Headlines: September 4, 2018
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In today’s news headlines the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday is holding confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The unprecedented speed with which Justice Anthony Kennedy is being replaced by an extremist conservative and very young judge has left Democrats and progressives up in arms. Senators from both major parties launched a war of words right from the start over the hundreds of thousands of missing documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s record. [Senator Kamala Harris began by asking why there was no time for Democrats on the committee to review more than 40,000 pages of documents that were given to them the night before. Republican senator Chuck Grassley simply talked over her. Senator Richard Blumenthal denounced the hearings as a “charade,” and a “mockery of our norms,” and asked for the hearings to be adjourned to which members of the public present at the hearing cheered loudly. But Senator Grassley continued to assert that the hearing would continue. From its opening minutes the hearing were interrupted by people in the audience yelling and being removed from the room.] Those are some of the highlights from the opening hours of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
On Monday former Democratic Presidential nominee and State Secretary Hillary Clinton weighed in on the hearings posting a series of tweets opposing Kavanaugh as being bad for workers and citing several of his anti-worker decisions. She wrote, “The Roberts Court has dealt some big blows to workers and unions in the last few years. With Kavanaugh on the Court, a 5-4 hard-right majority would be even more aggressive in siding with corporations over people.” We’ll bring you more coverage of the hearings on tomorrow’s show.
President Donald Trump lobbed yet another attack against his Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday, making clearer than ever his political conflicts of interest. He blamed the Justice Department for the poor timing of recent indictments against two Republican Congressmen running for re-election. “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” tweeted the President. He added, “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……” CNN put into context the extreme inappropriateness of the President’s remarks this way: “A decision by the Justice Department to hold off on prosecuting two Republican congressmen up for re-election in order to help them win would have been highly unethical and a blatantly politically motivated violation of the department’s nonpartisan mission.” The Congressmen in question are Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, and Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York.
A major storm is heading toward the Gulf Coast and is expected to develop into a hurricane. Tropical storm Gordon, which has been pouring rain over the state of Florida has resulted in gusts of winds up to 45 mph and is now expected to hit the Northern US Gulf Coast by Tuesday night as a Hurricane. September 16th is the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria which hit Puerto Rico resulting in one of the highest death tolls of any natural disaster in the US’s recorded history.
President Trump used the occasion of Labor Day to slam the leader of one of the nation’s biggest unions, Richard Trumka. On Sunday Trumka told Fox News that Trump has done more to hurt American workers than help them. So Trump on Monday tweeted, “Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, represented his union poorly on television this weekend. Some of the things he said were so against the working men and women of our country, and the success of the U.S. itself, that it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly.”
Trump has had some measure of success in courting other labor leaders over his decision to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which unions had for years railed against. Last Friday was the deadline that Trump had set for an agreement between the three member countries of Mexico, Canada, and the US. But that deadline came and went and negotiators will continue talks this week. They hope to have an agreement in place before Congressional midterms in November in the US and before Mexico’s President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office in December. On Friday the Toronto Star reported Trump’s off-the-record comments made to Bloomberg News about Canada’s role in NAFTA where Trump said that any deal would be, “totally on our terms.”
California lawmakers have passed a sweeping net neutrality bill and sent it to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature. SB 822 passed the state Senate 27-12 a day after the Assembly approved their version of the bill. It remains to be seen if Gov. Brown will sign the bill and has 30 days to do so. If he does sign it, California will be defying a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that upended net neutrality rules, a major boost to internet providers who can now legally slow down internet traffic and charge customers more for higher speeds.
TheWall Street Journal on Monday reported that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been personally involved in some of the decision making at the popular social media platform to ban some users over misconduct. According to the paper, “Mr. Dorsey has weighed in on content decisions at the last minute or after they were made, sometimes resulting in changes and frustrating other executives and employees, according to people familiar with the matter.” The most recent controversial decision was to ban conspiracy peddler and Trump supporter Alex Jones after critics decried Jones’ destructive use of Twitter. Dorsey will be among several tech company CEOs expected to testify before Congress on Wednesday.
Rob Tibbets, the father of slain Iowa University student Mollie Tibbets on Saturday published an op-ed in the Des Moines Register repeating his exhortations against conservatives to stop politicizing his daughter’s death. Ms. Tibbets is suspected to have been killed by an undocumented immigrant. In his op-ed her father referred to a piece by President Trump’s son Donald Jr. in the same paper a day earlier where he wrote, “The mask is off and the true radical face of the Democrats has been exposed. They are seemingly more concerned with protecting their radical open-borders agenda than the lives of innocent Americans.” Rob Tibbets shot back writing, “Mollie was nobody’s victim. Nor is she a pawn in others’ debate. She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate.” He added, “The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people. To suggest otherwise is a lie. Justice in my America is blind. This person will receive a fair trial, as it should be. If convicted, he will face the consequences society has set. Beyond that, he deserves no more attention.”
The sports apparel corporation Nike has once more delved into political territory with its latest ad commemorating its 30th anniversary. After celebrating Tennis superstar Serena Williams when the French Open authorities banned an outfit she wanted to wear for medical reasons, Nike has now released an ad backing football player Colin Kaepernick. The ad is a close up of Kaepernick’s face with the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick has accused the NFL of sabotaging his career over the exercise of his First Amendment right to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism. Nike, which has for years been targeted by activists for sweatshop labor has worked hard to rehabilitate its image.
In international news, Axios has reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had privately asked the US to cut funding to the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians. The investigative media outlet wrote that, “Around two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu privately conveyed a message to the White House stressing that Israel’s position regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has changed — and that it now supports a complete cut of all U.S. funding to the agency.”
A massive fire has devastated Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. The institution, which housed about 20 million items, many of them priceless and most of them irreplaceable caught on fire on Sunday. The museum housed archeological and historic treasures including “Lucia,” the 12,000-year old skull of a woman and was Latin America’s largest Natural History museum. Brazil’s President Michel Temer said the loss was, “incalculable,” and that, “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost.” The cause of the fire is as yet unknown but to many Brazilians, the fire is a symbol of their increasing frustration with the nation’s government. Firefighters may have lost valuable time in fighting the flames when two hydrants near the museum were found to be not working. The institution had fallen into disrepair and was on the verge of obtaining funds for an upgrade.