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HeadlinesJuly 17, 2019

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House Votes to Condemn Trump’s Racist Tweets

Jul 17, 2019

The House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning President Trump’s racist tweets about four progressive congresswomen of color, telling them to go back to the crime-infested places from which they came. Four Republicans, as well as the recently independent Congressmember Justin Amash, joined with Democrats to approve the resolution. Trump’s tweets were aimed at Congressmembers Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar—all of whom are U.S. citizens. This is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting, and the comments are racist. How shameful to hear him continue to defend those offensive words, words that we have all heard him repeat, not only about our members, but about countless others. Our caucus will continue to forcibly respond to those attacks on our members.”

Lawmakers stopped short of censuring Trump though—a measure pushed by Tennessee Congressmember Steve Cohen. The House debate temporarily came to a halt after Pelosi delivered her remarks, as Republicans said her description of Trump’s words as “disgraceful, disgusting and racist” were “out of order.” The House then had to vote in favor of keeping her remarks on the Congressional Record.

Rep. Al Green Introduces Impeachment Articles

Jul 17, 2019

Meanwhile, Texas Congressmember Al Green introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump Tuesday, forcing the House to take up the measure later this week. Green’s resolution does not guarantee a House vote, as lawmakers could decide to table, or even kill, the resolution. The issue of impeachment has divided Democratic lawmakers, with a number of outspoken legislators repeatedly calling for the move. House Speaker Pelosi, however, has resisted those calls, focusing instead on congressional investigations. In May, she said impeaching Trump was too divisive and “not worth it.”

Kellyanne Conway to Reporter Asking About Trump’s Racism: “What’s Your Ethnicity?”

Jul 17, 2019

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, defended Trump’s racist tweets. When a reporter asked her about it, she responded by asking him his ethnicity.

Andrew Feinberg: “If the president was not telling these four congresswomen to return to their supposed countries of origin, to which countries was he referring?”

Kellyanne Conway: “What’s your ethnicity?”

Andrew Feinberg: “”Why is that relevant to this”—

Kellyanne Conway: “No, no, because I’m asking you a question. My ancestors are from Ireland and Italy.”

Andrew Feinberg: “Kellyanne, my own ethnicity is not relevant to the question I’m asking you. I am asking you a”—

Kellyanne Conway: “No, no. It is, because you’re asking about—he said 'originally.'”

That question was posed by White House reporter Andrew Feinberg. He refused to answer Conway’s question.

Rights Groups File Lawsuits to Stop Trump’s Draconian New Asylum Rule

Jul 17, 2019

A coalition of national rights groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block a new Trump order that would bar asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the U.S. from applying for asylum. The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights are among those seeking an immediate injunction. The rule was set to go into effect Tuesday, but didn’t appear to, as it faces legal challenges. Lee Gelernt of the ACLU called the new rule “the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet” and said that it “clearly violates domestic and international law.” On Tuesday, the U.N. refugee office condemned the plan, saying it puts vulnerable people at increased risk.

A separate suit by two immigrants’ rights groups was filed later Tuesday, arguing the rule violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and disrupts their ability to carry out their work, forcing them to “drastically divert or redesign their programs.”

White Police Officer Who Killed Eric Garner Will Not Face Federal Charges

Jul 17, 2019

The white New York police officer who killed unarmed African-American father Eric Garner in 2014 will not face federal charges. Officer Daniel Pantaleo kept Garner in an illegal chokehold even as Garner gasped “I can’t breathe” 11 times. This is Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, speaking at a press conference yesterday, directly addressing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Gwen Carr: “You said you care about the New York citizens. Come forward, show yourself as a mayor, the mayor that you was elected to be, because the Garner family is not satisfied with what you have done. My son is dead. My granddaughter is dead. And then all you’re saying is 'Sorry. You have my condolence'? Well, keep your condolences and do the right thing. De Blasio, you and your administration, step up! Get those police officers off the force today!”

A senior Justice Department official said Attorney General William Barr made the call on Eric Garner’s case, overruling officials from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division who wanted to charge Pantaleo.

Ex-Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Arrested in California over Corruption Scandal

Jul 17, 2019

In California, former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested Tuesday under an extradition order. He is facing corruption charges back in Peru, where he is accused of receiving $20 million from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for helping them win public works projects. Toledo, who was president from 2001 to 2006, has denied the charges.

Another former Peruvian president, Alan García, died by suicide in April, after shooting himself as police arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him on bribery and corruption charges—also related to the Odebrecht bribery scandal.


Press Freedom Advocates Call for Release of Yemeni Journalist Yahya al-Sawari

Jul 17, 2019

Press freedom groups are calling for the release of independent Yemeni journalist Yahya al-Sawari, who was arrested earlier this month by Yemeni security forces. At the time of his arrest, al-Sawari was reporting for the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and was interviewing protesters who were injured by forces belonging to the Saudi-led coalition. He was reportedly then handed over to Saudi forces. The Committee to Protect Journalists says that journalists are known to have been imprisoned, threatened and detained by all parties to the war in Yemen.

Planned Parenthood Removes President Dr. Leana Wen over Disagreements on Direction of Org.

Jul 17, 2019

Planned Parenthood removed its president, Leana Wen, Tuesday, after less than a year on the job. Her ouster came after disagreements between Dr. Wen and Planned Parenthood’s board over the direction of the organization as the Trump administration and Republicans mount harsh challenges to reproductive rights, including state abortion bans. The board and Dr. Wen reportedly disagreed on how to politically frame the abortion issue.

Organizations Say They Will Not Comply with Trump Ban on Abortion Referrals

Jul 17, 2019

In more reproductive rights news, two organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said Tuesday they would stop accepting federal funds to avoid having to comply with a Trump ban on federally funded clinics providing abortion referrals. The rule went into effect this week as it’s being challenged in the courts.

Kamala Harris Unveils Prescription Drugs Plan as Joe Biden Shuns Medicare for All

Jul 17, 2019

California senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris introduced a plan she says will lower prescription drug costs and crack down on pharmaceutical companies for charging exorbitant prices. Under the proposal, the government would be able to set fair prices for drugs based on their costs in other markets, and more affordable drugs could be imported from other countries. Manufacturers would suffer penalties if they raise their prices excessively, and 100% of their profits would also be taxed if they prescribe a medication above a set price.

Earlier in the week, 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced his healthcare plan, which builds on Obamacare by adding a public option, rather than supporting Medicare for all, like many of his more progressive primary opponents, including Senators Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden’s plan would also allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower costs and expand Medicaid. Biden’s proposal says it would insure “an estimated 97% of Americans,” to which the Sanders campaign responded, “[That] leaves nearly 10 million people uninsured.” It would also leave tens of millions underinsured and saddled with high copays and deductibles, according to an analysis of the proposal by the Sanders campaign.

Suspect Arrested in Murder of Beloved Louisiana Civil Rights Activist

Jul 17, 2019

In Louisiana, a suspect has been arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of historian and civil rights activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph. Roberts-Joseph’s dead body was found in her car over the weekend. Thirty-eight-year-old Ronn Jermaine Bell was Roberts-Joseph’s tenant. He was reportedly late on his rent payments, though police say they are still determining a motive.

Roberts-Joseph was considered a local icon in Baton Rouge, where she founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum and hosted the annual celebration of Juneteenth, which she fought to have recognized as a state and national holiday. Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome called her “a standout matriarch of Baton Rouge” and added, “We will make her legacy a priority here in Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish.”

Judge Recommends Daily Stormer Publisher Pay $14 Million to Woman Targeted with Anti-Semitic Trolling

Jul 17, 2019

A federal magistrate judge said the founder and editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer should be ordered to pay over $14 million to a Montana woman who was the target of an anti-Semitic “troll-storm.” The Daily Stormer publisher, Andrew Anglin, mounted an online intimidation campaign in 2016 against Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent from the resort town of Whitefish. In the following months, Gersh and her family received hundreds of hate-filled messages, forcing them to temporarily leave their home.

Judge Sentences Charlottesville Neo-Nazi Murderer to 2 More Life Sentences

Jul 17, 2019

A Virginia state judge sentenced James Fields to “life in prison plus 419 years” for plowing his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville at a counterprotest of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. He killed 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer in the attack. This comes on top of last month’s sentence of life in prison on federal hate crime charges for the 22-year-old self-described neo-Nazi. The judge in Fields’ state case told him, “[Y]ou deserve the sentence the jury gave. What you did was an act of terror.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Dies at 99

Jul 17, 2019

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99. Stevens was appointed to the court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford. Although a moderate Republican, Stevens led the liberal wing of the court for decades and is considered a hugely influential justice who authored key decisions on cases around presidential powers, national security and campaign financing, among other issues.

In his dissent in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, he wrote: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as impartial guardian of the rule of law.” At the height of President George W.Bush’s “war on terror,” he wrote the decision granting Guantánamo prisoners legal rights and access to federal courts. In his dissent for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, he wrote the decision “threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation.”

Stevens said at the end of his tenure on the court that his one regret was his 1976 vote upholding a Texas capital punishment statute that revived the death penalty. Stevens later opposed most death penalty sentences. He retired from the court in 2010 as the second-longest-standing justice.

Activists Arrested as They Take Over ICE Headquarters in D.C.

Jul 17, 2019

And 10 protesters were arrested inside the ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday after staging a sit-in at the agency’s building. Thousands more blocked entrances to the building and nearby roads for hours. The protests were organized by the Jewish-led group Never Again Action and the immigration justice group Movimiento Cosecha. The activists are demanding the government shut down all immigration jails, abolish ICE and provide an immediate path to citizenship for undocumented people. Similar protests took place in other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston.

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