Headlines: May 6, 2019
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President Donald Trump made a veiled threat on Twitter over the weekend implying that he ought to remain in power for two more years beyond his four-year term. Trump re-tweeted a post by evangelical leader Jerry Fallwell Jr. saying, “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup,” referring to the Special Counsel’s investigation into the 2016 election. Trump later echoed this idea in a separate tweet saying, “they have stolen two years of my (our) Presidency (Collusion Delusion) that we will never be able to get back.”
The idea that Trump might not respect the results of the 2020 election has been floated by several people including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who in an interview with the New York Times on Saturday warned that, “We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that.” Pelosi and other centrist Democrats have implied that only by appealing to centrist voters can Trump be beaten. She said, “Own the center left, own the mainstream.” Democrats have also been pursuing subpoenas on current and former Trump officials which the President has been resisting in line with the idea of unaccountable Presidential power. According to the Times, “The president seems energized by the confrontation, and he views the compliant Republican Senate majority — which is unlikely to convict him if the House brings impeachment proceedings — as a license to goad Ms. Pelosi’s team, according to two people familiar with the president’s thinking.”
On Sunday Trump also said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should not testify to Congress. He tweeted his constant wrongful assertion that the Mueller report exonerated him and added, “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” This is a reversal from his position on Friday when he told reporters that Mueller’s testimony was, “up to our attorney general.” Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders shot back, “Sorry, Mr. President, you are not a dictator. In our democracy, when Congress calls on Robert Mueller to testify, he will testify.” Democratic Congressman David Cicilline who sits on the House Judiciary Committee publicly said, “we are aiming to bring Mueller in on the 15th, but nothing has been agreed to yet.” Meanwhile committee members plan to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress this Wednesday after Mr. Barr refused to testify last week. And, Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen starts his 3-year prison sentence on Monday. Cohen was convicted for crimes related to the Special Counsel investigation and will serve his term in a federal prison in Otisville, New York, which has been dubbed, “one of “America’s 10 cushiest prisons.”
Trump on Sunday named an Obama-era immigration official named Mark Morgan to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Morgan had served as head of Border Patrol in the last three months of President Barack Obama’s tenure and is also a former FBI agent. Trump called Morgan, “a true believer and American Patriot.” His announcement comes after a major leadership purge at the Department of Homeland Security. Despite the fact that Mr. Morgan served under Obama, according to the New York Times, “In recent interviews with Fox News, Mr. Morgan has displayed much more enthusiasm for the aggressive policies backed by Mr. Trump and Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s immigration agenda.”
In other news China’s government on Monday said it was preparing a trade delegation to travel to the US despite the fact that Trump announced he was raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from 10% to 25%. He also threatened to tax another $325 billion worth of goods at 25% if trade talks don’t proceed faster. Economists are worried about Trump triggering a massive trade war with his actions and words.
Boeing is in the news once more as the embattled corporation attempts to recover from the disastrous fatal plane crashes of its 737 series aircraft. Now a new timeline that Boeing just released suggests that some staff knew about problems with its aircraft’s alert systems a year before the first crash. According to CNN, “It’s not known if the lack of the alert function played a role in the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines planes, which killed 346 people. But the disagree alert could have notified pilots that a sensor was malfunctioning.”
A major United Nations report has spelled out extremely bad news for life on earth. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has found that a million species are at threat of extinction and that the, “Current global response [is] insufficient,” and “Transformative changes’ [are] needed to restore and protect nature.” IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson said, “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” The report is the result of 145 experts from 50 different countries over 3 years.
Major hostilities by Israel against Gaza have been temporarily paused after a weekend of violence. At least 22 Palestinians were killed including children after Israel forces pummeled the territory. Four Israeli civilians were also killed. The clash was the worst violence since Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014. According to the New York Times, “The Israeli military said it had struck 350 militant targets over the weekend. It resumed wartime tactics that included the targeted assassination of individuals and bombing multistory buildings it said were used for military purposes.” There is now a tentative ceasefire in effect.
The US has deployed an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the US Central Command region in the Middle East whose goal according to the White House National Security adviser John Bolton is, “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” Bolton, who made the statement on Sunday also said, “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces.” On Monday two senior unnamed officials told the New York Times that the deployment was in response to new and troubling Iranian activity in the Persian Gulf.
And finally State Secretary Mike Pompeo said in an interview on ABC’s This Week that US intervention in Venezuela would be lawful. Many have pointed out that there is no basis in international law for the type of intervention the US is actively considering as it supports coup-plotters in Venezuela.