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Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has used a base in western Iran to carry out airstrikes in Syria. The ministry reported the strikes hit targets in Aleppo, Idlib and Deir ez-Zor provinces. The strikes are the first Russia has carried out from a third country since it began its military intervention in Syria’s civil war, and a base in Iran gives Russia greater capability to intensify its bombing campaign in Syria. This comes as fighting is intensifying in and around Aleppo. The United Nations is warning of a dire humanitarian crisis as millions are left without water or electricity.
Alessandra Vellucci: “The commission is gravely concerned for the safety of civilians, including a reported 100,000 children living in eastern Aleppo city, where violence has reached new heights in recent weeks as asymmetric warfare intensifies over control of armed group-held neighborhoods and their principal remaining supply lines.”
We’ll have more on Syria after headlines with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, the founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria.
In news from the campaign trail, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s transition team, which would set up her administration if she wins the White House, will be run by former top aides to President Obama. Clinton’s campaign said Tuesday the team will be led by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar has previously supported fracking, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL pipeline—initiatives Clinton’s presidential primary opponent Bernie Sanders opposed, forcing Clinton to change some of her positions on those issues. Other members of the team are former Obama National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Maggie Williams, the director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. The group will lay the groundwork for a possible Clinton administration and help the president-elect make key decisions during the period between the election and the inauguration. We’ll be joined later in the show by David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times, to discuss Clinton’s transition team.
Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has reorganized his campaign staff for the second time in two months. He has named Stephen Bannon, the executive chair of the conservative outlet Breitbart News, to be his campaign’s chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, who is currently a senior adviser to Trump, will become the campaign manager. The shakeup appears to sideline Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who is facing questions about his years of political consulting work in Ukraine, where he advised former President Viktor Yanukovych. The New York Times has reported that handwritten ledgers unearthed by Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau show $12.7 million of cash payments that were slated to go to Manafort. It is not known whether Manafort actually received the money. Click here to see our interview with award-winning Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi about Manafort’s time in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, former Fox News chair Roger Ailes is reportedly advising Donald Trump on next month’s debate between him and Hillary Clinton. Ailes resigned from Fox News in July. He has been accused of sexual harassment by more than 20 women, including Fox News anchors Megyn Kelly, Andrea Tantaros and Gretchen Carlson. Ailes has also been accused of running his own “Black Room” operation out of Fox News, in which he used Fox money to hire private detectives and political operatives who carried out Ailes’s personal campaigns, including targeting journalists. Trump has called Ailes a friend and has defended Ailes after the harassment allegations.
Donald Trump is set to receive his first top-secret national security briefing today. He will be accompanied by former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn. Flynn was paid last year by the Russian state-funded TV network RT to speak at its 10th anniversary gala. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who heads Trump’s transition team, is also expected to join Trump at the briefing.
This comes as The New York Times is reporting that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration forgave millions of dollars of taxes owed by Donald Trump’s casinos to New Jersey, even after state auditors raised concerns some of the casinos’ tax filings were fraudulent. When Christie was elected governor in 2009, New Jersey was seeking nearly $30 million in taxes owed by Trump’s casinos. Two years later, under Christie’s leadership, the state settled with Trump for only $5 million.
Donald Trump visited a Milwaukee suburb Tuesday, where he called for more police to patrol low-income communities. His visit comes only days after the uprising in Milwaukee sparked by the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old African American Sylville Smith. Trump’s approval rating among African Americans is between zero and 1 percent. This is Trump speaking in front of an overwhelmingly white audience in West Bend, Wisconsin.
Donald Trump: “The problem in our poorest communities is not that there are too many police. The problem is that there are not enough police. More law enforcement, more community engagement, more effective policing is what our country needs desperately. Just like Hillary Clinton is against the miners, she is against the police. Believe me.”
Trump also visited Milwaukee Tuesday, where he met briefly with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Sheriff Clarke sparked controversy with his speech at the Republican National Convention last month when he celebrated the acquittal of a police officer charged in the case of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries sustained in police custody in Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the City of New York has agreed to pay more than $4 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American father who was killed by a police officer in the stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project in 2014. New York City police officer Peter Liang fatally shot Gurley as he was walking down the stairwell with his girlfriend because the elevator was broken. Liang was doing a stairwell inspection. He says he accidentally fired his gun. Following the shooting, Officer Liang first texted his union representative before making a radio call for help as Gurley lay dying. A jury convicted Liang of manslaughter earlier this year, but a judge made the rare decision to reduce Officer Liang’s conviction to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, and sentenced him to 800 hours of community service. As part of the settlement, Officer Liang will pay $25,000 to Kimberly Ballinger, the mother of Gurley’s young daughter.
In Louisiana, at least 11 people have died as rescuers continue to search for missing people amid historic flooding. More than 10,000 people have been forced to relocate to shelters, and President Barack Obama has declared the area a federal disaster zone. More rain is in the forecast for the region this week.
Meanwhile, in California, authorities have ordered more than 80,000 people near Los Angeles to evacuate, as a fast-moving fire continues to grow. Fed by strong winds, bone-dry brush and 100-degree temperatures, the Blue Cut fire is the latest in a series of destructive wildfires ravaging California amid the state’s climate change-fueled drought. So far this year, California fires have killed eight people and destroyed hundreds of homes. This comes as scientists have confirmed July was the hottest month ever recorded, making it the 15th straight month to smash global temperature records amid human-fueled climate change.
Meanwhile, in Rio, the Olympic Games are nearing the end of their second week. This comes as a new study in the British medical journal The Lancet shows that by the 2084 Olympics, rising temperatures will make it nearly impossible for most cities to host the Summer Games. The study points out that only 70 percent of the U.S. Olympic marathon team completed their trials in Los Angeles earlier this year, which were the hottest trials on record.
In Yemen, residents of the capital Sana’a say a U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrike killed nine civilians Tuesday. This comes as Doctors Without Borders calls for an independent investigation into Monday’s strike on a hospital, which killed as many as 15 people. Monday’s attack on the hospital marks at least the fourth time U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes have hit a Doctors Without Borders-supported hospital in Yemen during the 17-month conflict. The group says it had provided the Saudi-led coalition with coordinates for all four of these hospitals, so they would not be struck. This is Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, Doctors Without Borders’ legal director.
Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier: “They’re sorry, but we are dead. They killed our patients, they killed our staff. So, in fact, it’s even more worrying when they say, 'No, we didn't want it.’ At least if we were discussing, 'You had combatants in your hospital, we wanted to strike them,' at least we would be discussing about intention. Now we are left with, you know, people using high-technological weapons—but without precision?”
And in Pennsylvania, immigrant mothers detained with their children at the Berks County Residential Center have entered their second week of a hunger strike. They are protesting the government’s claims that the average time in detention is only 20 days. By the end of this month, at least three families will have spent a full year in custody at the Berks facility. Organizers say as many as 26 women are currently on hunger strike. In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, the mothers wrote, “On many occasions our children have thought about suicide because of the confinement and desperation that is caused by being here.” To see all of our reporting on the Berks Detention Center, go to democracynow.org.
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