President Trump threatened to shut down the government during a contentious and openly hostile meeting with Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office Tuesday. The meeting, which took place in front of reporters and television cameras, centered around the ongoing dispute over funding for Trump’s border wall.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “The fact is, you do not have the votes in the House.”
President Donald Trump: “Nancy, I do. And we need border security.”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Well, let’s take the vote, and you’ll find out.”
President Donald Trump: “Nancy, Nancy, we need border security. It’s very simple.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Of course we do.”
President Donald Trump: “We need border security.”
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “We do.”
President Donald Trump: “People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. We caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time. Ten!”
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “We want to do the same thing we did last year this year. That’s our proposal. If it’s good then, it’s good now, and it won’t shut down the government.”
President Donald Trump: “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “OK, fair enough.”
President Donald Trump: “Absolutely. And I am proud.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “We disagree. We disagree.”
President Donald Trump: “And I’ll tell you what: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”
Trump and Congress will have to agree on a spending bill by December 21 in order to avert a shutdown.
In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a leadership challenge after members of her Conservative Party triggered a vote of “no confidence.” Conservative lawmakers are set to vote today. If May loses, she would have to step down immediately. The vote comes as May is facing major hurdles in trying to pass a Brexit deal. Earlier this week, she halted a parliamentary vote on the deal after she failed to garner sufficient support within her own party.
In France, a gunman shot and killed three people, injuring at least 12 others, at an outdoor Christmas market in the northeast city of Strasbourg. The gunman is still on the loose, and it is believed he may have fled to nearby Germany. France has issued the highest level of security alert. The subject was reportedly under investigation by French authorities.
In Brazil, a gunman opened fire in a cathedral in the southern city of Campinas Tuesday, killing four before turning the gun on himself. Police say they do not know the motive of the killer. Brazil’s incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, campaigned on loosening gun laws. Gun deaths in the country reached an all-time high last year, with more than 63,000 recorded homicides.
In more news from Brazil, two men belonging to the Landless Workers’ Movement, known as MST, were killed over the weekend in the northeast state of Paraíba. The group says armed men entered an MST camp on Saturday night and shot the two men dead over a land dispute. California Congressmember Ro Khanna responded to the news by tweeting, “Brazil’s Bolsonaro has referred to land rights defenders as 'terrorists'. And now over the weekend, two of their activists were assassinated. The US must call on Bolsonaro to stop inciting violence and for Brazil to bring those guilty of this heinous crime to justice.”
In environmental news, a new report released this week warns of the devastating effects of illegal mining for gold and other minerals in the Amazon. The report found over 2,300 illegal mining sites in six countries. Mining activity has devastating social and environmental impacts, displacing indigenous communities and exposing people, wildlife and plantlife to extremely high levels of mercury.
Scientists have issued a new warning on Arctic warming. A report released this week finds that the Arctic has been warmer over the last five years than at any time since 1900, the year record-keeping started. The region is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.
In San Francisco, 300 climate activists from the Sunrise Movement demonstrated at the California office of congressmember and likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one day after over 1,000 activists flooded Capitol Hill, calling for Congress to form a Green New Deal Select Committee.
Zoë Cina-Sklar: “We’re seeing the impacts of climate change. Just a few weeks ago, the Camp Fires were making it hard to breathe in here and took over 85 lives. And we need to be treating climate change like a crisis, because it is a crisis. And as young people, we have a lot at stake in this.”
The number of congressmembers supporting the Green New Deal proposed by incoming New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has jumped to 35—up from 22—since the start of organizing actions this week.
Newly released data shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 170 people since July who had offered to sponsor unaccompanied migrant minors who were being held in government custody. Sponsors are most commonly relatives of unaccompanied children who would be able to take them into their care. In the majority of cases, those arrested had no criminal record. In September, ICE confirmed it was arresting potential sponsors for possible immigration violations. In November, there were more than 14,000 immigrant children in government custody—a record high.
In more immigration news, an Arizona judge has issued a deportation order for well-known immigrant rights and reproductive justice leader Alejandra Pablos. Earlier this year, Pablos was detained by ICE for more than 40 days after reporting to a routine check-in. Many believe she was targeted for her activism. She appeared on Democracy Now! in April.
Alejandra Pablos: “Trump has his own personal police force, which is ICE. They’re enacting all his white supremacist agenda. People—all our community right now are being deported, especially working people and, like you said, activists. And I was simply detained because of an arrest at a peaceful protest in Virginia. I haven’t even been convicted.”
Alejandra Pablos has vowed to appeal the decision.
In Texas, a judge accepted a plea deal from a former Baylor University fraternity president who was indicted on four counts of sexual assault, allowing him to avoid prison time. Under the deal, 24-year-old Jacob Walter Anderson will receive probation and counseling, and has to pay a $400 fine. He will not have to register as a sex offender. After news of the plea deal broke, the survivor of Anderson’s attack wrote, “This guy violently raped me multiple times, choked me, and when I blacked out, he dumped me face down on the ground and left me to die. When I woke up aspirating up my own vomit, my friends immediately took me to the hospital.”
Meanwhile, public outrage is growing over the case of Cyntoia Brown, who is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder after shooting her rapist. Brown was sexually trafficked and repeatedly abused and drugged. The shooting happened when she was just 16 years old, but Brown was tried as an adult. Last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Brown must serve 51 years of her sentence before she becomes eligible for parole. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Monday he is considering clemency for Brown.
In Charlottesville, a jury sentenced self-described neo-Nazi James Alex Fields to life in prison for killing anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer at last year’s white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally. Fields was convicted of first-degree murder by the jury Friday. A judge will formally sentence Fields on March 29; he can impose a less severe punishment than the jurors but is not allowed to increase the sentence, according to Virginia law.
In New York, demonstrators gathered in front of the office of the Anti-Defamation League to protest what’s known as the “deadly exchange” between Israeli and U.S. law enforcement agencies. The ADL has come under fire from activists for sponsoring law enforcement training exchanges between the two countries. This is one of the protesters at Monday night’s gathering, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace.
Craig Willse: “We’re over 300 Jews and our friends. We’ve gathered together to call on the ADL to end its police exchanges between the U.S. and Israel. The ADL funds and organizes exchanges between U.S. police who go to Israel to train with the Israeli military. This is an exchange of worst practices, of profiling, of surveillance and violence. And the ADL, which claims to be a civil rights organization, has no business training police.”
And celebrated documentary filmmaker Bill Siegel has died. Siegel co-directed the Oscar-nominated film “The Weather Underground” and directed the Emmy Award-winning “The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” which examines the struggle legendary boxer Muhammad Ali faced after he converted to Islam and refused to fight in Vietnam, and his following years in exile before returning to the ring. Click here to see our 2013 interview with Bill Siegel.