President Trump announced on Twitter Saturday he was calling off a “secret” meeting between himself, the Afghan president and Taliban leaders that may have led to the withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan — although reports raise questions about the meeting’s details and who exactly was to take part. Trump said his decision was due to a Taliban car bomb last Thursday that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier, in Kabul. Trump also said all further negotiations were being called off.
The U.S. and Taliban had appeared close to an agreement after holding nine rounds of talks in Doha, even though the Afghan government had not taken part in those meetings. The New York Times reports Trump wanted the deal to be announced at the Camp David meeting so he would be perceived as the dealmaker who pulled the peace deal together. But according to the Times, Taliban negotiators had agreed to come to the United States only after a deal was announced and only to meet with the American side. There are also questions about why Trump canceled the secret meeting. We’ll have more on this story after headlines.
At least 44 people are confirmed dead, with that number expected to rise exponentially, as the Bahamas continues to reel from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian. More than 70,000 on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands have been left homeless, and thousands remain missing.
On Saturday, a cruise ship brought more than 1,500 Bahamanians to a port in Florida. But on Sunday, more than 100 people seeking aid and refuge in the United States were turned away after boarding a ferry bound for Florida. Before the boat left the Bahamas, passengers were told to disembark if they didn’t have visas to enter the United States. This is Renard Oliver, a father who was forced to take his young children off the boat after the announcement.
Renard Oliver: “At the last minute like this, it’s kind of disappointing. It’s hurtful, because I’m watching my daughters cry. But yeah, it is what it is.”
In Tennessee, the FBI is investigating the shooting of an undocumented immigrant by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent during a traffic stop last week. The shooting occurred Thursday at a supermarket parking lot in Antioch after ICE agents attempted to detain an unnamed 39-year-old Mexican man. The man reportedly attempted to flee in a white truck when one of the agents shot him twice. A local news channel has released a closed-circuit video of the incident showing the truck driving away from the scene and one agent raising his firearm and pointing at the truck. The injured man managed to flee the scene but later surrendered to FBI agents and was treated and released from a local hospital. He has not been arrested or charged with a crime. We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast.
HuffPost reports the Trump administration is failing to provide legal aid for locked-up migrant children in at least three separate jails — a violation of federal law. Without the required legal services, migrant children are forced to navigate complicated legal proceedings alone and are more likely to be deported to potentially life-threatening situations. RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan told HuffPost, “Our government is engaged in premeditated, deliberate acts of cruelty against children. I don’t think one has to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that the government is attempting to systematically dismantle every framework of support for any immigrant in this country.”
Meanwhile, details from a lawsuit filed last month challenging the Trump administration over its termination of the Flores agreement have highlighted the dire conditions faced by locked-up migrant children. Among the many violations, migrant girls reported being denied sufficient menstrual products and having to keep wearing soiled clothing throughout their periods.
In more immigrant rights’ news, the Associated Press reports an eight-and-a-half-month pregnant woman from El Salvador was sent back to Mexico by immigration authorities, even after being treated in a U.S. hospital after experiencing contractions. She is one of over 38,000 asylum seekers forced out of the U.S. as part of the highly contested “Remain in Mexico” policy. Immigration and medical experts say pregnant migrants in Mexico often do not have access to medical care, or even sufficient food and clean water. At least six pregnant migrants have been sent back to Mexico by U.S. authorities, according to Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who is demanding an investigation into the issue.
The U.S. Air Force has ordered a review of how international stopovers are chosen, following a recent report by Politico pointing to possible emoluments violations linked to military spending and President Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland. Politico reported Friday that the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why millions of dollars were spent refueling U.S. military planes at Prestwick Airport, near Trump’s golf resort. Military planes typically refuel at U.S. bases, where the price of gas would be cheaper than a commercial airport. U.S. military members have also stayed at the Trump resort and were offered free rounds of golf at Turnberry, according to an earlier report by The Guardian. New York City Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to the news, “The President is corrupt and must be impeached.”
Meanwhile, as members of Congress return to the Capitol this week after their summer recess, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution to establish guidelines for impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
In climate news, scientists say a massive area of the northeastern Pacific Ocean is five degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average, in a warming event rivaling the so-called Blob of 2014. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warns it’s the second-worst marine heat wave observed since the agency first began collecting satellite data in 1981. The warm waters threaten to spawn a massive algal bloom and could decimate fish populations, threatening sea lions, endangered orcas and humpback whales.
In Gaza, Palestinians mourned the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers shot and killed Friday by Israeli forces during weekly protests along the separation barrier with Israel. At least 70 protesters were wounded — more than half of those by Israeli gunfire — according to Gaza health officials. Palestinians have now been demonstrating for 18 months in Gaza under the banner of the Great March of Return, calling for the right to return and an end to Israel’s blockade on the besieged territory.
In El Salvador, 21-year-old rape survivor Evelyn Hernández, who was acquitted last month on aggravated homicide charges for having a stillborn birth in 2016, is poised to face a third trial. Hernández had been sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017. But that conviction was annulled in August. Salvadoran prosecutors announced last week they will appeal Hernández’s acquittal. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador.
Russia and Ukraine swapped dozens of prisoners Saturday — a move that many are hailing as a major step toward easing tensions between the two nations following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. This is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “We have agreed on the first stage of unblocking of our dialogue and on the first step in ending the war: the return of our prisoners of war, our soldiers, our sailors and our territories.”
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was one of those freed in the exchange. Amnesty International said in a statement, “Oleg Sentsov and many others jailed following Russia’s occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea are simply victims of politically-motivated prosecution and they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. While it is a relief that they are now free, it is a travesty to see them being used as human bargaining chips in political deals.”
In more news from Russia, pro-Kremlin candidates retained their majority in Sunday’s local elections but suffered notable losses following weeks of political unrest. The ruling United Russia party, which backs President Vladimir Putin, lost around a third of its seats in the Moscow legislature. Protesters have been taking to the streets over the summer after opposition candidates in Moscow’s city council elections were barred from running. Police arrested thousands of people, including political candidates and opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny urged supporters to vote strategically in the elections to limit the Kremlin’s power.
Back in the U.S., former South Carolina Governor and Congressmember Mark Sanford has entered the Republican 2020 primary race. He made the announcement Sunday on Fox News, ahead of a formal launch later this week. “As a Republican Party, we have lost our way,” he told Fox News host Chris Wallace. Sanford has highlighted government spending and federal debt as key issues. He is a Trump critic who lost his congressional seat in 2018 after being defeated by a pro-Trump challenger in the primaries; Democrat Joe Cunningham eventually won the seat. Sanford is the third Republican to challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination, joining former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressmember Joe Walsh. Sanford, however, will not be able to run in a primary in his own state since the South Carolina Republican Party voted to skip the presidential primary next year to save money and throw the state’s support behind the Trump campaign.
President Trump is set to appoint another judge to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the court’s judges said last week he will “take senior status,” meaning Trump can appoint a new judge to succeed him. Last month, another judge also announced he will also become a “senior” judge. In total, Trump will have appointed five of the 12 judges on the court, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida and hears many civil rights cases, as well as death penalty and voting rights cases. Since Trump came into office, he has appointed nearly one out of four of the nation’s federal appeals court judges — 70% of those are white men.
Two more black transgender lives were claimed over the past week, bringing the total reported number of transgender murders in the U.S. to at least 18 so far this year. In South Florida, the body of 23-year-old Bee Love Slater was identified last week after being “burned beyond recognition.” Her friends told media she had been threatened on Facebook and targeted because she was transgender. Meanwhile, in Baltimore, 17-year-old Bailey Reeves was fatally shot last Monday. At a vigil organized in her honor, Iya Dammons of the transgender rights nonprofit Baltimore Safe Haven called out the cycle of violence against trans women, adding, “The first step to fighting violence is unity.”
In media news, the progressive news site ThinkProgress shut down Friday after it failed to secure funding. ThinkProgress was created in 2005 as a project of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress Action Fund but was editorially independent. Journalist Zach Carter said in a tweet, “The collapse of ThinkProgress demonstrates that the Democratic Party establishment and its donor base have little to no interest in sustaining center-left media outlets, even in the Age of Trump. The election of Donald Trump and the rise of an American authoritarian movement seem not to have changed many minds among wealthy Democrats.”