In explosive testimony, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, told congressional lawmakers Tuesday that the Trump administration held up $391 million in aid to Ukraine for the purpose of pushing Ukraine to incriminate Trump’s political rivals, particularly presidential candidate Joe Biden. In Taylor’s opening statement, which has been made public, he lays out his interactions with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and a wealthy Oregon hotel magnate who received the ambassadorship after donating $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. Taylor says Ambassador Sondland told him that “everything,” including security assistance, was dependent on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing an investigation into Burisma, the gas company where Joe Biden’s son Hunter was a board member. Taylor said, “Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.” Taylor’s testimony offers the most damning evidence so far in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
On Tuesday, amid William Taylor’s explosive testimony, President Trump sparked widespread criticism by tweeting that the impeachment inquiry was a “lynching.” The comment was widely condemned as racist and grossly historically inaccurate. This is Democratic Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “Thousands of African Americans were slaughtered during the lynching epidemic in this country for no reason other than the color of their skin. The president should not compare a constitutionally mandated impeachment inquiry to such a dangerous and dark chapter of American history. It’s irresponsible for him to do so, and I hope that he will apologize.”
The Turkish military has halted its invasion of northern Syria, after reaching an agreement with Russia Tuesday that would force Syrian Kurdish forces to retreat from a wide swath of the Syrian-Turkish border. The deal came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. Russia and Turkey agreed to carry out joint patrols along the Syrian-Turkish border. Thousands of Syrian Kurdish civilians have continued to flee the area and into Iraq amid the conflict that began after President Trump spoke to Erdogan and then abruptly withdrew U.S. troops from the region, clearing the way for the Turkish invasion. This is Kurdish refugee Asad Ismael.
Asad Ismael: “Our houses are still destroyed. People are still displaced. People don’t have money. So many people left for other countries.”
Convoys of these U.S. troops have been departing northern Syria for western Iraq, where the Pentagon initially said they would be restationed. But the Iraqi government responded that the U.S. does not have permission to station those troops in Iraq. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with the Iraqi defense minister, who says the U.S. troops will leave Iraq within four weeks. This is Esper speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “We’re conducting a phased withdrawal, deliberate phased withdrawal from northeast Syria. We will temporarily reposition in Iraq pursuant to bringing the troops home. And so it’s just one part of a continuing phase, but eventually those troops are going to come home.”
Protests have erupted in Bolivia over claims Sunday’s presidential election was rigged in favor of longtime leader Evo Morales. Preliminary election results showed the election headed for a runoff, with Morales leading his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa, with less than the 10% margin required to win the election outright. But then election officials abruptly stopped the ballot count for 24 hours. When the count resumed, Morales had suddenly surged far ahead of Mesa, with enough of a lead to avoid a December runoff. Protesters have raided two electoral tribunal buildings and burned ballot boxes. The vice president of the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Court has announced his resignation amid the fraud accusations, and the Organization of American States is meeting today over the situation.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has announced new reforms aimed at ending weeks of nationwide protests in response to a subway fare hike, rising inequality, high cost of living and privatization. Piñera vowed Tuesday to increase the basic pension by 20% and proposed a healthcare law that would mandate the state cover the costs of expensive medical treatments. It’s unclear whether the reforms will halt the massive demonstrations. At least 15 people have died, and more than 5,000 have been detained, since the protests began. Piñera has declared a state of emergency in the capital of Santiago and five other cities, imposing a curfew and sending the military into the streets in response to civil unrest for the first time since dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a critical vote Tuesday in his quest to fast-track a Brexit deal and withdraw Britain from the European Union by October 31. Johnson’s government has now requested a three-month extension to get Brexit approved by the British Parliament. The president of the European Parliament says he supports the extension.
The latest results from the Canadian national elections show Canada’s newly formed anti-immigrant party failed to win a single seat in Monday’s elections. The People’s Party of Canada fielded more than 300 candidates but received only 1.5% of the vote. Even the party’s leader, a former Conservative Party politician, lost his parliamentary seat. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held onto power in Monday’s tight elections, although his Liberal Party did not win a majority.
In Tennessee, a striking United Auto Worker union member was hit by a car and killed outside the General Motors plant in Spring Hill where workers were maintaining an active picket line. The UAW said in a statement that 55-year-old union member Roy McCombs “tragically lost his life today on a picket line standing up for a better life for himself and his coworkers.” The UAW’s strike is entering its 38th day today. Workers remain on strike as they vote on a tentative agreement between the union and General Motors reached on Saturday. It is the longest national strike at GM by the United Auto Workers in nearly 50 years.
In Chicago, teachers are heading into their second week of strike as schools remain closed across the city. The teachers are demanding better pay and benefits, smaller class sizes and more nurses, counselors, social workers and librarians. Chicago is the nation’s third-largest school system, with more than 350,000 students. On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the teachers on the picket line.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Everyone in America should support you in this strike. And the reason is because when you go out and fight, you don’t just fight for yourselves; you fight for the children of this city and the children of this country.”
New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced that the state’s probe of Facebook for violating antitrust regulations is now backed by attorneys general from 46 other states and territories. James said the probe is looking at whether Facebook put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices and increased the price of advertising. This comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies today on Capitol Hill.
A 49-year-old Mexican immigrant who was in Border Patrol custody died Monday, reportedly of a pre-existing heart condition. The man, who has not yet been identified, was detained on Sunday afternoon in southern Arizona. He was later taken to a hospital in Tucson, Arizona, where he was pronounced dead Monday morning. The man is the second immigrant to die while in U.S. custody this month. The first was an immigrant from Cameroon, who died under the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At least 11 other immigrants have died while in Customs and Border Protection custody so far this year.
In more news from Arizona, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams has fired the police officer who threatened to shoot an African-American family after their 4-year-old daughter took a doll from a Family Dollar store. The incident was captured in a viral cellphone video that shows Phoenix officer Christopher Meyer, who is white, pointing a gun at the family’s car and threatening to shoot the girl’s father, Dravon Ames, in the face. The girl’s mother, Iesha Harper, is heard saying she is unable to hold her hands up because she is holding a child and that she is pregnant. This is Dravon Ames speaking to Democracy Now! in June.
Dravon Ames: “I was in the driver’s seat. And his interaction with me was, he first came to my door. He opened the door, no problem. He’s telling me to put my hands up. I do that instantly, because he had the gun drawn. We don’t know who he is. I’m just taking commands from anyone, unidentified person at this point. I don’t know if I’m being mugged, robbed or anything. I’m just hands up. I’m not trying not to die with my family.”
The decision to fire officer Meyer comes as Phoenix police announced Tuesday the firing of another officer who was involved in a Facebook database that tracked posts of current police officers across the United States that advocated for violence against Latinos, Muslims and women.
Ninety-five percent of baby foods in the U.S. contain either lead, arsenic, mercury or cadmium. That’s according to a shocking new national study by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, which tested 61 different baby food brands purchased across 14 different metropolitan areas — from San Diego, California, to Albany, New York. The study found that nearly all of the baby foods tested were contaminated with at least one of the developmental neurotoxins. One in four of the tested baby foods contained all four types of the heavy metals, which are each linked to IQ loss from exposures early in life. In response to the study, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to examine the study and release a public statement on its findings.
In sports news, Major League Baseball is investigating an outburst by Houston Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman to three female journalists Saturday night as the Astros celebrated their win against the Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Taubman yelled at Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein, who was wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, and other female reporters, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f——— glad we got Osuna!” The Astros signed relief pitcher Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018 only weeks after the league handed him a 75-game suspension for violating its domestic violence policy. Osuna is being accused of assaulting the mother of his child. Major League Baseball has launched an investigation into whether the three female journalists were subject to a hostile work environment.
Boeing has ousted one of its top executives, marking the first high-level management change since the fatal crashes of two 737 MAX jets that combined killed 346 people. The ousted executive, Kevin McAllister, had led Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. The plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia have provoked global outrage and sparked questions about the Trump administration’s close ties to Boeing. On Monday, Boeing announced it will begin paying out $50 million in financial assistance to the families of the victims of the two crashes.
Earlier this month, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg lost his additional title as chairman of the board.
In New York, two members of the far-right hate group the Proud Boys have been sentenced to four years in prison for attacking a group of anti-fascist protesters outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan last year. Proud Boy members Maxwell Hare and John Kinsman were convicted of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot. State Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer said the sentencing was intended to deter future violence, saying, “I know enough about history to know what happened in Europe in the ’30s when political street brawls were allowed to go ahead without any type of check from the criminal justice system.”