Trump says the U.S. is “locked and loaded” following drone and cruise missiles attacks that struck major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia Saturday. The U.S. accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which were claimed by Houthi rebels. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran carried out what he called an “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Iran denies any involvement, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeting, “Having failed at 'max pressure,' Secretary Pompeo’s turning to 'max deceit.'” The attacks sent oils prices soaring after they reportedly halved Saudi oil production by 50% in their immediate aftermath.
The attack came just ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump is open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with no preconditions, but on Sunday Trump blamed what he called “the fake news” for essentially reporting what Pompeo publicly said. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.
Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers have launched a strike, walking out of over 50 General Motors facilities at 11:59 last night. Workers say GM continues to deny employees’ demands for fair conditions and compensation despite leading the company to record profits following bankruptcy and a federal bailout. This is Ted Krumm, head of the UAW’S bargaining committee.
Ted Krumm: “This strike is about us. It’s about standing up for fair wages, for affordable quality healthcare, for our share of profits and for our job security. We are standing with our brothers and sisters who are temporary employees and in-progression employees, who do the same work we do for less pay. We are united. We are strong. We are ready. We don’t take this lightly.”
Union representatives are scheduled to meet with GM today for further talks.
In more labor news, Chicago teachers appear to be moving closer to a strike — possibly starting next month — as educators and the school district have failed to reach an agreement on issues including pay, staffing and class size.
Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy Sunday after reaching a tentative settlement last week with a number of state, local and tribal governments over the company’s role in fueling the U.S. opioid crisis. Under the proposed deal, the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, would personally pay $3 billion in cash, plus another $1.5 billion after the pending sale of a subsidiary company is completed. Many plaintiffs have opposed the deal, which would see the Sacklers remain billionaires and admit to no wrongdoing.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has accused Purdue of “lowballing victims” in the settlement, after revealing her office found at least $1 billion in Sackler wire transfers, including through Swiss bank accounts. New York is waiting on financial disclosures from an additional 32 sources, which could further validate claims that the Sacklers are shielding their extreme wealth in investments and foreign institutions.
Calls are mounting to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after new evidence and new allegations of sexual misconduct were reported by The New York Times over the weekend. Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale classmate, accused Kavanaugh of pulling down his pants and thrusting his penis at her during a drunken party, forcing her to touch it while she swatted it away from her. Kavanaugh denied the accusation during his confirmation hearings, but The New York Times found at least seven people — including Ramirez’s mother — knew of the incident for years; some had learned of it in the days after it happened. The Times also uncovered another similar incident in which Kavanaugh’s friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at another party. The FBI never followed up on a list of 25 people provided by Ramirez who could corroborate her story, nor did they follow up on information about the second incident.
In a historic congressional testimony last September, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when she 15 and he was 17. Multiple 2020 Democrats are calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment in light of the reports, including Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary, Julián Castro.
Protests are continuing in Hong Kong. Over the weekend, riot police used tear gas and water cannons on crowds as they gathered for the 15th straight week. Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam withdrew the controversial extradition bill that triggered the popular uprising, but protesters’ demands have since expanded. Some demonstrators have been calling for the support of the U.S. and Britain — Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler.
In Tunisia, two outsider candidates are leading in the exit polls after voters cast their ballots Sunday in the country’s second-ever presidential elections. One of them is populist media mogul Nabil Karoui, who is currently in prison, accused of money laundering — charges he has denied. And Kaïs Saïed, a law professor and constitutional affairs expert running as an independent, also appears to be headed to a runoff. Sunday’s turnout reached just 45% — nearly 20 percentage points lower than 2014’s election. The two candidates will now likely head to a runoff vote within the next month.
In Algeria, interim President Abdelkader Bensalah announced the country will hold a presidential election on December 12. Longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following weeks of protests. Demonstrations have continued to this day. On Friday, tens of thousands marched demanding remaining members of the ruling elite also step down before any new elections. Elections planned for July were canceled after protesters said they would be controlled by the army and the ruling elite.
A British judge has ruled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to remain in prison even after his current term ends, because of his “history of absconding.” He was due to be released next week. Britain’s home secretary signed a request for Assange’s extradition to the U.S. in June; a full extradition hearing will take place in February next year. Prosecutors in the U.S. have indicted Assange on 18 counts, including 17 violations of the Espionage Act.
A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit accusing Trump of emoluments violations Friday. The case was originally dismissed in late 2017 and is one of three major emoluments lawsuits filed against Trump. Plaintiffs in the case include a hotel operator and restaurant owners who say Trump is using his office to give his New York and D.C. businesses a competitive advantage by allowing government patrons to seek favor with the president in exchange for spending money at his properties. Trump is expected to appeal the decision, which could end up at the Supreme Court.
Hollywood actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison for paying $15,000 to get her daughter into college by having someone correct her answers on the SATs. Huffman also received a $30,000 fine and 250 hours of community service. Over 50 people have been charged as part of the college admissions bribery scandal known as “Varsity Blues.” Huffman is the first parent to be sentenced. During the trial, prosecutors argued for prison time by raising cases of less privileged defendants, including Kelley Williams-Bolar, a black woman who was sentenced to five years in prison for using her father’s address to get her child into a better school district.
Seventy-six protesters with the Close the Camps campaign were arrested in New York City Saturday during a sit-in at a Microsoft store. The immigrant rights activists are demanding Microsoft stop allowing ICE to use their technology. An organizer from Movimiento Cosecha said in a statement, “In an Era of Big Tech, where our movement and community have seen terror, trauma, and separation, these companies saw a business opportunity. After Palantir, Microsoft is the second largest cloud service provider for the US Federal government.”
Meanwhile, a previously confidential Department of Homeland Security report revealed the ICE-run Adelanto immigration jail in California places an “alarming” number of migrants with serious mental illness in solitary confinement for “shockingly” long periods of time. The 2018 report was obtained by the organization Project on Government Oversight through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Independent senator and 2020 candidate Bernie Sanders previewed his affordable housing plan over the weekend. The plan, which will be released in full in the coming weeks, would expand and improve federal housing programs and set a national rent control standard. He is also calling for $50 billion in grants for local authorities to establish community land trusts, and would invest in outreach and other services to address the homelessness crisis. The plan calls for a federal investment of $2.5 trillion over a decade, which would be paid for through a tax on the wealthiest Americans — the top one-tenth of 1%. Sanders addressed a Nevada chapter of a plumbers and pipefitters union Saturday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “In America tonight, over 500,000 Americans are either sleeping out on the streets or are in homeless shelters — and that includes 7,500 people right here in Nevada — because there is not housing available to them and because they lack the money to pay for the housing they need, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world.”
Last week, reports emerged that Trump is planning a major crackdown on California’s homeless population, which may include razing tent camps and creating government-run facilities. Trump and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson will be in San Francisco and Los Angeles this week to promote so-called support homeless opportunity zones.
The 26 Greenpeace activists who were arrested last Thursday after they rappelled off a bridge above the Houston Ship Channel have been released. All face either state felony or state and federal charges for their nonviolent act of civil disobedience. The action brought shipping traffic to a halt in the largest oil export channel in the United States as the environmental activists called on presidential candidates to support the Green New Deal ahead of last week’s debate, and for a just transition away from fossil fuels. Greenpeace USA said the activists faced abuse while in custody.
Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg led a “school strike for climate” in the nation’s capital Friday alongside students and environmental activists from the D.C. area. It was her 56th week of action since starting the movement in her native Sweden, which has since gone global. She addressed the crowd gathered in front of the White House.
Greta Thunberg: “I’m just going to say that I’m so incredibly grateful for every single one of you. I’m so proud of you who have come here. And it’s a lot of people, a lot more than I think anyone had expected. And I was in the back, so I didn’t see anything but the nearest speeches, so this is very overwhelming. And to just never give up. We will continue and see you next week on September 20th.”
Greta Thunberg will be back in New York City for this Friday’s Global Climate Strike. Click here to see our recent hour-long interview with her.
This week, Democracy Now! and over 250 newsrooms around the world are taking part in the “Covering Climate Now” initiative ahead of next week’s U.N. climate summit on Monday, the 23rd. We’ll have more on this initiative later in the broadcast with The Nation’s environment correspondent Mark Hertsgaard.