Headlines: August 6, 2018
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In today’s news headlines President Donald Trump on Sunday dropped yet another bombshell on Twitter, this time incriminating his own son in the matter over the infamous Trump Tower meeting in 2016. In his tweet Trump wrote, “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” In admitting that the goal of the meeting was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton ahead of the election Mr. Trump has implied that his son and/or other campaign staffers and advisers present at the meeting with a Russian lawyer may have broken the law. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), there is “a broad prohibition on foreign national activity in connection with elections in the United States.” One reporter writing in Axios called Trump’s tweet, “one of the most striking public reversals in modern presidential history.”
The New York Times reported, “People close to the president believe that he may be increasing his legal jeopardy by continuing to speak publicly about sensitive matters even as his campaign is under investigation for possible collusion with Russia and he himself is under scrutiny for possible obstruction of justice.”
One of Trump’s attorneys also changed his tune in an appearance on ABC on Sunday. Jay Sekulow had asserted last July that the President had no role in a letter that his son wrote to the New York Times about the Trump Tower meeting. Since then it has emerged through Trump’s own people that Trump dictated the letter. Mr. Sekulow on Sunday said he had made a mistake last year when he claimed the President wasn’t involved.
A rally by armed white supremacist Trump supporters in Portland, Oregon on Saturday was the site of violence after police lobbed flash bang grenades at the counter-protesters that had gathered there. Hundreds of members of the hate groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer gathered in Portland and were met with Portland residents including anti-fascist activists. Independent media outlet Unicorn Riot captured the police violence on Saturday.
Those were some of the sounds of violence from police aimed at anti-fascist protesters at a white supremacist gathering in Portland, Oregon on Saturday. The 400 or so armed Trump supporters were outnumbered by about 1,000 counter protesters. Police, who have come under strong criticism for their one-sided actions in favor of the white supremacists, arrested four people. The rally was held just days before the first anniversary of the white supremacist takeover of Charlottesville, Virginia where Heather Heyer was killed by one of the right wing protesters. On tomorrow’s show, our news correspondent Arun Gupta will give us a detailed report of the Portland rally.
Also on Saturday groups involved in the March for Our Lives mobilized for actions against the National Rifle Association. The main March on the NRA took place outside NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Here is one of the organizers speaking at the rally.
There were smaller marches in cities around the country as well calling for gun control. Many activists marked what would have been the 18th birthday of a young man named Joaquin Oliver killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida. His parents Manuel and Patricia Oliver said, “We don’t want thoughts. We don’t want prayers. We want change.”
One of California’s large wildfires got even larger over the weekend as a new heat wave hits on Monday. The Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California doubled in size as it has burned through a quarter of a million acres to become the largest blaze that firefighters are battling. It is also now considered the fourth largest fire in California’s history. The Carr fire in Shasta County which continues to burn claimed a 7th victim on Saturday when an employee of Pacific Gas and Electric Company was working to restore power to survivors’ homes. President Trump approved federal funds for California to battle fires in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s request. But in a tweet on Sunday Trump blamed the state’s environmental laws instead of climate change for the ferocity of the fires. “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” said the President.
Global warming is not just hitting California and the US hard – a severe heat wave in Europe is also fueling wildfires. Firefighters in Portugal battled a raging blaze that threatened to overwhelm a town on the country’s south coast. French authorities have shut down four nuclear reactors in response to the immense heat. Sweden and Norway are also battling far hotter summers than before.
In other international news, nearly a 100 people are feared dead in Indonesia as a massive earthquake hit the resort island of Lombok late on Sunday evening. More than 200 people have suffered injuries. Just a week ago a small earthquake hit nearby and killed 16 people. Search and rescue operations are underway to find missing people.
Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro has survived a drone attack said government officials on Sunday. According to Associated Press, “The assailants flew two drones each packed with 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of C-4 plastic explosive toward Maduro, his wife and other top leaders as he spoke Saturday evening at an event,” and that, “A little-known group calling itself Soldiers in T-shirts claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it planned to fly two drones loaded with explosives at the president but soldiers shot them down.” So far six people have been arrested in connection to the attempted assassination. Mr. Maduro also blamed the US for supporting opposition groups against him. On Sunday Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Fox News, “If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it.”
The Trump Administration has revived sanctions against Iran as part of its unraveling of the carefully crafted nuclear agreement between the US and Iran under President Obama. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarked that, “We’re hopeful that we can find a way to move forward but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime.” He added – without irony – “They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple.” On Monday the first set of sanctions go into effect, covering such industries as auto-manufacturing and metals. Then in November, Iran’s oil and banking industries will be hit by US sanctions.