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HeadlinesMay 22, 2018

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Mike Pompeo Threatens Iran with “Strongest Sanctions in History”

May 22, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his first major policy address to threaten Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning. The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course, from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations. These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech at the Heritage Foundation Monday comes after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. Pompeo also warned European companies not to expect to be exempt from newly reinstated sanctions. Last week, the French oil company Total announced it is canceling its planned contracts with Iran, following the U.S. decision to pull out of the nuclear agreement. We’ll have more on Pompeo’s speech after headlines.


Pence Threatens North Korea as U.S.-NK Summit Looks Increasingly Imperiled

May 22, 2018

President Trump is meeting with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in today at the White House, as the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit appears increasingly imperiled. On Monday, the Trump administration again threatened that the U.S. could pursue the so-called Libya denuclearization model if North Korea does not cooperate. In 2003, Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program and welcoming international inspectors to verify the disarmament. Eight years later, Muammar Gaddafi was dragged through the streets and publicly killed by rebels, after the U.S. and its allies intervened with a massive bombing campaign. This is Fox News’s Martha MacCallum interviewing Vice President Mike Pence Monday.

Vice President Mike Pence: “You know, there was some talk about the Libya model—”

Martha MacCallum: “Right.”

Vice President Mike Pence: “—last week. And, you know, as the president made clear, you know, this—this will only end like the Libya model ended, if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.”

Martha MacCallum: “Some people saw that as a threat.”

Vice President Mike Pence: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”

Trump Meets with Christopher Wray, Rod Rosenstein at White House

May 22, 2018

President Trump met with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in the Oval Office on Monday. The meeting came only one day after President Trump demanded via Twitter that the Justice Department probe Trump’s claims that his campaign had been surveilled. Trump has been claiming for months, without evidence, that the Obama administration spied on his campaign. Legal experts say Trump’s tweet Sunday crossed a line by applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department, potentially setting up a clash similar to the one between President Nixon and the Justice Department during the Watergate scandal. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to probe the allegations of surveillance.

Gina Haspel Sworn In as CIA Director

May 22, 2018

Gina Haspel was sworn in as CIA director on Monday, after being confirmed by the Senate despite concern about her role in the post-9/11 CIA torture program. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. She was confirmed after a number of Democratic senators joined with the Republicans to support her.


In 5-4 Ruling, Supreme Court Deals Major Blow to Workers’ Rights

May 22, 2018

In a major blow to workers’ rights, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 Monday that employers can use arbitration clauses to prohibit workers from banding together to challenge violations of federal labor laws in class-action lawsuits. The decision could affect up to 25 million employment contracts. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the majority’s decision “egregiously wrong” and said it will lead to a “huge under-enforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well being of vulnerable workers.” Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices, giving them the 5-4 majority.

Financial Regulators Slated to Roll Back Volcker Rule

May 22, 2018

In financial news, the Federal Reserve and banking regulators are slated to roll back the Volcker Rule, a key financial regulation enacted after the 2008 financial crisis. The rule bars banks from using customers’ deposits to make the bank’s own risky bets. It was one of the key aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and was named after former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker. Watering down the rule would allow Wall Street’s giant banks to again engage in a wide range of risky trading, using customers’ own money. Meanwhile, on Monday, President Trump nullified rules aimed at preventing discrimination in auto lending. And today the House is slated to vote on legislation that would roll back other parts of the Dodd-Frank Act for thousands of smaller to midsized banks.

U.S. and China Back Away from Threats of Trade War

May 22, 2018

The United States and China have agreed to hold further talks about trade and exports, as the world’s two largest economies step back from the brink of a global trade war. Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the threatened trade war would be put “on hold,” backing the U.S. away from imposing tariffs on $50 billion of China’s exports to the United States, while China appears to have committed to importing more energy and agricultural commodities from the United States.


Volcanic Eruptions Threaten Geothermal Power Plant on Hawaii’s Big Island

May 22, 2018

On Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kilauea volcano is continuing to erupt, spewing plumes of ash and lava. Workers are rushing to shut down a nearby geothermal power plant to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases from the site. Lava is flowing increasingly close to the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, which provides 25 percent of the Big Island’s energy.

Oakland Residents Throw “BBQing While Black” Party After White Woman Called Police on Black Men for Grilling

May 22, 2018

In Oakland, California, hundreds of people turned out for a massive picnic and protest celebration dubbed “BBQing While Black” on Sunday. The community event at Lake Merritt was organized after a white woman harassed and called the police on two African-American men for grilling in the same location a few weeks earlier. The incident sparked massive outrage in Oakland, where gentrification has displaced many longtime African-American residents.

Georgia Primary: Stacey Abrams Running to Become First Black Female Governor in U.S.

May 22, 2018

In Georgia, voters are heading to the polls today for the state’s primary elections. In the governor’s race, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams is facing off against former state Representative Stacey Evans. If Abrams wins today and then in November, she will become the nation’s first African-American female governor. African-American activist Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, is also running for a congressional seat to represent Atlanta’s northern suburbs. In 2012, McBath’s 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed by a middle-aged white man in a dispute over loud music, sparking nationwide protests.

Lawyer and Civil Rights Pioneer Dovey Johnson Roundtree Dies at 104

May 22, 2018

And lawyer and civil rights pioneer Dovey Johnson Roundtree has died at the age of 104. Throughout her legal career, Roundtree shattered gender and racial barriers and successfully challenged Jim Crow laws and segregation. She was also among the first black women to train as an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and among the first women to be ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is Dovey Johnson Roundtree speaking about her experience working for then-NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall in the preparations for Brown v. Board of Education. Thurgood Marshall would go on to become the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

Dovey Johnson Roundtree: “We were always looking for the pattern. Where are we going? Can we go there? Why can’t we go now? And sometimes the answer was, 'Well, we've got to wait for this theory to be exhausted and get to the Supreme Court. We’ve got to wait for that.’ So, there were a lot of things that went into the pattern of getting it to the Supreme Court. So you get some reading of how courts in between would be reacting to the theory, say, of nondiscrimination in education. See, that didn’t just happen. You had to come up a long way through a number of states to get it ripe, that when it hit the Supreme Court, they then had only one question that they needed to be answered. Because courts, you know, like to deviate. Go down here and stay 10 years, you know. Then a lot of heads get beat over that. A lot of losses be sustained. But that’s the way the legal system is.”

That was Dovey Johnson Roundtree. She died on Monday at the age of 104.

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