For the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope has addressed a letter to the entire population of 1.2 billion Catholics on the topic of sex abuse by clergy. In the scathing 2,000-word letter, Pope Francis wrote, “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” Last week in Pennsylvania, a grand jury report revealed how more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades and that the church leadership covered up the abuse. More than 1,000 Catholic theologians, educators and parishioners have called on all Catholic bishops to resign. We’ll have more on Pope Francis’s letter and the Catholic Church abuse scandal after headlines.
President Trump is heading to Charleston, West Virginia, today to hold a campaign rally and announce a massive rollback of Obama-era environmental regulations for coal-fired power plants. The deregulation will dramatically weaken President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions in order to address climate change. Under President Trump’s planned deregulation, individual states will now be allowed to decide whether to curb emissions. The Washington Post reports the deregulation will mean at least 12 times more carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere over the next decade. The deregulation will also roll back rules aimed at reducing air pollution from the coal-fired power plants. Andrew Wheeler, the current acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a former coal industry lobbyist.
President Trump met with federal immigration agents at the White House Tuesday, where he introduced a Hispanic Border Patrol agent by saying, “He speaks perfect English.”
President Trump: “Adrian, come here, I wanna ask you a question. So… how did you–come here, you aren’t nervous, are you? Speaks perfect English.”
In Afghanistan, police say the Taliban have fired rockets at the presidential palace while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was delivering his holiday message for the Muslim celebrations of Eid al-Adha today. One rocket landed near the presidential palace, while a second hit near the U.S. Embassy and NATO compound. No fatalities have been reported. The Afghan military responded with a heavy bombing campaign. The attacks come after the Afghan president offered a 3-month conditional ceasefire with the Taliban, slated to take effect today. In more news from Afghanistan, up to 2 million people are at risk of running out of food within the next six months, as a historic drought spreads across the majority of Afghanistan. At least 80,000 Afghans have been forced to leave their villages in search of water so far.
In more climate change news, the death toll from the historic flooding in India’s southern state of Kerala has risen to 400 people. It’s the worst flooding in a century and has displaced up to 1 million people. This is Chandra Bose, whose home was swept away by the waters.
Chandra Bose: “There is not even a shred of evidence that our house once stood here. We are unable to do anything. Even the clothes that we are wearing right now were given to us by other people. I have left my daughter in an orphanage for now. We have no means to live. We are in a situation where we just cannot do anything. We don’t know what to do next or what is going to happen to us next.”
French oil giant Total has withdrawn from a nearly $5 billion gas project in Iran, as a result of the Trump administration’s reinstatement of U.S. sanctions against foreign companies doing business with Iran. The reinstatement of sanctions comes after President Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Earlier this month, Trump threatened European allies, tweeting, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
Microsoft says hackers linked to the Russian military intelligence unit that allegedly sought to sway the 2016 U.S. election are now targeting conservative U.S. think tanks that have broken with Trump and are seeking U.S. sanctions against Russia or exposing Russia’s human rights abuses. Microsoft says the hackers have created websites in which users believe they are clicking through links managed by the conservative think tanks the Hudson Institute or the International Republican Institute, but that actually secretly redirect users to sites that steal their passwords or other personal information.
In Michigan, state health director Nick Lyons is facing trial for involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of two men amid an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint after the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in an attempt to save money. Lyons is the highest-ranking state official to face charges so far over Flint’s water-poisoning crisis. He’s also being charged with willful neglect of duty and misconduct. Michigan has admitted 12 people died in the outbreak, but a recent report by PBS “Frontline” has found the death toll from the water crisis in Flint may be higher than Michigan officials have acknowledged.
The New York Times reports Italian actress Asia Argento recently quietly paid former co-star Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013, when Bennett was 17 and Argento was 37. The age of consent in the state of California is 18. Argento emerged as a leader in the #MeToo movement after she was one of the first of more than 100 women to accuse disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual harassment. She paid off Bennett months after she spoke out publicly against Weinstein. On Monday, Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, tweeted, “Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender.”
Artists and entertainers slammed President Trump during the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City Monday night. This is comedian and actor Kevin Hart on stage with co-presenter Tiffany Haddish.
Kevin Hart: “We are live coast to coast right now. I’m looking at this like it’s game day, people. But do not worry, 'cause at this game you guys are allowed to kneel. You can do whatever the hell you want. There's no old white man that can stop you. Do it! … You never know what’s going to happen at the VMAs. I mean, beefs pop off, bad language, people run to the bathroom to send out crazy tweets—it’s basically like a typical day at the White House. In your face, Trump!”
During the awards, the rapper Logic also performed alongside hundreds of immigrant youth and their parents to protest the Trump administration’s family separation and detention policies.
The New York Times is reporting the federal authorities investigating President Trump’s longtime former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, are focusing on $20 million in loans obtained by taxi businesses that he and his family own. The Times also reports the investigators are looking into whether Mr. Cohen violated campaign finance laws by helping to arrange hush money payments to silence women who said they had affairs with President Trump. The prosecutors are reportedly considering filing charges by the end of this month.
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, hundreds of student protesters toppled the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina Monday night, on the eve of the first day of classes. The toppled statue was erected in 1913 to honor Confederate soldiers and has been the target of repeated protests in recent years. One UNC doctoral student, Maya Little, is facing charges of property destruction and possible expulsion for pouring red ink and her own blood on the statue in a protest in April.
In Colorado, immigrant rights leader Sandra Lopez is leaving sanctuary today after spending 10 months living in the parsonage of the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist church in Carbondale while she fights her deportation to Mexico. She’s lived in Colorado for 17 years and is the mother of three U.S.-born children: Alex, Edwin and Areli. In a statement, Lopez said, “My attorneys have talked with ICE, and it confirmed that I am not a priority for removal at this time. We continue to seek a positive resolution to my case through the court system and are awaiting a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals.” This is Sandra Lopez, speaking with Democracy Now! from inside the parsonage of the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist church in Carbondale, Colorado, in January.
Sandra Lopez: “I wasn’t willing to be arrested, because they’re uprooting me from my home, from my children, from my life, from my future. How am I going to want to go into such a situation, as if nothing were happening? No. I made the valiant decision to go into sanctuary, to opt for sanctuary. It’s not an easy decision. And I am here avoiding deportation so that I can be with my children.”
And prisoners across the country are set to launch a nationwide strike today to demand improved living conditions, greater access to resources and the “end of modern day slavery.” Prisoners in at least 17 states are expected to participate in the coordinated sit-ins, hunger strikes, work stoppages and commissary boycotts from today until September 9—the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. We’ll have more on the nationwide prison strike later in the broadcast.