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In a historic first for a sitting U.S. president, Donald Trump crossed through the Demilitarized Zone and set foot in North Korea Sunday, walking side by side with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after Kim greeted him at the demarcation line. Trump and Kim agreed to resume denuclearization talks, although Trump said sanctions on North Korea would remain for now. North Korea has said in previous negotiations that sanctions relief is a necessary precondition to any sort of deal. The symbolic move came 24 hours after Trump wrote a message on Twitter offering to meet Kim at the DMZ after the G20 summit wrapped up in Japan, and four months after nuclear talks between the two leaders broke down in February. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.
In Hong Kong, thousands have taken to the streets today, the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese control 22 years ago. Dozens of protesters breached the Legislature building, where they were met with riot police. Protesters continue to call for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down over a contested bill, which would allow for extraditions of Hong Kong residents and visitors to mainland China, which critics see as an infringement on their legal rights and on the independence of Hong Kong. Lam has postponed the legislation but has not fully withdrawn it.
The U.S. and China have reached a temporary trade truce after a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping Saturday at the G20 summit in Japan. The truce delays a new round of 25% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. Trump also walked back a recently announced ban on selling U.S. equipment to Chinese telecom giant Huawei. He said China will in return import large amounts of American agricultural products. The Trump administration said, however, that no timeline had been set to reach a longer-term trade deal with China.
Also while at the G20 summit, Trump met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, praising him as a reformer and telling him, “You’ve done a really spectacular job.” Trump refused to answer questions from reporters about bin Salman’s role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last October but said the prince was “very unhappy” about the killing. The United Nations, U.S. intelligence officials and U.S. lawmakers have all found credible evidence that the crown prince was directly implicated in Khashoggi’s murder.
In Sudan, at least 10 people were killed after tens of thousands took to the streets Sunday, the first mass demonstration since the deadly crackdown on a peaceful protest camp by security forces in early June, which killed at least 128 people.
Zakia Yis: “Since the 29th of Ramadan, I have felt my blood boiling in my veins. So I had to come out tonight. I had to march. I had to march for everyone killed. I had to march for the martyrs that died, march for the girls that were raped. I had to march to achieve something, anything.”
Amid an internet and press blackout, reports emerged of police deploying tear gas, live ammunition and stun grenades into crowds. Demonstrators are continuing to demand a civilian-led government after a months-long popular uprising led to the military overthrow of longstanding authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in April.
In Afghanistan, a bomb explosion near a Defense Ministry building killed at least 40 people, and injured at least 1,000 others, including dozens of children, in the capital Kabul today, according to local reports. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was followed by a gun battle with Afghan security forces.
The attack comes after a weekend of violence across the country and as U.S. and Taliban officials meet for another round of peace talks in Qatar to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Around 300 people, mostly fighters from both government and Taliban forces, were reported killed over multiple attacks Friday and Saturday. Eight election workers were among those killed in a Taliban attack on a government compound in Kandahar province Sunday. Afghanistan is currently gearing up for a presidential election at the end of September.
In Italy, police arrested Carola Rackete, the 31-year-old German captain of a refugee rescue ship, Saturday after her vessel collided with an Italian border police boat as she attempted to dock at Lampedusa port. Rackete and 53 refugees were caught in limbo at sea for over two weeks, in need of medical care and food, as authorities refused to let the Sea-Watch 3 dock and passengers disembark. This is Rackete speaking from aboard the ship the day before she was arrested.
Carola Rackete: “The concerns about these people have really kept me busy day and night, I can assure you, especially also this very frustrating communications with governments which haven’t taken responsibility. Then I have 22 crew total, so 21 apart from me, which are also my responsibility and who have been working very much, who are definitely fatigued, tired, frustrated and also suffer psychologically from the situation. So I have these over 60 people to take care of, and Mr. Salvini might just get in line.”
Carola Rackete was referring there to Italy’s anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who refused to let Rackete dock her ship and called her actions an “act of war.” German officials and human rights groups have praised the Sea-Watch 3’s mission and condemned the Italian government for criminalizing humanitarian aid.
The Senate Friday rejected a measure restricting Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran without congressional authorization. The proposal would have retroactively attached an amendment to the $750 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed Thursday 86 to 8. A similar, bipartisan amendment to prevent unapproved military action against Iran was also introduced in the House last week.
In an unexpected partnership, liberal billionaire donor George Soros and right-wing billionaire Charles Koch have teamed up to finance a new think tank with the mission of “mov[ing] U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” The co-founders of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which launches in September, include Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, and Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran—both outspoken critics of U.S. military and foreign policy.
On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Alabama’s attempt to ban dilation and extraction, the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. If allowed to go into effect, the law would have affected 99% of abortions performed after 15 weeks. In May, Alabama signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. That law is currently being challenged in lower courts.
In another decision Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by the Trump administration over its move to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. Four federal appeals courts have since blocked the repeal of DACA, which affects the immigration status of nearly 800,000 formerly undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children. The court will hear the case in its upcoming term, which starts in October.
A federal judge has barred President Trump from using $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds to build a border wall following his declaration of a national emergency in February. The move by California Judge Haywood Gilliam comes in response to two separate lawsuits and expands his ruling in May that said Trump does not have the authority to circumvent Congress to appropriate the funds required for construction. The ACLU brought one of the suits on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Gloria Smith, an attorney at the Sierra Club, applauded the decision, saying, “Walls divide neighborhoods, worsen dangerous flooding, destroy lands and wildlife, and waste resources that should instead be used on the infrastructure these communities truly need.”
Former New York City police detective, and outspoken advocate for 9/11 responders, Luis Alvarez died Saturday at the age of 53, after a three-year battle with cancer. Earlier this month, Alvarez spoke before Congress, alongside other 9/11 responders and former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, urging lawmakers to extend healthcare protections for rescue workers like himself, who became sick after responding to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in downtown Manhattan.
Luis Alvarez: “This fund is not a ticket to paradise. It is there to provide for our families when we can’t. Nothing more. You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”
The House is expected to vote this month to permanently extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of first responders last week the Senate would work to pass its authorization by August.
In Virginia, James Fields, a self-described neo-Nazi who killed activist Heather Heyer at an anti-hate rally in 2017, was sentenced Friday to life in prison. Fields plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville at a counterprotest of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally. Following the rally and Heyer’s killing, President Trump claimed there were “very fine people on both sides.” Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, reacted to the verdict.
Susan Bro: “The last time I saw my daughter was to identify her body and to sign the papers for her to be cremated. And I held her bruised hand and bruised arm, and I said, ’I’m going to make this count for you.’ And that’s what I’ve done and I will continue to do. You don’t get to knock my child down and silence that voice without 500 more raising up. Don’t get to do that.”
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday requiring formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions to repay all fines and fees to courts before they can vote again. Civil rights groups say the measure is essentially a poll tax. A lawsuit filed by formerly incarcerated people and groups including the ACLU and the NAACP immediately followed the move.
Last November, 65% of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to 1.4 million people with nonviolent felonies who have fully completed their sentences, by overturning a Jim Crow-era law aimed at suppressing the black vote. But Republican lawmakers have been working to stop the measure from being fully implemented.
Following the signing of Friday’s bill, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which led the campaign to pass Amendment 4, announced a new fund to help those with past convictions pay off their fines and fees, and help them register to vote via the website WeGotTheVote.org. Click here to see our interviews with Desmond Meade, the head of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
2020 Democratic candidates Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro headed to the Clint, Texas, immigration jail over the weekend, which has come under intense scrutiny over recent reports of inhumane conditions and child neglect. Castro, former San Antonio mayor and secretary of housing and urban development under President Obama, was denied entry into the facility Saturday. Former Congressmember O’Rourke participated in a rally in front of the center Sunday, calling out the dire conditions inside.
Both Castro and O’Rourke also recently visited a Homestead, Florida, immigration jail, along with other 2020 contenders in town for the first Democratic debate, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
In more news from last week’s 2020 Democratic debate, Democrats are condemning Donald Trump Jr. after he retweeted an “alt-right” personality during Thursday night’s debate who attacked Senator Kamala Harris’s identity as a black American, writing, “Kamala Harris is not an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting. … Harris’ family were actually slave owners.”
Don Jr. reposted the tweet, adding, “Is this true? Wow.” He deleted the tweet later that night after coming under fire. On Saturday, Joe Biden, who clashed with Harris at the debate over his checkered track record on race, tweeted, “The same forces of hatred rooted in 'birtherism' that questioned @BarackObama’s American citizenship, and even his racial identity, are now being used against Senator @KamalaHarris.” Birtherism was widely promoted by Donald Trump while he was campaigning for president.
Thirty-six Jewish activists were arrested Sunday as they protested, along with hundreds of others, in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement immigrant jail in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The protest, organized by Never Again Action, brought together activists from the immigrant community and Jews, who called for an immediate end to ICE raids, deportations and immigrant prisons.
And 4 million people took to the streets of New York City Sunday in the largest LGBTQ pride celebration in history. The demonstration was just one of many taking place across the country and the world this weekend. In some cities, however, events were banned and efforts to mark the occasion were harshly suppressed. In Istanbul, Turkey, clashes broke out between police and members of the LGBTQ community after the governor banned a planned annual march for the fifth running year.
Back in New York City, there were two marches to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that sparked the modern-day LGBTQ movement. Hundreds of thousands marched down Fifth Avenue for the WorldPride parade. And in Sheridan Square, at the very site where gay and trans people clashed with police on the early morning of June 28, 1969, tens of thousands more gathered for the anti-corporate, anti-police Queer Liberation March. This is longtime activist and journalist Ann Northrop, host of the Free Speech TV show “Gay USA.”
Ann Northrop: “The heritage of Pride main parade has evolved into a corporate party, and we just think that’s ridiculous and insulting and demeaning and disempowering. So we got together to bring the community back into the streets.”
We’ll have more voices from the Queer Liberation March later in the broadcast.