Headlines: August 7, 2019
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President Donald Trump is visiting the cities of El Paso, Texas where 22 people were killed, and Dayton, Ohio where 8 people were killed in back-to-back mass shootings. Ahead of his trip he spoke with reporters about how excited he was to congratulate law enforcement. A reporter then challenged Trump’s own rhetoric, Trump, dug his heels in about his use of anti-immigrant language.
Meanwhile protesters lined the streets of Dayton, Ohio ahead of Trump’s visit with signs that read “Dump Trump” and “Do Something,” as well as a large Trump baby blimp of the kind that was popularized in Britain. In El Paso, where Trump is heading after Dayton, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar has made it clear that she does not support the President’s visit and has refused to meet with him. She spoke with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes about her reasoning. Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso has also clashed with Trump. Trump tweeted at O’Rourke to “Be Quiet!” while O’Rourke shot back, “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.” Meanwhile CNN reported that the Trump campaign owes the city of El Paso half a million dollars for reimbursements related to his February visit where he held a political rally to make the case for his border wall.
Joaquin Castro, another Texas Representative, has come under fire for tweeting the names of Trump’s top donors in his district. He listed all of the 44 donors who had given the Trump campaign the maximum allowable donations this year and wrote, “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders.” Republican Senator Ted Cruz, replied saying that Castro’s tweet was, “hateful partisan rhetoric,” and accused him of “vilifying & doxxing” his constituents. He made no mention of Trump’s hateful partisan rhetoric.
Meanwhile the White House announced that Trump was inviting the heads of top tech companies this Friday to meet with his administration officials to discuss the rise of violent extremism. The invitation was issued without a hint of irony and made no mention of Trump’s own outsized contribution to the rise of violent extremism online. There was also no mention of which companies would be invited.
On the issue of gun control the Washington Post reported that Trump was, “open to calling on Congress to return from recess to strengthen background checks for gun buyers but that he sees ‘no political appetite’ for banning assault rifles.” While Trump had said similar things about supporting background checks after previous mass shootings, he threatened to veto bills that legislated the requirement of background checks. Former President Bill Clinton spoke up this week tweeting, “How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”
Meanwhile Politico reported that the Trump administration has been quietly easing gun restrictions over the past 2 years saying, “Federal agencies have implemented more than half a dozen policy changes — primarily through little-noticed regulatory moves — that expand access to guns by lifting firearms bans in certain locations and limiting the names in the national database designed to keep firearms away from dangerous people.” Meanwhile EBay announced that it was banning the sales of assault rifle parts, but sellers are already finding ways around the ban.
The FBI has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting in Gilroy, California, which took place a week before the El Paso and Dayton shootings. The investigation was announced after law enforcement found a “‘target list’ of religious institutions, federal buildings and Democratic and Republican political organizations.”
A video of a black man being led by a rope through the streets of Galveston, Texas by horseback police has gone viral. The man, Donald Neely had been arrested on suspicion of trespassing. The officers decided to parade him through the city prompting denunciations for mimicking how captured enslaved people were humiliated through the streets in the 1800s. The Galveston mayor has apologized but insisted that the officers did not have “malicious intent.” In other news, a white man in Montana has been arrested for violently slamming the head of a 13-year old boy against the sidewalk because the child did not take his hat off during the national anthem. The boy was hospitalized with skull fractures and bleeding from his ears. And 31-year old Cyntoia Brown was released from prison after serving 15 years of a life sentence in Tennessee after she killed her rapist and sex trafficker at the age of 16. She was tried as an adult and sustained organized protest finally led to her release.
Thousands of people protested in Tegucigalpa, Honduras this week against the rule of US ally Juan Orlando Hernandez after it was revealed that his 2013 election campaign had been funded in part by drug money. According to Reuters, “the Hernandez campaign received $1.5 million from “drug proceeds” that were used to bribe local officials in exchange for protection and the completion of public works.”
India’s surprise decision to revoke the autonomous governing status of the northern state of Kashmir has sparked a rise in tensions with Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan worried that it might spark a war between the two nuclear states. US officials flew to both nations to attempt to mediate. The tensions come at the same time that the US has announced a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan that it is relying on Pakistan to help implement but Pakistan is now suggesting that tensions with India on its Southern border will prevent it from focusing on its northern border with Afghanistan. Meanwhile yet another bombing in Afghanistan has taken the lives of more than a dozen people in the capital Kabul and wounded nearly 150. The majority of the victims are women and children. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly car bomb.