Headlines: July 9, 2018
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All eyes are on President Donald Trump as he readies his announcement for Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy this evening. According to news reports, he is picking between four candidates: Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit, Brett M. Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit, Raymond M. Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit and Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit. There are also reports that Trump is enjoying the drama of all the attention he is garnering. We’ll examine his nominee later in the week once his announcement is made.
After he announces his Supreme Court pick the President heads to Europe for what is sure to be a fraught meeting in Brussels with NATO leaders tomorrow night. Trump is expected to demand that the heads of state of NATO nations increase their defense budget to keep up with the US’s bloated military. Trump has also angered his European allies with an aggressive trade war.
In anticipation of Trump’s visit and the NATO summit European activists marched by the thousands in Brussels over the weekend. The #TrumpNotWelcome was one of many slogans. Another one was “Make Peace Great Again.” Trump will visit the UK on July 13th where activists have obtained approval for massive anti-Trump protests and even a “Trump Baby” balloon to fly in London’s skies.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is experiencing a crisis of her leadership after a top minister overseeing Brexit negotiations resigned. Newsweek described it as, “The resignation of the Brexit minister threatens to open a chasm in May’s Conservative—or Tory—government, with moderates calling for a “soft” Brexit on one side and extremists lobbying for a “hard” Brexit on the other.” There is even speculation that by the time of Trump’s visit, there may be a new prime minister.
Here in the US, a record-breaking heat wave engulfed Southern California since Friday with temperatures hitting past 110 degrees Fahrenheit and remaining scorching hot through Sunday. The heat led to power surges which in turn led to ill-timed outages leaving tens of thousands of LA-area residents without power. The Department of Water and Power reported that Saturday was the second highest ever usage of electricity. And that Friday was the hottest July 6th on record. There were also several wildfires across California that were burning from San Diego to the northern border with Oregon.One person died from the fires in Northern California.
It wasn’t just Californians suffering from record heat. Over the past week a number of regions in the Northern Hemisphere experienced extremely high temperatures. In North America high temperatures were recorded in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Temperatures in Algeria went past 124 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest ever-recorded in Africa. Glasgow, Scotland, and Tbilisi, Georgia also broke records. According to the Washington Post, “No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.”
Haiti has been rocked with several days of violent protests over the weekend, linked to the government’s proposal to sharply raise fuel prices. According to Associated Press, “Looters pillaged burned and vandalized shops,” and that the US has asked its citizens to “shelter in place.” At least three people have been killed, and as many as seven, and all flights to and from Haiti have been canceled. Here’s how some of the protesters explained to Al Jazeera what was happening. Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced that the government was suspending the fuel price hike.
The Trump Administration’s detente with North Korea has hit a roadblock following two days of talks with high-level representatives from both nations in Pyongyang, North Korea. The North Korean leadership accused the US of having a “gangster-like” mindset in regards to its aggressive demand for de-nuclearization. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo retorted on Sunday, “if those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster.” Pompeo then made remarks while in Vietnam last night wishing that US-North Korea relations were akin to US-Vietnam relations and also referred to Vietnamese economic growth. He said, “President Trump believes your country can replicate this path — it’s yours if you’ll seize the moment. The miracle can be yours.”
At another international gathering, the Trump administration has stunned nations of the world with its aggressive anti-breast feeding stance. At a meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva over the weekend, hundreds of delegates gathered from around the world expecting to easily pass a resolution promoting breastfeeding only to find that US representatives were now against it. According to the New York Times, “United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations… When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions.”
Eventually the US threatened Ecuador with harsh trade rules and an end to military support if it didn’t join the US. Ecuador caved in to the pressure and other poor nations dependent on the US followed suit. A British representative who advocates for breast feeding told press, “What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health.”
Congressman Keith Ellison, the nation’s first-ever Muslim member of Congress, has announced his abrupt resignation. Ellison has been a champion of progressive causes and now intends to run for Attorney General of his state of Minnesota. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Ellison said, “I am not looking to climb some career ladder. I don’t give a damn about that. What I care about is how can I help the most people. How can I be maximally effective in defense of people’s economic and social rights, that’s what I care about.”
Protesters confronted Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday while he was leaving a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky over his support of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. It was the second time in a week that McConnell had been publicly confronted. The small group that spoke to him asked, “where are the babies,” and chanted “Abolish ICE.”
Meanwhile in other immigration-related news, a federal court order has forced the Trump administration to release the names of all children under the age of 5 who were taken into custody after being separated from their parents at the border. The names of nearly a hundred such children were released to the ACLU. The deadline to reunite children with their parents is tomorrow but the government’s plan for reunification is so disorganized that it is simply not working. Many reports relate that parents were ordered to sign papers for voluntary deportation in order to receive custody of their children. Many have been deported while their children remain forcibly held in the US.
And finally on Saturday, an event billed as the conservative alternative to the March for Our Rights rally that decried gun proliferation policies, drew only about 50 people in Los Angeles. The pro-gun rally was organized by a student in Malibu and the young attendees walked back and forth across a single city block in LA chanting such things as “gun rights are human rights.”