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HeadlinesMay 08, 2017

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Emmanuel Macron Wins French Presidency over Far-Right Marine Le Pen

May 08, 2017

In France, former investment banker and political centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected president Sunday in a decisive victory against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. With the majority of votes counted, Macron won about 65 percent to Le Pen’s 35. Even though Le Pen lost, it was a record performance for her party, the National Front, whose anti-immigrant policies once made it a pariah. Le Pen had campaigned on an openly xenophobic and racist platform, calling for France to crack down on immigration and leave the European Union. On Sunday night, Macron addressed thousands of supporters in front of the Louvre museum in Paris.

President-elect Emmanuel Macron: “Europe and the world expect us to defend the spirit of the Enlightenment, under threat in so many places. They expect us to defend freedom everywhere, to protect the oppressed. They expect us to bring some new hope, a new humanism, that of a safer world, a world of protected freedoms, a world of growth, with more justice, more ecology.”

Macron ran on a pro-trade, pro-EU and pro-NATO platform and will need to secure a majority in next month’s parliamentary election to implement his program. We’ll have more on the French election after headlines with French human rights activist Yasser Louati.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Signs “Show Your Papers” Anti-Immigrant Bill

May 08, 2017

In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 4 into law Sunday, outlawing sanctuary cities and allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone they detain. Gov. Abbott signed the bill after delivering a short speech in a live video posted to Facebook.

Gov. Greg Abbott: “Texas has now banned sanctuary cities in the Lone Star State. … We are a nation of laws. And Texas is doing its part to keep it that way.”

Critics call SB 4 a “show me your papers” bill that will lead to widespread racial profiling while preventing undocumented immigrants from calling police or testifying in court. After Gov. Abbott signed the bill, scores of protesters descended on the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. This is 18-year-old activist Yuneun Alvarado.

Yuneun Alvarado: “My mom and I were both undocumented. And we’ve grown up in an abusive home, OK? We still live in an abusive home. And bills like this, bills like Senate Bill 4, will only make victims of domestic abuse fear for their lives even more, because they won’t—because they’ll be afraid that if they call the police for their safety, that they’ll be deported, and they could possibly die.”

SB 4 is set to take effect on September 1. Texas Democrats and civil liberties groups have promised legal challenges.

All-White, All-Male Senate Republican Group Drafting Health Bill

May 08, 2017

On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans have begun drafting a healthcare bill that would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act, though the legislation is unlikely to closely resemble a bill approved by the House last week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tasked a “working group” of 13 Republicans to draft the legislation—all of them white men. This is California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “I don’t know what the 13 white men, when you have five Republican women who are excluded from that, that these 13 men are supposed to sit down and put something together.”

Andrea Mitchell: “You’re speaking of the working group that has been put together.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “The working group.”

Andrea Mitchell: “And it’s all male.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “And it’s all male. And women’s health is a big part of this, and women are a majority of the population, and their health interests deserve to be contemplated in any reform.”

Republicans hold just 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and several GOP senators have said they won’t accept the House bill approved on Thursday.

Federal Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on Trump Travel Ban

May 08, 2017

A federal court will hear arguments today on President Trump’s attempt to ban refugees and immigrants from six majority-Muslim nations. All 15 judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals are slated to hear the case. In March, federal Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii ordered a nationwide halt to Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban, ruling it likely violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause by discriminating against Muslims.

Army Secretary Nominee Withdraws over Anti-Islam, Anti-LGBTQ Comments

May 08, 2017

President Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Army, Mark Green, withdrew from consideration on Friday, after drawing fire over anti-gay, transphobic and anti-Muslim comments. The uproar followed newly unearthed recordings including a video in which the Tennessee Republican state senator accuses public schools of indoctrinating children in Islam, and a radio interview in which Sen. Green compares transgender people to ISIS militants. Trump’s first nominee for Army secretary, billionaire Vincent Viola, withdrew in February saying he was unable to disentangle himself from his business ties.

Senate Intelligence Committee Asks Trump Officials for Russia Emails

May 08, 2017

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked at least four associates of President Trump to turn over emails and recordings of their communications with Russians, as the committee investigates allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. The four officials are former policy adviser Carter Page, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Republican operative and Trump associate Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser in February for failing to disclose talks with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office. Meanwhile, former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates will testify to the committee today, where she’s expected to reiterate that she warned the White House about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn nearly three weeks before he was fired. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will also testify.

U.S.-Backed Iraqi Army Kills 81 Civilians in Strike on Mosul

May 08, 2017

In international news, Iraq’s military has admitted its forces bombed a school in western Mosul in an attack on May 4 that left scores of civilians dead. The journalistic monitoring group Airwars reported the strike killed up to 81 civilians and left 86 others injured. Video posted online purports to show the aftermath of the attack, with dead children pulled from a flattened school. Iraq’s army denied targeting civilians, saying it instead targeted an ISIS bomb factory. The violence came as civilians trapped in Mosul reported desperate conditions. This is injured resident Qusay Adil Muhammad.

Qusay Adil Muhammad: “People are hungry and starving to death. There is nothing left. There isn’t any water. People are so thirsty they would drink from the well, which is full of diseases. Children and women were eating grass.”


U.S. Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken Killed in Somalia Ambush

May 08, 2017

In Somalia, U.S. Africa Command said Friday U.S. Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken was killed and two others wounded as they were ambushed while advising the Somali army on fighting al-Shabab militants. Milliken’s death was the first reported U.S. combat fatality in Somalia since the so-called “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu in 1993, which left 18 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Somalis dead.

Sinclair Broadcast Bid for Tribune Media Would Create Media Giant

May 08, 2017

In media news, the Sinclair Broadcast Group is reportedly nearing a $4 billion deal to purchase Tribune Media, which would give it control of more than a third of the country’s local TV stations. The reported purchase comes after President Trump’s pick to head the FCC, Ajit Pai, dramatically rolled back limits capping the number of stations one corporation can control. Sinclair’s chair and former CEO, David Smith, is active in Republican politics and supported Donald Trump’s campaign. Craig Aaron, the head of Free Press, told CNN, “It sure looks like a quid pro quo: friendly coverage and full employment for ex-Trump mouthpieces in exchange for a green light to get as big as Sinclair wants.”

EPA Head Scott Pruitt Dismisses Academics from Science Review Board

May 08, 2017

Back in Washington, D.C., Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt on Friday dismissed half of the members of an EPA scientific review board, clearing the way for new appointees from the industries the agency is tasked with policing. Among those removed from the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors was Michigan State University professor Robert Richardson, who tweeted, “Today I was Trumped.” The dismissals come as the Trump administration seeks to slash EPA funding, roll back environmental regulations, appoint climate change deniers as the heads of government agencies, and defund and erase climate change programs and research.

NC Governor Vetoes Bill Limiting Factory Farm Liability for Toxins

May 08, 2017

In North Carolina, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed HB 467, a bill that would have shielded factory farms from damages brought by residents sickened by hog farms. Residents have long complained about pork producers who collect billions of gallons of untreated pig feces and urine in cesspools, then dispose of the waste by spraying it into the air.

Texas Cop Who Killed 15-Year-Old Jordan Edwards Arrested for Murder

May 08, 2017

In Texas, a white police officer from a Dallas suburb was charged Friday with the murder of 15-year-old African-American teenager Jordan Edwards. Roy Oliver surrendered to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and was later released on $300,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison. Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into a car carrying five black teenagers as they drove away from the officer—contradicting Oliver’s initial account that the children were speeding toward him. Jordan Edwards was struck in the head and died in the hospital. On Saturday, Edwards’s family and friends gathered in Mesquite, Texas, for Jordan’s funeral.

Los Angeles City Council Approves Resolution on Trump Impeachment

May 08, 2017

And in California, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday calling for an investigation into whether President Trump should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield authored the resolution, saying Trump appears to have violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits those holding federal office from accepting payments from foreign governments.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield: “Constitutional scholars are raising the issue that if a foreign official or embassy hosts an event or stays at a hotel where the president’s name is branded from the top of the building to the chocolate on the pillows, it may violate this clause of the Constitution. The Trump Organization currently has business ventures in nations around the world, including Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, India, Argentina and Turkey. And because of his refusal to unveil his tax returns, or really any documents that explain with whom and where he does business, there are many dealings that we may never know about.”

Los Angeles joins three other California cities, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Charlotte, Vermont, in calling for Trump’s possible impeachment.

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