The Senate has sent President Trump a two-year budget that would increase both domestic and military spending by raising the debt ceiling and rolling back spending caps. Trump has promised to sign the deal, which would increase government spending by $320 billion over the next two years, with the Pentagon set to receive a staggering $738 billion for the coming fiscal year. According to the National Priorities Project, the U.S. spends more on its military than 144 other countries combined.
The Trump administration has formally ended U.S. participation in the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. In a statement responding to the U.S. withdrawal, Russia’s foreign ministry called the INF treaty “formally dead.” President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the treaty in 1987 to ban all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges. President Trump’s withdrawal has sparked fears of a new nuclear arms race.
President Trump on Thursday ratcheted up the U.S. trade war with China, saying he’ll impose a further 10% tariff next month on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods — including clothing and iPhones. The U.S. has already slapped a 25% levy on $250 billion of Chinese goods, prompting reciprocal tariffs on U.S. products. Economists have refuted Trump’s claims that China will bear the economic brunt of increased tariffs, saying U.S. consumers will in fact suffer the most.
Puerto Rican legislators have delayed a vote to confirm outgoing Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s possible successor. Rosselló, who has promised to step down today at 5 p.m., was forced to resign last week amid massive protests across Puerto Rico calling for his ouster. Rosselló has nominated attorney Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state, which would make Pierluisi next in line to replace Rosselló. But during a special session Thursday, Puerto Rican legislators decided to postpone debate on Pierluisi’s confirmation until next week. Pierluisi’s law firm represents the unelected, federally appointed control board with sweeping powers to run Puerto Rico’s economy. Many lawmakers oppose his nomination, citing a conflict of interest. If a new secretary of state is not confirmed before Rosselló leaves office, the next in line, Puerto Rico’s Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez — who was appointed by Rosselló — would likely take office. In recent days, there have been protests demanding Vázquez’s resignation. She announced via Twitter that she would not step down and would assume the “responsibility imposed by the Constitution and the law” to replace Rosselló.
A warning to listeners and viewers: This story contains disturbing footage. In Texas, newly revealed police body-cam video shows Dallas police officers laughing and joking as an unarmed man having a mental health crisis lay dying in their custody. The incident occurred in August of 2016, after 32-year-old Dallas resident Tony Timpa called 911 for help, reporting he had taken drugs and was off his medication for schizophrenia. The video shows officers pinning Timpa face-first into the ground for 14 minutes as he pleaded to be released. After Timpa became unresponsive, the officers stood over his unmoving body, mocking him as though he had fallen asleep.
Police officer 1: “Wake up!”
Police officer 2: “Haha! I don’t want to go to school, Mom!”
Police officer 3: “Five more minutes, Mom!”
Police officer 2: “Five more minutes, Mom! Haha!”
Police officer 1: “First day. You can’t be late!”
At no time did the officers check to see if Timpa was breathing or had a pulse. By the time paramedics arrived on the scene and began administering CPR, Timpa was dead. The video directly contradicts claims made by the Dallas Police Department defending the officers’ behavior. After headlines, we’ll go to Dallas to speak with a lawyer representing Timpa’s family.
In Yemen, dozens of people were killed Thursday in two separate attacks in the southern port city of Aden. In the first attack, suicide bombers targeted a police station, killing 11 people. The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s affiliate in Yemen later claimed responsibility. Later, in a separate attack, Houthi rebels fired a missile into a military parade, killing at least 40 government troops. The aid group Save the Children says the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen has sparked a food crisis that’s led as many as 85,000 children to starve to death since fighting began in 2015.
In Sudan, soldiers opened fire with live bullets on a crowd of peaceful protesters Thursday, killing four people in the latest bloody assault on pro-democracy activists. The attack came as thousands of demonstrators heeded the call for a “million man march” to protest previous police killings, including a massacre of up to 130 people in June and the killing of four schoolchildren earlier this week. The latest killings came as opposition leaders met with Sudan’s military leaders for talks aimed at finalizing a power-sharing deal that would see a civilian government elected in 2022.
Rwanda has reopened its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo after a brief closure that followed the third death of a patient with the Ebola virus in the Congolese border city of Goma. Since the latest outbreak began exactly a year ago, the World Health Organization says at least 2,700 people have been infected with Ebola, with more than 1,800 deaths.
The Washington Post reports the Trump administration is nearing a deal with the Taliban to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for a ceasefire. The agreement — which was described by unnamed administration officials — would also reportedly see the Taliban renounce its support for al-Qaeda. In return, the U.S. would reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan from about 14,000 to somewhere less than 9,000 — roughly the size of the U.S. force in Afghanistan when Trump took office. This comes as the State Department is reportedly slashing its presence at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, with plans to cut half of all personnel by the end of September.
In climate news, the World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that July was the warmest month in recorded human history. It followed the hottest June on record, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels climbed to a record high of 415 parts per million earlier this year. Scorching heat waves have put 2019 on track to be one of the hottest years ever measured. The current record holders are, by rank, 2016, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, a new study finds even modest shifts in government subsidies away from fossil fuels and toward renewables could lead to a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions. The International Institute for Sustainable Development says governments spend some $372 billion each year subsidizing coal, oil and gas; if as little as 10% of that money was invested in wind, solar and other renewables, countries could see a nearly 20% drop in carbon dioxide pollution.
The Senate has confirmed 13 more of President Trump’s nominees to the federal bench in a flurry of votes this week before lawmakers left for the August recess. Among those newly confirmed as federal judges are Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Brown and Texas attorney Brantley Starr. Both are hostile to immigrant rights, reproductive freedom, voting rights and LGBTQ equality. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said in a statement, “Senate Republicans will stop at nothing to stack the courts with partisan judges who will push their radical agenda through at any cost. In doing so, they are not only degrading our courts, but also endangering our democracy.”
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a New York law that would allow the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain President Trump’s state income tax returns. Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee to the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., said Thursday the injunction will remain in effect while Trump’s lawsuit challenging the law proceeds. The court will hear arguments on August 29. Democrats say they need to see Trump’s tax returns to investigate any potential conflicts of interest or self-dealing related to Trump’s sprawling business empire.
On Capitol Hill, senators grilled leaders of the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday amid reports they failed to ground Boeing 737 MAX passenger jets — even though they knew about software flaws that led to a pair of deadly crashes. This is Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Subcommittee, addressing Ali Bahrami, the head of the FAA’s Aviation Safety office.
Sen. Jack Reed: “The FAA, we expect you to basically be the person or entity that stands up and says, 'This aircraft is completely safe to fly, that there are no further corrections necessary, or if there are, they are being undertaken.' That does not appear to be the case in this situation.”
On Thursday, the mother and brother of 24-year-old Samya Stumo, who died in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March, held a protest outside the FAA headquarters demanding justice. The crash of the 737 MAX plane, which killed Stumo and 156 others, came just months after 189 people perished when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed minutes after takeoff. Samya Stumo’s mother, Nadia Milleron, questioned why FAA safety chief Ali Bahrami didn’t ground 737 MAX jets after the first crash — even though the FAA knew another malfunction was likely.
Nadia Milleron: “Why did he [Bahrami] let those planes go back in the air? So Boeing could make money. That’s the only reason. And he is the safety commissioner, and he exposed the public to an unacceptable risk, which he uses the words in his testimony.”
The Trump administration has separated more than 900 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border since a San Diego federal judge ordered a halt to the practice last summer. That’s according to the American Civil Liberties Union in a court filing Tuesday, which claims the federal government is abusing its discretion to determine what makes a parent unfit. In his motion, ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said, “This issue has reached a critical juncture. Hundreds of children, some literally just babies, are being irreparably damaged because their parent may have committed a minor offense in the past, even a traffic offense.”
In Mexico, a Salvadoran migrant was shot to death in front of his 8-year-old daughter by Mexican police in the northern border state of Coahuila on Wednesday night. According to witnesses, the father and his daughter, along with at least eight others, were waiting for a train to continue their journey to apply for asylum in the United States, when Mexican immigration agents and federal police raided the group and started shooting. Agents also separated a 2-year-old toddler from their mother, according to a local migrant shelter. In a statement, the shelter says, “The persecution of migrants in Mexico has reached an unsustainable extreme. We demand an end to this institutional cruelty, which is taking lives and leaving children orphaned as well as separating families and causing so much suffering provoked by the Mexican state.”
In Texas, Congressmember Will Hurd said Thursday he will not seek re-election in 2020. Hurd is the only black Republican in the House of Representatives; last month he was one of just four House Republicans to vote in favor of a resolution condemning President Trump’s racist attacks on four freshman congresswomen of color.
A 1971 audio recording made by Richard Nixon has been made public, revealing then-California governor and future President Ronald Reagan calling African people “monkeys” as President Nixon laughed in agreement. In the recorded phone call, Reagan is heard using the racist slur about African delegates to the United Nations who voted to seat representatives from the People’s Republic of China rather than the U.S.-backed government-in-exile in Taiwan.
Gov. Ronald Reagan: “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did.”
President Richard Nixon: “Yeah.”
Gov. Ronald Reagan: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”
President Richard Nixon: [laughter]
In other taped phone calls recorded the same day, President Nixon is twice heard referring to African delegates as “cannibals.” The National Archives released parts of the taped conversations in 2000 but edited out racist portions — allegedly to protect Reagan’s privacy. Under a court order, the tapes should have been made public by 2013 but only entered the public domain two weeks ago.