An Ethiopian Airlines flight traveling from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed Sunday morning, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. The Boeing 737 was carrying passengers of 35 different nationalities, including eight Americans. The U.N. confirmed at least 19 of its staffers were on board the plane. This is the second fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the past five months, after Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 crashed last October, killing 189 people. China, Indonesia and Ethiopia announced they were grounding the aircrafts following the crash.
U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury Friday. Manning had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District to appear for questioning about her 2010 release to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning was imprisoned from 2010 to 2017 for the leak. Manning’s lawyer says they will appeal for her release. This is whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, speaking to Democracy Now! Sunday.
Daniel Ellsberg: “I think it’s very important that journalists realize and publishers realize that their own ability to operate under the First Amendment and to do their function in a free society is being challenged, attacked here, specifically through Chelsea Manning, as it has been for many years. It’s still going on. And she’s never done anything more admirable than her current refusal to take part in that assault on the free press.”
We’ll hear more from Daniel Ellsberg and speak to journalist Glenn Greenwald about Chelsea Manning after headlines.
President Trump is set to unveil his 2020 budget proposal today and will reportedly request $8.6 billion to fund his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, alongside an additional $3.6 billion to make up for military construction funds he said he is diverting as part of his national emergency. In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.” In addition to border wall funds, Trump’s budget boosts military spending, cuts non-defense-related domestic spending, including slashing the budget for renewable energy, and sets a 15-year timeline for eliminating the deficit.
Dana Sabraw, the federal judge who, last June, ordered the Trump administration to stop separating migrant families at the border and reunite nearly 3,000 children with their parents, ruled Friday that families who were separated at the border as early as July 2017 should also be included in his order and be allowed to join a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU. The order previously only included families whose children were in government custody on June 26, 2018. Sabraw cited a January Health and Human Services report that acknowledged that thousands more children were likely ripped from their parents, starting much earlier than stated, but that the government failed to properly track those children.
The House passed the For the People Act on Friday, a wide-ranging bill that seeks to expand voting rights and curb gerrymandering, reduce big money in political campaigns and strengthen ethics requirements for political candidates. One of the bill’s provisions would make voter registration automatic. This is Democratic Congressmember John Lewis speaking on the House floor Friday.
Rep. John Lewis: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? The time has arrived to tear down the barrier to the ballot box. Today we are able to do our part in this long fight for the very soul of our nation.”
Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he will not bring the bill to a vote.
An investigation by The New York Times found that several trucks carrying so-called humanitarian aid that were set ablaze during a showdown at the Colombia-Venezuela border last month were not caused by President Nicolás Maduro’s forces, as was widely reported at the time by both the media and Trump administration officials. National security adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Marco Rubio and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately condemned Maduro for the incident, using it to heighten calls for his removal. But a new analysis from the Times refutes this version of events and says instead it is likely that a Molotov cocktail thrown by an anti-government protester started the fire.
Some were quick to point out that witnesses and independent journalists had already been countering the U.S. government narrative. Writing for The Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald called out mainstream media outlets for republishing the false claims. He wrote, “Every major U.S. war of the last several decades has begun the same way: the U.S. Government fabricates an inflammatory, emotionally provocative lie which large U.S. media outlets uncritically treat as truth while refusing to air questioning or dissent, thus inflaming primal anger against the country the U.S. wants to attack.”
In more news from Venezuela, local reports have emerged that the ongoing power outage has killed 17 people in hospitals where backup generators failed. President Nicolás Maduro said last week that anti-government saboteurs backed by the U.S. took the nation’s main hydroelectric power station at the Guri Dam offline. Meanwhile, The New York Times wrote Friday that U.S. sanctions have curbed Venezuelan imports of fuel that could have powered the dam following the failure. Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó said he will call for a “state of national emergency” in parliament today.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is “not a state of all its citizens” as he engaged in a social media spat with Israeli celebrity Rotem Sela over the weekend. The well-known model and host wrote on Instagram Saturday, “When the hell will someone in this government tell the public that Israel is a country of all its citizens,” after watching an interview with the Israeli culture minister. Netanyahu responded directly to Sela on Instagram, writing, “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people—and only it.” The comments came days after Israel banned an alliance of Israeli Arab parties from fielding candidates for Israel’s parliament and as Israel is just one month away from a general election.
In news from Gaza, mourners held a funeral Saturday for 23-year-old Tamer Arafat, who died after Israeli forces shot him during Friday protests at the Israeli separation barrier. Israeli fire wounded 42 others who turned out as part of the weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, which will mark their first anniversary at the end of this month.
Following the House’s overwhelming passage of a resolution Thursday condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, white supremacy and other forms of hate, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro attacked Congressmember Ilhan Omar—one of two Muslim women now serving in Congress—for wearing a hijab.
Jeanine Pirro: “Omar wears a hijab, which, according to the Qur’an, 33-colon-59 tells women to cover so they won’t get molested. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
Critics blasted Judge Pirro’s remarks, pointing to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects freedom of religion. As outrage mounted, Fox News condemned her comments late Sunday, saying in a statement, “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.”
After her historic election victory last November, Congressmember Omar spearheaded the overturning of a long-standing ban on headscarves and other religious headwear, becoming the first lawmaker to wear a hijab on the House floor.
Erik Prince, founder of private security company Blackwater, said in a recent Al Jazeera interview that he met with Trump campaign representatives in August 2016, despite not disclosing the meeting during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in 2017, according to official transcripts. This is Prince speaking with reporter and host Mehdi Hasan.
Mehdi Hasan: “They specifically asked you, 'What contacts do you have?' And you didn’t answer that.”
Erik Prince: “I don’t believe I was asked that question.”
Mehdi Hasan: “You were asked, 'Were there any formal communications or contact with the campaign?' You said, 'Apart from writing papers, putting up yard signs, no.' That’s what you said. I’ve got the transcript of the conversation here.”
Erik Prince: “Sure. I mean, I might have been—I think I was at Trump headquarters or the campaign headquarters maybe.”
Mehdi Hasan: “Trump Tower, August 3rd, 2016.”
Erik Prince: “Possible.”
Mehdi Hasan: “You, an Israeli dude, a back channel to the Emiratis and the Saudis, Don Jr., Stephen Miller.”
Erik Prince: “We were there to talk about Iran policy.”
Mother Jones reported Saturday that Florida businesswoman Cindy Yang, who founded the spa where billionaire New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is said to have solicited sex, also ran a business selling access to President Trump. Kraft was charged last month with hundreds of others as part of a human trafficking sting that police say involved women recruited from China who were forced to have sex with customers, sometimes up to 16 times a day. The self-described “international business consulting firm” run by Yang is aimed at Chinese executives, touting access to Trump, members of his administration and his family at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The story was published a day after a selfie of Yang and Trump emerged at a Super Bowl viewing party at Mar-a-Lago in February. According to the Miami Herald, Yang and her family have donated nearly $60,000 to Trump’s campaign and a Trump PAC since 2017. Yang was not charged in last month’s crackdown on Florida day spas and has said she sold the spa linked to Kraft in 2013.
And Massachusetts senator and 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a plan to break up tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon. In a post published on Medium, Warren proposes classifying companies that bring in over $25 billion a year as “platform utilities,” and barring these utilities from selling their own products. That would mean, for example, that Google could not advertise Google products on its search platform and that Facebook would have to divest from apps like Instagram. Warren blamed tech monopolies for stifling competition, as well as overreach, due to how user data is collected and used. At a rally in Long Island City, New York—where local protests and political pressure recently led Amazon to withdraw its plan for a new HQ2 campus—Warren shared her plan with supporters on Friday night.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “They think they can come to towns, cities, states and bully everyone into doing what they want. They think they can scoop up all of our personal data and sell it to whoever they want, for whatever purposes.”