Headlines: June 11, 2019
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New details have emerged in how Mexico has accepted President Donald Trump’s ultimatum to militarize its response to refugees in exchange for no tariffs. In a report on Tuesday based on internal documents and government officials, the Washington Post explained that the US-Mexico agreement includes, “the deployment of a militarized national guard at the Guatemalan border, thousands of additional migrant arrests per week and the acceptance of busloads of asylum seekers turned away from the U.S. border daily, all geared toward cutting the migrant flow sharply in coming weeks.” Trump had been angry-tweeting at critics of his deal since it was first announced. In remarks to reporters on Tuesday morning about his deal with Mexico over migrants. Meanwhile, in what appears to be a direct response to Trump’s aggression, Mexico’s government arrested two activists with the group Pueblo Sin Fronteras for their role in organizing the migrant caravans from Central America. Cristobal Sanchez and Irineo Mujica were arrested and flown to Chiapas to face trial in charges of illegally transporting migrants for money. Here in the US, an activist named Scott Warren was arrested and charged some weeks ago in a similar case of helping migrants.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden is in Iowa on Tuesday to give an address, just days after skipping out on a major candidates forum over the weekend. In remarks released to the press hours earlier, Biden is planning on shaping his Iowa speech around Trump and his political agenda and by coincidence Mr. Trump is also in Iowa on the same day addressing a Republican gathering. Biden will reportedly criticize Trump’s tariffs saying, “Trump doesn’t get the basics,” and that, “He thinks his tariffs are being paid by China…Any beginning econ student at Iowa or Iowa State could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs. The cashiers at Target see what’s going on. They know more about economics than Trump.” Biden also plans to defend the Affordable Care Act, saying, “If I become the nominee of this party, I’m going to give Trump a thrashing every day on health care.” Most crucially according to his written remarks Biden will say, “I believe Trump is an existential threat to America…Everywhere you turn, Trump is tearing down the guardrails of democracy.” A day earlier Biden had claimed that after 8 years of Trump Republicans would “know better,” and would be more cooperative with Democrats after his Presidency ends.
Vice President Mike Pence confirmed in an interview on NBC on Monday that US embassies around the world were barred from flying the gay pride flag during Pride Month. He said it was the “right decision.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced a radical plan to ban single use plastic across his nation by 2021. The ban will likely cover plastic straws, bags, cutlery, and more. According to a statement released by the government, every minute a single truckload of plastic enters our oceans. Meanwhile the petroleum corporation BP released its annual report and found that fossil fuel emissions from the energy industry rose at its fastest pace in nearly ten years last year. The report ironically concluded that wild temperature swings from global-warming-related weather patterns increased the demand for more fossil fuels, including coal which saw a rise in use for the second year in a row after 30 years of decline. Natural gas use also jumped dramatically. BP’s chief economist Spencer Dale told the Guardian newspaper, “If there is a link between the growing levels of carbon in the atmosphere and the types of weather patterns observed in 2018 this would raise the possibility of a worrying vicious cycle: increasing levels of carbon leading to more extreme weather patterns, which in turn trigger stronger growth in energy (and carbon emissions) as households and businesses seek to offset their effects.”
The House Judiciary Committee on Monday invited Watergate era White House lawyer John Dean to testify about parallels between the Nixon and Trump administrations. Dean, served as White House Counsel during Richard Nixon’s tenure; his testimony at that time helped push Nixon to resign.
Republican congressman Justin Amash has left the House Freedom Caucus – a group that he was a founding member of – over his public position in criticizing President Trump and being the lone Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment. The Freedom Caucus had recently voted to disagree with Amash. Republican Mark Meadows, who is an ardent Trump supporter said, “Justin Amash’s conclusions are poorly informed and fatally flawed and don’t represent the views of any of the Freedom Caucus members that I’m aware of.”
Virginians are holding primary elections on Tuesday for state legislative seats in what many see as a test case for the federal political landscape. According to the Washington Post, “Several Democratic incumbents are being challenged from the left by progressives, while three Republican incumbents who voted with Democrats to expand Medicaid are facing challenges from the right.” Currently Republicans hold majorities in both state houses but all 140 seats will be up for election in November. One thing that is different in this election is that federal judges tossed out district maps they determined to be racially gerrymandered.
The US has formally submitted an extradition request to the UK for custody of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been indicted on 18 charges, many of them stemming from violations of the Espionage Act. According to Associated Press, “Some legal experts have said the additional Espionage Act charges might slow or complicate the extradition process to the extent the United Kingdom views them as political offenses and therefore exempt from extradition.”
And finally, Linda Fairstein, the New York prosecutor who aggressively pursued charges against the so-called Central Park Five, and who was portrayed in a critical manner by filmmaker Ava DuVernay in her Netflix miniseries, has written an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal accusing DuVernay of defamation. Fairstein, who has come under intense public scrutiny for her role in the case decades ago, accused DuVernay of creating, “a series so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”