On July 30, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported that the Afghan government and international military forces, primarily the United States, caused most of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan during the first six months of 2019. That’s more killings than those perpetrated in the same time period by the Taliban and ISIS combined.
Aerial operations were responsible for 519 civilian casualties (356 deaths and 156 injuries), including 150 children (89 deaths and 61 injuries). That constitutes a 39 percent increase in overall civilian casualties from aerial attacks. Eighty-three percent of civilian casualties from aerial operations were carried out by the international forces.
During Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s televised appearances before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, he testified to facts that amount to lawbreaking by Donald Trump. Contrary to Trump’s mantra of “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION,” Mueller affirmed that his 448-page report did not exonerate the president or reach a conclusion about whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.
The Mueller team found “substantial evidence” of the elements required to convict Trump of obstruction of justice. But, constrained by a Justice Department rule forbidding the indictment of a sitting president, Mueller’s report did not conclude whether Trump actually committed the crime.
Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has effectuated 600 unilateral changes in immigration policy, more than any president in recent memory.
Pursuant to its “zero tolerance policy,” the administration arrested undocumented immigrants who crossed the border, took thousands of their children away, put them in cages and then lost track of them, in violation of the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Trump instituted a Muslim Ban, tried to add a citizenship question to the census, reneged on President Obama’s promise to the Dreamers, and is terrorizing immigrant communities with threats of mass raids.
In an escalation of his war on migrants, Trump’s new asylum rule undermines well-established law and prevents refugees fleeing persecution from receiving asylum.
On July 11, President Trump gave up his fight to ask people about their citizenship on the 2020 census.
The question, which the administration has been trying to add to the census since 2017, would have resulted in a significant undercount by dissuading people in households with undocumented residents from responding to the census. An estimated 6.5 million people could be uncounted if the question were included, according to the Census Bureau.
The census is used to calculate how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives, the number of Electoral College votes each state will get in the presidential elections beginning in 2024, and how $900 billion in federal funds will be distributed to the states annually for hospitals, schools, health care and infrastructure for the next 10 years.
There is no doubt the administration knew that a question asking about citizenship would result in an undercount of Latinos and benefit Republicans. GOP strategist Thomas Hofeller had urged that the question be included in the census as it would “be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.
Kamala Harris is rising in the polls after dramatically confronting Joe Biden during the Democratic primary debate about his opposition to federally mandated busing for desegregation. The following week, however, Harris backed away from saying that busing should always be federally mandated, calling it just one “tool that is in the toolbox” for school districts to use. When asked to clarify whether she would support federal mandates for busing, she said: “I believe that any tool that is in the toolbox should be considered by a school district.” But Biden’s poll numbers are falling as a result of Harris’s theatrical attack.
Harris, who served as San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California Attorney General from 2011 to 2017, describes herself as a “progressive prosecutor.” Harris’s prosecutorial record, however, is far from progressive. Through her apologia for egregious prosecutorial misconduct, her refusal to allow DNA testing for a probably innocent death row inmate, her opposition to legislation requiring the attorney general’s office to independently investigate police shootings and more, she has made a significant contribution to the sordid history of injustice she decries.
The Supreme Court has abdicated its responsibility to strike down partisan gerrymandering. This occurs when one party intentionally manipulates district boundaries to skew its voting power, notwithstanding the will of the voters. Although both parties engage in partisan gerrymandering, Republicans benefit from it far more than Democrats.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the conservative 5-4 majority inRucho v. Common Cause, admitted that excessive partisan gerrymandering is “incompatible with democratic principles” and “leads to results that reasonably seem unjust.” But, the Court held, challenges to the practice “present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”
In her passionate dissent, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, Justice Elena Kagan noted that extreme partisan gerrymanders “deprive citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights” — the rights of equal participation in the political process, “to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives.” Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.”
In a surprise decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the four liberal members of the Supreme Court — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — halted the Trump administration’s plans, at least temporarily, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The Court thought the stated motive for adding the question seemed “contrived,” and sent the case, Department of Commerce v. New York, back to the federal district court to review whether the government can come up with a legally acceptable rationale for adding the citizenship question.
After oral arguments in April, it appeared the justices were poised to allow the Trump administration to add this question to the census: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” That question would deter households with undocumented residents from responding to the census.
The New York Times is reporting that on June 20, President Trump ordered military strikes against Iran to retaliate for its shootdown of a U.S. drone, but then pulled back and didn’t launch them. Officials told the Times that Trump had approved attacks on Iranian radar and missile batteries.
Trump tweeted, “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”
Nevertheless, shortly after midnight on June 21, Newsweek reported that regional U.S. military assets have been put on 72-hour standby.
On June 19, an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. The White House claimed that its drone was at least 20 miles from Iran, in international airspace, while Iran maintains the drone was in Iranian airspace. Iran presented GPS coordinates showing the drone eight miles from Iran’s coast, which is inside the area of 12 nautical miles that is considered Iran’s territorial waters under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Supreme Court is poised to decide two cases that could prove devastating to the right to vote — the very foundation of a democracy. One case will review the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The other will consider whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. They are related because the citizenship question would “allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats,” the New York Times reported.
“It’s hard to overstate the significance of the census and partisan gerrymandering cases,” according to Professor Leah Litman of UC Irvine School of Law, interviewed in the Los Angeles Times. “Upholding the addition of the citizenship question and foregoing any judicial oversight of partisan gerrymandering would allow Republican minorities to entrench their political power for decades.”
Moreover, Thomas Hofeller, a GOP strategist and architect of the citizenship question plan, was known as the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering.” Hofeller’s expertise in drawing partisan political maps “cemented the [Republican] party’s dominance across the country,” Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivered a full-throated defense of democratic socialism in his June 12 speech at George Washington University. Sanders quoted FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”
Sanders, like FDR, proposed an Economic Bill of Rights, including the rights to health care, affordable housing, education, a living wage and retirement.
“Economic rights are human rights,” Sanders declared. “That is what I mean by democratic socialism.”