Headlines: November 19, 2018
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President Donald Trump in an interview on Sunday said that he would not listen to the audio recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The recording had been obtained by Turkish intelligence officers and turned over to several governments including the US. Trump on Fox News on Sunday explained why he wouldn’t listen to the recording of Khashoggi’s killing.
On Saturday Trump toured fire-ravaged parts of California. He was accompanied by current Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Elect Gavin Newson – both strong critics of Trump. After touring the hardest hit town of Paradise, Trump forgot the name of the town during his remarks to reporters as “Pleasure,” before being corrected. He also continued to assert that the California fires are easy problems to solve and that Finland’s approach of “raking and cleaning“ was worth studying. Trump on Saturday in California lectures state officials on the fire problem and refuses to utter the words “climate change.” The latest death toll from the horrific fires is now 80 with 993 people still missing.
A number of high profile midterm election races were resolved over the weekend. In Florida Democrat Bill Nelson conceded the race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott for the Senate seat after trailing Scott by about 10,000 votes. Also in Florida, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis for the Governor’s seat that Scott held. Gillum trailed DeSantis by about 33,000 votes. The Florida elections were fraught with issues of race and problematic voting.
In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams also conceded the race for Governor on Friday to Republican Brian Kemp. Georgia’s election was marred by serious voter suppression tactics that Kemp oversaw as Secretary of State. There were also numerous lawsuits over the handling of the election, voter registration, and vote counting. On Sunday Abrams gave her first interview after the concession, to CNN’s Jake Tapper. Abrams does plan to run again in the future.
In California the last major race in question was finally decided with the win by Gil Cisneros over Young Kim for House Representative of the 39th District. This means that Democrats flipped a total of 6 Republican seats this election. All four Republican districts in the traditionally Red Orange County are now Democratic districts.
And in Mississippi, both Democrats and Republicans are frantically working to salvage one last Senate seat in a runoff election scheduled for November 27th. Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith should have easily won reelection but was stymied by comments she made that the Washington Post summarized this way: “in praise of a supporter, [Hyde-Smith] spoke of her willingness to sit in the front row of a public hanging if he invited her — words that, in the South, evoked images of lynchings. She has struggled to grapple with the fallout, baffling members of her party and causing even faithful Republicans to consider voting for her opponent, former congressman Mike Espy.” If Espy wins the runoff he would become the southern State’s first-ever black Senator. President Trump has planned rallies in Mississippi cities in support of Hyde-Smith ahead of the runoff.
In other news, the city of Portland, Oregon, was once more the site of clashes between white supremacist groups and anti-fascists this past weekend. Joey Gibson, who leads a group called Patriot Prayer, and who has repeatedly held rallies for his racist supporters, made an appearance in Portland on Saturday. His followers were vastly outnumbered by anti-fascist groups and activists. Six people were arrested and police declared the event a “civil disturbance.” According to the Guardian newspaper, “A final standoff around 5pm outside a parking garage ended when police moved in and formed a protective wall around the remnant group of rightwingers, covering their exit.” Police in Portland and many other such clashes have often showed their allegiance to white supremacists over anti-fascists, sometimes standing by as a racist mob beats someone up, and other times actively protecting fascist groups.
And finally the US Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up the question of whether the US Census is allowed to ask residents of their citizenship status in 2020. The move was unusual because there are six lawsuits around the nation that have been filed against the addition of the question and only one has made it to trial in New York but none have been ruled on yet by lower federal courts. According to the Washington Post, “U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman has scheduled closing arguments in that case for Nov. 27. He made a preliminary finding that there was evidence the Trump administration acted in bad faith, and said [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross and other administration officials could be deposed by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and other challengers in the suit.”