Headlines: August 22, 2019
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President Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre rant on Wednesday in front of reporters with his Marine One helicopter buzzing in the background. During his impromptu press briefing, which appears to have replaced the traditional White House briefings Trump referred to himself as “the chosen one,” during a rambling outdoor press briefing. He also insulted the leader of Denmark, repeated his anti-Semitic remark about “disloyal Jews,” accused the media of trying to trigger a recession, and said he considered giving himself the medal of honor. On immigration he repeated his idea to revoke the Constitutional right to birthright citizenship. And, Trump lied once more about President Obama’s immigration policy saying it was his predecessor who separated immigrant families and that he brought them together. In fact Obama did not have a policy to separate families and his administration did so on very rare case-by-case occasions. Trump’s government has enacted a policy that resulted in thousands of families being separated and many remain so.
During his bizarre, lie-filled rant to reporters Trump reversed course on the idea of tax cuts to address a looming recession. He said simply, “We don’t need it. We have a strong economy.” Meanwhile a new study by the National Women’s Law Center has found that black women earn “61 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts,” which amounts to a “lifetime loss of $946,120.”
Presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders has just released a new plan to address climate change. Building on the Green New Deal – which was outlined in a resolution introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, Sanders’ plan is a, “ten-year, nationwide mobilization centered on equity and humanity.” According to Associated Press, “Among Sanders’ ideas is sourcing 100% of the country’s electricity from renewable and zero-emissions power. He is calling for committing $2.18 trillion in grants for low- and middle-income families to weatherize and retrofit their homes and businesses, with the goal of reducing residential energy consumption by 30%. He would charge the Energy Department with making sure that both new and existing commercial structures, as well as high-income home owners, meet his administration’s energy retrofitting goals.”
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is working to makeup for a $60 million shortfall in funding after the Trump administration implemented new rules on family planning services in an attempt to defund the organization. In states like Utah and Minnesota Planned Parenthood is the only healthcare provider serving the family planning needs of poor women. At stake is the care of tens of thousands of women.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has published an op-ed in the New York Times making the case that, “The Filibuster Plays a Crucial Role in Our Constitutional Order,” and accusing Democrats of wanting to, “change Senate rules for temporary political gain.” Matthew Chapman, writing in Raw Story countered that McConnell, “practically invented modern abuse of the filibuster to block legislation under President Barack Obama and … has shattered dozens Senate norms to silence the left and confirm radical judges.”
The New York Times conducted a lengthy investigation into a major source of right-wing fake news – the Western Journal. The Times opened its piece like this: “In the America presented on their news and opinion website, WesternJournal.com, tradition-minded patriots face ceaseless assault by anti-Christian bigots, diseased migrants and race hustlers concocting hate crimes. Danger and outrages loom. A Mexican politician threatens the “takeover” of several American states. Police officers are kicked out of an Arizona Starbucks. Kamala Harris, the Democratic presidential candidate, proposes a “$100 billion handout” for black families.” The Western Journal apparently operates entirely on social media platforms where it has 36 million loyal followers who swallow their pro-Trump misinformation.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has become the second Democratic Presidential candidate to drop out of the race saying he will run for a third gubernatorial term instead. Inslee has be credited with making climate change a central focus of his short-lived campaign. John Hickenlooper, former Colorado Governor and the first candidate to drop out, has announced he plans to run for the Senate next year. Hickenlooper could help Democrats retake a majority in the Senate.
Thousands of protesters have gathered in Biarritz, France as the G-7 summit gets ready to open there. The summit will be hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and will begin this Saturday. President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to attend the summit with 13,000 police providing protection from protests. But this year’s G7 is expected to include self-criticism about the failures of capitalism – an argument that protesters have made for decades. In fact the Deputy Director of the G20 research group told AP, “We find ourselves in this really peculiar moment where the grievances of those inside the summit room and those outside the security fence are aligned.”
Elsewhere in Europe, Italy’s government has collapsed with the New York Times explaining that, “The government coalition of the hard-right, anti-migrant League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement came apart after a mutinous power play by Matteo Salvini, the League leader and the country’s increasingly popular interior minister.” President Sergio Mattarella now takes the reins to see if he can form an alternative majority or call for snap elections.
Hundreds of refugees, primarily from African nations, remain stranded on a boat in the Mediterranean for going on two weeks with no port assigned to dock on. The Ocean Viking has been rescuing migrants stranded on boats carrying refugees coming from Libya where many suffered detention and torture. Jay Berger, project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders on the Ocean Viking told reporters by satellite phone, it “is a complete shame. It is inhumane…There needs to be concrete action. This is not how people should be treated.”
A planned repatriation of Rohingya Muslims driven out by Myanmar into Bangladesh is not going so well. Not a single member of the Rohingya community turned up on the first day of the program in the absence of a reassurance of their safety. Meanwhile conditions at refugee camps in Bangladesh where 700,000 people are living, are increasingly inhumane. The camp, called Cox’s Bazar has been housing refugees for two years and have poor security for women and children, and no educational facilities for children.
Meanwhile Turkey has extended a deadline for Syrian refugees to leave its capital Istanbul and return to the cities they were registered. Syrians were caught unprepared for the initial announcement last month. And, in the embattled Syrian city of Idlib, the government says it has opened a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians to leave the area as a war against rebel groups continues there. Finally, NATO has announced that 2 US Service members were killed in Afghanistan this week as the US approaches the end of a deal-making process with the Taliban. The US military did not give details of the killings.