Headlines: August 14, 2019
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The Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli dug his heels in even harder after being confronted about his rewrite of Emma Lazarus’s poem on the Statue of Liberty. After claiming on NPR’s Morning Edition that the poem asserted that only those who could be independent of government services should emigrate, he said this on CNN a day later. Media Matters for America reported that, “Cuccinelli then ran to Fox News, where he complained to a sympathetic audience that the media outlets were unfairly treating him over his comments on CNN. He lamented, ‘If I open my mouth, you know, they will scream something awful came out no matter what.’ He insisted that media reports are ‘completely and totally untrue,’ despite video footage showing exactly what he said.” The hashtag #CuccinelliResign has now begun trending on Twitter.
An 18-year old white man named Justin Olsen was found to have been planning a mass shooting of federal agents. Going by the handle name ArmyofChrist, Olsen posted violent fantasies online including a call to “Shoot every federal agent on sight.” Earlier this month when FBI agents raided his home, according to the Washington Post, they found, “10,000 rounds of ammunition and a vault full of assault-type weapons and shotguns.” Meanwhile the Guardian newspaper reported that Republican state lawmaker from Washington named Matt Shea has been closely working with an organization “offering training to young men in ‘biblical warfare’ that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor.” And the New Zealand shooter who went on a killing rampage against Muslims and murdered more than 50 people has been found to be circulating a handwritten letter on 4chan. The online forum 4chan is favored by mass shooters and hate groups.
In the latest news from the Jeffrey Epstein controversy, victims of the billionaire sex offender are now suing his close accomplice and girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell. Jennifer Araoz who has accused Epstein of repeatedly raping her when she was 14 and 15 years old, is joined by 3 other unnamed women in suing Maxwell. In an op-ed in the New York Times Araoz wrote that in spite of Epstein’s death, “my quest for justice is just getting started.” Meanwhile there are now reports that the guards at Metropolitan Correctional Center where Epstein was found dead had fallen asleep and not checked on him for 3 hours. MCC authorities say they falsified records to protect themselves.
The state of New York just passed the Child Victims Act expanding the statute of limitations on when victims of child sexual abuse can sue. New York joins more than a dozen states that have passed similar laws. Now victims of child sexual abuse can file lawsuits against their predators in New York until the age of 55, up from 23. The change is expected to bring a flood of lawsuits against pedophile Catholic priests and others.
President Donald Trump spoke at a small town in Pennsylvania on Tuesday aimed at workers in the energy section. His speech was paid for by American taxpayers, not his reelection campaign and was entitled, “America’s Energy Dominance and Manufacturing Revival.” His speech was aimed at promoting a plant to convert natural gas into plastics. But it seemed quite clear that the President understood very little of how energy works as he ripped into renewable energy sources like wind. His speech eventually devolved into a campaign style address as he meandered on meaninglessly about elections.
The Washington Post is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been dogged by the label of #MoscowMitch, blocked a bill to preserve sanctions on Russia earlier this year. The paper alleges that McConnell’s home state of Kentucky benefited directly from the lifting of sanctions in enabling a Russian-backed aluminum mill to be built.
Bloomberg reported this week that the social media giant Facebook admitted to listening to the audio messages that users sent to one another through its platform. Apparently, “Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work.” The corporation says it has stopped the practice and issued a statement that read, “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago.”
In other tech news, President Donald Trump this week postponed a large round of tariffs on China to December on goods that included electronics, smart phones, and other popular consumer goods. Apple in particular worried that its iPhone costs would rise right as holiday shopping season began. Apple produces a significant number of its products in China.
In international news Hong Kong’s protesters allowed the reopening of their airport after two days of occupation and clashes with police. Flights resumed as protesters handed out pamphlets to travelers and posted online messages. One message read, “It is not our intention to cause delays to your travels and we do not want to cause inconvenience to you…We ask for your understanding and forgiveness as young people in Hong Kong continue to fight for freedom and democracy.” Meanwhile satellite photos are showing Chinese armed vehicles affiliated with China’s paramilitary forces at a sports stadium in Shenzhen, a city that borders Hong Kong.
The International Red Cross is reporting that scores of people have been killed and hundreds injured in Yemen after UAE-backed forces clashed with Saudi-backed forces in the Yemeni city of Aden. The two nations have been allied with one another in the devastating war on Yemen but now appear to be on opposite sides, at least in Aden.
And finally the UK has begun enforcing new standards in advertising and has banned ads by Volkswagen and Philadelphia cream cheese for violating gender stereotypes. After viewers complained that the ads perpetuated sexist tropes the UK Advertising Standards Agency reviewed them and pulled them from circulation.