Headlines: July 15, 2019
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced a resolution in the House to condemn President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets that were aimed at four freshmen Congresswomen of color, essentially telling them to go back to their countries (even though 3 of the four were born here). Pelosi wrote a letter to her fellow Democrats saying that Trump had fallen, “beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language about Members of Congress,” and that Democrats would “forcefully respond to these disgusting acts.” Trump’s original tweets on Saturday were in response to a public spat between Pelosi herself and Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley over their opposition to Pelosi’s vote on a border-funding bill.
Trump wrote, “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” His tweets were widely condemned by the targets of his racism as well as commentators in the media.
On Monday morning, Trump doubled down and called on the targets of his hate to apologize to him. He wrote, “When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said.”
In his on-going attacks on immigrants, Trump moved on Monday to make it harder for refugees to apply for asylum to the US. An announced rule change appeared to be directly aimed at Central American migrants and banned those traveling through a third country from applying for asylum to the US. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement, “Today’s action will reduce the overwhelming burdens on our domestic system caused by asylum-seekers failing to seek urgent protection in the first available country, economic migrants lacking a legitimate fear of persecution, and the transnational criminal organizations, traffickers, and smugglers exploiting our system for profits.” The rule change is likely to face multiple lawsuits. Meanwhile Guatemala’s constitutional court blocked its agreement with the US on requiring asylum seekers heading northward to remain in Guatemala.
An American man was fatally shot by police on Saturday in Tacoma, Washington while he protested against a detention center run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Police say that Willem Van Spronsen was armed with a rifle and throwing “incendiary” objects at buildings and cars when he was shot and killed. Meanwhile thousands of people protested in cities around the nation on Saturday against the announced ICE raids that the Trump administration had promised would begin on Sunday. Protesters chanted “Free the Kids,” in Philadelphia against the announced ICE raids – one of many protests around the country in cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and more. In fact it is not clear if ICE conducted any raids on Sunday. Ken Cucinelli, the Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services said on CNN that he did not have details about the raids. Media outlets reported that there were few signs of the raids. Immigrant communities around the country have been bracing for mass arrests.
On Friday, mass protests took place under the banner of “Lights for Liberty,” to highlight the horrific conditions facing migrants and especially children in detention centers. In New York City, actress and activist Rosie O’ Donnell was one of the speakers. Vice President Mike Pence had visited a detention facility to counter the documented claims of Democratic lawmakers and immigrant advocates. While Pence and Trump spun the visit as proof that migrants were not being mistreated, press traveling with the Vice President reported on the reality of extreme overcrowding, no hygiene, and the concentration-camp-like conditions that have been widely condemned. Meanwhile, Trump is considering firing his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the failure to add a citizenship question to the US Census. Ross is one of the few remaining members of Trump’s original cabinet to retain his job.
The House on Friday approved a massive defense budget bill to the tune of $733 billion. The annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in the House along strict partisan lines with a vote of 220 to 197. Republicans all voted against the bill over Democratic amendments seeking to rein in the Trump administration’s militarism. One amendment that was added on Friday passed muster with some Republican support and that included a requirement for Trump to obtain congressional approval for any war with Iran. There were other amendments that would prohibit weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Environmental groups celebrated an amendment that would require the US military to phase out the use of toxic fluorinated chemicals called PFAS and clean up the toxins at facilities. The Senate version of the NDAA is far less confrontational with Trump and both bills will have to be reconciled before moving forward.
Sadie Roberts-Joseph, the founder of the African American Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was found dead in the trunk of a car over the weekend. The prominent civil rights activist was widely beloved and her death was met with shock across Louisiana and the nation. Her death has been ruled a homicide after the coroner determined that she died of, “traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation.”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden released a new healthcare plan over the weekend that has come under wide criticism from the left-flank of the Democratic Party. His plan is essentially a newer version of the Affordable Care Act which President Obama passed. Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders criticized the plan on Saturday saying that Biden’s criticisms of Medicare-for-all were, “totally absurd.” In a video message he posted on Monday morning, Biden said he understands, “the appeal of Medicare-for-All,” and added, “But folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare. And I’m not for that.”
The Federal Trade Commission has fined the social media platform FaceBook to the tune of $5 billion. The New York Times explained that is was, “for mishandling users’ personal information, according to three people briefed on the vote, in what would be a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology companies.” The fine is one of the largest yet against a technology company and still faces approval from the Justice Department.