Headlines: July 24, 2018
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At least 60 people have died at a Greek resort near Athens as a devastating wildfire swept through on Monday. More than a 150 people have also been injured in the town of Mati with reports of people rushing into the sea to escape flames. Nearly 700 people were rescued from the waters by the Coast Guard. A number of people died trapped in their cars while others drowned. Among the dead is a six-month old baby. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras has declared a 3-day mourning period. It has been the worst fire in Greece in a decade as Europe struggles with scorching temperatures this summer.
In Los Angeles County where this program is based, residents are experiencing a dangerous 96-hour heat wave, the second such heat wave this month. Global temperatures are significantly rising as a result of human-created carbon emissions.
Iran has dismissed President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet issued in all caps on Sunday.Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif retorted on Twitter on Monday night, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!” After today’s headlines, veteran journalist Reese Erlich will join us to put US-Iran relations into context.
The suspect in Toronto’s shooting has been identified. Twenty nine year old Faisal Hussein, whose parents say he struggled with mental illness, is suspected to have been the gun-toting man who walked through Toronto’s Greektown on Sunday night. An 18-year old woman and a 10-year old girl were killed, and more than a dozen were injured. Hussain is also among the dead. His family released a statement saying, “We are at a terrible loss for words but we must speak out to express our deepest condolences to the families who are now suffering on account of our son’s horrific actions.” They added, “Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life…While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.”
The controversial president of the Philippines has given his annual state of the nation speech and in it Mr. Rodrigo Duterte dug his heels in on the deadly drug war his government has fought. Duterte mocked human rights advocates for targeting the extrajudicial killings that have cast an international spotlight on the Philippines. Here is part of what he said. The group Human Rights Watch released a statement offering some numbers for the horrors that Duterte has visited upon his country since his rule began in 2016: “more than 4,500 people have been killed in what the Philippine National Police (PNP) calls lawful anti-drug operations, alleging that the suspects fought back during raids. Thousands more have been killed by unidentified assailants throughout the country.” On tomorrow’s show we’ll cover how diaspora Filipinos are responding to Duterte’s rule.
In domestic news, the Trump administration is considering revoking the security clearances of the President’s critics. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday, “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and security clearances.” According to the New York Times,“those who could lose access are John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser; and James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence.” The decision to consider revoking security clearances seems to have been prompted by a suggestion made by Senator Rand Paul, a close ally of the President. Currently about 4 million Americans have security clearances, many of who are able to work as consultants and advisors as a result. Former CIA General Counsel Jeffrey H. Smith told the Times, “It is intended to punish and intimidate his critics and is shameful.” Mr. Clapper told CNN, “This is just a very, very petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it.”
A mass protest in Philadelphia on Monday greeted Vice President Mike Pence during his Pennsylvania visit. Among the protesters were women dressed in red robes and white headpieces reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s characters in her dystopian feminist novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. Those gathered denounced Mr. Pence’s anti-choice positions and his part in the Trump Administration’s immigrant family separation policies, among other things.
Twenty seven year old John Cowell has been arrested in a train station in Oakland, California, in connection with violent and fatal stabbings on the BART train system. Cowell, a young white man, is a recently paroled offender with a violent history. He is suspected to have fatally stabbed an 18-year old black woman named Nia Wilson in the neck and injured her sister in an unprovoked attack on a BART train on Sunday. Police are investigating what may be a potential hate crime. On Monday night a vigil for the victims attracted about a thousand people. According to the Associated Press, “Nia Wilson’s death was the third involving an attack in the BART system in five days, making it one of the deadliest weeks in the system’s history.”
Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law is once more being invoked in a tragic murder of an African American father of three over a dispute involving a parking spot. Twenty eight year old Markeis McGlockton was fatally shot in the chest by Michael Drejka after Drejka had begun a fight with McGlockton’s girlfriend Britany Jacobs in a parking lot in Clearwater, Florida. Mr. McGlockton was shot in front of their three children. Here is Ms. Jacobs speaking to the press. The shooter, Drejka is citing the state’s Stand Your Ground law as a defense – the same law that George Zimmerman cited in his killing of Trayvon Martin – a killing that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Drejka has a history of threatening to use his gun on members of the public.
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released a report on Monday that found a glimmer of hope on gun control. In the wake of the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, 26 states have passed 55 state-level laws strengthening gun safety. The report states, “This year, we have seen more significant victories and more bipartisan legislation than ever before.” Meanwhile, Congress failed to pass a single federal major gun control bill.
The Trump administration is pressuring Democratic lawmakers to meet with the President’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Press Secretary Sanders on Monday chastised Democrats, singling out the Senate Minority leader when she said, “For members of the opposing party to demand answers to questions and yet refuse to even meet with the qualified Supreme Court nominee is unprecedented. Sen. Schumer should stop these political games and meet with Judge Kavanaugh.” But Democrats are saying they will not meet with Kavanaugh until the White House releases all of the nominee’s documents from his work during the George W. Bush administration. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee said the release of Kavanaugh’s papers was a, “threshold, absolute condition,” and that the White House should release, “everything that is conceivably relevant to his professional work prior to the bench.”