Headlines: July 2, 2019
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The Trump Administration has missed it own July 1st deadline to print the 2020 Census forms, in an apparent attempt to delay the Census. President Donald Trump has pushed hard to include a question on the census that would request citizenship information from respondents as part of his broader anti-immigrant agenda. The US Supreme Court last week voted narrowly to disallow the question but left the door open for the Commerce Department – which oversees the Census – to make a better case. Trump appears to be buying time to include the question. When asked on Monday why it was so important to him the President answered, “I think it’s very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal.” The US Census is constitutionally required and has never in its history been delayed.
Meanwhile Monday’s exposé in ProPublica of a secret Facebook group of current and former Border Patrol agents has provoked ire nationwide. Members of the Congress, who had been scheduled to visit detention facilities in El Paso, Texas, addressed the story. Congressman Joaquin Castro, chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, called for a Congressional investigation speaking on Monday about the ProPublica article about racist and misogynist exchanges between current and former Border Patrol agents. Castro also shared videos on his Twitter feed from inside the detention center he toured with other lawmakers.
Castro was joined by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who was directly targeted in the Border Patrol Facebook group. Ocasio-Cortez addressed reporters after touring a facility in Clint, Texas. Later she shared more details with Reuters as she was leaving the area reflecting on the horrifying conditions facing detained migrants and refugees near the border.
Alongside Ocasio-Cortez was Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who personally faced racist heckling from right-wing pro-Trump crowds gathered. These were the sounds of chants that drowned her out as she spoke. When asked to respond this is what she said.
In other news, House Democrats have filed a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s consistent blocking of the President’s tax returns. After months of wrangling with the federal Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service House Ways and Means committee chairman Richard Neal is suing. Defendants include Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The lawsuit states, “Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the Nation’s voluntary tax system.” The lawsuit also contends, “Numerous investigative reports have revealed that President Trump, through the complex arrangements of his personal and business finances, has engaged in multiple aggressive tax strategies and decades-long tax avoidance schemes.”
Congressman Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee announced on Monday that he has launched an investigation into the use of personal email servers by members of Trump’s family and White House staffers, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. In a letter Cummings explained, “The purpose of this investigation is to determine why White House officials used non-official email accounts, texting services and encrypted applications for official business.” Trump and Republican lawmakers had denounced Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server while she was Secretary of State.
President Trump has invited extreme right wing critics of the tech industry to the White House next week for a “social media summit.” Among those planning on attending are representatives of groups like Turning Point USA, PraegerU, the Heritage Foundation, and others’, whose content is often so extreme and hateful that it often violates social media platform standards and is therefore removed. The point of the White House summit appears to be a starting point to more strongly regulate companies like Facebook and YouTube and unleash extremist content that the President and his supporters thrive on.
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that, “Tech platforms are tweaking their algorithms and cutting off advertising for pages, videos promoting scientifically dubious information,” particularly about cures for cancer, as well as anti-vaccination propaganda.
A new poll by Morning Consult and Politico on healthcare has found nuanced support for a Medicare-for-All system. According to the poll, “support among voters for Medicare for All falls to 46 percent from 53 percent when respondents are told the government-run health system would diminish the role of private insurers — but rises back to 55 percent when voters learn that losing their private plans would still allow them to keep their preferred doctors and hospitals.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders – the strongest lawmaker backing Medicare-for-All, commented, “These numbers only affirm what the senator has said many times: people don’t like insurance companies, they like their doctors and their hospitals.”
In international news the Chinese government denounced protesters in Hong Kong who broke into their legislative building, calling them “extreme radicals,” who committed an act, “that tramples on the rule of law and jeopardizes social order.” Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has come under fire for her handling of a bill that would allow extradition to China. On Monday hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong calling on her to resign when a breakaway group attacked a government building.