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HeadlinesJune 04, 2019

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CBP Confirms 2 More Migrants’ Deaths in Recent Days

Jun 04, 2019

On Monday, Customs and Border Protection officials announced two more deaths of migrants in their custody. Three migrants have now died in three days while in government custody. A 40-year-old Honduran woman died Monday morning. She collapsed just 25 minutes after being detained near the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, but could not be saved by emergency medical treatment. CBP also said Monday a 33-year-old Salvadoran man died after experiencing apparent seizures following his apprehension Sunday. The deaths follow that of Johana Medina on Saturday, a 25-year-old transgender woman from El Salvador who had sought medical treatment for over two months for complications related to HIV/AIDS.

In addition to the recent deaths, at least six migrant children have died over the last eight months after they were arrested crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. Before last year, no child died in immigration custody in over a decade.

Judge Denies Dem Request to Block Funding of Border Wall

Jun 04, 2019

A federal judge denied a request by House Democrats to block President Trump from diverting funds from federal accounts to build his border wall. The request from lawmakers came as part of a lawsuit challenging Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Judge Trevor McFadden said he didn’t believe the court should intervene in the matter and that the House did not have the authority to challenge the move. Judge McFadden is a Trump appointee.

Mexico, U.S. Lawmakers Hope to Avert Trump Tariff on Mexican Goods

Jun 04, 2019

Mexican officials are in Washington, D.C., this week for talks with the Trump administration over Trump’s recent threat to impose a 5% tariff—which would increase every month by 5%—on all imported goods, over what it claims is Mexico’s failure to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States. This is Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

Marcelo Ebrard: “Slapping tariffs, along with the decision to cancel the aid programs to the northern Central American countries, could have a counterproductive effect and would not reduce the migration flows. Tariffs could cause financial and economic instability, which means that Mexico could reduce its capacity to address migration flows and to offer alternatives to the new migrants who have recently arrived in Mexico.”

The Washington Post is reporting Republican lawmakers are contemplating a vote to block Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico, fearing the move will result in tax increases in the U.S. Lawmakers from both parties warn that the move would put the upcoming trade deal known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, in jeopardy.

U.S. Sends Border Patrol Agents to Guatemala

Jun 04, 2019

Meanwhile, the U.S. has made plans to send dozens of Border Patrol agents to Guatemala in an attempt to curb the number of northbound Central American migrants who make it to Mexico. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan announced the plan as part of a larger scheme to offset Trump administration cuts to Central American assistance funds earlier this year. The plan also includes sending 80 Homeland Security agents to Guatemala to train local authorities on breaking up human trafficking rings.

Trump Meets with Theresa May as Protesters Blast His U.K. Visit

Jun 04, 2019

As President Trump continues his state visit to Britain, meeting with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May today, Londoners have come out in droves to protest his policies. On Monday, demonstrators gathered near Buckingham Palace as the Trump family attended a state dinner with the British royals.

Marcia Feldman: “I’m here to protest against Donald Trump’s misogyny, his racism, his—just everything about him, his profiting off the presidency, separating children from their families, pulling out the climate agreement. He’s just a horrible person.”

Before arriving in Britain, Trump insulted London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, after he called out Trump’s divisive, far-right policies, tweeting, “Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job–only half his height.” He also called Khan a “stone cold loser” after arriving in London. He also insulted African-American Royal Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, after learning she opposed his 2016 candidacy, telling a British newspaper she was “nasty.”

Trump is expected to discuss a possible new trade deal with Prime Minister May and business leaders today as Britain prepares to exit from the European Union later this year.

Sudan: Death Toll from Anti-Protest Raid Mounts, as Transitional Gov’t Sets Timeline for Election

Jun 04, 2019

In Sudan, the death toll from Monday’s raid on a protest site climbed to at least 35, according to protesters. The United Nations called for an investigation into the killings and the use of “excessive force” by military and security forces. Some protest leaders are calling for “total civil disobedience” as they continue to oppose the military government which has assumed power following the overthrow of longtime authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in April, after months of popular demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the Transitional Military Council has said it is canceling its negotiations with the opposition coalition, and says it will hold elections within nine months.

Reports: Car Bomb Kills At Least 14 People in Northern Syria

Jun 04, 2019

In Syria, a car bomb killed at least 14 people in the northern border city of Azaz Monday, according to local reports. Turkish state media and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the attack, which they say killed four children. Monday’s explosion follows another blast on Saturday which is believed to have killed 10 people and wounded 20 in the northern city of Raqqa.


Swedish Court Rejects Detention Request for Julian Assange

Jun 04, 2019

On Monday, a Swedish court rejected a request to arrest and detain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, halting for now an extradition attempt by Swedish prosecutors over a recently reopened rape investigation from 2010. Assange is now serving a 50-week sentence at Belmarsh Prison in London for skipping bail. His lawyers and the U.N. special rapporteur on torture have warned that Assange’s health and psychological well-being are deteriorating. Swedish prosecutors say they will proceed to question Assange while in British detention instead.

The decision could make possible extradition to the U.S. easier. Assange faces 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents, leaked by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also faces one count of hacking a government computer.

New Images Appear to Contradict Reports of Killings of High-Level North Korean Officials

Jun 04, 2019

CNN is reporting North Korea’s special envoy to the United States, Kim Hyok-chol, is alive, in North Korean state custody and under investigation for his role in failed talks with the Trump administration on denuclearization. This contradicts a report by a South Korean newspaper last week that Kim was shot to death by a firing squad in March along with four other Foreign Ministry workers after President Trump walked away from the summit without a deal. On Sunday, North Korean state media published a photo appearing to show North Korea’s chief negotiator, Kim Yong-chol, attending a recent art performance alongside leader Kim Jong-un—contradicting recent reports that he had been purged. Meanwhile, North Korean media reported Kim Jong-un’s sister attended a performance at a Pyongyang stadium this week; it was the first time she’d been seen in public in three months.

House Passes Disaster Relief Package After GOP Attempts to Stall Bill

Jun 04, 2019

Back in the United States, the House passed a $19 billion disaster relief package Monday, providing funding for natural disaster aid around the country, including $900 million for hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico. Three Republican lawmakers had previously blocked passage of the bill during the congressional recess.
Following the House vote, Trump tweeted, “House just passed the 19.1 Billion Dollar Disaster Aid Bill. Great, now we will get it done in the Senate! Farmers, Puerto Rico and all will be very happy.” However, the bill already passed in the Senate last month—which Trump at the time tweeted about. The tweet was removed after many users pointed this out in the comments. The measure will now head to the president’s desk.

Kushner Refuses to Disavow Birtherism, Defends Trump Tower Mtg., Says Palestine Not Ready to Self-Govern

Jun 04, 2019

Presidential adviser Jared Kushner is causing waves after a rare televised interview on “Axios with HBO,” in which he defended the policies of his father-in-law, President Trump. Axios interviewer Jonathan Swan repeatedly pressed Kushner on whether he believes Trump is a racist — citing Trump’s repeated false claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Jonathan Swan: “Was birtherism racist?”

Jared Kushner: “Um, look, I wasn’t really involved in that.”

Jonathan Swan: “I know you weren’t. Was it racist?”

Jared Kushner: “Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”

Jonathan Swan: “I know you weren’t. Was it racist?”

Jared Kushner: “Look, I know who the president is, and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So, again, I was not involved in that.”

Jonathan Swan: “Did you wish he didn’t do that?”

Jared Kushner: “Like I said, I was not involved in that. That was a long time ago.”

Jared Kushner also said he doesn’t know if he’d alert the FBI if he received an email similar to the one that prompted the Trump Tower meeting in 2016, in which a lawyer connected to the Russian government offered to provide dirt about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. Kushner said he did not tell the FBI at the time of the 2016 incident because he was busy.

Asked if Palestinians are capable of governing an independent nation, Kushner said, “The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing.”

SCOTUS Rejects DOJ Request to Expedite Decision on DACA

Jun 04, 2019

The Supreme Court turned down a request by the Justice Department to expedite reviewing a challenge to Trump’s plan to do away with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. A lawyer representing the Trump administration had urged the court to make a decision on whether they will hear the case before the end of the current term later this month. The decision may now be delayed until the next session starts in the fall. Multiple lawsuits followed the Trump administration’s 2017 announcement that it would end DACA, and appeals courts have so far blocked the plan from going ahead.

Antitrust Probes Hit Tech Industry

Jun 04, 2019

The tech industry is facing multiple antitrust probes by federal regulators and lawmakers. According to reports, the Justice Department will oversee investigations into Google and Apple, while the Federal Trade Commission will take on Facebook and Amazon. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee is launching a bipartisan investigation into the tech industry for “anti-competitive conduct.” In a statement, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said, “[T]here is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”

House Prepares for Contempt Votes on AG Barr, Wilbur Ross & Don McGahn over Census & Mueller Report

Jun 04, 2019

In more news from the Capitol, the House Oversight Committee said they will vote on holding Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas relating to the citizenship question on the 2020 census. House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings said in letters to Barr and Ross on Monday that he is giving them until Thursday before scheduling the vote. Last week, The New York Times broke a story about a now-dead senior Republican strategist who specialized in gerrymandering and was secretly behind the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Meanwhile, House lawmakers are set to vote next Tuesday on whether to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt over his refusal to provide Congress with Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and its underlying materials. They will also hold a contempt vote for former White House counsel Donald McGahn after he refused to provide documents and testimony related to the Mueller inquiry and possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Trump Admin Lifts Summer Ban on Highly Polluting, Ethanol-Based E15 Fuel

Jun 04, 2019

In environmental news, the Trump administration on Friday lifted a ban on the summertime sale of E15, an ethanol-containing gasoline. The ban, in place since 2011, was designed to reduce smog levels in the hotter months. Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said that the move is “illegal under the Clean Air Act and will accelerate the destruction of wildlife habitat and pollution of our air, and drinking water.” The news is seen as a victory for corn-producing farmers, but the oil industry, which sees the ethanol-based gasoline as competition to its petroleum-based fuel, has also criticized the lifting of the ban. Both environmental groups and the oil industry are expected to challenge the move in court.

Nevada, Illinois Pass Bills Protecting Reproductive Rights

Jun 04, 2019

And as a number of states around the country ramp up their attack on reproductive rights, Illinois and Nevada took steps Friday to expand abortion protections. In Illinois, the Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act, which asserts the “fundamental right” to have an abortion and declares that a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights.” The Illinois House already passed the measure, and Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, who has publicly backed the bill, is expected to sign it into law.

In Nevada, Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak signed the Trust Nevada Women Act on Friday, which decriminalizes certain acts related to providing abortions. It also removes the requirements that abortion providers explain the “emotional implications” of an abortion to patients.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on threats to reproductive rights in America.

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