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President Trump is holding a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Helsinki, Finland. This morning, Trump and Putin made a statement at a photo op before their private meeting, in which Trump said he and Putin would discuss China, trade and nuclear weapons.
President Donald Trump: “And I really think the world wants to see us get along. We are the two great nuclear powers. We have 90 percent of the nuclear. And that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing. And I think we hopefully can do something about that, because it’s not a positive force, it’s a negative force.”
Speaking this morning, Trump also said he hoped for better relations between the United States and Russia.
President Donald Trump: “I think we have great opportunities together as two countries, that, frankly, we have not been getting along very well for the last number of years. I’ve been here not too long, but it’s getting close to two years. But I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship. I hope so. I’ve been saying—and I’m sure you’ve heard—over the years, and as I campaigned, that getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Today’s summit between Trump and Putin comes only days after the U.S. Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence agency members as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller’s team accuses the 12 Russians of hacking the emails and computer networks of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. There have been a number of protests in Helsinki criticizing Trump and Putin, including 300 billboards lining the route from the airport to the site of the summit that criticize Trump and Putin’s crackdown against the press. One poster at the airport read “Mr President, welcome to the land of free press,” while another read “Trump calls media the enemy of the people.” On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of Helsinki to protest Trump and Putin and to demand human rights, free speech and pro-refugee policies.
President Trump also faced protests during his visit to Scotland this weekend, where a paraglider flew over Trump’s Turnberry golf course holding a sign that read “Trump Well Below Par,” while protesters rallied outside his private golf resort.
Protester: “He is a racist, a misogynist. There is a whole list, a catalogue, of insensibilities that he brings to that esteemed office, the president of the United States. But most of all, I don’t think he should go in a local hotel in Turnberry. I think he should just go back to America.”
A quarter of a million people also poured into the streets across Britain on Friday to protest Trump’s first visit to the U.K. as president.
In Pakistan, funerals are being held for the victims of Friday’s massive bombing at an election campaign gathering in the southwestern province of Balochistan. Al Jazeera reports up to 149 people were killed and nearly 200 more were wounded, making it the third-deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history. The bombing targeted an election rally of the Balochistan Awami Party, ahead of the July 25 national elections. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Among those killed was a Balochistan provincial assembly candidate, Siraj Raisani. This is the slain candidate’s brother, Haji Lashkari.
Haji Lashkari Raisani: “These kinds of incidents have been happening in our country’s history. These incidents are condemned verbally, and sympathies are also offered verbally. But no solid measures are taken to prevent them.”
On Friday night, hours after the deadly bombing, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested at the Lahore airport as they returned to Pakistan from London in efforts to bolster Sharif’s political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, ahead of the elections. Their arrest came after Sharif and his daughter were convicted in absentia last week in a corruption case that Sharif’s supporters say was manufactured by the Pakistani military and his political opponents.
In Gaza, thousands of people attended the funerals of two Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli airstrikes on Saturday, during Israel’s heaviest bombing assault on Gaza since the 2014 war. The two boys, 15-year-old Amir al-Nimri and 16-year-old Luay Kaheel, were killed by the Israeli airstrikes while they were playing on a roof. Thirty more Palestinians were wounded in the barrage of airstrikes, which Israel claimed was in retaliation for rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel, which wounded four Israelis. This is Maysoun al-Namara, the mother of 15-year-old Amir, who was killed by the Israeli bombing.
Maysoun al-Namara: “He went to play and eat with his friend. He didn’t have a rocket or a bomb. He told me, 'I will go out for lunch with my friend Luay.' They are close friends from school. They hang out after school. And they were killed together.”
Following Saturday’s bombing and rocket fire, Hamas and Islamic Jihad brokered a ceasefire with Israel. The Israeli bombing Saturday comes after Israeli soldiers have killed at least 136 Palestinians and wounded over 14,000 more since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30.
The Trump administration is seeking to hold direct talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the ongoing 17-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. The potential diplomatic effort comes as the Taliban has carried out a string of deadly attacks against the U.S.-backed Afghan security forces, even after the Trump administration deployed thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Last month, the Taliban and Afghan security forces organized a historic 3-day ceasefire, while grassroots peace activists participated in a 435-mile peace march.
In Haiti, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant has resigned amid a wave of anti-austerity protests sparked by the government’s plan to raise fuel prices at the behest of the International Monetary Fund. This is lawmaker Abel Descoline, responding to the prime minister’s resignation.
Abel Descoline: “It is a first step in the peaceful revolution, political revolution, to overthrow the Haitian political system and to bring some elements before justice for trivializing the laws and the constitution, which hinder the country.”
Back in the United States, San Diego Judge Dana Sabraw has blasted the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Department, after a senior official with the department claimed swiftly reuniting children separated from their parents at the border by immigration officials could place the kids in danger. In response, Judge Sabraw accused HHS of manufacturing the risk to the children in order to “provide cover to Defendants for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice.” Judge Sabraw has ordered the Trump administration must reunite the nearly 3,000 separated children with their parents by July 26.
In Chicago, protests erupted Saturday after police officers shot and killed a 37-year-old African-American man on the South Side of Chicago. Harith Augustus was a well-known barber and the father of a 5-year-old daughter. An edited clip of body camera video released on Sunday shows at least four officers approaching Augustus, who is wearing a holster containing a pistol. Records show Augustus had a legal permit to carry a firearm. In the video, Augustus then tries to run away from the officers when an officer opens fire, shooting him repeatedly. The police claim he was reaching for his gun at the time of the shooting. On Saturday night, hundreds of Chicago residents took to the streets to protest his killing. Video of the protests shows police attacking protesters with batons. At least four people were arrested.
And in an Atlanta suburb, two police officers have been placed on administrative leave after body camera video showed them joking about using a coin flip app to decide whether to arrest a motorist on her way to work. After the virtual coin flip, the Roswell police officers Courtney Brown and Kristee Wilson arrested the motorist, Sarah Webb, and accused her of driving over 80 miles an hour on a road with a speed limit of 45 miles an hour. The arresting officers did not have a radar gun and admitted they estimated her driving speed. Webb spent the day in jail until her charges were dropped.