Headlines: July 31, 2019
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The first night of a 2-part Democratic Presidential candidate debate took place Tuesday night with 10 out of 20 hopefuls vying to make their case to the public. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were both part of the first night, and two of the top four frontrunners as per polls. Defying the predictions of media pundits, Sanders and Warren refrained from attacking one another and emerged as powerful advocates of bread-and-butter issues for voters, especially on healthcare. Both progressive stalwarts formed a bulwark of visionary ideas relative to the rest of the more moderate candidates who urged reformist approaches. Arguing against Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan over the Medicare-for-All bill, Sanders fought back against the naysayers. Sanders also hit back at former Maryland Congressman John Delaney accusing him of wanting to make money off of healthcare.
Senator Elizabeth Warren also clashed with Delaney issuing a retort that emerged as the winning line of the night and highlighting the differences between the progressives and the reformists. Warren and Sanders also both accused CNN, which was hosting the debate, and other candidates, of echoing Republican talking points.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also made a critical point on how Democrats taking bold positions. Author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson distinguished herself from other candidates on the issue of reparations for the descendants of enslaved Americans.
The Trump administration has announced that it will create a plan to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada – just days after Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took a caravan of diabetes patients across the border to buy insulin. There is already a law allowing the importation of drugs but government agencies have not approved it claiming drug safety issues. And the White House announced that Trump will visit Central Florida next week for a discussion on the Medicare program and how his administration plans to strengthen it.
In other news the ACLU informed a federal judge that President Donald Trump’s administration has separated nearly 1,000 immigrant children from their parents at the US border after the government was ordered to stop family separations. The Washington Post reported that among the justifications that authorities made for the separations were these two stories: “one migrant lost his daughter because a U.S. Border Patrol agent claimed that he had failed to change the girl’s diaper. Another migrant lost his child because of a conviction on a charge of malicious destruction of property with alleged damage of $5.” Kevin McAleenan, acting Homeland Security Secretary had only recently testified to Congress that family separations after last year’s court order remained “exceedingly rare.” One fifth of the 911 children separated from their parents are under the age of 5.
Authorities in California found that the shooter in Gilroy who killed 3 people at an annual festival had been planning a larger attack. According to CBS, “investigators say they found a bulletproof vest, gas mask, knife and gun pamphlets. The San Francisco Chronicle reports they also found reading materials on radical Islam and white supremacy.”
The Federal Reserve is set to cut interest rates this week for the first time in more than ten years in spite of the fact that conventional economic indicators show a relatively robust economy. According to the New York Times, “Uncertainty around global growth and persistently low inflation are behind the expected move.” And the Environmental Working Group released a report this week showing that recent farm subsidies intended to offset losses from Trump’s trade war with China, are in fact overwhelmingly going to the wealthiest agribusinesses. In other word tax dollars are being used to make rich corporate farmers richer. Additionally it has been found that almost 100% of all bailout funds went to white farmers.
In Hawaii, Governor David Ige revoked his emergency proclamation allowing construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The move was a victory for Native Hawaiians who have been blocking access to the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island where the TMT is to be built. But the Governor also extended the time frame for construction by 2 years indicating that the fight is not over.
Puerto Rico’s outgoing Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who has been driven out by mass protests, has named another successor after the first one backed out. Pedro Pierluisi, who was the former Puerto Rican representative in the US Congress has apparently accepted the vacant position of State Secretary and will take over as Governor for the rest of Rosselló’s term after he steps down this Friday.
In international news, North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles this week – the second such firing – as a warning to South Korea over joint military exercises with the US.
In Hong Kong where pro-democracy protests continue, unknown assailants lobbed fireworks from a car at protesters injuring nearly a dozen people. And Hong Kong police charged 44 people– including a 16-year old girl – with rioting after they participated in an unpermitted protest.
Finally in Afghanistan, violence has once more broken out in the war torn nation after a roadside bomb killed 32 people on a bus in the Western province of Farah. At least 15 people were injured – many of them critically and the death toll is expected to rise.