Headlines: August 5, 2019
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President Donald Trump addressed the public on Monday after one of the bloodiest weekends in the nation with two back-to-back shootings that resulted in 31 deaths. Calling out racism, bigotry and white supremacy in a brief 10-minute address, Trump fell short of admitting responsibility or calling for gun control measures.
In El Paso, 21-year old Patrick Crusius drove from Dallas to the border city armed with an AK-47 and targeted the largely immigrant clientele of a local Walmart leaving 20 people dead and 27 injured. Two more victims succumbed to their injuries at the hospital on Monday morning, bringing the total death toll to 22. CNN reported that some survivors of the shooting may have been avoiding hospital care because of their immigration status. Crusius posted a 2,300-word manifesto online just hours before the attack expressing anger at what he called a, “Hispanic invasion,” and praising the New Zealand shooter that targeted mosques killing 50 people earlier this year in Christ Church. Crusius posted his manifesto on 8chan, a shadowy chat room for Trump-inspired racist and violent fantasies. The San Francisco tech company that hosted 8chan has now dropped the group from its services.
According to the New York Times, the shooting is being investigated, “as an act of domestic terrorism, and prosecutors said they were considering federal hate crime charges. They were also considering federal gun charges that would carry the death penalty.” At a press conference with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Representative Veronica Escobar from El Paso called out the racism and bigotry in the shooter’s manifesto. In an interview on Morning Joe, Escobar said that Trump should not come to El Paso.
The mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio came less than a day after El Paso where yet another young white man, 24-year old Connor Betts, donned military style armor and used a rifle to shoot his own sister and 8 others outside a popular bar in the downtown area. Betts’ motive is not yet known and it is also not known if he intentionally targeted his own sister. While the El Paso shooter was taken into custody unharmed, police shot and killed the Dayton shooter. Unlike El Paso where the shooter appeared to have intentionally targeted immigrants, the Dayton shooter’s victims were a mix of white and non-white. Heavy.com pointed out that Connor Betts identified himself as a “leftist” on Twitter and had denounced gun violence in the past. AP reported that in high school Betts had been suspended for compiling a “hit list,” and a “rape list.”
A former FBI official on MSNBC railed against President Trump for inspiring the attack in El Paso in particular. Frank Figliuzzi, former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI said to host Joy Reid, “They need to hear the recruiter-in-chief, the radicalizer-in-chief condemn them in order to break that chain of radicalization.” Meanwhile Trump has also come under fire for flubbing the name of the Ohio city in his Monday address saying Toledo instead of Dayton. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden made a similar mistake over the weekend at a fundraiser. Trump was photographed crashing a wedding in New Jersey over the weekend between the two shootings. The President has taken to crashing weddings of his supporters as a reelection campaign strategy.
In other domestic news, NPR did an analysis of the breathtaking pace at which Trump and his party have been nominating and confirming federal judges serving lifetime positions. Trump has now named one in four federal appeals court judges in the entire nation. According to NPR, “Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate have placed an unmistakable stamp on the federal judiciary, not only in ideology but in identity.”
And yet another Republican Congressman is retiring from his party. Representative Kenny Marchant of Texas becomes the 10th GOP lawmaker to announce his retirement from politics this year alone. He did not give a reason for deciding not to run for reelection.
In economic news stocks fell dramatically on Wall Street with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 715 points. International indicators also dropped. The Wall Street Journal explained that the drop was due to a wave of selling based on, “reports showed Chinese and U.S. officials ratcheting up pressure on each other in their prolonged trade fight.”
In Hong Kong, mass protests against Chinese authority have continued unabated for 9 straight weeks with the cosmopolitan city coming to a stand still at the beginning of the week for a general strike. CNN reported that, “teachers, aviation workers, finance employees and civil servants, major sectors of the Asian financial hub,” went on strike. Hundreds of flights were canceled and clashes with police broke out in several parts of the city with more than 80 arrested. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam denounced the protests saying, “We continue to allow these violent protesters to make use of the [extradition] bill to conceal their ulterior motives…Those ulterior motives are going to destroy Hong Kong.”
Days after the Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia and announced the testing of new previously banned nuclear weapons, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said his nation would be forced to test new nuclear weapons as well. Putin said in a statement, “If Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing these systems and started to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles.”
Sudan’s leaders signed a constitutional declaration over the weekend intended to mark the transition away from ousted dictator Omar Al Bashir’s regime toward civilian rule. The new constitution sets out how Sudan will be overseen by a 3-year transitional government before democratic elections. Ethiopian and African Union representatives hosted the peace talks that produced the document. Sudan had been rocked by mass protests before and after Al-Bashir’s fall.
India’s Hindu nationalist government has revoked the special status of Kashmir’s Muslim majority in a move that is expected to further provoke tensions in the embattled northern state. According to AP, “Home Minister Amit Shah announced the revocation amid an uproar by opposition lawmakers in Parliament over the move… Government critics see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Kashmir, which is predominantly Muslim, with Hindu settlers.”