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HeadlinesJuly 18, 2022

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Biden Denounced for Fist-Bumping Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Jul 18, 2022

President Biden has returned from his trip to the Middle East, where he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday. The two men greeted each other with a fist bump. The meeting comes three years after Biden vowed as a presidential candidate to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for the state-sponsored killing of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The publisher of The Washington Post, Fred Ryan, criticized Biden, saying, “The fist bump between President Biden and Mohammed bin Salman was worse than a handshake — it was shameful. It projected a level of intimacy and comfort that delivers to MBS the unwarranted redemption he has been desperately seeking.” During a press conference after their meeting, Biden said he had confronted bin Salman over Khashoggi’s murder.

President Joe Biden: “With respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now. And it was exactly — I was straightforward and direct in discussing it. I made my view crystal clear.”

A top Saudi official later appeared to contradict Biden, saying that he never heard the president telling the crown prince he was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder. During Biden’s visit, the Saudis agreed to increase oil production and to open Saudi airspace to Israeli commercial flights. The U.S. agreed to remove troops from Tiran, a strategically located island in the Red Sea, in a move that will help pave the way for Saudi Arabia to take control of the island.

Biden Meets UAE President Days After Khashoggi Lawyer Asim Ghafoor Detained in Dubai

Jul 18, 2022

While in Saudi Arabia, President Biden also met with other leaders from the region, including the president of the United Arab Emirates. The meeting came on the same day that a court in the UAE sentenced the civil rights attorney Asim Ghafoor to three years in prison. Ghafoor is a U.S. citizen who worked as a lawyer for Jamal Khashoggi. He was arrested on Thursday during a stopover in Dubai. He has been accused of tax evasion and money laundering. We’ll have more on President Biden’s trip to the Middle East after headlines.

Hundreds Die in Europe Heat Wave; Wildfires Force Thousands to Evacuate

Jul 18, 2022

A scorching heat wave continues to fuel wildfires across southern Europe and parts of North Africa. In France, thousands of people have been forced to evacuate fires that have scorched over 27,000 acres. Meanwhile, the governments of Spain and Portugal said hundreds of people died from heat-related causes during the second week of July. In Britain, the government has issued its first-ever “Red” severe temperature warning, with forecasters predicting highs will top 40 degrees Celsius — or 105 degrees Fahrenheit — for the first time ever. This is Tracy Nicholls, chief executive at the College of Paramedics.

Tracy Nicholls: “We could see people particularly who are vulnerable young people, elderly frail people, people living with dementia, who really do suffer. This isn’t like a lovely hot day where we can put a bit of sunscreen on and go out and enjoy, you know, a swim and a meal outside. This is serious heat that could actually ultimately end in people’s deaths because it is so ferocious. And we’re just not set up for that sort of heat in this country.”

Biden Concedes Defeat as Sen. Manchin Walks Away from Talks on Climate, Taxing the Rich

Jul 18, 2022

President Biden has conceded defeat in his efforts to pass legislation tackling the climate crisis while raising taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals. This comes after West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin walked away from negotiations over a scaled-back package of Biden’s tax and climate initiatives. Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders said Manchin was never serious about advancing Biden’s climate agenda. He spoke to ABC on Sunday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “You have people like Manchin — Sinema to a lesser degree — who are intentionally sabotaging the president’s agenda, what the American people want, what a majority of us in the Democratic Caucus want. Nothing new about this. And the problem was that we continued to talk to Manchin like he was serious. He was not. This is a guy who is a major recipient of fossil fuel money, a guy who has received campaign contributions from 25 Republican billionaires. In my humble opinion, you know, Manchin represents the very wealthiest people in this country, not working families in West Virginia or America.”

Politico reports a number of executives recently maxed out their campaign contributions to Senator Joe Manchin, including banker Warren Stephens, hotel executive Tom Baltimore, Motorola CEO Greg Brown, Home Depot CEO Edward Decker, Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs, Gillette CEO James Kilts and Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.

Ukraine’s President Fires Spy Chief and Top Prosecutor, Alleging “Treason”

Jul 18, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired the head of Ukraine’s domestic security agency, the SBU, as well as Ukraine’s top prosecutor. During a televised address, Zelensky said dozens of officials who worked in the SBU or under the prosecutor had committed treason by collaborating with Russian forces.

President Volodymyr Zelensky: “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leaders. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer. Today I made the decision to dismiss the prosecutor general from office and to dismiss the head of the Security Service of Ukraine.”

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House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Secret Service over Deleted Text Messages

Jul 18, 2022

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has subpoenaed the U.S. Secret Service for more information about text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, that were reportedly erased or deleted. Last week, a government watchdog with the Homeland Security Department said in a letter to lawmakers that the erasure took place shortly after oversight officials requested electronic communications from the agency.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has revealed details about how a little-known right-wing attorney named William Olson urged Trump to effectively declare martial law in December of 2020 as part of a sweeping attempt to overturn the election.
The House January 6 committee will hold its final scheduled public hearing on Thursday. The hearing will focus on Donald Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction on January 6 when his supporters stormed the Capitol after he gave a speech near the White House. Democracy Now! will stream the hearing live at 8 p.m. Eastern at democracynow.org.

In related news, jury selection is expected to begin today in the trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress.

Report on Uvalde Mass Shooting Cites “Systemic Failures” by Nearly 400 Officers on Scene

Jul 18, 2022

Nearly 400. That’s the number of law enforcement officials who rushed to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 after they got word of a mass shooting. A new report from the Texas state Legislature cited “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” by the officers who took more than an hour to engage the gunman, who killed 19 fourth graders and their two teachers. Investigators determined “law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety.” Texas state Representative Dustin Burrows chairs the Texas House Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting.

Rep. Dustin Burrows: “If there’s only one thing that I can tell you, is there were multiple systemic failures. I would invite everybody to read the entire report. You cannot cherry-pick one sentence and use it to say everything without reading it all together and with context. But if we need a simple phrase to describe what the report says, again, I would tell you 'multiple systemic failures.'”

Gunman Kills Three and Injures Two in Indiana Shopping Mall

Jul 18, 2022

In Greenwood, Indiana, a gunman opened fire inside a shopping mall food court Sunday evening, killing three people and injuring two others before he was shot dead by an armed bystander. The Indianapolis Star reports the shooter had a rifle and several magazines of ammunition.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, comedian Craig Robinson canceled an appearance at a comedy club Saturday night after a man brandishing a gun threatened audience members and fired at least one shot, forcing a panicked evacuation.

House Passes Reproductive Rights Bills; GOP Promises Senate Filibuster

Jul 18, 2022

In news from Washington, the House has passed two new bills to protect abortion access, but both bills are expected to fail in the Senate. Congressmember Judy Chu of California sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights protections into federal law.

Rep. Judy Chu: “Make no mistake: If Republicans had their way, this would be a country of forced birth. … That’s why we need to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, because every person, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how they become pregnant, deserves dignity, safety and care in seeking an abortion.”

The other House bill, the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, protects the rights of people to cross state lines for medical care.

Biden Abandons Plans to Nominate Anti-Abortion GOP Lawyer to Federal Bench

Jul 18, 2022

President Biden has dropped plans to nominate an anti-abortion Republican lawyer named Chad Meredith as a federal judge in Kentucky as part of a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The White House says the plan fell apart due to opposition from Kentucky’s other Republican senator, Rand Paul.

AIPAC Pours Nearly $6M into Maryland Primary in Effort to Defeat Donna Edwards

Jul 18, 2022

Today is the final full day of campaigning before Tuesday’s primary election in Maryland. In one closely watched race, former Congressmember Donna Edwards is seeking to win back her old seat in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, outside of Washington, D.C. She is facing the corporate attorney Glenn Ivey, who has raised seven times as much money. The New York Times reports a new super PAC run by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has spent nearly $6 million on the primary race in an attempt to defeat Edwards. Another group with ties to AIPAC, Democratic Majority for Israel, has spent over $425,000 to back Edwards’s opponent. The two groups also poured money into efforts to defeat other progressive Democrats, including Nina Turner in Ohio and Jessica Cisneros in Texas.

Autopsy Reveals Akron Police Shot Jayland Walker 46 Times

Jul 18, 2022

In news from Ohio, a preliminary autopsy has been released for Jayland Walker, the 25-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by police in Akron, Ohio, in June after a traffic stop. Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler said Walker suffered 46 gunshot wounds — 41 entry wounds and five wounds from bullets that grazed Walker.

Dr. Lisa Kohler: “The photographic record shows more than 46 labeled wounds because there are exit wounds, bullets beneath the skin and abrasions that were numbered for the purpose of identifying specific injuries in the photographs and to permit clarity. … His toxicology screen was negative for drugs of abuse and alcohol. Jayland Walker’s death was due to blood loss from his internal injuries. The cause of death ruling was multiple gunshots wound. The manner of death was ruled homicide, shot by others.”

The NAACP has called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch a federal civil rights investigation into the killing of Jayland Walker, who was shot while unarmed.

Families Lay to Rest Guatemalan Teens Who Died in Sweltering Migrant Trailer in Texas

Jul 18, 2022

In Guatemala, relatives have buried two migrant teenagers who died last month in a sweltering trailer in Texas as they attempted to reunite with family in the United States. Fourteen-year-old Wilmer Tulul and 13-year-old Melvin Guachiac were laid to rest in the western highlands town of Nahualá on Saturday. They were among 53 asylum seekers who died of heat stroke and suffocation in the back of an 18-wheeler abandoned on the side of a road in San Antonio, Texas, in June. This is Wilmer Tulul’s grandfather Juan.

Juan Tulul: “My namesake died. My namesake had a dream to go in search of his life. He dreamed of getting a house, a piece of land.”

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