Police Crack Down on Second Wave of Hong Kong Mass Protests

Jun 12, 2019

In Hong Kong, protesters and police have been clashing in the second mass demonstration in recent days against the proposed bill to allow extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. Riot police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray against demonstrators in front of government buildings. Earlier in the day, lawmakers announced they would postpone today’s debate on the contested legislation. Critics of the bill say it would infringe on Hong Kong’s independence and the legal and human rights of Hong Kong residents.

Trial Against Humanitarian Activist Scott Warren Ends in Hung Jury

Jun 12, 2019

In Arizona, a case against a humanitarian aid volunteer who provided food, water and shelter to undocumented migrants ended in a mistrial Tuesday after a deadlocked jury was unable to deliver a verdict. Scott Warren, from the groups No More Deaths and Ajo Samaritans, faced up to 20 years in prison after being charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of felony conspiracy. Eight jurors found Scott Warren not guilty; four said he was guilty. Prosecutors have declined to comment on whether they would seek a retrial against Warren. This is Scott Warren speaking to supporters and the press after yesterday’s mistrial.

Scott Warren: “Since my arrest in January of 2018, at least 88 bodies were recovered from the Ajo corridor of the Arizona desert. We know that’s a minimum number and that many more are out there and have not been found. The government’s plan in the midst of this humanitarian crisis? Policies to target undocumented people, refugees and their families; prosecutions to criminalize humanitarian aid, kindness and solidarity; and now, where I live, the revelation that they will build an enormous and expensive wall across a vast stretch of southwestern Arizona’s unbroken Sonoran Desert.”

House Votes to Sue Trump Admin over AG Barr and Don McGahn Subpoenas

Jun 12, 2019

House lawmakers voted Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to sue the Trump administration in federal court to enforce subpoenas for former White House counsel Don McGahn and Attorney General William Barr. Lawmakers are seeking documents and testimony from McGahn related to the Mueller inquiry and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. The committee will hold off for now on enforcing Barr’s subpoena, after the Justice Department agreed Monday to hand over some of the underlying evidence from the Mueller report.

DOJ Advises Trump to Block Possible Contempt Motions Against Wilbur Ross and Barr over 2020 Census

Jun 12, 2019

Meanwhile, the Justice Department revealed Tuesday they will recommend that Trump use executive privilege to block contempt citations against Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over their refusal to hand over documents related to adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The House Oversight Committee is voting on the contempt procedure today.

Donald Trump Jr. Testifies Before Senate

Jun 12, 2019

Donald Trump Jr. is set to testify in a closed-door hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. The Republican-led panel subpoenaed him last month after he twice refused to testify about his role in matters related to the Russia investigation, including the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Trump Tower Moscow project.

Mass Arrests in Russia After Protests over Detention of Journalist

Jun 12, 2019

In Moscow, local reports say Russian police have detained nearly 100 people, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny, at a protest condemning police corruption over the recent arrest of independent journalist Ivan Golunov.

Golunov was released Tuesday following widespread public outcry. Golunov, who reported on corruption and press censorship, was arrested last week and accused of drug dealing, in what his lawyers and press freedom advocates say were fabricated charges after police planted fake evidence. He has since been cleared of the charges, and the arresting officers in the case have been suspended pending the results of an internal inquiry.

Golunov’s reporting included an investigation into the finances of Moscow’s deputy mayor’s family, the funding of public works in Moscow, and efforts to suppress press freedom. Russian press also rallied around Golunov, with three major business newspapers publishing matching front pages Monday to call out his arrest. Russia ranks number 149 in Reporters Without Borders’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, which describes the country as having a “stifling atmosphere for independent journalists”.

Reports of Injuries After Houthi Missile Hits Saudi Airport

Jun 12, 2019

In Saudi Arabia, a Houthi missile raid on an airport in the southwest of the country has wounded at least 26 civilians, according to a statement by the Saudi-led coalition. A number of children were reportedly among the injured civilians who were taken to a nearby hospital. The attack comes a day after Saudi officials said it intercepted two Houthi drones in the south of the country. No damage or casualties were reported from that attack.

The ongoing war in Yemen between the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition and Houthi rebels has led to the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The U.N. estimates that the combined death toll from fighting, hunger and disease has reached nearly a quarter-million since the start of the conflict.

Sudanese Protesters and Military Gov’t to Resume Talks After Bloody Crackdown

Jun 12, 2019

In Sudan, protest leaders and the ruling Transitional Military Council have agreed to resume talks following a bloody military crackdown on nonviolent demonstrators. Protest leaders say an ongoing civil disobedience action will be halted for now. The news was delivered by Ethiopian mediators in Sudan.

A group of doctors involved in the protest movement say at least 118 people have been killed since the crackdown at the protest site last Monday. Doctors also say paramilitaries with the Rapid Support Forces committed at least 70 rapes since the raid.

Sudan’s military took power in April after a months-long popular uprising led to the overthrow of longtime authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir.

Botswana Decriminalizes Homosexuality

Jun 12, 2019

In Botswana, LGBTQ and human rights advocates celebrated Tuesday as the country overturned long-standing laws that criminalized same-sex relations. The historic ruling came after a 21-year-old student brought a case against the colonial-era law, under which anyone found guilty of committing homosexual acts could face up to seven years behind bars. A statement by the advocacy group Lesbians, Gays & Bisexuals of Botswana said, “Not only does [the decision] provide legal affirmation and recognition of the rights of LGBTIQ persons, but it allows an important space for addressing public health issues more efficiently. We can finally start building a more tolerant society.”

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DHS Secretary Testifies to Congress as Senate Prepares to Vote on Trump Border Funding

Jun 12, 2019

Back in the U.S., acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Congress Tuesday that 60,000 children have been taken into DHS custody in the last 40 days alone. Critics say McAleenan’s testimony is part of an ongoing effort to build up a case for more border funding. His hearing came ahead of a planned vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee next week on President Trump’s request for $4.5 billion in emergency spending tied to the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, immigration and human rights advocates are continuing to raise alarm over the dire conditions in which migrant children are being locked up.

Hard-Liner Cuccinelli in as Acting Head of Citizenship and Immigration Services

Jun 12, 2019

Meanwhile, immigration hard-liner Ken Cuccinelli has assumed the role of acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Several top Republicans have come out against Cuccinelli’s temporary appointment, and Senate Whip John Thune warned the Republican-controlled Senate was unlikely to approve a potential nomination for Cuccinelli to become permanent head of the agency. As a state lawmaker in Virginia, Cuccinelli authored legislation seeking to force employees to speak English in the workplace, and he unsuccessfully fought to eliminate the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause.

Jon Stewart Blasts Congress over Funding for 9/11 Responders

Jun 12, 2019

At an emotional congressional hearing Tuesday, Jon Stewart blasted lawmakers for their inaction ahead of a vote on renewing healthcare funding for 9/11 responders who became sick as a result of their work following the terror attack. The comedian and former host of “The Daily Show” has been a longtime advocate for the 9/11 responders and has repeatedly called out proposed cuts to the fund, which is set to expire in 2020. New York Democratic Congressmember Carolyn Maloney introduced legislation earlier this year to fund the program permanently. This is Stewart addressing a subcommittee of the House Judiciary panel.

Jon Stewart: “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those that aren’t here. But you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

Alabama Gov. Signs Chemical Castration Bill into Law

Jun 12, 2019

In Alabama, Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill mandating child sex offenders undergo chemical castration as a condition of their parole. The law would apply to anyone found convicted of committing a sexual offense with a child under the age of 13. Six other states have similar laws for certain sex offenders.

Medical experts and human rights groups have raised concerns about the practice. The Alabama American Civil Liberties Union says that chemical castration is unconstitutional as it violates due process and privacy laws. The executive director of the Alabama ACLU said of the new law, “They really misunderstand what sexual assault is about. Sexual assault isn’t about sexual gratification. It’s about power. It’s about control.”

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Vermont and Maine Expand Abortion Rights

Jun 12, 2019

In reproductive rights news, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a bill Monday affirming abortion as a “fundamental right.” The law prohibits the government from interfering with the decision to get an abortion, and protects access to contraception, sterilization and family planning. A spokesperson for Governor Scott previously said he would not sign the bill passed by Democratic state lawmakers last month—though Vermont law would still have allowed the legislation to go into effect.

Meanwhile in Maine, Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed a bill allowing physician assistants and some registered nurses to perform abortions—instead of just doctors—which she says will increase abortion access for Mainers in rural areas.

New York Agrees to New Tenant Protection Measures, Marking Historic Win for Housing Advocates

Jun 12, 2019

And in New York, housing rights advocates are celebrating after state lawmakers announced an agreement that would provide the strongest tenant protections in over a quarter of a century. The deal came just days ahead of the expiration of the current rent laws at the end of this week. Lawmakers agreed to abolish laws allowing landlords to deregulate rents on apartments after they exceed a certain limit. They also will curb provisions allowing landlords to raise the rent of rent-controlled apartments after renovations. The law is expected to give municipalities around the state more authority to regulate rents and ensure greater access to affordable housing.

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