In California, at least eight people have died as climate change-fueled wildfires rage statewide. Among the dead are two firefighters, as well as a 70-year-old woman and her 4- and 5-year-old great-grandchildren. In total, firefighters are battling 17 wildfires blazing across California, engulfing more than 200,000 acres and forcing mass evacuations, including in Yosemite National Park. Wildfires are also surging across parts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.
North Korea has returned some of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War, in the latest diplomatic step between the U.S. and North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to the repatriation of remains during the historic summit between him and President Trump last month. This is Trump speaking Friday.
President Donald Trump: “At this moment a plane is carrying the remains of some great fallen heroes from America back from the Korean War. They’re coming back to the United States. Mike Pence, our wonderful vice president, will be there to greet the families and the remains. And I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word.”
President Trump is threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t allocate $25 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. He tweeted Sunday, “I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Congress has until September 30 to agree on a spending bill to avoid a federal government shutdown.
In Los Angeles, federal Judge Dolly Gee has mandated the appointment of an independent monitor to force the Trump administration to improve health and safety standards in immigrant detention centers that house children. The court order comes after lawyers provided testimony from migrants who said they have been subjected to widespread abuse inside detention, including being kicked in their sleep, forced to drink toilet water, provided only spoiled food and denied medical treatment. The lawyers also said detained children have been injected with psychotropic drugs without parental consent.
A Boston Globe investigation has revealed the existence of a domestic surveillance program run by the Transportation Security Authority, or TSA, which has been surveilling U.S. citizens on planes and in airports since 2010. Under the program, called “Quiet Skies,” federal air marshals collect information about U.S. travelers, including common behavior like using the bathroom repeatedly, sleeping on flights or sweating heavily. In response, the ACLU said, “Such surveillance not only makes no sense, it is a big waste of taxpayer money and raises a number of constitutional questions.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she plans to continue serving on the bench for at least another five years. Speaking Sunday, she said, “I’m now 85. My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.” Justice Ginsburg has been a fierce critic of President Trump. She’s already hired law clerks to serve through 2020.
U.S. diplomats have held direct peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the ongoing 17-year U.S. war in Afghanistan. The New York Times reports the Trump administration is urging U.S.-backed Afghan troops to retreat from rural areas and focus on protecting Kabul and other major cities. The Times also reports this strategy will likely ensure the Taliban remains in control of vast stretches of the countryside, where the majority of Afghans live.
In Gaza, thousands gathered Saturday for the funeral of 11-year-old Majdi al-Satari, who died after he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper Friday at protests near the separation fence with Israel. Seventeen-year-old Moumin al-Hams and 43-year-old Ghazi Abu Mustafa were also shot and killed by Israeli snipers at the protests. Israeli soldiers have killed at least 150 Palestinians since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30.
Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has been freed from an Israeli prison after serving an 8-month term. The 17-year-old activist became a hero to Palestinians after a viral video showed her slapping a soldier near her family’s home in the occupied West Bank. The incident came just after Tamimi learned her cousin had been gravely wounded by an Israeli soldier who shot him in the head using a rubber-coated steel bullet. This is Tamimi speaking after her release.
Ahed Tamimi: “My plans for the future are to continue my university studies. I will study law to address the causes of the country in all of the international forums and to represent the prisoners’ causes and to talk about it to the whole world and in the international courts.”
The Trump administration has lifted restrictions on $195 million in military aid for Egypt that it had previously withheld over concerns about Egypt’s human rights record. This comes as an Egyptian court sentenced 75 people to death for participating in a 2013 sit-in protesting the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. More than 1,000 protesters were killed when soldiers opened fire on the sit-in protest in Cairo. Egypt’s Parliament has approved a law that could give senior military commanders immunity from future prosecution over the deadly crackdown.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has suspended Iraq’s electricity minister, as widespread protests continue over blackouts and a lack of other basic services. The massive protests were sparked in the oil-rich southern region of Iraq earlier this month due to lack of access to electricity and clean water during an extreme heat wave.
The longtime head of CBS, Les Moonves, has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by at least six women. The New Yorker reports the women accuse Moonves of forcibly kissing or touching them during business meetings, and physically and professionally threatening them after they rejected his sexual advances. One of his accusers, Emmy Award-winning actress and writer Illeana Douglas, told The New Yorker Moonves forcibly held her down and violently kissed her, saying, “What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating.” Another one of his accusers, writer Janet Jones, told The New Yorker, “He has gotten away with it for decades.”
In more journalism news, the publisher of The New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, has confirmed he met with President Trump on July 20 to voice concerns about Trump’s frequent attacks on the press, including Trump’s labeling of the press as the “enemy of the people.” Sulzberger says he told Trump his attacks on the press are endangering the lives of journalists, particularly foreign reporters, and that his phrase “fake news” has empowered dictators around the world to crack down on the press. Although the White House had asked for the meeting to be off the record, Sulzberger issued his statement about the meeting hours after Trump tweeted about it Sunday.
And in Texas, Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son have been released from ICE detention after being jailed for seven months. Gutiérrez first sought asylum in the United States in 2008 after receiving death threats for reporting on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. He was detained in December, only weeks after he criticized U.S. asylum policy during a speech at the National Press Club. A federal judge has questioned whether the Trump administration’s detention of Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son Oscar violated his First Amendment rights. This is Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, speaking in an exclusive jailhouse interview with Democracy Now!
Emilio Gutiérrez Soto: “The message that I would like to share with the population of the United States is to, please, express solidarity with the terror experienced by families of journalists who have been assassinated in Mexico and to seek at least a breath of justice, which does not exist. The only thing that has motivated us, at least in my career as a journalist, is to speak with the truth, to participate in the search for social justice.”
Emilio Gutiérrez Soto has been awarded a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for the next academic year by the University of Michigan. To see our full coverage of his case, click here.