Headlines: August 29, 2018
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Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, has won the Democratic nomination for Governor, making history as the first Black gubernatorial nominee of a major party in his state. Democrats picked Gillum on Tuesday after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders had stumped hard for him. According to the Miami Herald, “Running to the left of his rivals and despite being vastly outspent, the charismatic and proudly liberal Gillum built a devoted statewide following of progressives. He had a well-received message of social justice and lifting up the downtrodden and an appeal to Florida’s growing diversity.” Gillum beat former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham who had initially led the polls and was favored by party leaders to win.
Florida Republicans picked Representative Ron DeSantis, who had been backed by Trump as their party’s nominee for Governor. The race between DeSantis and Gillum in November will be a symbolic battle between Sanders’ and Trump’s approach to American politics. Already Trump jumped into the fray, tweeting on Wednesday morning that Gillum was, “a failed Socialist Mayor.”
Arizonans also went to the polls on Tuesday in their state’s primary race to choose party nominees for a Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, as well as for Governor and two House seats. Representative Martha McSally won the Republican Senate nomination, beating out Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio, both of whom are loyal to Trump. Arpaio is the former Sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted by the federal government and controversially pardoned by Trump. Democrats picked Kyrsten Sinema for the Senate nomination, who could beat McSally in November, flipping a crucial Senate seat from Red to Blue.
Arizona’s governor’s races resulted in Doug Ducey winning the GOP’s primary versus David Garcia on the Democratic side. If Garcia wins in November he would be the state’s first Latino Governor in decades, and is a progressive who backs Medicare-for-all.
Canadian trade representatives joined trilateral talks on NAFTA on Tuesday, just a day after US President Trump announced that the US struck a deal with Mexico alone. The announcement came amidst the latest round of talks to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement. With Canada rejoining talks, it is possible that NAFTA might be saved, but a Friday deadline to do so looms large. According to Reuters, “Ottawa will be under pressure to accept new terms on autos trade, dispute settlement and intellectual property rules after the United States and Mexico agreed on Monday to overhaul [NAFTA].” After today’s news headlines we’ll speak with Patrick Woodall of Food and Water Watch to understand what the latest news on NAFTA means.
The death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year has once more been updated. Gov. Ricardo Rossello updated the official number of dead from 64 to a whopping 2,975. The revision came after an independent study commissioned by the government was conducted. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the revised estimate to praise her president’s disaster response saying Trump, “remains proud of all of the work the Federal family undertook to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.” The study was completed almost exactly a year after Maria hit Puerto Rico.
A former police officer in Dallas County, Texas was just convicted of murdering an unarmed 15-year old African American boy. Oliver Roy, who is white, fired shots into a car as it drove away from a party saying that he feared for his partner’s life. Roy was removed from duty shortly after the shooting, which killed Jordan Edwards. Edwards’ parents and relatives who were in the courtroom expressed relief at the guilty verdict. It is highly unusual for juries to convict police officers of murder despite the extraordinarily high rates of officer-involved shootings in the US and the disproportionate targeting of African Americans.
California governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a major bill into law reforming its cash bail system. In a statement Brown said, “Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly.” The new law will not require any money for bail, instead it will give judges in local courts discretion to decide who remains in jail while they await trial and who gets released. The ACLU of California, which originally backed the bill, withdrew its endorsement saying that judges got too much discretion in the end.
President Trump cannot understand why there is so much bad news about him on Google and has decided to take the Internet search engine to task over it. On Tuesday he complained bitterly on Twitter that, “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media,” and that “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good.” The White House is now apparently investigating whether Google is indeed manipulating search results. Google representatives responded saying, “We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.” Later on Tuesday Trump repeated his far-fetched claims at the White House and broadened his critiques to Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile a billboard in Union Township, New Jersey is making waves for an unflattering photo of Trump next to which read the words, “Our Leader, the Idiot.” The billboard is apparently an ad for a documentary film by an activist named Neil Harrison. A company named Outfront Media owns the billboard and has been identified by local officials to those who are offended by its message.
President Trump’s legal team has sought to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by Stormy Daniels, the actress who has accused Trump of having an affair with her and then paying her hush money to keep it quiet. Lawyers for the President filed the request in federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday saying that Daniels’ lawsuit was an affront to the President’s free speech rights. Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing Ms. Daniels called the attempt, “baseless and desperate.” Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen recently pled guilty to violating federal election laws when he paid Daniels $130,000 dollars to remain quiet about her relationship with Trump.
The US Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Trump’s nominee to the position of Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve. Richard Clarida is a hedge fund manager and an Economics Professor at Columbia University and was confirmed by Senators from both major parties in a vote of 69-26. According to Reuters, “Clarida, whose term as vice chair will last four years, is seen as a key ally of Fed Chair Jerome Powell and has aligned himself with centrists at the Fed in supporting gradual interest rate rises.”
In international news, the US reiterated its support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war on Yemen on the same day that the United Nations Human Rights Council accused the Saudis and their allies of committing potential war crimes against civilians. Defense Secretary James Mattis gave a rare news conference on Tuesday where he defended the Saudi government’s conduct in Yemen despite high rates of civilian casualties, especially of children.
Secretary Mattis also said that the US would not suspend any more military drills with South Korea, in another indication that that much-vaunted detente between the US and North Korea appears to be unraveling.