Headlines: August 30, 2018
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:53 — 8.1MB)
The Florida election race for Governor got ugly just a day after Tuesday’s primary election when the white Republican nominee Ron DeSantis made racist remarks against his opponent Andrew Gillum who is African American. This is what DeSantis – who is strongly backed by President Trump – said in an interview on Fox News.
Gillum was an “articulate spokesman” for “far left views,” and warned voters that, “the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
That’s Florida Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis using racist language to refer to his opponent Andrew Gillum in a Fox News interview. President Trump, who is known for his addiction to Fox News claims he had not heard DeSantis’ comments.
A contentious gubernatorial debate in New York between candidates from the same party made waves on Wednesday. Incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo faced off against progressive favorite and actor-turned-activist Cynthia Nixon. Here is a brief clip of the debate during a particularly tense moment. Cuomo is seeking a third term and has a significant lead over Nixon ahead of the September 13th primary race.
Trump this week said that there would be violence from opponents of the Republican Party if it lost the midterm elections in November. He was asked by reporters on Wednesday what he had meant by a claim he made on Monday at a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders. At the Monday meeting Trump had reportedly said that if Democrats win, they “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently.” On Wednesday he stuck to that script saying vaguely, “I just hope there won’t be violence…If you look at what happens … there’s a lot of unnecessary violence all over the world, but also in this country. And I don’t want to see it.” He did not mention that it is his supporters who are far more likely to be armed with weapons than gun-control supporting Democrats.
Among the policies that Trump and his party fear will be overturned are deregulations of polluting industries. On Wednesday news emerged that the government will propose the rewriting of rules meant to regulate mercury and other hazardous emissions from coal-powered plants. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards which were implemented in 2012 have dramatically reduced air pollution and protected public health. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the rules, “ensure 90 percent of the mercury in coal burned in power plants is not released into our air,” and that, “the standards save up to 11,000 lives each year and prevent thousands of heart attacks, asthma and bronchitis attacks, hospital and emergency room visits.”
Education Secretary Betsy Devos is overseeing her own deregulatory agenda. The New York Times on Wednesday obtained a copy of proposed changes to how campuses deal with accusations of rape and sexual assault. The new rules would, “narrow the definition of sexual harassment, holding schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses. They would also establish a higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints.” In other words Devos is seeking to, “bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment or rape,” and “reduce liability for institutions of higher education.”
Meanwhile Oklahoma’s primary runoff election results are in, and most of the GOP state representatives who opposed raising taxes to fund teacher pay raises failed to make it to the general election. Oklahoma had the lowest paid teachers in the nation but a revolt earlier this year forced the state to vote for raises. Those who defied the teachers paid a heavy political price as per June’s primary and this week’s runoff. Only 4 of 19 representatives who voted against teacher raises are now heading to the general election. Elsewhere in the nation, as of Thursday thousands of teachers in the southwestern part of Washington State are on strike, and teachers in Los Angeles have voted to strike over stalled contract negotiations.
Trump on Wednesday tweeted that White House Counsel Don McGahn, “will be leaving his position in the fall, shortly after the confirmation (hopefully) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.” According to Reuters, “McGahn did not know the president’s tweet was coming, an administration official said, but he had been planning to leave the White House because he felt he had made his mark in getting conservatives named to federal judgeships, rolling back regulations and reeling in the bureaucracy.” CNN reports that Trump was apparently “unnerved” by the knowledge that McGahn had spent about 30 hours being interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There is speculation that Trump wants to replace McGahn with someone more willing to stand up to Mueller.
The latest round of talks on the North America Free Trade Agreement appear to have given Canada some weight after Trump announced a trade deal with Mexico earlier this week. Both Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they were optimistic about coming to an agreement ahead of a deadline this Friday that Trump imposed. Mr. Trudeau said, “We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada.” He added however that, “No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.” Part of what is at stake is Canada’s protectionist position on its dairy industry.
Trump on Wednesday continued his claim that Internet search engines are biased against him. He tweeted a video showing screen grabs of Google’s front page linking to President Obama’s State of the Union speeches for years but not promoting Trump’s first address. Google pushed back saying it only promotes State of the Union speeches and not the address made by a President during their first year in office, which is instead considered a speech before a joint session of Congress. Google pointed out that it did not promote Obama’s first speech as President either and that it did promote Trump’s first State Of the Union Address given in his second year in office. Meanwhile a new poll has found that 65% of those who describe themselves as conservatives believe that social media platforms are censoring them and their ideas, this despite evidence to the contrary.
The white police officer who was found guilty on Tuesday of murdering a 15-year old African American boy named Jordan Edwards, was sentenced on Wednesday to 15 years in prison in Dallas, Texas. Roy Oliver, who is white, shot at the car in which Edwards rode away from a party after he and his partner responded to a call. Oliver was also fined $10,000. An attorney for Edwards’ family said, “The Dallas DA’s office did something that has not been done around this country. They had the courage to take on a bad police officer and because of that, that in and of itself is a victory.” He added, “We all would have liked to have seen a greater sentence, but we’re going to respect the verdict that the jury handed down, only because we know that there are parents all over this country who would love to see the person who took the life of their kid spend the next 15 years in prison.”
The online retail giant Amazon has hit back at Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders after the firebrand politician repeatedly called Amazon out over its poverty-level wages. Sanders has held town hall meetings with employees of Amazon and other large businesses to highlight the desperate working conditions and low wages that corporate America subjects Americans to. He has also introduced a bill in the Senate that would require companies like Amazon to pay the government back for federal assistance programs that its employees are forced to rely on. On Wednesday Amazon posted a statement to its website saying, “Senator Sanders continues to make inaccurate and misleading accusations against Amazon.” Amazon was recently found to be paying its employees to tweet positive stories about their experiences at the company.
And finally Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower turned political activist who was imprisoned for 7 years by the Obama Administration before being granted clemency, has been barred from entering Australia. Manning, who has been politically active since her release and even mounted a campaign to run for the Senate, is scheduled for a speaking tour in Australia set to begin on September 7th. But, according to AP, Australia’s “Department of Home Affairs said while it does not comment on individual cases, all non-citizens entering Australia must meet character requirements set out in the Migration Act.”