Headlines: July 29, 2019
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A festival in northern California became the site of death and destruction after a 19-year old white man went on a shooting rampage on Sunday with an assault-style rifle killing 3 people and injuring 12. Among those killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival was a 6-year old child named Stephen Romero. The other two victims were a 13-year old girl and a man in his 20s. Police shot and killed the shooter, identified as Santino William Legan but a manhunt is on for a possible second shooter. Police say he cut a hole through a fence to enter the area and bypass security. CNN is reporting that Legan posted a caption on Instagram saying, “Read Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard.” According to the media outlet, “‘Right is Might,’ first published in the late 1800s, has been described as a white supremacist text that promotes anarchy while vilifying Christianity. The book calls Jesus the ‘true Prince of Evil’ and says that the natural order is a world at war in which the strong must vanquish the weak and white men must rule over those of color.”
President Donald Trump’s National Intelligence Director Dan Coats has resigned after 2 years on the job. Trump announced his departure on Twitter on Sunday, adding that he would be nominating Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe to replace Coats. According to Associated Press, “Coats often appeared out of step with Trump and disclosed to prosecutors how he was urged by the Republican president to publicly deny any link between Russia and the Trump campaign…Coats had been among the last of the seasoned foreign policy hands to surround the president after his 2016 victory.” Democrats denounced Trump’s pick to replace Coats saying that Ratcliffe as unqualified. Senator Chris Murphy said, “I think he’s a television character that the president has watched on TV, and he wants to put somebody in this position who’s going to agree with his political take on intelligence.”
Leaders in Baltimore, Maryland are countering the President’s insults hurled at their city. On Saturday the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed entitled, “Better to have a few rats than to be one,” in direct response to Trump’s attacks on Congressman Elijah Cummings who represents Baltimore. Trump, angry about Cummings’ critique of the President’s cruel anti-immigrant policies, accused the veteran lawmaker of being, “a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol.” He called Baltimore, “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” and a “very dangerous & filthy place.” The Baltimore Sun opined that, “Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream.” In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox, Trump loyalist Mick Mulvaney attempted to defend the President.
In other news Trump announced that he was considering naming Antifa a “major organization of terror.” Antifa is a contraction of the term “anti-fascist,” and has been adopted by people who have pledged to combat fascist groups especially of the type that have flourished under Trump’s rule, such as white supremacist, Nazi and neo-Nazi groups. Just last week Trump’s FBI Director Christopher Wray admitted that the, “majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”
CNN is reporting that 106 Democrats in the House of Representatives have gone on record supporting Trump’s impeachment. On Friday House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler admitted that he will tell a judge as part of a subpoena-related lawsuit that his panel is considering, “a constitutional power of the utmost gravity: recommendation of articles of impeachment.” He stopped short of expressly saying he would start impeachment proceedings.
Meanwhile a Trump associate named Thomas Barrack who raised funds for the Trump Presidential campaign is under investigation for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. According to the New York Times that just reported the story, Barrack may have been acting as a paid agent of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Associated Press has revealed that a small non-profit organization has been funding the legal defense of hundreds or even thousands of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse of children in unmarked buildings in rural Michigan. The group, called Opus Bono Sacerdotii has brought plainclothes current and former priests into the area and paid for their defense under the radar for almost 20 years, offering cash, lodging, transportation and legal help. According to AP, “Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused. When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash. When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense. When another priest was criminally charged with abusing a teen, Opus Bono later made him a legal adviser.” The group has links to the Catholic church which has pledged to hold priests accountable but AP points out that, “Opus Bono successfully forged networks reaching all the way to the Vatican.”
In Puerto Rico, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vásquez has said she does not want to step into the position of Governor even though she is next in line to replace Ricardo Rosselló who was forced to resign by a popular uprising. Rosselló’s last day in office is Friday. Vasquez’s decision may have been influenced by the protesters chanting “Wanda Renuncia” alongside “Ricky Renuncia” during the height of the island’s mass movement. It remains to be seen who will take Rosselló’s place.
In international news Russian authorities have arrested nearly 1,400 people in Moscow during a rally in opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The arrests are the largest number in a decade. At the same time as the crackdown on anti-government protesters, a prominent Putin critic named Alexei Navalny was arrested for calling for the protests and sentenced to one month in prison. But there are reports that Navalny was taken unexpectedly ill after exposure to a toxin. Russian authorities claimed that he had a severe allergy attack.
In Afghanistan, 20 people were killed and 50 wounded in a major attack in the capital Kabul aimed at the office of the Afghan President’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh. The attack took place on Sunday and lasted for hours. It’s not yet clear who was responsible for the attack.