Headlines: August 20, 2019
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Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar spoke out about the travel ban that Israel imposed on them at the behest of President Donald Trump. In an emotional press conference on Monday, the two freshmen lawmakers who are also the first two Muslim American women to ever be elected on a federal level, called on their colleagues in Congress to go in their stead to document Israel’s crimes. Tlaib was granted a humanitarian visit to the West Bank to see her grandmother but with a strict gag order as a condition. She turned down the offer.
The nation’s largest reproductive health care provider for women, Planned Parenthood, has withdrawn from the Government’s Title X family planning program. The Trump administration has deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood to reward anti-abortion voters and required that those organizations accepting government funding for family planning services cannot also provide abortions. At stake was about $60 million in annual funding that Planned Parenthood will now forego in order to continue its work as an abortion provider. Meanwhile a 19-year old in Chicago was just arrested after making an online threat to slaughter abortion providers and patients. And, a 21-year old Salvadoran woman who had been sentenced to 30 years in prison after her pregnancy ended in a stillbirth was just acquitted. Evelyn Hernández had gotten pregnant as the result of a rape and was then accused of terminating her own pregnancy. A judge finally acquitted her after she served three years in prison.
Barely two weeks after 2 back-to-back mass shootings, President Trump has reportedly already begun losing interest on the modest gun control measures he said he was in favor of. A White House official told The Daily Beast, “He’s started to move on. If it were up to the president, he’d do background checks today. But that’s not how it works, and he loses patience [quickly].” A Senate Democratic aide also spoke to the outlet and lamented, “This is all Trump. It is all in his hands. No one is talking to Republicans or their offices. If the president says, ‘Yes I wanna do it,’ it gets 85 votes. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t.” Meanwhile researchers at the UC Davis Medical Center have found that three years after California passed a so-called “Red Flag” law, allowing weapons to be seized from individuals known to pose a risk, authorities have prevented at least 21 potential mass shootings.
Despite the fact that Trump has publicly claimed the US economy is robust and thriving, in private White House officials are drafting plans to bolster the financial system. The plan involves cutting payroll taxes as a way to put more money into consumer pockets and stimulate the economy. It would need congressional approval and an admission by Trump that the economy was weakening. So far there is no talk of reversing Trump’s China tariffs that have triggered a trade war. A new study by JPMorgan Chase concluded that the trade war is costing Americans a $1000 a year on average. And in other financial news, United States Steel Corp has just announced it will lay of hundreds of workers in Michigan in the next few weeks. The layoffs will apparently be temporary for about 6 months. According to Reuters, “The lay-offs call into question claims President Donald Trump has made about the resurgence of the domestic steel industry,” as a result of his tariffs.
Mercedes-Benz has indicated that it will join other auto manufacturers – Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW – in a pact to meet the state of California’s fuel efficiency standards in yet another blow to Trump’s anti-climate change plan. Trump has rolled back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards but the nation’s largest state pushed back and appears to be successfully resetting them.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Jill has openly admitted that her husband may not be as good a Presidential candidate as others, indicating that she may be just as prone to verbal gaffes as her spouse. Joe Biden’s wife Jill openly affirming her own husband’s failings at a campaign event in New Hampshire. A recent poll of that state’s voters found Senator Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic field with 21% support followed by Biden with 15%.
Trump’s former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has a new op-ed in the Washington Post urging Republicans to speak out against Trump like he is doing. In it he accused Trump of “inflammatory” rhetoric and being a “demagogue.” He implored the GOP to, “help save the country from [Trump’s] depredations.” Meanwhile Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico has become the highest-ranking Democrat to openly back Trump’s impeachment.
Pro-immigrant organizations launched a massive lawsuit this week against the Trump administration over the appalling state of health care in government-run and funded immigrant detention centers. According to Politico, which had access to the complaint, the lawsuit alleges, “major lapses in medical and mental health care in nearly 160 detention facilities across the country.” And in other immigration news, the US has offered to triple the number of guest farmworker visas to Guatemala as incentive to enforce Trump’s requirement that the Central American refugees seek asylum to the US from Guatemalan soil.
California has just passed the nation’s strictest police use-of-force law. Named “Stephon Clark’s Law” after a young black man who was fatally shot in Sacramento, police in California will now only be allowed to shoot to kill if the “officer reasonably believes … that deadly force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”
Elsewhere in California, students at a High School in Garden Grove were captured on video Nazi-era song and giving the Nazi salute. School authorities have said they disciplined the students but refused to reveal how. And, two members of the fascist group Proud Boys were just convicted of various assault charges in a clash with anti-fascist activists in New York last fall.
Results from a conservative group’s audit of Facebook were just released. The audit was aimed at discovering anti-conservative bias in the social media platform. No bias was found but Facebook appears willing to appease President Trump and his allies that have made un-substantiated claims of bias. In other news, according to AP, “Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you block the social network from gathering information about you on outside websites and apps.” Meanwhile in Hong Kong, Facebook joined Twitter in cracking down on online propaganda originating from fake accounts controlled by mainland China.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced his plans to resign after the far-right leader Matteo Salvini threatened a no-confidence vote. Salvini is demanding new elections. Prime Minister Conte denounced his attacks as, “irresponsible.”
And finally in the latest news on Kashmir, Pakistan has said that it will go to the International Court of Justice for a ruling on India’s recent unilateral decision to revoke autonomous rule in the embattled South Asian state.