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Senate Fails to Pass 4 Gun Control Measures 8 Days After Orlando Massacre

Jun 21, 2016
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The Senate has failed to pass four separate measures aimed at curbing access to guns, just eight days after a gunman massacred 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. As families of people killed by gun violence watched from the Senate chamber, lawmakers voted down measures to block people on the federal terrorism watchlist from buying guns and to close background check loopholes. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who staged a 15-hour filibuster last week to demand gun reform in the wake of the Orlando massacre, denounced the inaction.

Sen. Chris Murphy: “And I believe that for all of the scarring psychological harm that comes with losing a loved one or a neighbor, more harm is piled on when you find out that the people that you elected to run your country just don’t care. It hurts something awful when you lose someone, but it gets worse when your leaders are silent, are totally silent, in the face of your personal horror.”

Not one of the four failed gun measures would have reinstated an assault weapons ban. One of the two guns used by Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, the same style used in the massacres in San Bernardino, California; at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

FBI Releases Partial Transcripts of Conversations with Orlando Shooter

Jun 21, 2016
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The FBI has released partial transcripts of conversations between the Orlando shooter and authorities during the attack. The transcripts show Omar Mateen pledging allegiance to ISIS and calling for the United States to stop bombing Iraq and Syria. The FBI initially redacted the name of ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying it “did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda.” But it added the names to the transcript after a public outcry.

Trump Faces Financial Deficit, Has Only 70 Staffers

Jun 21, 2016
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has fired his campaign manager and is entering the general election campaign with what The New York Times calls the “worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history.” At the beginning of the month, Trump had just $1.3 million cash on hand, more than $41 million less than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton has nearly 700 staff members; Trump has about 70. Since May, when he secured the delegates needed to clinch the nomination, Trump’s campaign has not aired a single TV ad, nor has it booked any advertising for the summer or fall. Clinton and her supporters have spent nearly $26 million on advertising this month alone.

Trump Fires Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski

Jun 21, 2016
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Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Monday amid reports of tensions between Lewandowski and Trump’s family, and concerns over whether he could run a competitive race. Lewandowski was charged with battery in March after surveillance footage showed him grabbing reporter Michelle Fields. Fields said Lewandowski left bruises on her arm. The charges were later dropped. Lewandowski spoke after news of his departure Monday.

Corey Lewandowski: “I think, you know, what has been clear from the get-go, that my strategy has been, and at some level of successful, is 'Let Trump be Trump.' And you’ve got a person who has completely changed the way that politics is viewed in this country for the better. And you’ve got a thoroughbred, a person like Donald Trump who has had his his heart and his finger on the pulse of the American people for a long time. And so, you know, I like to say that I’m a person who’s been able to help implement some of his ideas.”

Trump parted ways with another high-level staffer Monday. Michael Caputo, who was set to serve as the campaign’s communications director at the Republican convention, tweeted, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” following news of Lewandowski’s ouster. Caputo later resigned, acknowledging, “In hindsight, that was too exuberant a reaction to this personnel move.”

Apple Says It Won’t Support GOP Convention over Opposition to Trump

Jun 21, 2016
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Apple has become the latest corporation to distance itself from Donald Trump, saying it will not provide any funding or resources to the Republican convention next month due to Trump’s comments on Muslims, immigrants and women. Among the other companies to curb or eliminate support are HP, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

British Man Arrested for Trying to Grab Officer’s Gun and Kill Trump

Jun 21, 2016
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A British man has been arrested for attempting to grab a police officer’s gun at a Trump rally in order to shoot Trump. Michael Steven Sandford was arrested Saturday at the rally in Las Vegas and later told police he wanted “to kill Trump.” He had practiced shooting at a gun range for the first time a day earlier.

Trump Backs Away from Statement Orlando Victims Should Have Had Guns

Jun 21, 2016
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Trump meanwhile has backed away from his statement the victims of the Orlando massacre should have had guns. A day after the attack, Trump told radio host Howie Carr, “It’s too bad that some of the young people that were killed over the weekend didn’t have guns, you know, attached to their hips … where bullets could have flown in the opposite direction … It would have been a much different deal.” Even officials with the National Rifle Association distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks; lobbyist Chris Cox told ABC, “No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms.” On Monday, Trump tweeted he was “obviously talking about additional guards or employees.”

Report: Attacks on Mosques in U.S. Reach Record High with 78 Last Year

Jun 21, 2016
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Attacks on mosques in the United States have reached a record high. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and UC Berkeley recorded 78 attacks on mosques last year, the highest since the monitoring began in 2009. CAIR’s Corey Saylor outlined the findings.

Corey Saylor: “The last time we had a really intense cycle of anti-mosque incidents was in 2010 during the national controversy over Park51, the ground zero mosque. That was characterized by attempts to stop mosque construction and expansion, what we call zoning incidents. This time around it has a much more violent tenor to it, and we see a lot more acts of intimidation targeting mosques. Of those 78 incidents, 34 of them occurred in November and December of last year, which many of us consider to be one of the worst periods of anti-Islam sentiment.”

3 NYPD Commanders Arrested on Federal Corruption Charges

Jun 21, 2016
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Three New York City police commanders and a businessman have been arrested on federal corruption charges linked to an investigation into campaign fundraising for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Deputy Inspector James Grant were accused of taking lavish gifts in exchange for political favors. U.S. Attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara said Sergeant David Villanueva was charged in a scheme involving gun licenses.

Preet Bharara: “David Villanueva, an NYPD sergeant and a supervisor in the licensing division, we allege, took bribes for years from Alex Lichtenstein, a so-called expeditor, in exchange for pushing through gun license applications. Lichtenstein charged clients who wanted gun licenses upwards of $18,000, and he, in turn, gave Villanueva thousands of dollars.”

Record Heat in Southwestern U.S. Fuels Fires, Kills At Least 4

Jun 21, 2016
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In the Southwestern United States, record-setting heat has killed at least four people and fueled more than a dozen wildfires. In Los Angeles, thousands lost power Monday as air conditioners overwhelmed the power grid. Outside the city, two massive wildfires blazed through at least 4,500 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains, forcing at least 750 people to evacuate. It was 118 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, a daily record. Last month was the hottest May ever recorded, the 13th straight month to set a new record amid human-caused climate change.

Investigation into 1964 KKK Killings of 3 Civil Rights Volunteers Closed

Jun 21, 2016
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Federal and Mississippi state officials have closed the investigation into the 1964 killings of three civil rights volunteers by the Ku Klux Klan 52 years ago today. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner had traveled to Mississippi to register black voters. They disappeared while investigating the burning of a black church. Their bodies were found more than 40 days later in an earthen dam. While several people were convicted of civil rights violations in 1967, it took more than 40 years to bring the lead perpetrator in their murders to justice: Edgar Ray Killen, the only suspect ever tried for murder in the case, was convicted in 2005 and is serving a 60-year sentence. A Justice Department report released Monday names two men who may still be culpable in the murders, but the state said evidence has been “degraded by memory” and the case is closed.

Justice Sotomayor Cites Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander in Powerful Dissent on Police Powers

Jun 21, 2016
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The Supreme Court has ruled evidence of a crime can still be used in some cases even if police obtained it illegally. While the 5-3 ruling deals a blow to civil rights in favor of police powers, it is likely to be remembered largely for the powerful dissent penned by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice on the court. In a ruling that cited Michelle Alexander, James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sotomayor wrote that “it is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims” of police searches. She concluded her argument: “By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged. We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.' They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but. I dissent.” The words of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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