Tensions are again escalating between the U.S. and North Korea. On Friday, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say may be capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States. North Korea says the test was a warning to the United States to stop imposing sanctions against North Korea.
KRT news reader: “The reason why we conducted the maximum-range simulation of an intercontinental ballistic missile test launch was to send a stern warning to the U.S., which has applied sanctions against North Korea at this time, losing their minds. If the U.S. fails to come to its senses and continues to resort to military adventure and 'tough sanctions,' North Korea will respond with its resolute act of justice, as already declared.”
In response to North Korea’s test, the U.S. flew two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula and again tested its Alaska-based THAAD missile defense system. The U.S. has deployed a similar THAAD missile defense system to South Korea, despite objections from local residents.
President Trump also took to Twitter to complain that China was not doing enough to counter North Korea, tweeting, “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”
Tensions have been rising between the U.S. and North Korea since President Trump took office, exacerbated by Trump’s erratic method of conducting foreign policy on social media, without first consulting the Pentagon. Last week, when Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would be banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military in three separate tweets, many military officials first thought he was declaring war on North Korea. The first tweet read only “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......” The second tweet, ending the speculation, didn’t come for another nine minutes.
In a major shake-up in the White House, President Trump has ousted his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, only days after Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, railed against Priebus in an expletive-laden phone call with New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza. During the call, Scaramucci called Priebus an “f—ing paranoid schizophrenic.” He also attacked Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, accusing him of trying to suck his own ****. And Scaramucci said “I want to f—ing kill all the leakers.” Following this rant, Trump decided to keep Scaramucci and replace Priebus with former General John Kelly, who is currently the head of the Department of Homeland Security.
President Donald Trump: “Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody—a great, great American. Reince Priebus, a good man. Thank you very much.”
General Kelly is taking over as Trump’s chief of staff today. As head of DHS, Kelly has presided over Trump’s promised immigration crackdown, with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency launching major raids against undocumented immigrants. ICE has also been accused of specifically targeting undocumented activists for arrest and possible deportation. Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke has been named acting secretary of DHS, until Trump makes a new appointment who will then have to be confirmed by the Senate.
President Trump has threatened to end government payments to health insurers if Republican lawmakers don’t pass a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” Experts say withholding these payments would cause premiums to skyrocket, and force insurers out of the market. Trump also tweeted, “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!”
Trump’s tweets came as hundreds of activists gathered for more than 100 rallies across the U.S. to celebrate the Republicans’ failure to pass their healthcare plan last week. This is Meghana Rao, an OB-GYN at Johns Hopkins Hospital, speaking at the rally in Washington, D.C.
Meghana Rao: “As an OB-GYN caring for the women of Baltimore, I have seen, time and time again, how essential the Affordable Care Act has been in improving the health of our community. The ACA has saved countless lives, plain and simple. Before passage of the ACA, I saw far too many women in the emergency room due to a simple lack of access to healthcare. I have cared for a 22-year-old first-time mother who discovered that she was now rejected from health insurance since she was considered a pre-existing condition for simply having had a C-section.”
Law enforcement authorities and civil rights organizations across the country are criticizing President Trump for advocating for police brutality, during a speech to police officers in Brentwood, Long Island, on Friday.
President Donald Trump: “And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough—I said, 'Please don't be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over? Like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. I said, 'You can take the hand away, OK?'”
Many of the nearly 100 officers from police departments across the region applauded and cheered Trump’s remarks. Police leaders across the country quickly criticized the comments.
The Gainesville, Florida, Police Department tweeted, “The @POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality. GPD rejects these remarks and continues to serve with respect.” The Suffolk County Police Department tweeted, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.” The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Police Foundation have also criticized Trump’s remarks, as did police chiefs in Boston, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles and New York.
Some critics, however, didn’t buy the gesture of concern. Samuel Sinyangwe from the Use of Force Project tweeted, “Statements from police chiefs saying they don’t tolerate police violence ring hollow when their policies condone it.” We’ll have more on Trump’s speech later in the broadcast.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops shot and killed 16-year-old Hussein Abu Hasima on Friday amid ongoing protests over Israel’s imposition of security restrictions at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Electronic Intifada reports he is the 14th Palestinian child to be killed by Israeli troops this year. His killing comes as Gaza’s 2 million residents are trying to survive a sweltering heat wave with only a few hours of electricity a day. Over the weekend, temperatures in Gaza soared to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The U.N. recently said Gaza has become unlivable.
In Turkey, hundreds of women took to the streets Saturday to protest rising physical and verbal attacks against women in public. At the march, dubbed “Don’t Mess With My Outfit,” women demanded the right to wear the clothing of their choice without facing harassment or violence.
Merve, Turkish protester: “As you see, my friend is not wearing a headscarf, but I do. I have the right to dress freely, as much as she does. Nobody can mess with their miniskirts and shorts, just like they can’t mess with our headscarves. If she can wear whatever she wants, so can I. Nobody should criticize or exclude me because I am wearing a headscarf.”
Vice President Mike Pence is in Estonia today, where he’s meeting with the heads of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. During a news conference, Pence warned of the threat of Russia, calling it an “unpredictable neighbor” to the Baltic states.
bq. Vice President Mike Pence: “And no threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east. At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracies of sovereign nations and divide the free nations of Europe, one against another.”
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the U.S. to cut 755 staff from the U.S. diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere. The move comes in retaliation for U.S. sanctions imposed against Russia over Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been ousted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court amid a corruption investigation sparked by the release of the Panama Papers. The documents leaked in 2016 from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca showed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons owned several offshore companies. Sharif on Saturday named his brother, Shehbaz, as his chosen replacement. The Pakistani Parliament is slated to elect a new prime minister on Tuesday, and Sharif’s party holds the majority of parliamentary seats.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has claimed victory after a controversial election Sunday over whether to create a National Constituent Assembly, which the right-wing opposition says is a move by Maduro to further consolidate his power. At least 10 people, including a candidate, died during widespread violence and protests throughout the day. The government says that despite an opposition boycott, at least 8 million people—or 40 percent of eligible voters—cast ballots Sunday. The U.S. is threatening to increase sanctions against Venezuela over the election. Other countries, including Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, say they will refuse to recognize the election’s results.
In India, protests continue against the massive Sardar Sarovar hydroelectric dam on the Narmada River in central India, which is nearly operational after decades of struggle against the project. The project threatens to submerge more than 140 villages, which could displace hundreds of thousands of residents. The Supreme Court has ordered that some of the affected residents be forcibly resettled by today. Some residents have launched an indefinite hunger strike, while hundreds of others protested over the weekend. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to inaugurate the opening of the dam on August 12.
Back in the United States, newly released video shows U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents telling 16-year-old Mexican teenager Cruz Velazquez Acevedo to drink from a bottle of liquid methamphetamine at a border checkpoint in San Diego, causing him to die from an acute drug overdose. In 2013, the teenager was crossing from Tijuana to California with two bottles of what he claimed was apple juice. The newly released video shows the border agents, who suspected the liquid was liquid meth, then repeatedly encouraged him to drink from it, to prove he wasn’t lying. Minutes after the teenager sipped on the liquid, his body began convulsing, and he began screaming “Mi corazón”—or, “My heart!” He died two hours later. The officers have not been disciplined. The U.S. has paid Acevedo’s family $1 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
And Sunday, July 30, was the International Day Against Human Trafficking. Millions of people are trafficked each year as part of a multibillion-dollar industry. On Sunday, Mexican officials say they discovered more than 170 Central American refugees who had been abandoned by their traffickers in a trailer in the state of Veracruz as the men, women and children were attempting to traverse Mexico to reach the U.S. border. In Veracruz, local residents offered the refugees food and water. This is is Maria Elena Santiago.
Maria Elena Santiago: “There were young people, older men, women. They had brought children, small children, aged perhaps eight, nine, 10 years, around that age. The children they brought were also running. They wanted to eat, but the only thing we could do early in the morning was to provide coffee, milk and cookies. That is what we gave them.”