Headlines: July 30, 2019
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Two people were killed and two more wounded at a Walmart store near Memphis, Tennessee. So far there is no known motive for the shooter, who is undergoing medical treatment. The shooting comes just two days after two children and a young man were fatally shot in Gilroy, California. California Governor Gavin Newsom didn’t mince his words in blasting Congress’ failure to curb guns posting this video to his Twitter feed. Meanwhile Newsom just approved a bill that would force President Trump to release his tax returns if he wants to be on the 2020 Presidential ballot in California.
In other news, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, GOP Congressman John Ratcliffe, is facing stiff opposition from Democrats and a lack of enthusiasm from Republicans. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor slammed Ratcliffe as a partisan figure who lacks experience, announcing his stiff opposition to Ratcliffe as National Intelligence Director after Dan Coats resigned from the position.
Meanwhile, a former senior analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Trump Administration’s State Department wrote an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why he resigned. Rod Schoonover’s piece was entitled, “The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security.” In it, he explained that higher-ups blocked his report issued last month because, “the scientific foundation of the analysis did not comport with the administration’s position on climate change.” He added, “When a White House can shape or suppress intelligence analysis that it deems out of line with its political messaging, then the intelligence community has no true analytic independence. I believe such acts weaken our nation.”
A Virginia state legislator interrupted President Trump during his speech in Jamestown, Virginia marking 400 years of American democracy with signs that said, “Deport hate,” and “reunite my family,” among other things by Ibraheem S. Samirah. The event commemorating 400 years of American democracy had been planned for years but Trump’s participation was announced at the last minute, angering African American leaders who pledged to boycott the event in response. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus released a statement saying, “The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting yet another means by which wealthy parents exploit loopholes to offer their children advantages in higher education. The Department of Education is apparently investigating how some parents in Chicago, Illinois, are transferring guardianship of their children to relatives or friends in order to qualify for financial aid meant for students from working class families. The practice is technically legal. By transferring guardianship, only the student’s income is considered when awarding financial aid, not family income. According to the Journal, the parents, “followed the strategy laid out by a college consultant company called Destination College, based in Lincolnshire, Ill.”
Capital One has announced a massive data breach that exposed the information of more than 100 million of its customers and applicants in what is considered the largest data breach in banking history. A 33-year old woman named Paige Thompson has been identified as the suspected perpetrator. Capital One says it is, “unlikely that the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual.” The bank is also claiming that the hacker only obtained the names and addresses of customers and applicants and not their credit card numbers or passwords. The announcement came just days after the credit company Equifax settled for $650 million in a suit over a historic data breach.
Tom Barrack, a Trump associate and fundraiser, pushed the President to pursue a nuclear deal with Saudi Arabia just five days after the inauguration, newly released documents show. Barrack, who is under investigation by federal prosecutors, apparently suggested a plan for, “how American companies, possibly including Mr. Barrack’s own private equity firm, could help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power plants. The plan, Mr. Barrack said, would be ‘backed immediately’ by the Saudis.” Barrack also lobbied to be appointed Trump’s Middle East Envoy, asking an Emirati leader to press Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on the matter. The information about Barrack was revealed in documents prepared by the House Oversight Committee which is investigating the relationship between Trump advisers and Middle East leaders.
Meanwhile the Republican dominated US Senate failed to override Trump’s recent veto on bi-partisan measures to limit US arms sales to the Saudis. Saudi Arabia has led a devastating war with direct US help, in Yemen. Al Jazeera reported that Saudi air strikes just killed 10 civilians including 2 children. In other news, Guantanamo detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammad has said he is open to testifying against the Saudi government in a lawsuit by victims of the 9-11 attacks if he is spared the death penalty. And in Afghanistan, where the US launched a war of retaliation after 9-11, the United Nations is reporting that nearly 4,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first part of this year alone.
A new report by the group Global Witness has found that 164 environmental activists were killed in their home countries in 2018. The report, entitled “Enemies of the State?“ concluded that the Philippines was the most dangerous nation for environmentalists. More than half of the killings took place in Latin America with Guatemala in particular seeing a whopping 5-fold jump in murders.