Headlines: May 13, 2019
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China has made good on its promise to retaliate against the US for President Donald Trump’s tariffs as trade talks between the US and China continue to move at a slow pace. Beijing’s response to Trump’s 25% tax on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports was to raise tariffs of 20-25% on $60 billion worth of American goods set to go into effect on June 1. As a result of the escalating trade war, the US stock market fell on Monday in what is being described as the “worst drop of the year.” According to the New York Times the Chinese tariffs may be the beginning of a harsher response including, “halting purchases of American agricultural and energy products, reducing orders for Boeing aircraft and possibly even the sale of part of China’s large holdings of Treasuries.” Trump has enjoyed support from Democrats as well as Republicans for his tough-on-China approach. But Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow on Sunday admitted in an interview that Americans will suffer. He said, “In fact, both sides will pay…Both sides will suffer on this.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has canceled his announced trip to Russia, opting instead to head to Brussels where some European nations are meeting to discuss salvaging the Iran nuclear deal. In a terse announcement about Pompeo’s change of plans the State Department explained that the Secretary Pompeo’s intention was to, “discuss recent threatening actions and statements by the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Meanwhile Saudi Arabia announced that two of its oil tankers were “sabotaged” off the UAE coast on Monday and shared photos of damage to the hull of its vessels. It is not yet clear who was responsible. And, in a little reported story, a Saudi cargo ship transporting weapons thought to be used in Yemen, has faced protests in European ports by activists.
In climate news, newly released data has found that atmospheric carbon dioxide reached a record high of 415 parts per million. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which measures daily CO2 rates at Mauna Loa in Hawaii recorded the shockingly high number. Meteorologist Eric Holthouse tweeted in alarm that, “This is the first time in human history our planet’s atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago.” On Sunday thousands of mothers and their families marked Mother’s Day in London with protests against climate change. The actions were organized by the group Mothers Rise Up and a march was led by 11-year old children to signal the amount of time left for humans to take action to address our release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Here in the US yet another Muslim American lawmaker is facing a smear campaign by right wing commentators and Republicans for supposedly being “anti-Semitic.” Rashida Tlaib in an interview that was released late last week spoke about her belief in a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said, “There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out.” She added, “I want a safe haven for Jews. Who doesn’t want to be safe? I am humbled by the fact that it was my ancestors that had to suffer for that to happen, but I will not turn my back and allow others to hijack it and say that it’s some extremist approach because they’re coming from a place of… whatever it is… of division, inequality.” Her words “calming effect,” are now being taken out of context and her view of history being slammed as anti-Semitic.
President Trump has rolled out the welcome mat for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House on Monday. Orban is notorious for being an extremist right wing racist and white nationalist who has waged a war against migrants. In 2018 he said in a speech, “We must state that we do not want to be diverse…We do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.” Republicans were notably silent on Trump’s enthusiastic embrace of Europe’s leading racist head-of-state.
In New York, five years after the police killing of Eric Garner an officer might be facing some small semblance of justice. The trial of New York Police officer Daniel Pantaleo starts Monday and centers on the chokehold that led to Garner’s death. According to the New York Times, the case will attempt to answer the questions, “Was the maneuver Officer Pantaleo used a chokehold? And, if so, was the officer justified in using it to subdue an unarmed man during a low-level arrest?”
Swedish authorities have decided to reopen a rape case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange just weeks after Assange was evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange is facing extradition to the US while he remains incarcerated in the UK. And whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who was recently jailed for contempt of court after refusing to testify against Assange, gave an interview to CNN on Sunday. During the interview she slammed the Trump Administration for its war on the press.
Reuters is reporting that Amazon.com is rolling out automation technology to replace human workers with robots in its warehouses to scan and package online orders. The retail giant is expected to install the machines at several of its warehouses and plans on cutting about 1,300 jobs in response. The machines are expected to pay for themselves within couple of years. On the same day as the news broke, Amazon announced an offer to its employees to quit their jobs in exchange for help with starting delivery businesses.
And in other tech business news, the ride sharing company Uber’s highly anticipated IPO on Friday fell flat resulting in investors losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The company was targeted by its own workers two days earlier for poor labor conditions. And the US Supreme Court on Monday ruled against Apple corporation in a massive antitrust lawsuit, saying the case could move forward.
Elections took place in the Philippines on Monday where right wing President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to consolidate his power in the legislative body. Election-related violence in the lead-up to voting claimed the lives of dozens of people. Twelve Senate seats and nearly 300 House seats are up for grabs. The results will be known in a few days. Duterte is notorious for waging a brutal war on drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands.
And finally in Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaido who enjoys strong US support, has openly called for a meeting with the US military for “strategic and operational planning” to help overthrow his nation’s democratically elected government.