Headlines: August 12, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:18 — 7.6MB)
Billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein died of apparent suicide on Saturday, just weeks after he survived an attempted suicide. His body was found early on Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York where he was being held awaiting trial. Upon learning of Epstein’s death, one of his victims, Jennifer Araoz said, “We have to live with the scars of his actions for the rest of our lives, while he will never face the consequences of the crimes he committed — the pain and trauma he caused so many people.” His death came just a day after more than 2,000 pages of documents were unsealed showing how his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell helped him traffic in young girls for himself and his wealthy friends to abuse. According to the Daily Beast, one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, “said Maxwell specifically instructed her to serve former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain’s Prince Andrew, wealthy financier Glenn Dubin, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, and scientist Marvin Minsky.” Epstein’s victims are now calling for Maxwell’s prosecution as she remains his chief co-conspirator.
Meanwhile President Trump, who was one of Epstein’s friends and social contacts and who has himself been implicated in past investigations, promoted a conspiracy theory on Twitter that claimed Bill and Hillary Clinton were responsible for Epstein’s death. The video that Trump re-tweeted has now been viewed millions of times on Twitter. Meanwhile Attorney General William Barr, who has been one of Trump’s most loyal supporters, has also announced his deep concern over the circumstances of Epstein’s death. Barr had recused himself from the investigation into whether former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta give Epstein favorable treatment in Florida. But Barr has refused to recuse himself from any direct investigation into Epstein even though he once worked at the same law firm that represented Epstein, and Barr’s father once allegedly hired Epstein.
Meanwhile, another accused sex offender, Bill Cosby has appealed his sexual assault conviction while serving his prison sentence. Cosby was one of the first high-profile accusers to be tried and convicted after the #MeToo movement became popularized.
In the week since the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, news has emerged that at least 8 other Walmart stores around the country have received threats. Advocates of gun control have urged Walmart to stop selling guns as the retail giant is the top weapons seller in the nation. But Walmart has decided only to stop displaying violent video games in its stores instead of curtailing gun sales. Meanwhile Presidential candidate and front runner, former Vice President Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a renewed assault weapons ban. Former President Clinton signed such a ban into law which correlated with a significant drop in mass shootings.
The New York Times conducted an analysis of the El Paso shooter’s manifesto and found a strong correlation with the words of right wing media pundits. For example, Ann Coulter speaking on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show had once suggested in response to the question of migrants, “You can shoot invaders.” The word “invasion,” or “invaders” to describe migration and migrants were liberally sprinkled throughout the El Paso shooter’s manifesto and ring wing pundits’ talking points. The shooter on Friday admitted to police that he was targeting Mexicans at the Walmart while sparing white and black shoppers. Just days after the horrific shooting, Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched the largest set of workplace raids in the nation’s history, rounding up nearly 700 people at agricultural plants in Mississippi. Mark Morgan the acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol was asked why there were no raids planned for President Trump’s properties and said this. Meanwhile Trump this week announced a set of new rules aimed at significantly curtailing the number of people being granted legal residency in the US. According to AP, the rules include, “denying green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.”
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has turned on his former boss. He posted to Twitter, “For the last 3 years I have fully supported this President. Recently he has said things that divide the country in a way that is unacceptable….Eventually he turns on everyone and soon it will be you and then the entire country.”
In other news, the White House plan to censor the Internet has just been leaked. Politico, which first reported on the story, found that a draft of a Presidential executive order would, “address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies.” One unnamed White House official told Politico, “If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system.”
And Trump’s White House also announced a new rule significantly weakening the Endangered Species Act – the law that has been credited with saving the Bald Eagle from extinction. According to the New York Times, “the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.”
In international news, Guatemala has a new President: Alejandro Giammattei. Described as a “center-right businessman,” Giammattei was once a prison director and won a runoff election on Sunday. One of his first acts as President will be to review the immigration agreement that his predecessor signed with the US.
And in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israeli police attacked Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem’s old city after tens of thousands of people flooded Al Aqsa mosque to mark Eid al Adha. Observers accused Israel of fomenting tensions and allowing Jewish visitors to enter the site on the same day. Here are the sounds of Israeli police firing tear gas and stun grenades at fleeing worshippers. Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi remarked, “The storming of al-Aqsa mosque compound by Israeli occupation forces this Eid morning is an act of recklessness and aggression.” According to AP, “The compound is the holiest site to the Jewish people and the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. It was the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity and is the home of the iconic gold Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.”