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HeadlinesJuly 31, 2019

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Sens. Sanders and Warren Tout Progressive Vision for 2020 as 2nd Democratic Debate Kicks Off

Jul 31, 2019

Ten candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination took the stage in Detroit last night in the first of a two-night CNN-hosted debate. The evening was billed as the first showdown between the two leading progressives in the race—Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—but the two agreed on all major issues and instead fended off criticisms from the more moderate candidates in the race. CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Bernie Sanders to respond to former Congressmember John Delaney’s assertion that Sanders’s cornerstone healthcare proposal, Medicare for All, which seeks to offer free public healthcare for all Americans, was “bad policy.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “You’re wrong. Right now we have a dysfunctional healthcare system—87 million uninsured or underinsured, $500,000—500,000 Americans every year going bankrupt because of medical bills, 30,000 people dying while the healthcare industry makes tens of billions of dollars in profit.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who also supports Medicare for All, touted her progressive track record taking on Wall Street. She rubbed her hands together when host Don Lemon noted that her proposal for imposing a 2% tax on the ultrawealthy would include John Delaney’s $65 million personal fortune. Warren also urged Democrats not to act out of fear in the upcoming elections.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “We can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in, just because we’re too scared to do anything else. And we can’t ask other people to vote for a candidate we don’t believe in. Democrats win when we figure out what is right and we get out there and fight for it.”

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, questioned why Democrats were reluctant to implement major structural reforms that would reshape voting laws or the Supreme Court.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “When I propose the actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference—end the Electoral College; amend the Constitution, if necessary, to clear up Citizens United; have D.C. actually be a state; and depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform—people look at me funny, as if this country were incapable of structural reform. Does anybody really think we’re going to overtake Citizens United without constitutional action? This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn’t drink, and then changed it back because we changed our minds about that. And you’re telling me we can’t reform our democracy in our time? We have to, or we’ll be having the same argument 20 years from now.”

On foreign policy, Sanders and Buttigieg both called for an end to the Afghan War. Senator Sanders also called for the U.S. to work with the international community, saying, “What we need is a foreign policy that focuses on diplomacy, ending conflicts by people sitting at a table, not by killing each other. As president of the United States, I will go to the United Nations and not denigrate it.” After headlines, we’ll host a roundtable on last night’s debate.

Detroit Activists Call on 2020 Dems to Tackle Pollution, Implement Green New Deal

Jul 31, 2019

Meanwhile, Detroit activists rallied ahead of last night’s debate, calling on presidential candidates to visit 48217, which refers to the ZIP code for Southwest Detroit—a low-income area that is one of the hardest hit by fossil fuel pollution. Detroit Congressmember Rashida Tlaib joined labor unions and community activists as they marched to demand a Green New Deal. This is Pamela Owens-Moore, a member of SEIU Local 1, which represents janitors and other service workers.

Pamela Owens-Moore: “We can’t win a better future for working people if our neighborhoods are struggling with pollution, if our water is undrinkable, if our families are unhealthy and our homes are disastered by extreme weather events. I always say I’m a janitor. And most of these in purple are janitors here. But I want the city to know this about me: I take out your garbage, but I ain’t none of your trash!”

North Korea Launches 2nd Ballistic Missile Test in Under a Week

Jul 31, 2019

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, according to reports from South Korea, the second time in less than a week that North Korea has tested weapons, in a move that South Koreans say is counterproductive to easing tensions on the peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea are preparing for joint war games next month—a possible motivation for the tests. Meanwhile, the U.S. says it is hoping that more denuclearization talks with North Korea will take place soon, following Trump’s vow to resume negotiations during his trip to meet with Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone last month.

130 Hunger-Striking Prisoners in Egypt Decry Inhumane Treatment

Jul 31, 2019

Amnesty International is calling on Egypt to end “cruel and inhumane” conditions at Cairo’s al-Aqrab prison, where around 130 detainees have been on a mass hunger strike for over six weeks. Many of the prisoners say they have not been allowed visitation with families or lawyers in more than two years since their arrest. Amnesty International says prison authorities have retaliated against the hunger strikers by “beating them” and “applying electric shocks with tasers.” Detainees were also subject to enforced disappearances before they were referred to trial.

The death of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in June cast a renewed spotlight on the horrific conditions faced by prisoners in Egypt. Morsi had been imprisoned at al-Aqrab for nearly six years following his ouster in a military coup led by now-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Senators Question DOD Nominee John Hyten over Sexual Assault Accusations

Jul 31, 2019

General John Hyten, Trump’s nominee to be the next vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced questioning by senators on the Armed Services Committee Tuesday. Hyten has been accused by Colonel Kathryn Spletstoser of making nonconsensual sexual contact with her, including on a work trip in 2017 when she alleges Hyten forcibly kissed her and rubbed against her body until he ejaculated. Hyten has denied the allegations. Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally, who earlier this year shared her story of being raped while serving in the military, defended Hyten and said the allegations were fabricated. Meanwhile, Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who this year revealed she was raped when she was a college student, expressed doubts about Hyten’s judgment and questioned why he reprimanded his accuser. After the hearing, Colonel Spletstoser told reporters that Hyten had lied under oath. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have called for the colonel to testify publicly before moving ahead with a confirmation vote.

Virginia Delegate Protests Trump Speech: “You Can’t Send Us Back!”

Jul 31, 2019

In Virginia, a state delegate disrupted a speech by President Trump, protesting his racist and anti-immigrant policies amid the ongoing outrage over Trump’s racist attacks on House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore. Trump was addressing an event in Jamestown marking the beginning of self-government in the U.S. in 1619—which is also the same year the first slaves arrived in the country. This is Virginia state Delegate Ibraheem Samirah.

President Donald Trump: “Americans govern ourselves. And so help us God, we always will. Right here in Virginia, your predecessors”—

Delegate Ibraheem Samirah: “Mr. President, you can’t send us back! Virginia is our home! Mr. President, you can’t send us back! Virginia is our home!”

“You cannot send us back. Virginia is our home,” chanted state Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who is Palestinian-American. Samirah also carried a sign that read “go back to your corrupted home,” “deport hate” and “reunite my family and all shattered by systemic discrimination.” Addressing his action later in the day, Samirah wrote, “[N]obody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite. The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation, and our nation’s history of immigrants.” Black legislators from Virginia boycotted Trump’s Jamestown appearance.

House Report Says Trump Adviser Ran Campaign Speech by UAE, Saudi Officials

Jul 31, 2019

Trump continued to attack Congressmember Elijah Cummings as a damning report by his House Oversight Committee this week revealed one of candidate Trump’s 2016 energy speeches was reviewed by senior officials from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. “The Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policy making from corporate and foreign interests,” reads the House report. The edits were handled by Trump associate Thomas Barrack with the help of campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is currently serving a nearly eight-year prison sentence. According to the report, Barrack also lobbied Trump to become a special Middle East envoy, and made plans to help Saudi Arabia build nuclear power plants through his private equity firm.

California Bill Requires Presidential Candidates to Disclose 5 Years of Tax Returns

Jul 31, 2019

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Tuesday that will require presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release five years of tax returns before they can appear on the state’s primary ballot. That information would be made public. The law will, however, not stop a candidate from being listed in the general election—meaning voters could still cast a ballot for Trump if he wins the Republican nomination. In a statement, Newsom said: “These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence. … This bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

2 Chicago Mothers Who Fought Against Gun Violence Shot Dead

Jul 31, 2019

In Chicago, anti-violence activists from the group Mothers Against Senseless Killings are searching for answers after two mothers, both members of their group, were killed in a drive-by shooting Friday night. Twenty-six-year-old Chantell Grant and 36-year-old Andrea Stoudemire were shot on the street in the very spot where volunteers from Mothers Against Senseless Killings regularly gathered with their children to play and advocate for a safer community. A member of the community group called the street a “sacred ground” and a “haven that was built by moms.” An investigation is ongoing. Two men were injured in the shooting, and police say one of them may have been the intended target.

Melinda Katz Declared Winner of Queens DA Race, But Insurgent Tiffany Cabán Says “It’s Not Over”

Jul 31, 2019

In New York City, the Board of Elections certified Queens Borough President Melinda Katz as the winner of the Queens district attorney Democratic primary following a paper ballot recount. But the fight isn’t over, as her opponent, Tiffany Cabán, filed a lawsuit challenging the results. Cabán, a 31-year-old public defender and Democratic Socialist backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, originally declared victory on election night, as early results put her ahead of Katz by around 1,000 votes. Now just 60 votes separate the two. Cabán’s campaign says around 100 ballots were improperly dismissed during the count.

Kentucky Miners Block Coal Train After Being Denied Paychecks

Jul 31, 2019

In Kentucky, local residents have been coming out to support miners who are blocking a train carrying coal from a mine by occupying the railroad. Miners are protesting after the mining company Blackjewel stopped paying them after they went bankrupt earlier this month. The Harlan County miners are now on day 3 of the protest and say they will stay until they get some answers—or their paychecks. Sunrise Movement supported the workers’ action, writing, “The coal & mining industry isn’t sustainable. But when these companies go under, the workers just trying to put food on the table don’t deserve to suffer the consequences. We need a #GreenNewDeal to provide the safe & sustainable green jobs our workers deserve.”

Seesaw Installation on U.S.-Mexico Border Highlights Human Toll of Immigration Policies

Jul 31, 2019

And in New Mexico, children on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border wall were able to play together after two California professors installed a cross-border seesaw that fits through the steel slats separating the two countries. The idea for the “Teeter-Totter Wall” came from architecture professor Ronald Rael and design professor Virginia San Fratello, who originally conceived of the project in 2009. “The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations,” said Ronald Rael. “Actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

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