Headlines: July 12, 2018
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President Trump closed out his visit to Brussels for the annual NATO Summit claiming he had successfully convinced European allies to spend more on their militaries. During a tense two days Trump told Germany it was being controlled by Russia and then lectured the gathered heads of state that they ought to spend not just 2% of their nations’ budgets on their militaries, but 4% like the US does. According to the Guardian newspaper, “Trump left the assembled presidents and prime ministers floundering, unsure whether he was serious about the 4% target, double the existing NATO target of 2%, which many do not meet, or whether it was just a ploy.” He then declared victory on Thursday in his speech before leaving the summit.
That was President Trump on Thursday at the NATO Summit in Brussels claiming that he had convinced NATO allies to spend more on their militaries. NATO allies disputed that claim.
Trump has landed in the UK for his first visit there as President. He has so far refrained from flying in because of the threat of mass protests. His 4-day visit to the UK appears to have been designed to avoid large cities where major actions are planned. He will attend a dinner at Winston Churchill’s former palace and then meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth before heading to his private golf course in Scotland. Protests in the UK are reported to involve a massive “Trump Baby” balloon that was approved by London Authorities.
After his trip to the UK Trump is expected to have a high-level one-on-one summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Among the points of discussion will be the war in Syria. We’ll be covering what is expected at that summit on tomorrow’s show as well as how some on the left are warning against the US sliding into a new Cold War with Russia.
Meanwhile,Putin met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in Moscow for talks on the Syria war, and specifically Iran’s role in that war. Netanyahu reiterated close ties between Israel and Russia.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Trump’s nominee to lead the criminal division of the Department of Justice. Brian Benczkowski was confirmed by a narrow vote along party lines as an Assistant Attorney General despite concerns raised by Democrats about his time working for a major Russian bank that they say could complicate Robert Mueller’s investigation. They also raised his lack of experience in running one of the Department’s most important divisions that oversees major criminal cases.
US Senators want a say in the tariffs that Trump has been unilaterally announcing against China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico. On Wednesday lawmakers held a bi-partisan vote of 88-11 on a symbolic measure that called for Congress to have more say in tariffs that are launched with a national security justification. Retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake said about the bill, “We have to rein in abuse of presidential authority and restore Congress’ constitutional authority in this regard.”
The adult film actress Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Columbus, Ohio after an undercover sting operation by police. She is being accused of violating a law in Ohio called the Community Defense Act during her performance on Wednesday night at a strip club. According to AP that law, “prohibits anyone who isn’t a family member to touch a nude or semi-nude dancer.” Daniels is participating in a major lawsuit against President Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen over unlawful payments made to her ahead of the 2016 election. Her lawyer Michael Avenatti said of her arrest, “This was a complete set up.” Ms. Daniels was freed on $6,000 bail this morning and will be arraigned on 3 counts of misdemeanors tomorrow.
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has disclosed his personal finances as per federal law and the picture is not pretty. The Washington Post reports that Kavanaugh had, “between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt accrued over three credit cards and a loan.” White House spokesperson Raj Shah responded that the debt was the result of Kavanaugh’s penchant for baseball tickets and also that some were home improvement loans. The Post surmised that Kavanaugh, “at times reported liabilities that could have exceeded the value of his cash accounts and investment assets.”
Ecuador’s Supreme Court has upheld a massive judgment against the multinational California-based oil company Chevron over its devastation of that nation’s rain forests. Chevron, which no longer has operations in Ecuador is now on the hook for a whopping $9.5 billion in damages but the Ecuadorian government would have to pursue the company for those damages in foreign courts. Chevron responded to the ruling with claims of, “judicial fraud and extortion against Chevron in Ecuador.”
Lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) asked for a judge to stop the arbitrary and indefinite detention of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo. The attorneys said that President Trump’s “executive hubris and raw animus,” is reason enough to free the men some of whom have been held for 16 years without cause and deserve habeas corpus rights. CCR is joined by the UK-based organization Reprieve. Reprieve Guantánamo attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis explained the importance of the case in a video posted by her organization to Twitter.
The city of San Francisco has made history with the Wednesday inauguration of its first Black Female Mayor. Forty three year old London Breed who grew up in public housing has vowed to address the city’s housing crisis. She has also said she would stand by San Francisco’s immigrants against Trump’s attacks and provide support to those struggling with drug addiction. Here is an excerpt of her inauguration speech. That was San Francisco’s new mayor London Breed, the city’s first black female mayor, giving her inauguration speech.
The federal government has reopened the 1955 case of Emmett Till, an African American boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi helped to galvanize the civil rights movement. The Department of Justice submitted a report to Congress this past March saying it had new information but the nature of that is not yet known. The woman who Till was accused of having whistled at remains alive. A book published last year called The Blood of Emmett Till is thought to be the impetus for the reinvestigation.
The popular young Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who stunned the nation when she ousted top Democrat Joe Crowley in New York’s primary has won a second primary race. The district neighboring hers held a primary this week for the Reform Party and Ocasio-Cortez’s name was written in by so many voters that she won a race she wasn’t even in. As she cannot run for two parties in two districts, she will remain the 14th District’s Democratic candidate. Her second win underscores the popularity of her socialist campaign platform.