Headlines: April 30, 2019
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Venezuela’s government says it is putting down a small coup attempt as clashes broke out soon after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared that the military was on his side. Mr. Guaido simply announced he was president some months ago and has strong backing from the United States. Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro has been under intense pressure as anti-government protests have drawn strength from a free falling economy. Maduro’s security forces have been clamping down on protesters. US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his support for Guaido on Tuesday morning saying, “#operacionlibertad—Estamos con ustedes! We are with you! America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.” Venezuela has a long history of US-backed coup attempts but the key factor in past coups has been the support of the Venezuelan military. According to the New York Times, Guaido said in a message this week that, “a wide swath of the military now backed him, including top commanders, but he declined to release their names.”
Here in the US President Donald Trump issued a memo on Monday restricting the rules of asylum even though it is Congress who sets asylum law. According to the memo addressed to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, asylum seekers will have to pay a fee to apply for their work permit restrictions while they await their cases. Trump wrote, “The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process.” Mr. McAleenan is testifying to the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
In his ongoing effort to shield his finances from public view, President Trump, together with his family, have filed lawsuits against Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp to stop them from turning over data to Congress. Democratic committee leaders have issued subpoenas to the institutions in question to obtain Trump’s financial and business records in order to determine if the President has engaged in conflicts of interest. The lawsuit complains that, “The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday morning said that they met with President Trump and that they agree with him on a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. This is Senator Schumer speaking with reporters after the meeting. According to CNN, “There is still no guarantee a plan that both sides agree to will ultimately come together and so far it appears that many details of a potential plan — including how to pay for it — have not yet been worked out.”
Trump’s pick for a Federal Reserve board member continues to come under fire. Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator with no financial experience, but with a record of misogynist comments, may finally be facing opposition from the GOP as well. Moore was also an advisor to Trump during his 2016 Presidential campaign. Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa said on Monday evening, “I’m not enthused about what he has said in various articles. I think it’s ridiculous.” The Washington Post summarized that among his controversial comments, he is known for saying, “there would be societal problems if men were not the breadwinners in the family, denouncing co-ed sports and saying female athletes do ‘inferior work’ to men.” Moore has also found to have failed to pay his ex-wife child support and owes $75,000 in unpaid taxes.
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee spoke with the Washington Post in a live-streamed interview about the Special Counsel’s report. During the interview he announced that he was planning to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department against Trump associate Erik Prince for willfully misleading the House Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has become a controversial figure around the Special Counsel investigation, has finally submitted his resignation. Rosenstein will leave the Justice Department in mid-May, writing in his resignation letter to Trump that he was, “grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display…. and for the goals you set in your inaugural address.” Washington Post op-ed writer Jennifer Rubin denounced Rosenstein as a, “diminished man and shamed lawyer.”
Medicare-for-all is getting its first ever hearing in Congress on Tuesday and among the witnesses are long-time healthcare advocate and activist Ady Barkan who is dying of the neurological disease ALS. Barkan traveled with great difficulty and several helpers to Washington DC to testify and spoke through a computer. Activist groups from around the country have converged outside the hearing to make their case for Medicare-for-All. Members of National Nurses United have been putting up posters of crowdfunding campaigns that so many Americans have to rely on to help with the costs of their healthcare.
An Army veteran who served in Afghanistan was arrested on Monday for planning attacks around Southern California in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attacks. US Attorney Nick Hanna announced the charges against him at a press conference on Monday saying, “This is a case in which law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate and bent on mass murder, and stop him before he could carry out his attack.” According to Associated Press Mark Domingo, “said he had an assault rifle, semi-automatic rifle and several magazines of ammunition. He discussed picking off Jews walking to synagogue, shooting police officers or attacking a church or military base.” Meanwhile the suspected shooter who killed one woman and injured several others at Poway Synagogue on Saturday appeared in court and was charged with hate crimes that included one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder.
And finally John Singleton, the famed black filmmaker has died. Singleton became the youngest person, and the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his work on Boyz in the Hood in 1991. Singleton died after his family decided to take him off life support when he fell into a coma after a stroke. He was only 51.