News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

In today’s news headlines Vice President Mike Pence gave a major address on Thursday at the Pentagon, expanding on Donald Trump’s wild idea for a new branch of the armed forces called ‘Space Force.’ The proposal requires congressional approval and would take billions of dollars and at least 5-10 years before it could materialize. That’s Vice President Mike Pence in a speech on Thursday night at the Pentagon making an announcement to create ‘Space Force,’ just days after Congress authorized a whopping $716 billion for military spending.

The high-profile federal government case against Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort wraps up on Friday. The judge in the case had repeatedly used harsh words against prosecutors in the courtroom. According to Associated Press, “The judge has subjected the prosecution to repeated tongue-lashings over the pace of their questioning, their large amount of trial exhibits and even their facial expressions.” He did apologize on Thursday for an earlier mistaken outburst over allowing a witness to remain in the courtroom. Prosecutors say the judge’s anger prejudiced the jury about that witness’ testimony. On Thursday several bank employees testified about the false information that Manafort gave them when applying for loans. On our next episode we’ll bring you analysis of the Manafort case.

The Kansas GOP primary race for Governor continues to move toward a nail-biting finish. Current Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is notorious for his racist and anti-immigrant claims of voter fraud, is neck in neck with incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. Kobach has been endorsed by Trump and was leading Colyer by a mere 191 votes with 100% of all precincts reporting. But a vote discrepancy led to the discovery of a few more votes for Colyer, reducing Kobach’s lead to a mere 121 votes. That margin of error could very well flip once all the provisional ballots are counted. Kobach, who is eager to start campaigning for the November general election was forced to recuse himself as Secretary of State from being involved in the vote tallying.

Tennessee has executed 59-year old Billy Ray Irick, a man who was convicted of the rape and murder of a 7-year old girl in 1985. It was the first time in a decade that the state performed an execution. The US Supreme Court rejected a stay of execution just hours before Irick was pronounced dead. Irick’s lawyers had petitioned the court to consider the use of lethal injection to be “cruel and unusual” punishment. In a fiery dissent Justice Sonia Sotomayor objected to the ruling, writing, “If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism.”

President Trump on Thursday met with a number of Republican state-level officials at his golf course in New Jersey. The topic of discussion was to help released inmates with job training, employment, and treatment for drug addiction.

There are nearly 2,000 inmates among firefighters in California who will not be able to work in Fire Departments once they are released. California’s fires continue to burn with Governor Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency. More than 20,000 people have been evacuated in Southern California as the Cleveland National Forest remains fierce in the hot, dry conditions. A 51-year old man has been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire.

Despite the severe heat wave that has settled in over California and many parts of the world over the past month, confirming climate scientists’ predictions, a conference in New Orleans was focused on the denial of climate change. The so-called ‘America First Energy Conference,’ organized by the notoriously denialist Heritage Foundation was attended by some members of the Trump Administration. Literature from the conference shows climate propaganda being distributed to attendees with false claims of stable temperatures even though the earth has been documented as heating up.

Academy award winning filmmaker Michael Moore has released the trailer for his next film, which will be out in September. The film, called Fahrenheit 11-9 whose title is a play on his earlier film Fahrenheit 9-11, focuses, unsurprisingly, on Trump’s election and his presidency. Here is an excerpt of the highly anticipated film. That’s the newly released trailer of Michael Moore’s new documentary Fahrenheit 11-9, to be released in September.

The Sinclair-Tribune mega media merger is officially dead. The rightwing television broadcasting network Sinclair was seeking to expand its footprint across the nation but that bid failed when the Federal Communications Commission chose to recommend against the merger, effectively killing it. Activists from around the nation had petitioned the government to oppose the merger.

In immigration news, a judge on Thursday ordered the return of an immigrant mother and her daughter while they were literally inflight being deported from the US to El Salvador. The two immigrants were among 12 plaintiffs in a lawsuit being brought by the ACLU to overturn the new restrictions that Attorney General Jeff Sessions placed earlier this year on asylum applications. ACLU attorneys were in court when they learned that the two plaintiffs had been put on a plane for deportation. The judge ordered the deportation to be reversed and threatened to hold Sessions in contempt of court.

Meanwhile a group of evangelical Christian organizations have written a strongly-worded letter to the Trump administration to return refugee settlement levels to normal. Trump had dropped the numbers of allowable refugees to a historic low. The 7 groups urged the government to return to levels of about 75,000 a year saying, “we believe the U.S. should continue to welcome some of the most vulnerable refugees who have been persecuted for their faith.”

And First Lady Melania Trump’s parents have become new citizens of the US. The Slovenian Viktor and Amalija Knavs had been green card holders and became naturalized citizens on Thursday. The First Lady and her representatives have refused to answer questions about whether she sponsored them for their green cards – a method of family reunification that Melania’s husband has denounced as “chain migration.” There are very few other ways for the parents of a naturalized US citizen to become green card holders and those methods are all far more arduous than the direct one that Trump says he wants to end.

The National Football League’s new season started on Thursday and two NFL players, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Miami Dolphins knelt down during the national anthem. Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles stood raising his fist. The Trump administration has successfully pushed the NFL to penalize players for expressing their dissent.

In international news, Saudi Arabian air strikes aimed at Yemen killed at least 50 people on Thursday and injured more than 70. The strikes hit a busy market in the northern part of the country in a war that the US is intimately involved in. The Red Cross announced that it had received the bodies of 29 children at the hospital after the strikes. The children appear to have been traveling on a bus through the market when the strikes happened.

In Afghanistan early Friday morning, the Taliban unsuccessfully attempted to take over the Eastern city of Ghazni. More than a dozen Afghan policemen were killed and several wounded. Afghan troops were called in and the US forces present on the ground sent in a drone to conduct an air strike. The Taliban forces spread out into the city to escape. The US war in Afghanistan has continued for nearly 17 long years making it the longest official war.

And finally Russia is strongly denouncing a new round of US sanctions. The Trump Administration, which is under strong pressure from Congress to be tough on Russia ahead of the midterm elections, earlier in the week announced new sanctions in response to the use of a nerve agent on spies in Britain. Russia denies the accusations and said it plans on crafting its own retaliation.

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