Headlines: July 11, 2018
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Donald Trump is in Brussels, Belgium today for the annual NATO summit and already he is angering his NATO allies. Early in the day he confronted German representatives about a pipeline deal with Russia while the US apparently protected NATO nations from Russia. Trump posted a video of the exchange to his Twitter account.
That was President Trump at the NATO Summit in Brussels on Wednesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel later hit back saying, “I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions.” Trump seemed to miss the irony of his own very recent remarks about the US improving relations with Russia.
On Tuesday Trump tweeted, “The European Union makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe (U.S. has a $151 Billion trade deficit), and then they want us to happily defend them through NATO, and nicely pay for it. Just doesn’t work!”
Trump has also ordered a new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The tariffs will be at about 10% and will include such consumer products as burglar alarms and mackerel rather than raw materials that were targeted in an earlier round of tariffs. China is readying its own round of tariffs in retaliation.
Here in the US, Trump has pardoned Dwight and Steven Hammond, two of the cattle ranchers around whom the right-wing armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was organized more than two years ago. The Hammond brothers had been sentenced to five years for arson on public lands. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the President’s decision saying, “The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West. Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”
A day after Trump announce Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the US Supreme Court, organizers have announced their opposition. NARAL Prochoice America together with groups like Moveon, Credo and Progressive Change Committee announced that this August 26th would be a day of action to fight the Kavanaugh nomination. In New York, more than 300 people gathered outside Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer’s office demanding that he use his leadership to push every Democratic Senator to oppose Kavanaugh. Late on Monday night Senator Bernie Sanders led a rally calling for opposition to the nominee.
That’s Senator Bernie Sanders calling on Americans and his fellow lawmakers to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. After today’s headlines, we’ll bring back Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewire.News for an in-depth look at who Kavanaugh is and what rights are at stake, plus what lawmakers and grassroots activists can do to stop the confirmation.
In immigration news, more than 50 immigrant children under the age of 5 were reunited with their parents on Tuesday as the government scrambled to meet a court ordered deadline. Many of the reunions took place at ICE offices, with some children being separated for up to 3 months from their parents. The government is now delinquent in undoing the disastrous impacts of Trump’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policies as about 50 more children await reunions past the court deadline. When asked about missing the deadline Trump told reporters, “Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution.”
Some of the remaining under-5 children and their parents are being DNA tested by the government in order to prove familial relations, underscoring the ill-considered and unorganized manner in which government agencies separated families with no foresight about how to reunite them. But bioethicists warn that such DNA testing could actually hurt children. The same judge who ordered the reunification of all under-5 children by Tuesday warned the government to use such testing only as a last resort.
A more pressing deadline is approaching that could be even harder for the Trump administration to meet: The reunification of children over the age of 5 with their parents. There are an estimated 2000 such cases remaining to be resolved by a July 26th deadline.
On Tuesday, officials from 20 states joined together for a call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) according to The Intercept. Calls to Abolish ICE have gained strength since the family separation scandal and Tuesday’s announcement included the release of a statement signed onto by dozens of state lawmakers that referred to ICE as a, “lawless federal agency that, since its creation in 2002, has terrorized immigrants.”
News has emerged of a 91-year old man in the Los Angeles area being brutally beaten by a woman and several men while taking a walk in what appears to be a hate crime. Rodolfo Rodriguez regularly travels from Michoacan, Mexico to Willowbrook, California where his relatives are. During his visits he is known to the neighborhood for taking daily walks and it was on Fourth of July during such a walk that a woman apparently began beating him with a concrete block along with several men. Police are looking for, “a female suspect and three to four male suspects.” Misbel Borjas was driving by and says she heard the woman yelling “go back to your country, go back to Mexico,” and when she tried to videotape the beating, the female assailant tried to throw the concrete block at the witness. After they fled, Borjas videotaped the bloodied man on the ground and posted her video to Facebook.
The Trump administration has announced yet another assault on the Affordable Care Act saying it will cut grants to non-profit organizations that assist people in obtaining health insurance coverage through exchanges. The cuts will reduce the amount being given from $63 million to a mere $10 million.
Meanwhile Trump is taking credit for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s decision to roll back its price hikes on drugs. Pfizer released a statement on Tuesday saying it would, “defer the company’s price increases that were effective on July 1 to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system.” Trump had bitterly complained on Twitter on Monday that, “Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason.”
And the first of a slew of cases against Monsanto is commencing this week. A former school groundskeeper named Dewayne Johnson in San Francisco is suffering from non-Hodgkin’sLymphoma that he says was caused by Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide.