President Trump has brought the United States one step closer to a devastating trade war with Mexico, saying talks with Mexican officials at the White House Wednesday ended without a deal. Trump has threatened to impose 5% tariffs on all imports from Mexico beginning Monday unless it agrees to crack down further on Central American migrants bound for the U.S. Trump’s plans have drawn resistance even within his own party—with Republican leaders including Mitch McConnell threatening a congressional revolt. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fresh off a meeting with Mexico’s foreign minister,denounced Trump’s tariff plans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “I think that this is dangerous territory. This is not a way to treat a friend. It’s not a way to deal with immigration. It’s not a way to deal—meet the humanitarian needs at the border.”
The Trump administration said Wednesday it will suspend legal aid programs, recreational activities and English classes for unaccompanied migrant children jailed in federally run immigration centers. The move drew condemnation from human rights groups, including Amnesty International USA, which wrote, “It’s bad enough that the Trump administration is trying to normalize the warehousing of children. It’s unconscionable that they would so blatantly try to strip them of their rights. Locking up children and then denying them legal aid, education, and even playtime is all part of this administration’s cruel efforts to dehumanize people who have come to the U.S. seeking safety.”
In Mexico, police arrested two prominent immigration rights activists Wednesday. Cristóbal Sánchez was arrested by six plainclothes police officers outside his home in Mexico City and driven away in an unmarked car. And in the border town of Sonoyta, Sonora, police detained Irineo Mujica, director of the organization Pueblos Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders. In a statement, the group called both arrests illegal and said the activists were targeted by the Mexican government for their humanitarian aid work with asylum seekers. Mujica has worked closely with Scott Warren, a humanitarian aid volunteer with the group No More Deaths in Tucson, Arizona, who faces up to 20 years in prison for providing water, clean clothes and beds to two asylum seekers in the Sonoran Desert. On Wednesday, Scott Warren told a jury at his trial his actions were motivated by three intentions: relief of suffering, respect for human dignity, and the right to self-determination.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron welcomed President Donald Trump to Normandy today for a commemoration marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Western Europe in 1944. The invasion was a major turning point in the U.S.-led campaign against Nazi Germany.
Trump’s trip to France followed his state visit to the United Kingdom—and a short visit to Ireland Wednesday, where Trump met with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. During their brief encounter, Trump said he believed Brexit would be a boon to the Irish Republic—and compared Ireland’s soft border with Northern Ireland to his plans to expand the wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
President Donald Trump: “I think that will all work out. It will all work out very well. And also for you, with your wall, your border. I mean, we have a border situation in the United States, and you have one over here.”
Public opposition runs deep against any new border controls in a post-Brexit Ireland.
As Trump arrived at Ireland’s Shannon Airport, hundreds of protesters set up a “peace camp” to call out Trump’s policies on climate change, immigration and war.
Liz Hough: “I’m here today because of Trump’s misogyny, basically. Also, he’s a homophobic, a racist, an out-and-out narcissist. And that’s why I’m here today. I can’t stand any of his policies.”
Martin Vernon: “I think he’s a menace to the planet. He denies climate change, which is rampant and threatening the whole planet. And he’s withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.”
President Trump has again denied the existence of climate change, telling a British television show that weather “changes both ways.” Trump was speaking with the host of “Good Morning Britain,” Piers Morgan, a former contestant on Trump’s NBC reality show “The Apprentice.”
Piers Morgan: “Do you personally believe in climate change?”
President Donald Trump: “I believe that there is a change in weather. And I think it changes both ways.”
During the 30-minute interview, Trump deflected questions on gun control and defended his ban on transgender soldiers in the military, claiming it was too expensive to provide them medical care. Asked if the United States would take military action against Iran, Trump replied, “There’s always a chance.”
In southern Saudi Arabia, Houthi rebels from Yemen say they’ve crossed into Saudi territory in a surprise offensive that’s left them in control of nearly two dozen positions. There was no comment from Saudi officials on the claim, which would represent an escalation of Yemen’s four-year-old civil war. The fighting has left at least 7,300 children killed or seriously injured by U.S.-backed Saudi coalition airstrikes, and pushed half of Yemen’s 28 million people to the brink of starvation.
CNN reports the Trump administration has learned that Saudi Arabia has significantly escalated its ballistic missile program with the help of China, threatening to spark a new arms race in the Middle East. Democratic lawmakers were reportedly furious that the White House failed to disclose news of the Saudi missile program, saying the intelligence had been deliberately withheld during briefings where it should have been revealed to members of Congress. This comes as a bipartisan group of senators said Wednesday they’ll introduce a bill that would require the White House get congressional approval before approving $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In April, President Trump vetoed a congressional War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
In Sudan, the death toll has risen to at least 100 following a deadly raid on a protest camp in Khartoum Monday morning. That’s according to doctors who have been taking part in the ongoing anti-government uprising, who say at least 40 bodies were dredged up from the Nile River in the aftermath of the carnage. On Wednesday, the Transitional Military Council said it had launched an investigation into the violence and offered to resume a dialogue on a transition to democracy, just one day after scrapping all agreements with an opposition alliance. We’ll have more on the crisis in Sudan after headlines.
In Australia, press freedom groups are sounding the alarm over a pair of police raids on journalists. On Wednesday, Australian Federal Police swept into the headquarters of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney, reviewing thousands of documents for information about a 2017 report that found Australian special forces soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. ABC Executive Editor John Lyons spoke on his own network just minutes after police served a warrant naming a news director and the two reporters who broke the story.
John Lyons: “They have downloaded 9,214 documents. I counted them. And they are now going through them. They’ve set up a huge screen, and they’re going through, email by email. It’s quite extraordinary. And I feel—as a journalist, I feel it’s a real violation, because these are emails between this particular journalist and his boss, her boss, its drafts, its scripts of stories. I’ve never seen an assault on the media as savage as this one we’re seeing today at the ABC. … And the chilling message is not so much for the journalists, but it’s also for the public.”
Wednesday’s raid on ABC came one day after police in Melbourne raided the home of Annika Smethurst, a reporter with the Herald Sun newspaper. Police served a warrant related to Smethurst’s reporting on a secret effort by an Australian intelligence service to expand its surveillance capabilities, including against Australian nationals. Australia’s acting Federal Police Commissioner Neil Gaughan defended the raids, saying journalists could face prison time for holding classified information.
Commissioner Neil Gaughan: “No sector of the community should be immune for this type of activity or evidence collection, more broadly. This includes law enforcement itself, the media or, indeed, even politicians.”
In Southeast Asia, health officials are warning an outbreak of the highly contagious pig disease known as African swine fever is spreading and on track to become what some epidemiologists are calling the “biggest animal disease outbreak” ever recorded. Swine fever, which causes internal bleeding in pigs and spreads rapidly in dense factory farms, has appeared in China, Vietnam, Mongolia and Cambodia, with reports of a new outbreak in North Korea. Health officials estimate China may be gearing up to slaughter up to 200 million pigs ahead of schedule in an effort to quarantine the outbreak.
YouTube said Wednesday it will remove thousands of videos and online channels promoting white supremacy, hate speech and extremism. YouTube says its new policy will remove videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion.”
The Trump administration on Wednesday canceled millions of dollars in federal research funds for a California laboratory that uses fetal tissue for life-saving medical research. The Washington Post reports the move was ordered directly by President Trump. It represents a victory for anti-choice groups and comes as a number of states have passed bans on most abortions in a challenge to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide. The laboratory at the University of California at San Francisco uses tissue gathered from elective abortions to carry out research into treatments for cancer, viruses like HIV and Zika, as well as treatments for neurological disorders like Parkinson’s. Doug Melton, a Harvard professor and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, said, “With these new arbitrary restrictions on research, the United States is ceding its role as the global leader in the development of cellular therapies and regenerative medicine.”
In more news on reproductive rights, former Vice President Joe Biden angered much of his own Democratic Party Wednesday when his campaign manager said Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment—a decades-old ban on federal funding for most abortions, which disproportionately impacts the poor and people of color. Biden’s position puts him at odds with the Democratic National Committee’s 2016 platform—as well as all of the women senators challenging him for the 2020 presidential nomination—Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. All four are co-sponsors of legislation to overturn the Hyde Amendment. Other 2020 presidential candidates also weighed in, as well, including Senator Bernie Sanders, who tweeted, “There is #NoMiddleGround on women’s rights. Abortion is a constitutional right. Under my Medicare for All plan, we will repeal the Hyde Amendment.”
Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders confronted executives at Walmart Wednesday, blasting “starvation wages” and extreme wealth inequality, at the retail giant’s annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas. Speaking as a proxy for a Walmart employee who invited him to attend, Sanders introduced a resolution to raise wages and to put hourly workers on Walmart’s board of directors.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Walmart is the largest private employer in America and is owned by the Walton family, the wealthiest family in the United States, worth approximately $175 billion. And yet, despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages, wages that are so low that many of these employees are forced to rely on government programs like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive.”
The resolution was quickly dismissed by Rachel Brand, Walmart’s executive vice president of global governance.