Headlines: July 17, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:16 — 7.6MB)
The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to condemn President Donald Trump for using racist language against four newly Congress women of color. The resolution which was brought forward by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received the votes of all Democrats and even four Republicans and was the strongest Congressional rebuke yet of the President for his racist rhetoric. In describing the President’s language as racist Pelosi caused an uproar among Republicans who took umbrage at her accusation being on the official record. In the end, Pelosi’s words remained on the record and the resolution passed.
Following the resolution Democrat Al Green introduced Articles of Impeachment against Trump calling for an up or down vote within two days to get lawmakers on the record about where they stand. Democrats are apparently divided on the issue but a vote is expected on Wednesday nonetheless to either move the resolution forward to the Judiciary Committee or kill it.
The ACLU on Tuesday moved to legally challenge the Trump administration over its new and harsh asylum rules that prohibit refugees from seeking asylum if they have passed through a third country to get to the US. According to the complaint that was filed in a US District Court in San Francisco, “it is longstanding federal law that merely transiting through a third country is not a basis to categorically deny asylum to refugees who arrive at our shores.” Meanwhile Jewish activists with the group Never Again in Washington DC targeted the headquarters of the reviled Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. While protesters rallied outside the building, ten of their colleagues blocked the entrance and were arrested.
Documents released from the Drug Enforcement Administration have revealed shocking data about the extent to which pharmaceutical companies flooded the US with opioid pills. Over a six year span from 2006 to 2012, manufacturers and distributors spread 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain management pills into the US. At least 100,000 deaths have been attributed to the opioid crisis and the data that was released is part of the largest civil action in US history.
In other news, the notorious Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison in a court in Brooklyn, New York. Joaquín Guzmán Loera was tried and convicted of numerous crimes last year after being extradited to the US from Mexico. Observers are marking the life imprisonment as the final chapter of El Chapo’s bloody career.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday handed the Trump administration another victory in the fight against labor and worker rights. A 3-judge panel in Washington DC decided to uphold a rule geared at attacking federal employee unions and making it easier to fire federal workers who are unionized. David Cox who heads the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) countered, “The union-busting framework laid out in the executive orders and the actions already taken at the bargaining table so far demonstrate clearly that there must be a check on the president’s power to destroy federal employees’ union rights.”
Workers with the online retail giant Amazon used its 2-day Prime sale to target the company’s relentless drive for profit protesting in locations like Shakopee, Minnesota. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswomen Ilhan Omar called for a federal probe to investigate the treatment of workers at the 100 or so Amazon warehouses across the US. The company posted about record profits but faced competition from other sellers. Meanwhile the company is facing a major probe in Europe over its practices of selling products from third party vendors.
Abigail Disney, the heiress to Walt Disney’s empire, has begun speaking out against working conditions at Disneyland after she went undercover to see for herself what one worker reported to her. In an interview with Yahoo Ms. Disney slammed Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney Corp. saying, “Bob needs to understand he’s an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees…And they’re entitled to all the same dignity and human rights that he is.” Iger makes a salary of $66 million a year.
A day after the Department of Justice announced there would be no charges against the New York police officer whose strangle hold killed Eric Garner 5 years ago, all Democratic frontrunners in the 2020 race for President denounced the decision – all except former Vice President Joe Biden. Senator Bernie Sanders said, “we will not have real justice for black Americans until there is serious reform of our racist criminal justice system.” Senator Kamala Harris called it, “a miscarriage of justice. Our criminal justice system should be rooted in accountability. My heart breaks for the Garner family.” And Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote, “No one is safe in a country with a broken criminal justice system. My heart goes out to Eric Garner’s family today.”
In the latest on the case of accused sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, news emerged on Tuesday that while he was jail in Florida a decade ago, Epstein continued to have “improper sexual contact” with underage women. An attorney representing several of Epstein’s victims made the allegation.
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died. Stevens led the liberal wing of the Supreme Court for years until his retirement nine years ago. He was 99 years old and passed away earlier this week as a result of a stroke. Stevens served on the court for 35 years and was lauded for some of his decisions to balance the right-ward tilt of the court. Writing in 2004 in the case of Jose Padilla who was being held as an “enemy combatant,” Stevens said, “If this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny.”