President Trump has returned to the United States after his first foreign trip as president, where Trump faced condemnation from U.S. allies for his failure to commit the United States to fulfilling its pledges to the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord. This is German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking Sunday after contentious meetings at NATO in Brussels and a G7 meeting in Italy.
Chancellor Angela Merkel: “How long and how rocky this path will be became clear at the G7 talks at the weekend, when no agreement was reached with the United States. And that is why I had to say that the consultations were very unsatisfying. Germany is, of course, a close partner of the United States. We are and will stay convinced trans-Atlanticists, but we also know that we Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”
The German foreign minister went even further, saying of Trump, “Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk.” Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has said he was trying to convey a deeper significance to his long, clenched, white-knuckled handshake with President Trump in Brussels, saying it was “not innocent” and that “We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones.” President Trump says he’ll make a final decision about whether to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord this week.
Back on Capitol Hill, Trump and his administration are facing mounting questions about Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is now a focus of investigations into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to allegedly influence the 2016 election. The New York Times reports that in mid-December Jared Kushner met with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, who was under U.S. sanctions, as part of Kushner’s efforts to establish a secret back channel with Russia after the election. The meeting is now reportedly being probed by federal and congressional investigators.
Trump himself blasted news reports over the weekend about Kushner’s attempts to establish a secret back channel with Russia, writing: “Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names, it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!” This was part of Trump’s first controversial tweet storm in more than a week; Trump had refrained from incendiary tweets during his trip abroad.
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting, based on unnamed former intelligence officials, that U.S. spies intercepted Russian officials discussing having potentially “derogatory” information about Trump and his top aides during the 2016 campaign. A White House spokesperson has denied the report.
All this comes as Trump’s communications director, Michael Dubke, has resigned.
In Syria, a monitoring group says U.S.-led airstrikes killed more than 100 civilians—including 47 children—on Thursday and Friday in the ISIS-held town of Al Mayadeen in eastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the two rounds of strikes targeted the families of ISIS fighters and that the vast majority of the victims were civilian women and their children. The U.S.-led coalition has acknowledged launching the airstrikes on the town.
In Iraq, as many as 27 people have died after ISIS militants detonated a car bomb outside an ice cream parlor as families were gathering to break their Ramadan fast early Tuesday. Meanwhile, thousands of families continue to flee Mosul amid the U.S. and Iraqi militaries’ campaign to retake the city from ISIS. Over the weekend, U.S.-led airstrikes on Old Mosul reportedly killed at least 15 civilians, including women and children. As many as 700,000 civilians have already fled Mosul amid months of fighting.
Egypt has launched airstrikes targeting militant camps in eastern Libya, following a shooting rampage that killed 24 Coptic Christians on a bus heading to a monastery south of Cairo. The airstrikes came as family members held funerals for the victims of Friday’s attack.
Salama: “This is the result of only one thing: negligence, negligence, negligence from the government for not punishing these people, negligence from the government for not punishing those in prison. We are not asking for them to be killed. We are asking for them to be tried fairly. These are killers and murderers. What did the victims do? What did we do for our children to become orphans?”
In Sri Lanka, more than 180 people have been killed and half a million people displaced amid the worst flooding in Sri Lanka in the last 14 years. Search and rescue teams are looking for more than 100 people who are still missing. Scientists have linked torrential rains and increased flooding in Sri Lanka to climate change.
Meanwhile, flooding in northern Brazil has killed at least six people and displaced more than 30,000 people from their homes. This comes as Brazil was rocked by a new wave of protests Sunday demanding the ouster of President Michel Temer over charges of corruption.
In Colombia, authorities have agreed to invest tens of millions of dollars in new hospitals, highways and infrastructure amid a massive 18-day civic strike by residents of the state of Chocó. The deal comes amid another ongoing strike in the nearby port city of Buenaventura, which has prevented hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo from reaching the port. Meanwhile, a nationwide strike by teachers in Colombia is continuing into its third week, as teachers demand better pay and working conditions, and more investment in education for students.
In Spain, taxi workers have launched a nationwide strike today to protest Uber and other Wall Street-backed ride-hailing services. The strike comes after thousands of people rallied in Madrid on Saturday to protest austerity measures, demonstrating under the slogan “Bread, work, a roof and equality.”
More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have ended their 40-day hunger strike, after Israeli authorities reportedly agreed to compromise on a slew of the prisoners’ demands. The Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network says up to 80 percent of the prisoners’ demands had been met, including increased family visitation rights, more access to telephones, more education for child prisoners and better ventilation in overcrowded prisons. Family members of prisoners celebrated the end of the hunger strike, which was declared on the eve of Ramadan.
Family member: “Thank God! A greeting to the prisoners in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of blessing. May God keep you healthy and make you stronger until you are free from the prison. Our prisoners, our lovers, we hope that you always stay well.”
In Afghanistan, at least 18 people were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing on the first day of Ramadan. Officials say the attack in Khost province was targeting Afghan security forces but that the victims were mostly civilians.
In Morocco, protest leader Nasser Zefzafi has been arrested, following nationwide protests Sunday night. Zefzafi has emerged as the leader of an economic justice movement that was sparked by the death of fish seller Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed to death in the compactor of a garbage truck while he was trying to retrieve fish confiscated by police in the northern city of Al Hoceima last October.
Back in the United States, in Portland, Oregon, more than 1,000 people gathered for a vigil Saturday to honor retired Army veteran Ricky Best and recent college graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, who were fatally stabbed as they tried to defend two girls against an Islamophobic attack on a commuter train on Friday. The two young women, one of whom wore a Muslim hijab, were riding a commuter train when Jeremy Joseph Christian, who is white, started shouting ethnic and religious slurs at them. When Best and Meche intervened, Christian stabbed them, as well as a third man, who is critically injured but survived. This is 16-year-old Destinee Mangum, one of the victims, describing the attack.
Destinee Mangum: “He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia, and he told us that we shouldn’t be here and to get out of his country. He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves. This white male, from the back of us, came, and he was like, ’He’s talking to you guys.’ And he was like, 'You can't disrespect these young ladies like that.’ And then they just all started arguing. Me and my friend, we were going to get off the MAX. And then we turned around while they were fighting, and he just started stabbing people. And it was just blood everywhere, and we just started running for our lives.”
Following the attack, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has announced the city will not issue new permits to “alt-right” groups for planned white supremacist rallies in June. We’ll have more on the Portland attack after headlines.
Meanwhile, here in New York City, leading Palestinian-American organizer Linda Sarsour is facing a barrage of death threats ahead of her scheduled commencement speech at the City University of New York School of Public Health this Thursday. Sarsour was the co-organizer of the National Women’s March and the former head of the Arab American Association of New York. Last week, white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos led a protest against Sarsour outside CUNY’s main office. CUNY’s chancellor says he will not cancel her speech.
In Minnesota, St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez is going on trial this week on charges of manslaughter for killing African American Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year. It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a police officer in Minnesota has faced charges for killing someone while on duty, and comes after nationwide demonstrations protesting Castile’s killing.
In Texas, hundreds of protesters flooded the gallery in the Texas House on Monday to protest the anti-immigrant law known as SB 4. The law bans sanctuary cities and allows police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they detain. The protest sparked scuffles between state lawmakers, after Republican state Representative Matt Rinaldi said he called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on protesters, reportedly telling Hispanic lawmakers, “I’m glad I just called ICE to have all these people deported.” Immigration activists also held a noisy 3 a.m. protest outside Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s mansion on Sunday morning, with a blaring mariachi band and signs reading “You’ve disturbed our peace, so we’re disturbing yours.”
A new investigation by The Intercept reveals how international private security firm TigerSwan targeted Dakota Access water protectors with military-style counterterrorism measures. TigerSwan began as a U.S. military and State Department contractor. It was hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The investigation is based on leaked internal documents, which show how TigerSwan collaborated closely with law enforcement agencies to surveil and target the nonviolent indigenous-led movement. In the documents, TigerSwan also repeatedly calls the water protectors “insurgents” and the movement an “ideologically driven insurgency.”
And former Panama military dictator Manuel Noriega has died at the age of 83. Noriega was an ally of the U.S. government until the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989, and was convicted of drug trafficking in 1991. He spent nearly 20 years in U.S. prisons before being extradited to France and finally back to Panama.