Headlines: August 2, 2019
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President Donald Trump spoke at a raucous rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Thursday evening during which he took aim at Democrats, associating them with poverty, despair, crime, and more. He continued his attacks against his favorite targets of women of color serving in Congress. While the chants of “Send Her Back” that marked his last rally did not materialize this time, rally goers did chant “Lock Her Up,” when he referred to Hillary Clinton. During the three anti-Trump activists stood up and unfurled signs, one of which said “Immigrants Built America.” The activists were roughed up by the crowd and then escorted out by security. The Washington Post’s Dan Zak reported from the rally in a piece entitled “Fear and Gloating in Cincinnati,” where he spoke to Trump supporters one of whom said, “God is real and He’s told many people that Trump is going to serve eight years.” Outside the rally, a 29-year old Trump supporter named Dallas Frazier was caught on video beating up a 61-year old anti-Trump activist named Mike Alter.
In other news the Republican Party’s last black Congressional Representative Will Hurd, has announced his resignation. He said on Twitter, “I have made the decision to not seek reelection for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” The GOP has one last black federal lawmaker left – Senator Tim Scott, who two weeks ago denounced Trump’s tweets against Congresswomen of color as, “unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language.”
Meanwhile Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is one of about 50 Black Democratic members of Congress, announced that his Baltimore, Maryland, house had been broken into. Trump, who had attacked Cummings’ district in Baltimore as a, “rat and rodent infested mess,” and called Cummings a “racist,” gloated in the news on Twitter.
Just days after activists challenged New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio on a national stage during the debate to “Fire Pantaleo,” a police administrative judge has recommended that the NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo who choked Eric Garner to death ought to be fired. The New York Times explained that, “The New York police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, must now make a final decision on whether to allow Officer Pantaleo to remain on the force, and finds himself caught between elected leaders who have been calling for the officer to be fired and leaders of police unions, who have cast the officer as a scapegoat.”
Proponents of healthcare for all are celebrating the fact that a majority of Democratic lawmakers have now signed on to the Medicare for All Act of 2019. Representative Pramila Jayapal wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post the day after 2 days of Presidential candidate debates taking on the numerous myths and misrepresentations about the bill. She chastised her fellow party members saying, “Democratic candidates should stop using one-liners from industry front groups and Republican playbooks.” Jayapal is the lead sponsor of the Medicare-for-All bill.
State lawmakers from around the country are meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday for the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators conference. On the agenda is how states are pushing aggressively to address climate change in the face of a federal assault on the climate. Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of the National Caucus told Al Jazeera, “This is coming from a heightened consciousness amongst the voters. Constituents are really prioritising this and we are hearing a lot of people responding and making that their top priority.”
A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the nation’s opioid crisis has moved out of suburban areas of the country and into urban areas. The numbers of deaths related to opioid overdoses in urban centers was greater than the number in suburbs in 2016. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Fentanyl, a potent opioid with 50 times the strength of heroin, is a major culprit.”
The Pentagon has delayed a $10 billion contract to the online retail giant Amazon for its cloud computing services. Newly seated Defense Secretary Mark Esper will be reviewing the contract as per Trump’s request. Trump has often railed against the Washington Post’s critical coverage of him. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns the Post. According to the New York Times, “Experts on federal contracting say it is extremely rare for a president to intervene in a contract competition and improper to do it for political reasons.” And, the Guardian newspaper reported that the Pentagon has launched 25 unmanned solar power surveillance test balloons. According to the Guardian, “The balloons are carrying hi-tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather.”
The US has formally withdrawn from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. The move came 6 months after the White House first announced its intention. According to Reuters, “The U.S. military plans to test a ground-launched cruise missile in the coming weeks and an intermediate-range ballistic missile in November, both of which would have been banned under the treaty.”
After years of peace talks between the US and Afghanistan news has emerged of a peace deal with the Taliban and the possible withdrawal of thousands of US troops from the nation’s longest official war. There are currently 14,000 US troops still in Afghanistan and the deal that was announced could pull back 5-6,000 of them. It also requires the Taliban to enter into talks with the US-backed Afghan government.
In Yemen, Al Qaeda forces have claimed credit for an attack on a camp housing forces from the United Arab Emirates – the second such attack in 2 days. The first strike was apparently conducted by the Islamic State. The latest strike by Al Qaeda killed at least 19 soldiers.
Politico reported that President Trump is having a tough time rallying European allies to join a military coalition challenging Iran in the Straits of Hormuz. Germany this week issued a formal refusal to join the coalition while France and Britain have also quietly said no. Trump wants to challenge Iran’s reported aggression against oil tankers in the area. But his European allies, who invested much effort in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran feel alienated after Trump unilaterally destroyed the agreement.
And finally in Hong Kong, protests against Chinese authority are continuing and even expanding. This week thousands of civil servants joined pro-democracy protesters in a major show of defiance against an order to remain loyal to Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam. Medical workers also rallied demanding the release of a nurse who was arrested while tending to hurt protesters. According to the Guardian, “Large-scale protests are planned for Saturday and Sunday and a citywide strike has been called for Monday.”