Headlines: August 8, 2019
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Just days after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas aimed at immigrants took the lives of 22 people, President Donald Trump’s administration carried out the largest immigration workplace raids in US history. The raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were aimed at 7 agricultural processing plants in 6 towns and cities across the state of Mississippi. Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence explained what happens next at a press conference. CBS spoke with an 11-year old girl whose father was dragged away. CNN reported scenes of, “children sobbing as they waited for word on what had happened to their parents…strangers and neighbors volunteered to take children with nowhere to go. Volunteers distributed donated food and drinks. But… most children sobbed rather than ate.” The raids took place on the first day of school. William Truly Jr. the Mayor of Canton, Mississippi which was among the towns that had been targeted said, “I recognize that ICE comes under the Department of Homeland Security, and this is an order of the United States. There’s nothing I don’t think anybody can do about it,” he said. “But my main concern is now, what happens to the children?”
A man named Jimmy Aldaoud who was deported to Iraq about 2 and a half months ago has died. Aldaoud was a diabetic who most likely died from a lack of access to insulin. The 41-year old had spent nearly his whole life in Detroit and had no familiarity with Iraq nor did he speak Arabic when he was abruptly removed from the US. He posted videos of his plight living on the streets before he died in Baghdad. Alaoud was one of hundreds of Iraqi Christians who face a similar situation of being deported to a country the US devastated through war and where they face persecution as a religious minority.
In other news, the mother of the El Paso shooter apparently warned police that she was worried about her son having access to an “AK” type weapon. According to CNN, “During the call, the mother was transferred to a public safety officer who told her that — based on her description of the situation — her son, 21, was legally allowed to purchase the weapon.” Additionally, “police did not seek any additional information from her before the call concluded.” Meanwhile Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he has no knowledge of any so-called “Red Flags” that were raised about the El Paso shooter. He also remained silent on any action to prevent gun violence that actually involves guns. Instead the state is actually going to see 10 new laws that were passed last year take effect soon, that deregulate gun ownership even more.
The nation’s strongest gun lobby group, the NRA backed all ten of the gun laws in Texas and NRA leader Wayne La Pierre this week issued a warning to President Trump against considering background checks for gun purchases. Meanwhile a new poll by Morning Consult and Politico found that a majority of Americans – nearly 70 percent – support laws that would ban assault style weapons. Additionally, “55 percent of GOP voters were comfortable with banning assault weapons, and 54 percent said they would support stricter gun laws more generally,” and “Ninety percent said they would back universal background checks for gun sales.” Republican Congressman Michael R. Turner has now changed his tune on an assault weapons ban. But only because his own daughter and a family friend were apparently at a bar across the street from where the Dayton mass shooting took place. According to the Washington Post, “Turner, who has a 93 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and in February voted against a House-passed bill to expand background checks for firearms, released a statement announcing his support for stopping the sale of assault weapons to civilians.”
The NRA’s La Pierre is separately under fire for seeking to have the organization pay for a $6 million luxury mansion for him and his wife and an exclusive golf club membership in Dallas. LaPierre explored the idea of purchasing the mansion about a year after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, apparently because, “he was worried about being targeted and needed a more secure place to live,” as per the Washington Post. La Pierre has publicly insisted after every mass shooting that gun proliferation makes everyone safer.
Meanwhile the US Senate has still made no move to return early from the summer recess in order to debate and pass a universal background checks law that the House passed. More than 200 mayors signed a letter to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer urging them to pass the law saying, “Our nation can no longer wait for our federal government to take the actions necessary to prevent people who should not have access to firearms from being able to purchase them.”
Speaking at a vigil for the victims of mass shootings New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a plea to Trump supporters to leave their extremist ways and come back to those who love them.
In other news, the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of financial institutions and banks have turned over thousands of documents to congressional committees containing information about President Trump’s Russian business interests and contacts. Additionally, “Some banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, to New York state investigators.” The documents come from institutions like Deutchebank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and others. And the House Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit to compel testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn as part of an effort that could lead to impeachment hearings.
Political instability continues to rock Puerto Rico as the third governor in less than a week was sworn in. Wanda Vásquez, who was the Secretary of Justice and who previously turned down the position of Governor, was named to the position after Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in and then removed by the territory’s Supreme Court just days later.
AP published an exclusive investigation into rampant child sex abuse by leaders of the Catholic Church on the island of Guam, a US territory. The vast majority of those living in Guam are Catholic and dozens of predatory priests were found to have abused hundreds of children if not more over the span of decades. Now, “at least 223 lawsuits have been filed alleging abuse by 35 clergymen, teachers and Boy Scout leaders tied to the Catholic Church.”
And finally a new report by the United Nations has warned that the world’s food supply is extremely vulnerable to climate change-related instability and that rapid development of the planet’s resources are greatly straining. More than a 100 experts from 52 countries collaborated on the report and among the warnings they issued are how food scarcity could develop on multiple continents at the same time.