Confirmation hearings begin today for President Trump’s pick to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat as the Supreme Court’s swing vote. If Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, it would create a bloc of five right-wing justices, likely making it the most conservative court since the 1930s. Critics warn his confirmation could lead to major rollbacks of civil rights, environmental regulations, gun control measures, voting rights and reproductive rights, including possibly overturning Roe v. Wade. Just hours before the hearings were set to begin, a lawyer for former President George W. Bush released more than 40,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House Counsel’s Office from 2001 to 2003. He was also staff secretary from 2003 to 2006 before Bush appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals of D.C. Yet the Trump administration is withholding more than 100,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s records on the basis of presidential privilege. We’ll have more on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings after headlines.
President Trump has attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after the Justice Department filed charges against Republican Congressmember Christopher Collins of New York and Republican Congressmember Duncan Hunter of California. Collins is accused of insider trading. Hunter is accused of illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses. The two Republicans were the first and second members of Congress to endorse candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Jeff Sessions, then senator, was the third. On Monday, Trump tweeted, “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......” In response, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse said, “The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice—one for the majority party and one for the minority party,” in a rebuke of the president and a member of his own party.
In Iowa, the father of murdered college student Mollie Tibbetts is demanding politicians and white supremacists stop appropriating his daughter’s death to promote hate against immigrants. Authorities have charged an undocumented farmworker from Mexico with first-degree murder for her death. In an article for The Des Moines Register, Rob Tibbetts wrote, “Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. The act grievously extends the crime that stole Mollie from our family … The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people.” Rob Tibbetts’s column comes only one day after the Register published a column by President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., in which he blamed Democrats for Tibbetts’s death.
In Syria, government forces are preparing for an imminent offensive against the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian opposition’s last major territory in the country. Three million people currently live in Idlib. On Monday, President Trump threatened Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, tweeting, “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!” Hours after Trump’s tweet, Russia reportedly launched airstrikes against Idlib.
A Burmese court sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for violating Burma’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. At the time of their arrest, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were investigating a massacre committed by the Burmese military targeting Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din nearly one year ago. Human rights and press freedom groups have called for the journalists to be freed. This is U.N. human rights chief and former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
Michelle Bachelet: “I was shocked today in the morning when I woke up and I learned that these two journalists from Reuters had been imposed a sentence of seven years of jail. I think the information they gave on the massacre was of public interest, and I think also that all the process, the trial was a travesty of justice. So I will urge the Myanmar government to release them as soon as possible, immediately.”
In Yemen, the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition has admitted its airstrike on a school bus that killed 51 people, including 40 children, was “unjustified.” The bomb that killed the schoolchildren on August 9 in Yemen’s northern city of Saada was made by U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin and sold by the United States to Saudi Arabia.
In Germany, more than 50,000 people gathered Monday for an anti-racism concert in Chemnitz, where one week earlier a deadly stabbing of a German man led to violent xenophobic, neo-Nazi protests. An Iraqi and a Syrian were arrested in connection with the killing. This is resident Andrea Ulrich, speaking at the anti-racism concert.
Andrea Ulrich: “This is absolutely fantastic, because as the people of Chemnitz we have to show that our city is colorful, open to everyone, and that we have no sympathy for what has happened here in recent days.”
In Brazil, a massive fire at the National Museum has destroyed millions of pieces of art and history. The 200-year-old museum is Brazil’s oldest historical institution and one of the most important in Latin America. Museum officials say the damage is “irreparable.”
In a major victory for indigenous groups and environmentalists, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals has rejected the government’s approval to triple the capacity of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. On Thursday, Justice Eleanor Dawson nullified licensing for the $7.4 billion project and brought construction to a halt. Her ruling cited inadequate consultations with indigenous peoples affected by the project. Just minutes after the court’s decision, Kinder Morgan’s shareholders agreed to sell the existing pipeline and the expansion project to the federal government for $4.5 billion. We’ll have more on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline later in the broadcast.
Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental and civil liberties groups are launching a new campaign called “Protect the Protest,” to fight back against lawsuits aimed at limiting free speech. Corporations often used so-called SLAPP suits, or strategic lawsuits against public participation, to try to silence activists. Rallies launching the campaign are planned for today and tomorrow in New York City, San Francisco and Dallas. The company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, is based in Dallas. Energy Transfer Partners has sued Greenpeace, Earth First and BankTrack for up to $1 billion for undermining the project.
Tropical Storm Gordon is slated to hit the Gulf Coast as a hurricane later today, with parts of the Gulf Coast expected to receive up to eight inches of rain between today and Thursday. The National Hurricane Center also issued a storm surge warning for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
In Florida, gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is speaking out after he was targeted by a racist robocall paid for by a white supremacist group. Gillum is aiming to be Florida’s first black governor. This is a clip of the robocall. A warning: It is extremely racist.
Racist robocall: “Well, hello there. I is Andrew Gillum, and I be the mayor of Tallahassee.”
This is gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum responding to the racist robocalls in an interview with CNN.
Mayor Andrew Gillum: “I want to make sure that we don’t racialize and, frankly, weaponize race as a part of this process, which is why I’ve called on my opponent to really work to rise above some of these things. People are taking their cues from him, from his campaign and from Donald Trump. And we saw in Charlottesville that that can lead to real, frankly, dangerous outcomes.”
In sports news, Nike has chosen former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to be the face of its “Just Do It” campaign. In 2016, Kaepernick began protesting police brutality and racism by taking a knee during the national anthem before NFL games, sparking ongoing league-wide protests. Kaepernick was not re-signed to the 49ers after the 2016 season, or to any other team, in what is widely seen as retaliation for his activism. On Monday, he posted an image from the Nike campaign, which reads, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
The New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick says President Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon will no longer be headlining the upcoming New Yorker Festival in October, after a slew of celebrities and New Yorker staff members protested Bannon’s participation. Bannon was the longtime head of the far-right-wing news outlet Breitbart News, which frequently publishes white nationalist propaganda.
In New York City, the award-winning newspaper The Village Voice is shutting down after 63 years. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer, the left-leaning paper was the first alternative weekly in the United States. Last year it stopped its print publication, and on Friday publisher Peter Barbey said he was shutting down the influential newspaper entirely.
In recent days the nation paid tribute to the legendary singer Aretha Franklin and Senator John McCain. On Saturday, former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush gave eulogies to McCain at his funeral at the Washington National Cathedral. President Trump was not invited and spent the day golfing. Speakers at Aretha Franklin’s funeral in Detroit included former President Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hailed her as “the soundtrack to the civil rights movement,” and Georgetown sociologist Michael Eric Dyson.
Michael Eric Dyson: “And then this orange apparition had the nerve to say she worked for him. You lugubrious leech, you dopey doppelganger of deceit and deviance, you lethal liar, you dimwitted dictator, you foolish fascist, she ain’t work for you. She worked above you. She worked beyond you. Get your preposition right!”
And legendary pianist and composer Randy Weston has died at the age of 92 in his home in Brooklyn, New York. For more than six decades, Weston was a pioneering jazz musician incorporating the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa. His 1960 album “Uhuru Afrika” was a landmark recording that celebrated the independence movements in Africa and the influence of traditional African music on jazz. In 2001, he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, considered to be the nation’s highest honor in jazz. In 2012, the late Randy Weston appeared on Democracy Now! and talked about the making of “Uhuru Afrika,” which featured lyrics and liner notes by Langston Hughes.
Randy Weston: “So I wanted to create a work of music celebrating this freedom of Africa. So Langston wrote a freedom poem for me, and also he wrote the words, a song I call 'African Lady.' That song was dedicated to our mothers, our sisters, those African women who were always in the background, who always supported us, you see. And then, finally, we did—”
Amy Goodman: “Can you play a little?”
Randy Weston: “Oh, yeah. You mean which one? 'African Lady'? Sure. [playing ‘African Lady’]”
Click here to see this whole interview with Randy Weston in 2012. The late Randy Weston died on Saturday at the age of 92.