Headlines: August 13, 2018
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:31 — 7.8MB)
In today’s news headlines former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released secret recordings to the public during her publicity blitz about her new tell-all book Unhinged. On Monday morning she released a snippet of a phone conversation she had with President Donald Trump right after she was fired from the White House by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
That recording was the second one she released in 2 days. On Sunday during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press Manigault Newman played a tape of John Kelly announcing to her that she was being removed from the White House and issuing what appears to sound like a veiled threat. The former White House aide played the tape on Sunday during an interview where she also said she had heard Trump use the N-word during a taping of the reality TV show, The Apprentice and that she was attempting to obtain a recording proving it. The White House is scrambling to stop her from releasing any more secretly taped audio and has already begun a campaign to undermine her credibility. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denounced Manigault Newman’s book as, “riddled with lies and false accusations,” and Trump on Saturday called her a “lowlife.”
On Sunday, a year after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a handful of right wing activists gathered in Washington DC for Unite the Right 2. After being denied permission to hold it in Charlottesville again, white supremacist organizer Jason Kessler successfully obtained a permit to have his rally in DC near the White House. Thousands of counter-protesters showed up, vastly outnumbering the mere 2-dozen reported attendees of Kessler’s gathering. Trump, who was slammed last year for refusing to unequivocally denounce white supremacy, neo-Nazis, and self-proclaimed fascists, was at it again this year when he wrote on Twitter, “I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence.” It is a favorite assertion of white supremacists to proclaim that white people are the victims of anti-white racism.
Chuck Grassley, head of the Senate judiciary committee has announced that there will be confirmation hearings held for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on September 4th, lasting 3-4 days. The GOP’s goal is to seat Mr. Kavanaugh on the nation’s highest court before the midterm elections, cementing a conservative majority for a generation. So far Republicans have refused to release much information about Kavanaugh’s work during the George W. Bush years and Democrats have even submitted FOIA requests to obtain it. In an op-ed published on Sunday Grassley offered Justice Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings as a comparison for Kavanaugh’s given that Kagan’s judicial record was not fully documented at the time of her confirmation. He did not raise Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s unprecedented refusal to let President Obama nominate Merrick Garland to the court after Antonin Scalia’s death. Nor did he mention that the pace of nominating, and confirming Kavanaugh would be the fastest such process in modern US history.
On Saturday Trump welcomed one of his fan clubs, “Bikers for Trump,” to his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey where he has been on a “working” vacation. During the group’s visit Trump admired the Harley Davidson motorcycles most rode on, calling them “the most beautiful bikes anyone’s ever seen.” But a day later he supported a boycott of the company on Twitter saying, “Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!” The company is facing tariffs from the European Union in retaliation for Trump’s trade war.
Alaska’s seafood industry, which depends hugely on business with China, is facing similar treatment to Harley Davidson as it braces for the impact of China’s retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump’s trade actions.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is facing anger from progressive activists after it reversed its position on a ban on fossil fuel money. On Friday the DNC overwhelmingly voted to accept contributions from oil and gas corporations under the guise of supporting “worker’s rights.” DNC Chair Tom Perez cast the about-face as a way to, “support fossil fuel workers in an evolving energy economy.”
On Sunday former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in an interview said that Congress ought to consider impeaching Trump. He offered allegations of collusion with Russia for justification, saying, “If President Clinton or President Obama had gone to Helsinki and done what President Trump had done, you would already have impeachment hearings going on.”
Nearly a week after the GOP primary race for governor of Kansas, vote counting continues. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has made it his mission to deny Americans their voting rights, has a razor-thin lead of 110 votes over incumbent Jeff Colyer. The county is now reviewing about 9,000 provisional ballots that were cast. Trump enthusiastically backed Kobach who served on the now-defunct White House commission on voter fraud.
A major trial against pesticide and chemical manufacturer Monsanto has resulted in a historic $289 million settlement. The lawsuit in question was brought by a former groundskeeper named DeWayne Johnson who suffers from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and blames his exposure to Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready for his condition. Bayer, which acquisitioned Monsanto for a whopping $62 billion saw its shares fall in the wake of the settlement. Monsanto is facing more than 5,000 such lawsuits around the US. On tomorrow’s show we’ll speak with Ronnie Cummings of Organic Consumers Union about what Monsanto faces.
In international news, the Taliban in Afghanistan has gone on a major offensive over the past few days, reportedly killing more than 200 Afghan government forces in multiple and geographically disparate attacks. The most major offensive was centered around the Eastern city of Ghazni where about half of the fatalities took place. A hospital in Ghazni was overwhelmed that a spokesperson told press, “We’re running out of hospital rooms; we are using corridors and available space everywhere. Fighting is quite close to the hospital. The situation is really bad here. We’re receiving more and more wounded and dead every hour.” The US said it launched 10 air strikes on Taliban targets as it bolstered Afghan government forces. At the same time, the Taliban is hailing recent successful talks with US representatives on an Afghan peace process.
In Syria, a weapons storage facility in a city in Idlib Province exploded killing 39 people including 12 children. Idlib is a stronghold of Syrian rebel groups.
Samir Amin, the celebrated Marxist economist has died. Amin, who was a French national of Egyptian origin, died at the age of 86 in Paris. He was a vocal critic of capitalism and wrote several books including Capitalism in the age of globalization in 1997.
And finally, the Indian Nobel prize winner V. S. Naipaul is also dead. The 85-year old who won the world’s most prestigious award in literature was known for his biting anti-colonial themes. Mr. Naipaul passed away at his home in London.