN, the US’s veto was based on language in the resolution mentioning women’s reproductive and sexual health. According to CNN, “The Trump administration has taken measures to avoid supporting efforts and organizations that provide abortion services to women, including victims of rape, and sources say such language is now viewed by the US as a veiled reference to that.” Additionally, the US delegation objected to a line in the resolution saying that the UN, “further encourages support to and training of journalists on sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations and gender inequality.”
At least 54 miners are missing and feared dead in Myanmar after a massive mudslide at a Jade mining operation in the northern part of the country. Rescue workers are struggling to retrieve bodies trapped under the mud. And, also in Myanmar two Reuters journalists that have been jailed for investigating the government’s repression of the Rohingya Muslim minority lost their appeal at the nation’s highest court. The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who just won the Pulitzer prize for their work will now remain in prison for years.
And finally Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded 37 of its citizens in a mass execution for what it called “terrorism-related crimes.” The US-backed kingdom which President Trump has vehemently supported – even against Congress’s wishes – continues to resort to medieval-style justice, “publicly pinning one of the bodies and its severed head to a pole as a warning to others,” as per AP.