Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he will not convene a special Senate session to take up gun control legislation, saying instead he and President Trump are crafting bills to tighten federal gun laws when Congress returns from the August recess. McConnell’s claim came as Republican leaders, who have long resisted any new restrictions on gun ownership, come under intense pressure to do something about gun violence following last weekend’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, which left 32 dead and dozens injured. McConnell told a Kentucky radio station he’s preparing bills to expand background checks on gun purchases, and a “red-flag” law that would allow court-ordered confiscation of guns from a person deemed a threat. The claim drew skepticism from Democrats, who noted McConnell has an “A+” rating from the National Rifle Association. This comes as Moms Demand Action and Ohio Democratic congressmember and 2020 presidential hopeful Tim Ryan completed a 400-mile march to Senator McConnell’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, with a rally of 1,500 people. They’re demanding the Senate convene a special session to take up comprehensive gun reform bills passed by the House nearly half a year ago.
New details have emerged about Wednesday’s visit to El Paso by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Reporters were barred from following the Trumps as they toured the University Medical Center of El Paso, where victims of Saturday’s mass shooting were treated. None of the eight survivors who were still receiving treatment agreed to meet with the president. But a cellphone video given to local station KDBC shows the president smiling and laughing with medical workers as he boasts about the size of a crowd at a Trump campaign rally in El Paso in February, while disparaging a competing campaign rally held by Beto O’Rourke.
President Donald Trump: “That was some — that was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people, in a parking lot.”
CNN reports a hospital official said President Trump showed an “absence of empathy” during the visit. On Thursday, Melania Trump’s Twitter account published a photo from the trip showing the first lady holding a 2-month-old infant who was orphaned when both her parents were gunned down Saturday. In the photo, President Trump stands next to his wife, flashing a “thumbs up” sign. Both the president and first lady are grinning widely. Relatives brought the child back to the hospital for the Trumps’ visit. The child’s parents, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, died as they shielded their baby from the alleged white nationalist shooter whose online manifesto — published moments before the assault — echoed President Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. The baby was grazed by a bullet and was treated for broken fingers.
In Springfield, Missouri, a 20-year-old white man wearing body armor sparked panic and chaos Thursday morning when he showed up at a Walmart store carrying two loaded guns and over 100 rounds of ammunition. The man proceeded to push a shopping cart around the store, filming himself on a cellphone. A manager triggered the fire alarm and called police. The man was detained at gunpoint by an armed off-duty firefighter before police arrived and arrested him without a shot being fired.
In Wayne County, Ohio, local police and the FBI are investigating an explosion and house fire as a possible hate crime, after racist graffiti and a swastika were found painted at the scene. The house, in the town of Sterling, south of Cleveland, is home to an interracial couple. They were not at home early Wednesday morning at the time of the fire, which devastated the property.
In Louisiana, BuzzFeed News reports over 100 immigrants were tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, beaten and put in solitary confinement after they launched a hunger strike at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center over the weekend. This happened just one day after guards at a separate Louisiana immigration jail pepper-sprayed more than 30 immigrants for also going on a hunger strike, according to the advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants. The organization published photos showing what appear to be wounds from crowd control weapons on the bodies of men detained at Pine Prairie. ICE had previously denied anyone was injured and that just “a brief, calculated use of pepper spray was employed” against the immigrants on hunger strike.
ICE officials in Mississippi said they’ve released 300 mostly Latino workers swept up the largest single-state immigration raid in U.S. history. Wednesday’s roundup of 680 workers at seven poultry plants came on the first day of the school year and left scores of children traumatized and crying for their parents. After headlines, we’ll go to Mississippi to speak with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and the director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance.
A 41-year-old man from Detroit, Michigan, was found dead in Baghdad on Tuesday, just two months after U.S. authorities deported him to Iraq. Jimmy Aldaoud, an Iraqi national who was brought to the U.S. as an infant, was deported in June as part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. A friend said Aldaoud’s death was likely due to his inability to obtain insulin to treat his diabetes. Aldaoud struggled with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had no family or friends in Iraq and did not speak Arabic. He was born in Greece and came to the U.S. when he was 6 months old. In a video posted to Facebook from Baghdad before his death, Aldaoud said he pleaded with ICE agents not to deport him.
Jimmy Aldaoud: “I begged them. I said, 'Please, I've never seen that country. I’ve never been there.’ However, they forced me. I’m here now. And I don’t understand the language, anything. I’ve been sleeping in the street. I’m diabetic; I take insulin shots. I’ve been throwing up, throwing up, sleeping in the street, trying to find something to eat.”
Aldaoud was from a minority Christian community that has been severely persecuted in Iraq. An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union representing Iraqi immigrants said, “Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us. We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”
In New York City, the director of a Brooklyn homeless shelter says she turned ICE agents away Tuesday night after they failed to produce a warrant. Last month, widespread mass raids by immigration agents did not materialize as immigrants rights advocacy groups across the country urged people not to open their doors to ICE agents unless they produce a warrant. The ICE agents who came to the Brooklyn homeless shelter just had a photo of a person.
In Hong Kong, hundreds of pro-democracy activists are occupying the city’s main airport as they kick off a weekend of direct action protests. They’re demanding the resignation of Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam, an investigation into violence against demonstrators, and pro-independence reforms.
President Trump said Thursday he will name Joseph Maguire as his acting director of national intelligence. Maguire is the current head of the National Counterterrorism Center and a retired vice admiral who once oversaw Navy SEAL teams as head of the Special Warfare Command. His promotion comes after Trump blocked Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon from taking over as acting director. On Thursday, Trump confirmed that Gordon resigned and will be leaving the administration. The current director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, announced last month he would retire in mid-August, after repeatedly clashing with the president over Robert Mueller’s investigation and Trump’s frequent attacks on intelligence agencies.
An explosive new report by The Guardian reveals that U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto ran a “fusion center” to surveil and discredit journalists and activists who publicly criticized or wrote damning reports about Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup. Documents show Monsanto collected extensive intelligence on the legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young, paid Google to promote search results that cast critics unfavorably, and contacted at least one reporter’s editor in hopes of having her fired. Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak to that reporter, Carey Gillam, as well as Gary Ruskin of the group U.S. Right to Know, which was also targeted by Monsanto.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has barred the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro from launching an investigation into journalist Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept Brasil. Last month, Bolsonaro threatened to imprison Greenwald after he published leaked messages implicating Justice Minister Sérgio Moro in a possible plot to smear and convict former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In a sweeping ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled the government’s attempts to investigate Greenwald and The Intercept violated Brazil’s Constitution and would “constitute an unambiguous act of censorship.”
In the United States, a federal judge has denied a request by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to reconsider mounting fines imposed on her for refusing to cooperate in a federal grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks. The penalties began at $500 per day and have now risen to $1,000 daily, as Manning refuses to testify about her leak of hundreds of thousands of secret State Department and Pentagon documents to WikiLeaks — including evidence of U.S. war crimes.
Customers of SoulCycle and Equinox have launched a boycott, following reports that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — a major shareholder in the high-end fitness chains — is planning a fundraiser for Donald Trump’s campaign. President Trump is expected to attend the event in the Hamptons this evening, which promises donors a photo with the president for $100,000 or a private roundtable discussion with Trump for a quarter-million dollars. Ahead of the event, Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills noted that Ross is founder of the nonprofit group RISE, which seeks to “eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.” Stills tweeted in reply, “You can’t have a non profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump.”
California’s governor has granted pardons to seven people who transformed their lives after spending years in prison — most of them for nonviolent drug offenses. Among those pardoned was Los Angeles activist Susan Burton, founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. In her memoir, “Becoming Ms. Burton,” she describes her journey from a childhood filled with abuse to drug addiction as an adult, and then to the fight to address the underlying issues that send women to prison. This is Susan Burton speaking with Democracy Now! in 2015.
Susan Burton: “We spend hundreds of thousands a year on a person just warehousing and incarcerating them. In California, it runs out about $67,000 a year, depending on how healthy you are, up into the hundreds of thousands. And when you get back to the community, you can’t get any types of supports or services. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”