Headlines: July 16, 2019
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Republican members of Congress came to President Donald Trump’s defense during a press conference on Tuesday morning. The briefing about the coming budget negotiations was held just hours ahead of a scheduled vote on a House resolution condemning Trump’s latest racist Twitter tirade aimed at four outspoken freshmen women of color in Congress. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Minority leader defended the president when a reporter asked him if Trump’s tweets were racist. Trump immediately thanked McCarthy on Twitter. Earlier Trump urged his party to vote no on the House resolution condemning his language, saying, “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show “weakness” and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen…” The GOP has dutifully complied with Trump’s wishes and rallied around the President.
On Monday afternoon the four Congresswomen who Trump has taken aim at, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib, held a press conference of their own. Here’s a video of Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley at a press conference on Monday afternoon. The four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen have become the targets of Trump and the Republican Party after an internal battle broke out between them and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Media commentator George Conway on Tuesday published an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Trump is a racist president,” saying that while he had doubts about whether the President was truly racist before the weekend, after Trump’s attacks on the women of color congresswoman he was convinced that, “Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president.” Mr. Conway made no mention of his own wife Kellyanne, who has served as the racist President’s mouthpiece since his presidential campaign began. Meanwhile House Oversight Committee chair Elijah Cummings on Monday threatened to hold Kellyanne Conway in contempt of Congress for defying a Congressional subpoena to testify at a hearing.
In other news House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to back a White House plan to raise the debt ceiling as a fall back if Congress failed to pass a new federal budget bill by the end of next week. The Trump administration is hoping the Democrat-dominated House will raise the debt limit separately from budget negotiations but Pelosi has so far refused saying Democrats will vote on a 2-year budget for the government.
The Justice Department has refused to charge police involved in the killing of Eric Garner in New York five years ago. Garner, a 43-year old Black man was strangled by police office Daniel Pantaleo and his last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry against racist police brutality in the early stages of the Black Lives Matter movement. The DOJ’s decision to not file charges is the final legal step to obtain justice for Garner’s death. Garner’s mother Gwen Carr said, “Five years ago, my son said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe, because they have let us down.”
Protests in Puerto Rico have rocked the government of Ricardo Rosselló, a Governor who has come under fire for corruption. Police on Monday fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of thousands that had gathered outside the governor’s mansion angry over leaked messages that were exchanged between Rosselló and some of his top aides denigrating the victims of Hurricane Maria. The messages also included a joke about shooting Carmen Yulín Cruz, the outspoken mayor of San Juan, and a homophobic joke about Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin. Although Rosselló has apologized and claimed to fire the staffers with whom he had the exchanges, Puerto Ricans remain adamant that he resign.
The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would begin immediately enforcing its ban on health clinics that receive tax dollars from referring pregnant women to get abortions. The move prompted a major clinic in Maine to drop out of the government’s funding program. George Hill, president of Maine Family Planning said in an interview with AP, “It is objectionable that the federal government is so arrogant as to dictate what our medical professionals can and cannot say to our patients.” There are currently numerous lawsuits challenging the rule but the Department of Health and Human Services has been given the green light to begin enforcement.
Protests have resumed on the Big Island of Hawaii in opposition to a major planned telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. The multinational telescope project had been delayed for years after facing protests from native Hawaiians and their advocates over a site that they consider sacred. State officials just announced a road closure to resume construction prompting fresh protests and roadblocks by activists.
Mark Esper, the secretary of the US Army testified at a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday for the job of Defense Secretary that he has been nominated for. Esper told Senators that he preferred diplomacy over war with respect to Iran. He said, “I agree we do not want war with Iran. We are not seeking war with Iran. We need to get back on the diplomatic channel.”
And finally, North Korea has hinted that it may restart its nuclear testing program in response to joint military training exercises between the US and South Korea. North Korean leaders said they viewed the training exercises as a rebuke to the joint efforts with the US to negotiate a peace agreement. The foreign ministry released a statement saying, “With the U.S. unilaterally reneging on its commitments, we are gradually losing our justification to follow through on the commitments we made with the U.S.”