Headlines: July 26, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:05 — 7.4MB)
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a critical report on election security in the United States that showed all 50 states’ electronic vote counting systems were targeted by efforts tied to Russia in the 2016 election. The report, which came just a day after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a dire warning about Russian election interference, was the first of several reports. But so much of the report was redacted at the request of US intelligence agencies, that some of the most serious aspects of interference may remain out of public sight. In the case of Illinois, the report says, “Russian cyberactors were in a position to delete or change voter data.” But there was no evidence that they did actually alter results. Republican Senators killed several bills aimed at strengthening election security on the day the report was issued. President Donald Trump also appears unconcerned about election security. According to the New York Times, “Some administration officials have suggested that the issue is not getting enough high-level attention because President Trump equates any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory.”
House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler announced he is going to court to enforce subpoenas requesting secret grand jury evidence from the Special Counsel investigation into the 2016 election and Trump Presidency. The evidence includes secret testimony from former White House counsel Donald McGahn. Nadler explained his plan to the press.
Meanwhile House Democrats released documentation showing that in 1973 when Congress requested President Richard Nixon’s tax returns from the IRS, they were handed over the very same day. The documents were intended to contradict Trump and the GOP’s claim that Congressional requests for Trump’s tax returns were unprecedented. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal is suing the Trump administration over its refusal to hand over Trump’s taxes.
Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark has become the highest-ranking Democrat in the House to back impeachment of the President. She explained her motivation in a statement saying, “I deeply respect the committee work of House Democrats to hold the president accountable, including hearings, subpoenas and lawsuits. All of our efforts to put the facts before the American people, however, have been met with unprecedented stonewalling and obstruction.”
In other news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posted a photo on Twitter of herself with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying that the two of them, “sat down to discuss working together to meet the needs of our districts and our country, fairness in our economy and diversity in our country.” The post was an obvious attempt to address the growing rift between two political factions within the Democratic Party that the lawmakers represent.
Trump’s nominee for a top position at the Treasury, Monica Crowley, has a racist past not unlike the President himself. Crowley has been named for the position of assistant treasury secretary for public affairs and is a conservative commentator who was once a Fox News contributor. Only a few years ago Crowley was busy spreading conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama being a secret Muslim who was not a natural born citizen. She claimed that Obama was a “Islamic community organizer” trying to spread Sharia law in the US and that as president he sided with terrorists. Trump had previously nominated her to be the senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council but she withdrew her name after it was revealed that she engaged in extensive plagiarism for her book and doctoral thesis.
Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost has admitted that she was a member of the controversial racist and misogynist secret FaceBook group that investigative reporters recently exposed. In a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing Provost made the admission but could not explain why she did not report the group or its members. At least 60 current Border Patrol agents who were members of the group are now under investigation. Meanwhile Aaron Hull, the Border Patrol sector chief for El Paso, Texas, has been reassigned to the Canadian border after coming under fire for horrific conditions at a detention center in Clint.
The Commerce Department has released the latest economic indicators and found that the US economy grew at a slower pace this Spring. The second quarter of the year reflected a 2.1% growth rate in the Gross Domestic Product or GDP. In the first quarter of the year that number was 3.1%. A large part of the second quarter growth could be attributed to consumer spending.
The USDA has announced a massive $16 billion subsidy package for American agribusinesses saying they are hurt disproportionately by President Trump’s trade war. Trump has claimed that his trade war with China has not hurt the US economy but then rewarded farm companies saying they were hurt by the trade war. Meanwhile economists are saying that the government is overpaying farmers. Agribusinesses are a major Trump constituency.
The Justice Department has given its approval to a massive merger between the 3rd and 4th largest wireless corporations in the US, T-Mobile and Sprint. The two companies have been wanting to merge for years and the DOJ approval came after the Federal Communications Commission signaled that it was satisfied with their promise to invest in rural broadband services. Hurdles remain however as more than a dozen states are still blocking the merger.
In other news, the group Roots Action has delivered a petition to CNN signed by nearly 10,000 people demanding that the network include at least one progressive panelist to its Democratic Presidential debate on July 30th and 31st. And the Sunrise Movement has declared victory after CNN and MSNBC announced they would hold Democratic Presidential events related to climate change. The events are not debates however and the climate justice group wants the outlets to do better.
Temperatures in Europe have broken all records this week with a searing heat wave across the continent. Paris, France saw thermometers hit 109 degrees Fahrenheit – the hottest in the city’s recorded history. The Washington Post explained, “The heat wave, caused by a massive area of high pressure extending into the upper atmosphere, also known as a heat dome, is set to envelop Scandinavia in the next two days, before making a run at the Arctic. This could dramatically speed up the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and enhance the loss of already record-low sea ice.”
A hundred and fifty people are feared dead after two boats carrying hundreds of refugees capsized off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean. If confirmed that number could indicate the worst refugee death toll of the year. The majority of the refugees were from Ethiopia, Sudan, and Palestine.
And in Syria, more than a 100 people have been killed in airstrikes by the Syrian government over the past 10 days alone, about one quarter of them children. The United Nations announced the numbers saying the strikes are part of a devastating 3-month campaign that is deliberately aimed at schools, markets, and hospitals. A UN spokeswoman denounced the “apparent international indifference,” to the killings.