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HeadlinesAugust 02, 2017

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NYT: Justice Dept. to Sue Colleges for Affirmative Action Policies

Aug 02, 2017

The New York Times is reporting the Justice Department is preparing to investigate and sue universities’ affirmative action policies for anti-white bias, in the latest assault against civil rights by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Times says the Justice Department sent out an internal announcement looking for lawyers to lead “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of affirmative action policies, which take race and ethnicity into account in college admissions in efforts to address centuries of institutionalized discrimination against people of color and women. The Supreme Court also ruled against a white woman, Abigail Fisher, who claimed the University of Texas at Austin had discriminated against her for being white.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund promised to sue the administration if it attacks affirmative action policies, saying, “[W]e will bring the full force of the law if this Justice Department attempts to resegregate our institutions of higher learning.”

Senate Confirms Corporate Lawyer Christopher Wray as FBI Chief

Aug 02, 2017

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed longtime corporate lawyer Christopher Wray as the new FBI chief, nearly three months after President Trump fired the agency’s previous director, James Comey. In an unprecedented move, five senators voted against Wray—the most votes against a nominee for FBI director in U.S. history. Before Tuesday, only one senator had ever voted against nominating an FBI director: Senator Rand Paul voted against former FBI Director James Comey because Comey refused to rule out domestic surveillance using drones during his confirmation hearing in 2013. As FBI head, Christopher Wray will now lead the agency amid the federal investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. We’ll have more on Christopher Wray’s confirmation later in the broadcast.


Lawsuit Claims White House Worked with Fox News to Peddle Seth Rich Conspiracies

Aug 02, 2017

An explosive new lawsuit filed by a former Fox News contributor accuses the network of working with the White House to peddle fake news about the murder of Seth Rich. Rich was an aide at the Democratic National Committee who was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., in July 2016. In May of this year, Fox News published a piece online titled “DC Murder Mystery: Slain DNC Staffer Was Wikileaks’ Source, Say Investigators.”

The article claimed that Rich—not the Russians—provided WikiLeaks with internal emails from the DNC. But within weeks Fox retracted the story. Now the only person quoted in the piece—retired D.C. police detective Rod Wheeler—is claiming Fox knowingly used made-up quotes from him.

In the lawsuit, Rod Wheeler claims he was used as a pawn in a plan by the White House to “shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election.”

At the time, Wheeler was being paid to investigate the Rich killing by a Trump supporter in Texas named Ed Butowsky. The lawsuit also claims that Wheeler received a text message from Butowsky saying, “Not to add any more pressure but the president just read the article. He wants the article out immediately.”

When the article was published, Wheeler says it included quotes of his that had been fabricated. When he complained, he alleges Butowsky told him, “One day you’re going to win an award for having said those things you didn’t say.”

We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast.

U.S. Testing Intercontinental Missile as Tensions Rise with North Korea

Aug 02, 2017

The U.S. is testing an intercontinental ballistic missile this morning from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, amid rising tensions with North Korea. On July 28, North Korea launched a similar missile, which experts say may be capable of reaching the West Coast of the U.S. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is willing to engage in direct talks with North Korea, and claimed the U.S is not seeking regime change there.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “We have reaffirmed our position towards North Korea that what we are doing, we do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel. And we’re trying to convey to the North Koreans: We are not your enemy, we’re not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading to Asia later this week, visiting Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, where he’ll participate in a regional security meeting about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, China’s state media has criticized President Trump for repeatedly complaining about China and North Korea in Twitter rants. The news agency wrote, “Emotional venting cannot become a guiding policy for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula.”

Court Rules Dem. AGs Can Defend Subsidies to Insurance Companies

Aug 02, 2017

In news on healthcare, a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday that Democratic state attorneys general can defend federal subsidy payments to insurance companies, which Trump has threatened to stop paying amid his frustration over the Republican Party’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This comes as a bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, said they will hold hearings on how to strengthen the health insurance market. The move is a rebuke to President Trump, who has said he wants to let the Affordable Care Act implode. In a statement, Republican Senator Alexander said, “If your house is on fire, you want to put out the fire, and the fire in this case is the individual health insurance market. Both Republicans and Democrats agree on this.”


After Healthcare Failure, Republican Lawmakers Turn to Tax Reform

Aug 02, 2017

Following Republican senators’ failure to pass a healthcare plan, lawmakers are now focusing on tax reform. The White House is pushing to cut the corporate tax rate to a mere 15 percent—down from 35 percent. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats sent a letter saying they wouldn’t support any plan that includes tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.


WH Confirms Trump Weighed In on Son’s Statement About Russian Lawyer Meeting

Aug 02, 2017

The White House has confirmed President Trump weighed in on his son Donald Trump Jr.’s misleading statement about his meeting with a Russian lawyer promising damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. This is White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had. … He certainly didn’t dictate, but, you know, he—like I said, he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do.”

The misleading statement, which Trump helped craft, described the meeting as short and not focused on campaign-related issues, withholding important details despite objections from Trump’s senior advisers. Former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter says he thinks Trump’s role constitutes obstruction of justice.

This comes as President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner claimed in a speech Monday to a group of congressional interns that Trump’s campaign couldn’t have colluded with Russia—because the campaign was too dysfunctional. Foreign Policy reports Kushner said, “They thought we colluded, but we couldn’t even collude with our local offices.”

Republican Senator Jeff Flake: “My Party is in Denial About Donald Trump”

Aug 02, 2017

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has slammed his own party in an article for Politico, accusing Republicans of being in denial about President Trump and the chaos in the White House. In the article, entitled “My Party is in Denial About Donald Trump,” he writes, “[O]ne doesn’t ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one’s own party.” He also writes, “Too often, we observe the unfolding drama along with the rest of the country, passively, all but saying, 'Someone should do something!' without seeming to realize that that someone is us.”

DEA Head Condemns Trump for Endorsing Police Brutality

Aug 02, 2017

The acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, has condemned President Trump for endorsing police brutality during a speech to police officers in Brentwood, New York, last week. In an internal email, Rosenberg told DEA staff members not to follow Trump’s directive to be rough with suspects when putting them into paddy wagons. He also wrote that he was speaking out against Trump’s comments because “we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.” The White House is trying to claim that President Trump was joking when he endorsed and encouraged police brutality during the speech.

DHS to Waive Environmental Rules While Building Border Wall

Aug 02, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security says it will exempt itself from having to follow environmental rules while constructing Trump’s promised wall on the Mexican border. The Army Corps of Engineers has already begun drilling at some places along the border. Lawyers with the Center for Biological Diversity say the move to exempt the Department of Homeland Security from following environmental laws is unconstitutional.

Report Blames Meat Industry Pollution for Massive “Dead Zone” in Gulf of Mexico

Aug 02, 2017

In more environmental news, a new report accuses the meat industry of polluting the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes with toxic chemicals from manure and fertilizer, causing massive “dead zones.” The report from the environmental group Mighty says the toxins cause algal blooms, which then decompose and deprive the water of oxygen, causing fish and other wildlife to die off. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to announce this week that more than 8,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico are a “dead zone”—an expanse of water about the size of New Jersey. The report says the meat giant Tyson Foods is the “dominant” influence in the pollution.

Afghanistan: Attack at Shiite Mosque in Herat Kills 29 People

Aug 02, 2017

In Afghanistan, a suicide bomb attack killed at least 29 people during evening prayers at a Shiite mosque in the western city of Herat on Tuesday. The Taliban has denied involvement in the attack.

Turkey: Mass Trial for Accused Architects of 2016 Failed Military Coup

Aug 02, 2017

In Turkey, a mass trial has begun for nearly 500 people who are accused of orchestrating last year’s failed military coup. The defendants include army generals, pilots and Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish dissident who is living in the Poconos, in Pennsylvania, and is being tried in absentia. If convicted, the suspects face life in prison. Turkish {resident Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the failed military coup as a pretext to launch a widescale crackdown against dissidents, human rights activists, journalists, opposition lawmakers and Kurds in Turkey.


Philando Castile’s Cousin Faced 10 Years in Prison for Protesting Castile’s Killing by Police

Aug 02, 2017

Back in the United States, in Minnesota, the cousin of Philando Castile, who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop last year, is fighting trumped-up charges after he protested his cousin’s death. Thirty-eight-year-old Louis Hunter is facing two felony riot charges stemming from his participation in a demonstration on Interstate 94 in the days after officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile in his car, as his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed her boyfriend’s death and her 4-year-old daughter, Dae’Anne, was sitting in the backseat. Officer Yanez has been acquitted. But Louis Hunter is now facing up to 10 years in prison. This is Hunter, speaking to supporters on Friday outside the offices of Ramsey County Attorney John Choi.

Louis Hunter: “Because of the trumped-up charges they’ve given me, I done lost my home, I done lost my business, I done lost my vehicle, from all this. That is not right. That is not right. My kids is overwhelmed in all this, my family, all of us. It’s been even hard to mourn my own cousin over all this.”

Update: Louis Hunter’s felony riot charges were dropped after today’s broadcast.

London: Workers at Bank of England Go on Strike for First Time in 50 Years

Aug 02, 2017

And in London, workers at the Bank of England have walked off the job in the first strike at the bank in 50 years. On Tuesday, dozens of the bank’s workers picketed outside the headquarters in London to demand a pay raise that keeps pace with inflation.

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