Quick Morning News

Morning Jumpstart

  • Alton Sterling shooting: DoJ to investigate
  • Minnesota man shot dead by police at traffic stop
  • Trump shouts, defends Star of David tweet
  • FBI chief on the Hill: Clinton email server
  • Bernie booed by House Democrats
  • House GOP gun bill in jeopardy
  • UK’s Iraq war report mauls Blair
  • Blair’s private notes to Bush – frank uncensored
Justice Dept to Probe Alton Sterling Shooting (NYT, AP, Daily Beast, NYT, TMN, me)
• The Justice Dept opened a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into the fatal shooting of a black man by the Baton Rouge, La, police after a searing video of the encounter, aired repeatedly on TV and social media, reignited contentious issues surrounding police killings of African-Americans (like why they keep happening…)
• A law enforcement official said a gun was taken from Alton Sterling, 37, after he was killed early Tuesday in the parking lot where he regularly sold homemade music CDs from a folding table. It had been said he was holding a gun. New video (graphic) shot by a witness appears to show he had no gun in his hand and an officer takes something from his pocket after the shooting
• Two white officers were arresting Sterling early Tuesday after responding to a call about an armed man. The officers had Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one of them shot him. The shooting prompted protests in Baton Rouge, including a vigil with prayers and gospel music that drew hundreds of people Wednesday night to the shooting scene

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• Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr said that Sterling was armed. “Like you, there is a lot that we do not understand. And at this point, like you, I am demanding answers,” Dabadie said, calling the shooting a “horrible tragedy.” Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were placed on administrative leave
• Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling’s teenage son, trembled as she read a statement outside City Hall, where a few dozen protesters and community leaders had assembled. He son, Cameron, 15, broke down in tears and was led away sobbing as his mother spoke (his life’s changed forever and possibly ruined – how do you move on from that)
• Police say they have dashcam and bodycam video and store surveillance footage – will be turned over to DoJ. Lt Jonny Dunnam said police bodycam footage may not be as good as investigators hoped for because the cameras became dislodged during the scuffle. Louisiana ACLU said, “Right when they’re needed most is when two of them malfunction in the same way.”
• The DoJ will look into whether the officers willfully violated Sterling’s civil rights through the use of unreasonable or excessive force. Federal investigators must meet a high legal burden to bring a civil rights prosecution – establishing an officer knowingly used unreasonable force and not simply a mistake or use poor judgment (this is going to be tough, given how fast it happened)
Minnesota Man Shot Dead by Police: Traffic Stop – Video
• A Minnesota man was fatally shot Wednesday night by the police during a routine traffic stop, and the aftermath was captured in a grisly video recorded by the front seat passenger and streamed live. The woman narrates what’s happening as she trains the camera on the man, described as her boyfriend, and at least one officer pointing a gun through the driver’s window
• The woman explains that after being pulled over for a broken taillight, her boyfriend, Philando Castile, was shot several times while reaching for his license. She says that he had told officers before the shooting that he had a gun in the car. In the background, an officer can be heard shouting, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hands up.”
• “You told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license,” Lavish Reynolds responds. “Oh my god. Please don’t tell me he’s dead. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.” In the background, a bloody Castile moans and appears to lose consciousness. He died later at a Minneapolis hospital. The officer has been placed on leave… (how could he get his ID with hands up?)
• President Obama heads out today on a five-day, two-country mission to attend a NATO summit in Warsaw, before moving on to Seville and Madrid. In both corners of Europe, he’ll be surrounded by leaders reeling from Britain’s decision to pull out of the EU and trying to figure out the future (good luck with that, then) (AP, me)
Trump Shouts, Defends Star of David Tweet (NYT, Hill, WaPo, me)
• An often shouting Donald Trump on Wednesday night raged that he regretted deleting a tweeted image of a six-pointed star next to a picture of Hillary Clinton, with cash in the background. “‘You shouldn’t have taken it down,” Trump recalled telling a campaign worker. “I would rather have defended it (image came from a website that promotes neo-Nazism – #ohiwishyouhad)
• Trump also vigorously reaffirmed his praise of Saddam Hussein. It was a striking display of self-sabotage from a presumptive presidential nominee. The Cincinnati rally had been promoted by Trump’s team as a chance for him to give a tryout to a potential running mate, Newt Gingrich. The crowd chanted Gingrich’s name, but Trump didn’t heed its wishes (course not)
• Trump began to read from notes about the criticism leveled against Clinton on Tuesday by FBI director James Comey. But within 20 minutes, Trump tossed his notes aside and moved on to the criticism he received for praising Saddam Hussein. Trump claimed he woke up Wednesday and the press was saying he “loves” Saddam Hussein (not what I read or saw, but I’m “bad people”)
• “I said, ‘That’s not what I said.'” “I don’t love Saddam Hussein, I hate Saddam Hussein. But he was damn good at killing terrorists.” Trump called the press “liars” and “bad people.” Trump said in Dec about Saddam’s use of gas on the Kurds: “Saddam Hussein throws a little gas, everyone goes crazy. ‘Oh he’s using gas!'” (oh well, just an agonizing death for innocent children)
• Raising his voice to a hoarse shout, Trump complained that the Clinton campaign had released an ad showing him playing golf, though he said he didn’t play golf recently in Scotland. “The picture was from two years before, at a different course!” He said the clip in the ad made him look thin. (ah, well, then) “The swing,” Trump added, “actually looked good.” (keep it up, Do…)
• Donald Trump heads to Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Republicans for the first time. Wednesday, Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn) took himself out of the running for VP nominee, and Sen Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) seemed to do the same. Trump said there were “10” people under consideration for the (pretty thankless) gig
FBI Chief on the Hill: Clinton Email Server (AP, Hill, TMN, TMN, me)
• FBI Director James Comey will testify today before the House Oversight and Govt Reform Committee to answer GOP questions about why he didn’t recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over her email server. The announcement came a day after Comey publicly slammed Clinton for “extremely careless” behavior with classified emails as SecState
• AG Loretta Lynch said in a statement Wednesday evening that she was accepting Comey’s recommendation that the case would be closed. “We have seen nothing but stonewalling and dishonesty from Sec Clinton on this issue, and that means there are a lot more questions that need to be answered,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) told reporters
• Ryan said Clinton should be barred from receiving classified briefings in the course of the campaign, and he would be looking into whether Congress could take action to enact such a prohibition. Asked about appointing a special prosecutor, Ryan said he wouldn’t “foreclose any option.” (any option – to keep it going until November, or beyond)
• “Republican after Republican praised Director Comey’s impeccable record of independence – right up until the moment he issued his conclusion,” said the committee’s top Democrat, Rep Elijah Cummings (Md). “The only emergency here is that yet another Republican conspiracy theory is slipping away.” (not quite yet)
• The House Judiciary Committee also announced that Lynch would appear next week to testify about her airport meeting with former President Bill Clinton. Five committees in total plan some action. Sen John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for the FBI to make public its recent 3 1/2 hour interview with Clinton (of course – would be interesting to see)
• President Obama scrapped plans Wednesday to cut American forces in Afghanistan by half before leaving office, saying he’ll leave 8,400 troops to address the country’s “precarious” security situation. The new plan reinforced the likelihood that the U.S. will remain entangled in Afghanistan for years as America works to suppress a resurgent Taliban and train the Afghan military (TMNAP)
Bernie Booed by House Democrats (Politico, Bloomberg, CNN, me)
• Bernie Sanders faced intense pressure from House Democrats on Wednesday to endorse Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as rank-and-file lawmakers confronted him behind closed doors with shouts of “Timeline! Timeline!” and even boos. Sanders confirmed on MSNBC Wednesday night that he’s in discussions with the Clinton campaign about a potential endorsement
• With the Democratic convention just weeks away, Sanders dodged questions about when he would endorse Clinton during a tense meeting Wednesday morning. Sanders also stunned some Democrats in attendance when he told them that winning elections wasn’t the only thing they should focus on – they’re all up for election in November (know your room, Bernie)
• “The goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America,” Sanders said at one point, according to multiple people in the room. Some Democrats booed Sanders for that line, which plays better on the campaign trail. House Democrats also overwhelmingly supported Clinton, so it wasn’t surprising that Sanders got a cool reception
• Frustration was evident. House Democrats can’t understand why Sanders hasn’t endorsed Clinton. “It was frustrating because he’s squandering the movement he built with a self-obsession that was totally on display,” said a senior Democrat – anonymous (that’s a growing consensus. he’s seen by growing numbers of Dems as the liberal Trump – narcissistic and self-interested)
• Later on CNN, Sanders said, “Am I fighting to make sure that a Democrat is elected president? You bet your bottom dollar.” He said Clinton is “the presumptive nominee, absolutely.” Sanders may endorse Clinton at a joint event in New Hampshire next Tuesday
• Where is the secret 28 pages missing from a 2002 joint congressional report into the 9/11 attacks? The Obama admin had hinted it would be released by end of June. Today, lawmakers and some relatives of those killed will push the House Intelligence Committee to release the report on its own at an early afternoon event outside the Capitol (NYT)
House GOP Gun Bill in Jeopardy (AP, Bloomberg, TMN, me)
• Opposition from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus put a House Republican gun and anti-terrorism bill in jeopardy Wednesday, delivering an embarrassing slap to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis). Meanwhile, Democrats castigated the election-year GOP measure as ineffective and demanded votes on their own gun curb plans (a normal day in the House)
• Despite the NRA’s endorsement of similar GOP legislation in the Senate, the Freedom Caucus complained that the House bill, which Ryan has been pushing, didn’t adequately protect gun owners’ rights. “I think there is still a path forward,” Ryan said. “We want to make sure we get it right.” (right – or for the right-wing?)
• Two weeks after staging a House floor sit-in to dramatize their demands, Democrats are pressing for votes on two amendments: One to broaden background checks for gun buyers, the other to ban many firearms sales to suspected terrorists (that’s not going anywhere – background checks, supported by well over 80% of Americans, are not popular with the GOP)
• At a rally with gun victims’ families on the Capitol steps, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said Democrats want “real action, not a bill written by the gun lobby.” She added: “The Republican House still refuses to disarm hate. Rep John Lewis (D-Ga) said of future Democratic actions, “stay tuned.” – GOP wants to get out of town for the summer next week, sooo
• The GOP bill would bar many gun sales to suspected terrorists, but only if federal prosecutors could prove within three days that a terrorist act was afoot. Democrats say the bill sets an unreasonably difficult hurdle that makes the whole process unworkable. The focus on a terror-related bill has increased since the massacre in an Orlando nightclub killed 49 people

• Someone in the Senate gallery on Wednesday dumped a whole lot of cash on senators voting on a bill on GMO labeling of foods. The protest was against Monsanto contributing money to senators backing the bill, which advanced in the Senate. The bill mandates labeling of GMO ingredients, but leaves many ingredients out (so – toothless – and no penalties or fines for noncompliance) (NYT)

UK’s Chilcot Report Mauls Blair: Iraq War (Guardian, BBC, me)
• A defiant Tony Blair on Wednesday defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot, which mauled the ex-PM’s reputation and said that at the time of the invasion Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat.” The report runs 2.6 million pages, which would take about nine days to read, and took seven years
• Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair said he felt “deeply and sincerely … the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq.” But asked whether invading Iraq was a mistake, Blair said: “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer.” (safer? really? heard of ISIS, spawned in the wake of the invasion?)
• In a statement Wednesday, former President George W. Bush acknowledged mistakes, but said he continued to believe “the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.” The report disagrees and cites a mix of flawed intel, “wholly inadequate” planning and an exaggerated sense of the UK’s ability to influence the U.S. Key findings:
• 1) There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein. 2) The strategy of containment could have been adopted and continued for some time. 3) The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s WMDs were presented with a certainty that wasn’t justified (all these apply to the U.S. as well – the Chilcot report matters for Americans)
• 4) The widespread perception that a September 2002 dossier distorted intel produced a “damaging legacy,” undermining trust and confidence in politicians. 5) The govt failed to achieve its stated objectives. See below for bits from a number of declassified notes from Blair to Bush – frank and revealing (pretty cynical and shocking, too)

• (Having the UK’s support for invasion was a big boost to Bush, giving him credibility and political and military backing. The U.S. has decided not to look back – or learn? – from Iraq. Parallels between the two countries’ falsehoods headed into the war are striking. The U.S. lost 4,486 soldiers in Iraq, the UK 179. Iraq Body Count says 251,000 violent deaths, including combatants)

Blair to Bush: Personal Notes (Telegraph, me)
• On 4 December 2001 – two months after the invasion of Afghanistan – PM Tony Blair wrote to President George W. Bush, “any link to 11 September and AQ is at best very tenuous…so we need a strategy for regime change that builds over time.” He suggested “softening up” the international community by drawing attention to Saddam’s breaches of UN resolutions (he’s the planner)
• On 28 July 2002, after the now infamous meeting with Bush at Crawford, Blair began, in a six-page letter assuring Bush of unconditional British support: “I will be with you, whatever.” Sir David Manning, British ambassador to Washington, and Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, tried to remove the commitment from the letter. Blair wouldn’t let them take it out
• On 26 March 2003, six days after the invasion, Blair appeared to admit that WMD had been just a convenient excuse to invade: “Though Iraq’s WMD is the immediate justification for action, ridding Iraq of Saddam is the real prize.” (this is stunning – reveals the real reason for going in – and use of word “justification” implies manipulation)
• He told Bush: “This is the moment when you can define international priorities for the next generation: the true post-cold war world order. Our ambition is big: to construct a global agenda around which we can unite the world rather than dividing it into rival centres of power.” (difficult to do that on a foundation of lies and aggression)
• On 2 June 2003 and with Bush declaring “mission accomplished,” Blair was getting jittery. “The task is absolutely awesome and I’m not at all sure we’re geared for it. This is worse than re-building a country from scratch. We start from a really backward position. In time it can be sorted” “If it falls apart, everything falls apart in the region.” (Blair was a bit psychic – how dreadful)
• Fox News has launched an internal review of the behavior of CEO Roger Ailes and Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy after former Fox News top anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment. Ailes released a statement calling the lawsuit “defamatory” and “retaliatory.” (Politico)

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__________________
Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments are my own

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