President Trump is visiting Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, today following the mass shootings over the weekend which killed at least 32 people, including the Dayton gunman. Resistance to Trump’s visit has been mounting among Democrats and many residents of the two cities. This is Dayton’s Democratic Mayor Nan Whaley.
Mayor Nan Whaley: “You know, he’s made this bed, and he’s got to lie in it, you know? His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community, and I think that people should stand up and say they’re not happy if they’re not happy that he’s coming.”
Sunday’s mass shooting in Dayton killed nine people, including the gunman’s sister. The police shot the gunman at the scene. The FBI has opened an investigation and said the gunman was “exploring violent ideologies.” After facing protests from his constituents, who disrupted his speech with chants of “do something” Sunday, Ohio’s Republican Governor Mike DeWine backed changes to gun control laws, including expanding background checks and allowing courts to prevent certain people from getting or keeping their guns. Ohio Republican Congressmember Mike Turner, whose congressional district includes Dayton, also said Tuesday he backs an assault weapons ban and imposing magazine limits.
In El Paso, Texas, Democrats and many community members are also protesting Trump’s visit today. Before the shooting rampage, which killed at least 22 people, the alleged El Paso gunman, Patrick Crusius, posted a manifesto saying he was “defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion” — echoing the language used by Trump to describe immigrants. Democratic Congressmember Veronica Escobar turned down an invitation to join Trump in his motorcade when he visits, tweeting, “I refuse to join without a dialogue about the pain his racist and hateful words & actions have caused our community and country.”
Meanwhile, the gunman’s family released a statement Tuesday denouncing the mass murder. It reads, “Patrick’s actions were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know, and from ideas and beliefs we do not accept or condone. … [T]he destruction Patrick did is not limited to the victims and their families. It touches the entire El Paso and Ciudad Juárez communities, the state of Texas and this country.” He is charged with capital murder, and the case is being investigated as an act of domestic terror.
Meanwhile, the FBI is launching a domestic terror investigation into last month’s mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, which killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy. Just before the shooting, the gunman promoted an anti-immigrant manifesto online. Investigators say the gunman had a hit list of targets including “religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses, [and] political organizations from both major political parties.”
At least 48 Democratic lawmakers, including El Paso Congressmember Veronica Escobar, are urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call Congress back from recess to pass pending legislation addressing the threat of white supremacy. In a letter, they write, “We must … come together across party lines, as swiftly as possible, to condemn any political leader, movement, or media figure who echoes the beliefs these terrorists have repeatedly expressed, including that immigrants are 'invading' the United States or set on 'replacing' any of our citizens. This ideology is utterly contrary to America’s founding creed that all men and women are created equal.” Meanwhile, Kentucky residents have been gathering outside McConnell’s Louisville home and office protesting his refusal to allow senators to vote on gun control legislation.
Protests also took place outside the White House Tuesday, as activists and civil rights groups gathered to call for action against white supremacy and gun violence. Leaders from the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Voto Latino, Brady, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and many other groups called out legislative inaction and President Trump’s hateful rhetoric. This is Vanita Gupta, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Vanita Gupta: “Words of hate beget acts of hate, and policies of violence beget acts of violence. The massacre in El Paso targeting the Latino community did not happen in isolation. Follow the evidence: racist rhetoric, Charlottesville, the citizenship question on the census, family separation, the detainment of American citizens, the attack on women of color members of Congress, talking about immigrants as subhuman. We can’t ignore the impact of the president’s racist rhetoric and policies, because white supremacists don’t. They name Trump in their attacks and cite him in their hate manifestos.”
Meanwhile, Walmart workers are expected to walk out today to protest the company’s sale of guns and ammunition following the massacre at the El Paso Walmart and a shooting at a Mississippi Walmart last week that killed two employees. In a Change.org petition by the Walmart Walkout campaign, organizers address CEO Doug McMillon and write, “We value Walmart and our fellow associates, but we are no longer willing to contribute our labor to a company that profits from the sale of deadly weapons. … We urge our leadership to cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease WALPAC donations to NRA backed -A/A+ politicians.”
Human rights groups are demanding the Nigerian government release Nigerian journalist Omoyele Sowore after he was arrested Sunday. Authorities are claiming Sowore’s call for nationwide protests under the banner “Revolution Now” is an attempt to take over the government.
Sowore is a human rights activist and the publisher of the online news site Sahara Reporters. He ran against President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year in an election he said “lacked a level playing field.” His party, Africa Action Congress, declared August 5 the start of the “Days of Rage,” inspired by the recent popular uprising in Sudan that toppled authoritarian ruler Omar al-Bashir. The protests went ahead this week despite Sowore’s arrest.
Just two days before he was arrested, Sowore tweeted, “All that is needed for a #Revolution is for the oppressed to choose a date they desire for liberty, not subjected to the approval of the oppressor. #RevolutionNow #DaysofRage #August5”.
The U.S. is warning Turkey against any incursions into northeastern Syria that would attack Kurdish forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning a military operation in the Kurdish-controlled region is imminent. The U.S.-backed Kurdish force is considered a terrorist group by Turkey. U.S. and Turkish military officials are holding talks this week over the issue.
This comes as a fragile, short-lived ceasefire in Idlib was abandoned earlier this week, with Syrian forces resuming airstrikes in the rebel stronghold. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Russian forces also struck the region with air raids. The U.N. says the bombardment campaign in Idlib has killed at least 400 people and displaced over 440,000 in recent months.
Seventeen countries, representing around one-quarter of the world’s population, are at risk of running out of water, according to new data published Tuesday by the World Resources Institute. The countries, which include India, Iran and Qatar, are facing “extremely high water stress,” meaning they are using up almost all of their water reserves. Several U.S. cities and states, such as Los Angeles and New Mexico, are also considered to be under “extremely high water stress.” The number of afflicted regions will continue to climb due to global heating. The World Resources Institute says, “Water stress is the biggest crisis no one is talking about. Its consequences are in plain sight in the form of food insecurity, conflict and migration, and financial instability.”
In New York City, Tiffany Cabán conceded Tuesday to Melinda Katz in the race to become the Democratic nominee for the Queens district attorney. Cabán appeared to narrowly win the race on election night, but a paper count saw her lose her lead by a razor-thin margin. In the final tally, she lost to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz by just 55 votes, after a judge refused to reinstate the approximately 100 disqualified ballots Cabán’s campaign was fighting for.
Cabán, a public defender and Democratic Socialist, ran on a progressive platform of ending cash bail, decriminalizing sex work and going after bad landlords, cops and immigration authorities. She vowed to keep fighting to reform the criminal justice system, tweeting, “We showed that you can run on a boldly decarceral platform. You don’t have to compromise your values or give in to fear mongering. You don’t have to play by the old rules.”
Palestinian rights advocates celebrated Tuesday after the New York state Supreme Court ruled in favor of five Fordham University students who sought to start a Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, club but were blocked by the school. The judge in the case found that Fordham’s dean of student life’s rejection of the club was “arbitrary and capricious,” and highlighted that SJP promotes “only legal, nonviolent tactics aimed at changing Israel’s policies.”
Sapphira Lurie, who graduated from Fordham in 2017 — the same year the suit was filed — said, “Rather than allow Fordham’s administration to impose its backwards and imperialist politics on us, we were victorious in the fight for students’ rights to organize for justice for Palestine. This victory shows that when we fight back, we can win. Free Palestine!”
Dartmouth College reached a $14 million settlement with nine women in a sexual abuse lawsuit that accused the school of being responsible for rape, sexual assault, harassment and discrimination perpetrated by three male professors. The plaintiffs said professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley and Paul Whalen, who were from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, created a “21st Century Animal House” as they coerced women into drinking, and groped, leered at and in some cases raped them. The lawsuit called out the “predatory boy’s club” that enabled the toxic environment and sexual crimes. Dartmouth reportedly ignored reports of the professors’ conduct for 16 years and allowed the men to either retire or voluntarily resign rather than face legal or disciplinary action. Dartmouth did not admit liability, but said it was working with the women to improve conditions on campus.
In reproductive rights news, a federal judge has temporarily blocked Arkansas’s 18-week abortion ban, hours before it was to go into effect, saying it would cause “irreparable” harm to those seeking abortions. The judge also blocked a new requirement that abortion providers be certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and that bans providers from performing the procedure if the decision to terminate a pregnancy was based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Sex trafficking survivor Cyntoia Brown has been released from prison after serving 15 years behind bars for killing a man who sexually assaulted her, in what she said was an act of self-defense. The shooting happened when Brown was just 16, but she was tried as an adult. Brown, who is African-American, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison despite being trafficked and repeatedly sexually abused and drugged. Brown was granted full clemency by Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in January after widespread outrage and a high-profile campaign calling for her release. Cyntoia Brown said she was looking forward to “help[ing] other women and girls suffering abuse and exploitation.”