Headlines: October 26, 2018
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UPDATED: 56-year old Cesar Sayoc Jr.has been arrested in Florida in connection with the suspicious packages of pipe bombs being sent to President Donald Trump’s favorite political targets. Sayoc is a registered Republican and may be the owner of a white van that was seen in several locations sporting a number of pro-Trump bumper stickers. As of Friday morning, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper were the latest recipients of suspicious packages. This now brings to 13 the total number of such pieces of mail found this week. The FBI is engaged in a nationwide manhunt for the perpetrator. It is not yet clear if Sayoc’s intention was to actually cause damage or to sow fear. In their search for the perpetrator, authorities traced the mail back to a US mail distribution center at Opa-Locka, northwest of Miami, in Miami-Dade County, Florida. According to Reuters, “Authorities called the parcel bombs an act of terrorism. They were sent less than two weeks before national elections that could alter the balance of power in Washington.”
Larry Johnson, former head of criminal investigations for the Secret Service spoke with Associated Press. On Thursday, California Representative Maxine Waters, who is one of the recipients of the suspicious mail, issued a video response. Trump has dug in his heels and refused to tone down his angry rhetoric, saying on Twitter on Friday, “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!'”
In other news, a 51-year old white man named Gregory Bush has been arrested in Louisville, Kentucky for the murder of two African Americans, 69-year old Vickie Lee Jones, and 67-year old Maurice Stallard, in a supermarket. Bush was charged on Thursday with two counts of murder and 11 counts of “wanton endangerment.” According to the New York Times, “surveillance video had recorded Mr. Bush’s unsuccessful attempt to enter the nearby First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown shortly before the attack.” Journalist Shaun King, who has been closely following the story wrote in The Intercept: “When Ed Harrell, a white man in the parking lot, saw Bush coming toward him, he pulled out his own revolver, and yelled to ask what was going on. According to Harrell, Bush replied, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.'” King wrote, “It was racism. These killings were hate crimes. Saying otherwise is not only an insult to the victims and their families, but to the entire black community of Louisville, which is reeling right now from this.”
Caitlin Jenner has written an op-ed in the Washington Post taking back her support for Trump. The prominent transgender celebrity and author had backed Trump in the early days of his Presidency, despite strong evidence showing he was likely to undo the rights of LGBTQ Americans. On Thursday Jenner wrote, “I thought Trump would help trans people. I was wrong.” She explained, “I believed I could work within the party and the Trump administration to shift the minds of those who most needed shifting.” But, “The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity.” Jenner’s op-ed comes a day after the Justice Department filed a brief with the US Supreme Court saying that transgender workers are not protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and several days after it was revealed that Trump intended to remove Title IX protections for transgender people.
Trump on Thursday announced a plan to lower prescription drug prices for some Americans. The plan would slowly shift the prices of drugs for Medicare recipients to the same level as the international market. It would not apply to medication bought at the drug store, only given at doctor’s offices such as cancer treatments. President Trump, in a speech at the Department of Health and Human Services – in his usual manner of exaggerating his achievements – touted the plan as far more important than it is and cast it in nationalist terms. According to Associated Press, “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said if Trump wants to save seniors money he should seek congressional approval for Medicare to negotiate prices for its main prescription drug program, ‘Part D.'”
In news from the caravan of asylum seekers heading to the US from Central America, there are now reports that Trump is considering a plan to close the US Southern border with Mexico using an executive order. According to the Times, “The proposal amounts to a sweeping use of presidential power to fortify the border and impose the kind of aggressive immigration restrictions and enforcement measures that Mr. Trump has made his signature pursuit. The plan is expected to prompt a swift challenge in federal courts.” Earlier this week there were reports of 800-1,000 US troops being readied for the border to meet the caravan. Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen said on Fox News on Thursday night, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended, however.”
General Motors has said it will propose setting a single-emissions standard for vehicles to the federal government. It also wants the government to mandate that a certain percentage of all vehicles produced by a company be “zero-emissions” cars. Mark Reuss, a GM executive said, “A national zero emissions program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future.” GM will make the proposal as part of the written comments being accepted by the Trump Administration on its plan to roll back Obama-era vehicle emissions standards. The company cited that it would be cheaper to have one standard than a patchwork of standards for cars, referencing California’s tougher requirements.
And finally, Google on Thursday announced that it had fired 48 employees over the past 2 years over sexual harassment accusations and that those employees were let go without severance packages. The announcement was in response to a New York Times story published hours earlier called, “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android.'” The Times article details how, “The internet giant paid Mr. Rubin $90 million and praised him, while keeping silent about a misconduct claim.”