Headlines: August 1, 2019
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The US Senate has just passed a 2-year budget plan that the House passed last week and that President Donald Trump is expected to sign. The bill includes a lifting of the debt ceiling for 2 years, a move that could hamper the agenda of a future Democratic President. Trump tweeted triumphantly about the deal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to without a fight, saying, “Two year deal gets us past the Election. Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!” House Democrats voted for the bill that Trump is hailing, without a majority of Republicans backing it. In the Senate both parties passed the bill with majorities.
Ten contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination debated one another on Wednesday evening at an event hosted by CNN – the second day of debates. Among the frontrunners were Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden who had clashed in the previous debate. This time around Biden and Harris had somewhat of a rematch but Harris faced strong pushback from Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard on her criminal justice record while Attorney General of California.
Joe Biden also faced pushback from other candidates and protesters in the audience. While Biden responded to Julián Castro, a member of the audience chanted “3 million deportations,” referring to the number of undocumented immigrants that the Obama administration deported. Senator Corey Booker also challenged Biden calling him out for disavowing Obama’s legacy. Senator Kristin Gillibrand also challenged Biden on words he had written, about the role of women in society in 1981 but Biden failed to respond. During his closing statements Biden offered an advertisement for his campaign that perplexed many. According to Newsweek, “As Americans began Googling “Joe 30330” or “Joe 3030” following Biden’s remarks, Newsweek found that both Joe30330.com and Joe3030.com redirected to websites plugging the presidential campaign of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.”
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio was among the ten candidates that debated on Wednesday night and his presence prompted well-known activists Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour who were in the audience to chant “Fire Pantaleo.” Daniel Pantaleo was just exonerated for his role in the killing of Eric Garner and remains on the NYPD force. The chants were made twice during the debate and DeBlasio was later asked about why Pantaleo remained on the force and claimed that he could not do so while the Justice Department was investigating. AP pointed out that this was a lie saying, “The police commissioner, who reports to de Blasio, could act at any time to fire Pantaleo.”
In other news, a majority of House Democrats – 118 out of 235 – now support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to block impeachment efforts. It is thought that Trump’s recent attacks against Congressman Elijah Cummings gave greater impetus to lawmakers.
A gun store in North Carolina has garnered attention for a billboard showing the faces of the four freshmen Congresswomen of color that Trump has repeatedly lobbed racist attacks at. The billboard has a caption saying, “The Four Horsemen are Cometh,” with the word “Cometh” crossed out and replaced by “idiots.” It advertises the gun shop and in a social media post the shop owners call on Trump voters to come and get a free sticker of the image. Critics denounced the image as inciting violence against the four women lawmakers. Meanwhile two gun control organizations, Giffords group and March For Our Lives announced they would be hosting a presidential forum on gun violence this fall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed through the confirmations of 19 Trump-appointed judges to lifetime appointments ahead of the Congressional summer recess. Critics say he was taking advantage of the distraction provided by the two days of Democratic debates. CNN panelists did not ask candidates about judges or the judiciary.
Trump this week retaliated against Navy prosecutors who charged a Navy Seal Trump had been publicly supporting and who was recently acquitted for his role in alleged war crimes in Iraq. After the Navy awarded medals to the prosecutors, according to the New York Times, “he publicly instructed Pentagon officials to strip them of the medals. His announcement was a remarkable rebuke by a president of his own Navy leadership.”
The New York Times this week published a report based on public records and interviews with friends of billionaire and accused pedophile Jeffrey Epstein that he wanted to “seed the human race with his DNA.” He hobnobbed with well-known scientists like Steven Pinker and apparently, “Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies.”
Public Citizen released a report about how the nation’s top 4 tech companies Apple, Google, FaceBook and Amazon, are flooding Capitol Hill with lavish campaign donations. According to the report the companies spent a whopping $346 million on lobbying and contributions between 2010 and 2018.
And Politico just reported that, “Two former top staffers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have lobbied Congress and the Treasury Department on the development of a new Kentucky aluminum mill backed by the Russian aluminum giant Rusal.” McConnell has been fighting against the label of #MoscowMitch for killing two bills related to protecting US elections from Russian attackers.
Finally in international news, a missile strike in the southern Yemeni city of Aden has killed more than 50 people. The target was apparently a camp that houses forces loyal to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that have fought a devastating US-backed war in Yemen for years.