Headlines: August 14, 2018
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In today’s news headlines, a man drove his car into pedestrians and cyclists in a busy London street outside the UK Parliament on Tuesday morning in what authorities are calling a “terrorist” act. The driver of the car drove into barriers after hitting several people and was arrested. So far there are no details about him or his motivation. The London Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu told reporters, “Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method, and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident.” It is the second time such an incident took place outside the parliament building. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter, “All Londoners, like me, utterly condemn all acts of terrorism on our city.”
Here in the US an FBI agent named Peter Strzok was fired on Monday over texts that he had sent in 2016 that show disparaging comments about President Donald Trump. Trump and his supporters have pointed to Strzok as proof that the entire Special Counsel investigation into election wrongdoing has been tainted. After Strzok was fired Trump tweeted, “Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!” According to the New York Times, “Mr. Strzok, who rose over 20 years at the F.B.I. to become one of its most experienced counterintelligence agents, was a key figure in the early months of the inquiry.” Although the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility had recommended Strzok be suspended for 60 days, the Bureau’s Deputy Director decided to fire him instead.
President Trump’s hopes that Special Counsel Robert Muller’s team will be discredited hit a new wall on Monday with a federal judge’s ruling. Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by Trump himself to the US District Court of Washington DC last year, ruled that Mueller’s inquiry is legitimate and constitutional.
On Tuesday morning, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman continued her publicity blitz for her new tell-all book about Trump called Unhinged by releasing a third recording. On the heels of tapes featuring White House Chief of Staff John Kelly firing her, and a phone call from Trump himself saying he didn’t know about the firing, Manigault-Newman has now released to CBS a tape of Trump’s campaign advisers discussing what to do about the fact that Trump apparently used the N-word during a taping of his reality show The Apprentice. Trump had denied ever using the word but the tape appears to contradict that assertion. On Tuesday the organization representing Trump’s election campaign filed an arbitration against Manigault-Newman saying she violated a non-disclosure agreement.
A white man in the shooting death of an African American father of 3 has been charged with manslaughter in Florida. Weeks after Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot in Clearwater, and was initially not indicted because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Pinellas County prosecutors have decided to charge him. McGlockton’s family had initially denounced authorities’ refusal to arrest and charge Drejka. On Monday they lauded the manslaughter charge. Here is family attorney Michele Rayner at a press conference.
The Midwestern states of Wisconsin and Minnesota are voting in their primary elections on Tuesday. A candidate named Tony Evers appears to be leading in the Democratic primary for Governor in Wisconsin and could pose a threat to incumbent Scott Walker, a Republican, this November. Walker has survived several recall and election challenges but polls suggest he may be vulnerable this year.
Meanwhile children are showing states how vulnerable our election systems are to hacking. At the Def Con security conference over the weekend, an 11-year old boy successfully hacked into a replica of Florida’s electronic election software. It took him a mere 10 minutes.
A man named David Glosser has accused Stephen Miller of hypocrisy in the immigration debate in an op-ed published in Politico on Monday. Miller is the architect of Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. Mr. Glosser is Miller’s uncle and in his scathing piece he wrote, “If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out.”
A firefighter in California has died while battling the record breaking Mendocino Complex Fire – the largest ever fire in recorded history in the state. The firefighter – who’s name has not yet been released to the public – is the sixth to die in the past few weeks. The Mendocino Complex Fire has destroyed hundreds of homes and continues to threaten to engulf thousands more. It is expected to be contained by September 1st and this week’s slightly cooler weather is helping. Meanwhile Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Monday during a visit to California’s fire ravaged areas that climate change had nothing to do with the extreme heat driving fires. He told press, “America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change,” referring to environmental organizations that are warning about the deadly impacts of climate change. Zinke recommended active forest management as a means of curtailing fires but environmental groups see this as a giveaway to logging corporations.
In Florida a massive toxic algae bloom has overwhelmed the Gulf Coast region enveloping it in an unbearable smell, and leading to mass death of marine life. The “red tide” as it is called has driven tourists from the area who ordinarily bring summer business to Gulf Coast communities. Among the dead are 5 tons of fish, 9 dolphins, and between 250 to 300 sea turtles. Here is a Steven Murawski, a scientist explaining the phenomenon to Associated Press. Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared an emergency in coastal counties. The cause of the red tide is linked to post-hurricane phenomena. National Geographic pointed out that, “Hurricane Irma blew through in 2017, which again led to massive runoff that perhaps is driving this latest bloom… Scientists predict that as the climate changes, such storms will become even more intense and frequent, which could spell trouble for the future.”
In Italy heavy rains have caused a bridge in the coastal city of Genoa to collapse, killing at least 25 people. According to CNN, “Police said that a violent storm was the cause of the collapse. An automated report from the weather station at the nearby … airport around the time of the incident recorded thunderstorms with winds gusting to 57 kilometers per hour (36 miles per hour).”
Elsewhere in Europe, Britain is bracing itself for another Brexit-related crisis. British Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt warned on Tuesday that, “Everyone needs to prepare for the possibility of a chaotic no-deal Brexit.” He added, “We do need to see a change in approach by the European Commission.” At the heart of the conflict are trade rules proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May as conditions for Britain’s departure from the European Union.
The US’s National Security Advisor John Bolton has met with Turkey’s ambassador to the US over Turkey’s continued detention of a American pastor. The battle between the US and Turkey is threatening to escalate after the US imposed harsh sanctions that have led to economic chaos inside Turkey and threatens to impact the global economy.
And finally on Monday parents in Yemen buried dozens of children killed by a US bomb dropped by Saudi Arabia last week. The attack on a busy market in northern Yemen hit a bus carrying schoolboys, 40 of whom were massacred, making it one of the worst incidents of civilian deaths in the entire war. Despite international condemnation of the bombing the Saudi government defended what it called a, “legitimate military action.”