Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Dies

Jun 18, 2019

In Egypt, former President Mohamed Morsi died Monday after he collapsed in court. He was 67 years old. Morsi came to power as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 in Egypt’s first—and still only—democratic election, but he was deposed a year later in a military coup led by Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He had been behind bars ever since. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is now banned in Egypt, has accused the Egyptian state of murder. Human Rights Watch said, “The government of Egypt today bears responsibility for his death, given their failure to provide him with adequate medical care or basic prisoner rights.” Morsi’s death comes as President Sisi continues to jail tens of thousands of people in what the Associated Press has described as the heaviest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history. We’ll have more on this after headlines with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Cairo.

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U.S. to Send 1,000 More Troops to Gulf as It Ignores Calls for Restraint

Jun 18, 2019

Amid mounting tensions with Iran, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the U.S. is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the region in a defensive capacity. The Pentagon released new images Monday it says prove that Iran is responsible for last Thursday’s attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. military says the images show members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from one of the ships. Iran has denied involvement in the attack and some of the U.S. claims have been directly contradicted by the Japanese owner of one of the tankers.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. is considering a full range of options following the attack. Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a Trump ally, called Sunday for a “retaliatory strike” on Iran, saying on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “The president has the authorization to act to defend American interests.” Neither of the tankers were U.S.-owned; one belonged to a Norwegian company and the other to a Japanese company. The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for “maximum restraint” as she heads to D.C. for talks today with U.S. officials. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned last week that the world “cannot afford” a confrontation in the region and that “facts must be established, and responsibilities clarified.”

On Monday, Iran’s atomic energy agency announced it is just days away from reaching the limit of enriched uranium stockpile permitted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The move, according to Iranian officials, is designed to pressure European nations to take more decisive action to maintain the nuclear pact despite the U.S.’s withdrawal last year. Iran said they are still committed to the deal, and have stated repeatedly they are not seeking war with the U.S.

Mexico Deploys 6,000 Along Southern Border

Jun 18, 2019

Mexico announced it is deploying 6,000 National Guard troops along the country’s southern border with Guatemala this week, as part of a deal with the U.S. to help stem the flow of northbound migration through Mexico. Mexican officials also said they detained nearly 800 migrants over the weekend.

Trump Tweets ICE Will Start Removing “Millions” of Immigrants from U.S.

Jun 18, 2019

Meanwhile, Trump tweeted Monday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would begin removing “millions” of undocumented people from the U.S. as of next week, writing, “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in.” He also commended the recent actions by Mexico in his tweet.

U.S. Cuts Aid to Central American Countries over Immigration

Jun 18, 2019

On Monday, the State Department announced that all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador had been cut over what the Trump administration says is their failure to stop the influx of Central American migrants into the U.S. The move, initially announced by the Trump administration in March, cuts over $500 million in funding for programs designed to curb immigration, addressing issues like education, employment and violence. The cuts have been widely condemned by lawmakers, including some Republicans, who say it will likely exacerbate the humanitarian crisis at the southern border.

Nigeria: At Least 30 Killed in Suicide Bombing

Jun 18, 2019

In Nigeria, at least 30 people have been killed after three suicide bombers set off explosive devices near the city of Maiduguri in the state of Borno. The attack took place outside a packed social venue where locals were watching a soccer match on TV. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the militant group Boko Haram, which has struck the area before, is suspected, according to local reports.

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U.N. Warns It May Suspend Yemen Food Aid

Jun 18, 2019

The United Nations warned Monday it would likely have to begin suspending food assistance in Yemen due to Houthi rebels’ interference in the distribution of the much-needed aid. This the World Food Programme’s David Beasley.

David Beasley: “We are now assisting feeding over 10 million people per month. But as the head of the World Food Programme, I cannot assure you that all the assistance is going to those who need it most. Why? Because we are not allowed to operate independently and because aid is being diverted for profit and/or other purposes. The bottom line is this: Food is being taken from the mouths of hungry little girls and little boys who need it just to survive.”

The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The U.N. reports that 80% of the population—over 24 million people—need some form of assistance

Israel Announces Plans for “Trump Heights” Settlement in Occupied Golan Heights

Jun 18, 2019

In the occupied Golan Heights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled plans to build a new settlement Sunday named “Trump Heights” to thank President Trump for his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the annexed territory. The move, announced in March, reverses decades of U.S. policy and is in defiance of international law. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing the territory from Syria during the 1967 war. Critics say the move by Netanyahu was a PR stunt, as the settlement has not been legally approved by Israeli lawmakers.

SCOTUS Rules Against Virginia GOP Appeal to Gerrymandering Case

Jun 18, 2019

Back in the United States, in a decision that could have a significant impact for upcoming state-wide elections in Virginia, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by Republican state lawmakers to reverse Virginia’s electoral redistricting after lower courts found that Republicans gerrymandered the state’s voting map to be racially biased. Two conservative justices and three liberal justices delivered the ruling, saying the challenge had no legal standing.

SCOTUS Rules States and Federal Gov’t Can Prosecute over Same Criminal Offenses

Jun 18, 2019

In more news from the Supreme Court, the justices ruled 7 to 2 that criminal defendants can be prosecuted for the same offense in both a state and federal court. The decision reaffirms an existing exception to the double jeopardy rule and has implications for Trump associates who could receive presidential pardons. In the case of former campaign chair Paul Manafort, a pardon from Trump could release him from his federal prison sentence, but New York state prosecutors would still be able to pursue their charges against him.

Trial Opens for Accused War Criminal, Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher

Jun 18, 2019

In California, the war crimes trial for Navy SEALs Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher opened Monday. Gallagher is accused of shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq and of killing a wounded captive ISIS teenage fighter by stabbing him with a knife, then staging a re-enlistment ceremony over the dead teenager’s body. California Congressmember Duncan Hunter has come to Gallagher’s defense, and President Trump has signaled he’s considering a pardon for Gallagher. Opening statements in the trial are taking place today.

New York Grants Driver’s Licenses to Undocumented Residents

Jun 18, 2019

In New York, immigrant rights activists are celebrating after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill allowing undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses. The bill overturns a nearly 20-year ban and came after years of grassroots and political organizing. Proponents of the bill say it not only helps to protect immigrant communities, but also makes roads safer. Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy tweeted about the historic passing of the legislation, commonly referred to as the “Green Light” bill, saying, “For as long as I’ve been an activist, we’ve been trying to win drivers licenses for all [New York State] residents. This fight is about the freedom to move without fear & the right to return to our families at the end of day. Today democracy came alive & delivered justice. #SiSePuede.”

Harvard Rescinds Admission to Parkland Survivor over Racist & Anti-Semitic Posts

Jun 18, 2019

A student who survived the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, said on Twitter that Harvard University has rescinded his admission due to past racist and anti-Semitic social media posts that were recently leaked. Kyle Kashuv said that he regretted his past comments, calling them “egregious and callous,” and that he apologized to Harvard for them, writing in a letter, “I also feel I am no longer the same person, especially in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting and all that has transpired since.” Kashuv, who became known as a Second Amendment advocate, has come under fire before for other online posts. Last year he posted a video of himself shooting at a gun range . Harvard has declined to comment on the case but has previously rescinded admission for students based on their online history. In 2017, it withdrew offers for at least 10 students who shared sexually explicit messages and offensive memes in a private Facebook group.

Boeing Issues Alert over Possible Flaw in 787 Dreamliner

Jun 18, 2019

Boeing has issued an alert to airlines over the fire-fighting system of some of its commercial fleet, after discovering a flaw in the switch which activates engine fire extinguishers. The issue affects the 787 Dreamliner. The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged there was a “risk to the flying public,” but has said it will not ground the aircraft.

Meanwhile, Boeing’s 737 MAX jets remain grounded following two fatal crashes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March and Indonesia’s Lion Air crash in October of last year. The two crashes killed everyone on board, a total of 346 people.

Despite the growing scrutiny of Boeing, the company confirmed reports last month that it would be replacing up to 900 quality control inspectors with smart technology. Critics say the speed of production and automation of safety checks are compromising traveler safety.

Rising Temperatures Precipitating Arctic Ice Melt, Threatening Sea Rise and Permafrost

Jun 18, 2019

In climate news, Arctic monitors found that over 40% of Greenland experienced melting over a single day last week, with temperatures soaring 40 degrees higher than normal. Scientists say the extent of the melting is unusual for this time of year and will contribute to the worsening global sea level rise.

Meanwhile, a new study shows that climate change has led to the thawing of permafrost in the Canadian Arctic over 70 years earlier than expected. Thawing of the permafrost releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, causing temperatures to further rise.

Activists Draw Attention to Trump’s “Family Separation” Policy at U.N. Headquarters

Jun 18, 2019

In Geneva, teenage activists huddled inside a metal cage outside the U.N. headquarters Monday to demand migrant children in U.S. custody be reunited with their parents and to call for the U.N. Human Rights Council to address complaints filed last year against President Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy. Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers helped organize the protest.

Randi Weingarten “We believe that 2,500 children have been separated from their parents in the last year. There are court cases after court cases where the Trump administration have been told to reunite children with their parents. That has not happened. Instead, the Trump administration has pleaded that they don’t know how to reunite, that they don’t know—they don’t have the records.”

The American Federation of Teachers filed the complaints with the U.N. Human Rights Council.

New Yorkers Call Out Joe Biden for Weak Stance on Climate in 2020 Platform

Jun 18, 2019

And in New York City, activists from a variety of environmental and social justice groups protested former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden outside of a campaign fundraiser at the home of billionaire investment banker James Chanos. The activists called out Biden’s recently released “Clean Energy Revolution” plan, which they said falls short of the radical changes needed to curb the catastrophic effects of climate change, such as banning fracking and new oil pipelines or achieving 100% renewable energy in the near future. They are calling on Biden to reject fossil fuel money and to fully support the Green New Deal. This is Patrick Houston from New York Communities for Change.

Patrick Houston: “Thus far throughout his career and throughout his 2020 candidacy, Biden has not made climate change a serious priority in his campaign. Biden has not taken a Green New Deal seriously, and that is evident in the weak plan that he put out several weeks ago. And so, we’re out here today to call on Biden to make his climate plan match the climate science.”

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