with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Huge protests in capitals around the world are among the most important and underplayed stories of this summer, but pro-democracy movements on three continents are at risk of being squelched as surveillance states grow more adept at controlling the technologies that helped people liberate themselves during the Arab Spring at the start of the decade.

In Moscow, as an estimated 1,400 demonstrators were arrested outside City Hall on Saturday, Russian authorities stormed a TV studio belonging to opposition figure Alexei Navalny so they could shut down a live stream of the protests on YouTube. Thousands took to the streets, risking prison time, because opposition candidates have been blocked from appearing on the ballot in upcoming municipal elections. The violent crackdown, led by a close ally of Vladimir Putin, came a week after more than 22,000 people protested in downtown Moscow, chanting, “Russia will be free.”

In Hong Kong, police arrested at least 60 people on Saturday and Sunday, the eighth consecutive weekend of protests, the most detained in a single weekend since the start of the upheaval. The Beijing-backed government is using facial-recognition software to target demonstrators. Pro-democracy activists are responding by wearing surgical masks and using laser pointers to foil the technology. My colleague on the island, Shibani Mahtani, reports that they’re also deleting all the Chinese-made apps on their phones, even for e-commerce shopping sites, in a quest to stay ahead of Big Brother. They’re installing virtual private networks on their phones and downloading secure messaging apps such as Telegram. Young activists in Hong Kong who came of age in a digital world are trying to go as analog as possible so they can limit their footprint on the grid, but they’re learning how hard it’s becoming. They buy single-ride subway tickets, forgo credit cards, take no more selfies and use pay-as-you-go SIM cards.

Chinese authorities responded by allegedly launching a massive cyberattack against the servers for Telegram hours before protesters planned a major occupation of Hong Kong’s streets last month. The company said it was hit by a powerful distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which filled servers with junk requests, that originated from the mainland. Hong Kong police officers also arrested a coordinator of a Telegram group with thousands of people at his home. A court in Moscow banned Russians from using Telegram last year after the company declined to provide encryption keys to the state security agency, and Iran also blocked the app after it was used to organize protests to draw attention to economic hardships.

In Sudan, the military council that took control after overthrowing Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April decided to shut down all public access to the Internet in a ploy to quell continuing street protests. Sudan is one of at least 22 African countries where the government has ordered a shutdown of the Internet at some point in the past five years. The list also includes Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The previous regime ordered telecom companies to block access to social media from December through April, but it wasn’t enough to stop word-of-mouth organizing.

There has been significant bloodshed since the president was deposed after three decades in power. Sudanese security forces fired yesterday on student demonstrators in a central province, killing at least five people, organizers told the AP. On June 3, pro-democracy activists say that security forces killed at least 128 of their people – the state prosecutor says it was 87 – while dispersing a protest camp in front of the military’s headquarters in the capital of Khartoum. Organizers say they pulled 40 bodies from the Nile River that were slain as part of a crackdown.

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on June 30 to show that they would not be deterred. “Protesters rubbed the leaves of nearby neem trees onto their faces to get relief from the tear gas,” my colleague Max Bearak reported from Khartoum. “Sunday’s protests were organized almost entirely without Internet service. Graffiti announcements blanket many of the city’s walls, and small groups have walked through neighborhoods with megaphones to spread the word.

The Sudanese Professionals Association – which helped coordinate Monday’s student activism – organized months of protests leading to the overthrow of the former president, but leaders now worry that the generals won’t follow through on a promised transition to civilian rule. That’s why they continue to mobilize. The protest leaders are scheduled to meet today with the leaders of the military to discuss a power-sharing agreement. There was a tentative accord this month, but several holdups remain. Among them, according to the AP, is whether military commanders should be immune from prosecution for violence against protesters.

-- In this brave new world, there are constant games of cat-and-mouse between people who yearn for more freedom and those who seek to keep control. In Indonesia, to quell protests in Jakarta after the president was reelected this spring, the communication minister curtailed access to social media after six people were killed and hundreds injured. The restrictions limited the sharing of videos and photos over Instagram and WhatsApp.

Iran has been blocking public access to sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube since activists used them to organize mass protests and document a crackdown after a disputed election in 2009. Young people who hunger for a taste of the outside world go to great lengths to bypass state censors, downloading VPNs. Notably, though, leaders of the regime — such as the foreign minister — use sites like Twitter to share the party line. And while pro-government accounts have proliferated, the AP noted from Tehran last week that YouTube remains largely off-limits because it’s hard to download and view videos while using the workarounds.

-- Strongmen fear social networks because they continue to be such a potent organizing tool. More than a quarter-million people assembled on June 23 in Prague’s Letna Park to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who they believe subverted the independence of the judiciary by appointing a new justice minister who is unlikely to bring charges against him in a fraud case involving the misuse of European Union subsidies meant for small businesses. (Babis denies wrongdoing and retains a strong grip on power.)

This was the largest mass protest in the Czech capital since the 1989 Velvet Revolution allowed dissident Vaclav Havel to become president. It grew out of a Facebook group called A Million Moments for Democracy, which launched on the anniversary of that famous protest. Over the past year and a half, thanks to social media, the campaign has led to protests in more than 300 cities and villages.

-- After Kazakhstan held an election on June 9, police arrested thousands of protesters who believed the regime falsified the results. “Since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan had been ruled by its communist-era leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had handpicked candidate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev — and declared him the winner. As protests continued despite mass arrests, Kazakhstan’s urban areas were blanketed by police forces, at times visibly outnumbering the civilian population,” writes National Defense University’s Erica Marat. “Both sides of that equation — the mass dissent and the police repression — reached new levels in Kazakhstan. With a new leader, the nation is entering a volatile phase of police-public dynamics, one in other hybrid regimes like Russia or Ukraine under President Viktor Yanukovych.

Here’s the issue: Hybrid regimes — those that are partly democratic, partly authoritarian — have more protests and more brutal suppression than those that are fully one or the other,” she explained. “These nations have a coercive apparatus that is intact and functional — but also a civil society whose members strive to be active political players. Unlike in fully democratic nations, those individuals and organizations have no real opportunities to collaborate with the government. When elections aren’t truly competitive, protesting is one their few options. But the more anti-government collective action is organized, the more brutal state response is likely to be.”

-- There have been scores of other newsworthy protests this summer from Algeria to Zimbabwe, with recent activity in Guatemala, Pakistan and Bahrain. What modest gains there have been often seem fragile.

-- Democracy has been in a recession the past few years, and the world now stands at a plastic juncture. If the 20th century was the American Century, will the 21st century be the Autocrats Century?

-- In Hong Kong, China would much rather use technology than troops to put down the protests. But the regime's patience appears to be thinning. Top officials in Beijing called on Monday for punishing the “radicals” involved in the turmoil. “China maintains a military presence in Hong Kong, and China’s Defense Ministry suggested last week that it was open to using troops to quell the unrest, saying the protests were ‘intolerable,’” Mahtani and Anna Fifield report. “Signs of China’s influence over Hong Kong abound. The Hong Kong and Chinese flags flew at half-staff above government offices Monday in mourning for Li Peng, the former Chinese premier known as ‘the Butcher of Beijing’ for his role in the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.”

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-- Two American service members were shot dead and a third wounded overnight in a rare “insider” attack when an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American forces at a military base in a conflict-torn region of southern Kandahar province. Pam Constable reports from Kabul: “According to Afghan officials, the shooter was wounded in return fire and taken into Afghan military custody. It was the first known incident, also known as a ‘green on blue’ attack, since November, when Brent Taylor, a major in the Utah National Guard and the mayor of a town in Utah, was killed by an Afghan soldier in Kabul. … Members of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat team, 82nd Airborne Division, posted a Facebook tribute to their slain comrades but did not identify them. … A total of 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in the 18-year conflict. …

The United States currently has about 14,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan. … President Trump has said he wants to reduce their numbers significantly, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Trump had directed him to start withdrawing the rest of the troops before the 2020 U.S. election. The Taliban insurgents have intensified their attacks in recent months, as peace negotiations with U.S. officials have continued in Qatar. The country is especially jittery with the presidential election campaign beginning this week amid fears of more insurgent violence against candidates and voters. On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani’s top running mate, former national intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, narrowing escaped being killed when attackers besieged his political office in Kabul. The attack, which began with a massive suicide bomb in a vehicle, turned unto a six-hour gun battle with heavily armed attackers who killed 20 people and injured 50 more."

-- Capital One announced that a hacker had accessed about 100 million credit card applications, and investigators say thousands of Social Security and bank account numbers were also taken. Devlin Barrett reports: “The FBI has arrested a Seattle area woman, Paige A. Thompson, on a charge of computer fraud and abuse, according to court records. The hack appears to be one of the largest data breaches ever to hit a financial services firm. The hack is expected to cost the company between $100 million and $150 million in the near term, Capital One said. Capital One emphasized that no credit card numbers or log-in credentials were compromised, nor was the vast majority of Social Security numbers on the affected applications.

It is unusual in a major hacking case for a suspect to be apprehended so quickly, and in this case, that was apparently due to boasts made online. … Capital One, which is headquartered in the D.C. suburb of McLean, Va., was alerted to a problem on July 17 after a person in an online discussion group had claimed to have taken large amounts of the company’s data. The bank investigated and quickly confirmed there was a vulnerability. … The hacker was able to access the Social Security numbers of about 140,000 customers — those who used their Social Security number as their employer identification number in applying for small business credit cards, the bank said.” Thompson once worked for Amazon Web Services, which hosted the Capitol One database that was breached.


-- Tom Barrack, a Los Angeles-based investor and informal adviser to President Trump, sought powerful positions in the administration in 2017 while pushing a U.S. nuclear energy policy in the Middle East that could benefit his company, according to a new report from the House Oversight Committee. Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey report: “The report concentrates on the period from January to May 2017, when it says Barrack sought to be named to several administration posts — including special envoy to the Middle East and ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. … All the while, House investigators wrote, Barrack advocated on behalf of Saudi interests seeking to obtain U.S. nuclear technology and took steps to see that his company, Colony NorthStar, would profit from the proposals he was advancing.

“Westinghouse is the only U.S. manufacturer of large-scale nuclear reactors, and at one point Barrack expressed interest in purchasing the company using Saudi and Emirati capital but with sufficient U.S. ownership to discourage scrutiny from U.S. regulators, according to the report. … The report notes that, despite this advocacy, Barrack did not register as a foreign lobbyist. Barrack aides have said that he was not advocating on behalf of foreign entities in his dealings with Trump officials and did not act improperly.”

Look at the details: In 2016, Barrack shared the draft of an energy speech that Trump planned to give in North Dakota with an associate in Dubai, who then sought input from officials in the region and sent back ideas. Barrack then passed along their suggestions to Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Some of the messaging appears to have been integrated into the final product.

-- Read the full 50-page report for yourself here.

-- The Senate failed to override Trump’s vetoes of three measures to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, an expected setback for efforts to hold Saudi leaders accountable for their human rights abuses in Yemen and the brutal killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “On Monday, only six Republican senators joined Democrats to try to block the arms deal resolution,” Karoun Demirjian and Kayla Epstein report. “Seven Democrats missed the vote, including six who are running for president and are gathering in Detroit for their second primary debate. … But the lack of overall support for the measures reflects a pervasive split in the Republican Party about how forcefully its members are willing to challenge Trump’s embrace of Saudi leaders.”

-- Trump’s plan to nominate a political ally as director of national intelligence was seen by current and former officials as a move to subdue spy agencies that he has long regarded as disloyal and silence one of the few pockets of occasional dissent in his administration. Greg Miller reports: “Now, with the choice of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to serve as the nation’s next spy chief — and Attorney General William P. Barr already entrenched at the Justice Department — Trump is poised to seize greater control over the two pillars of government that he perceives as most hostile to his presidency. … Former officials described Trump’s plan to install Ratcliffe as a threat to the independence of the nation’s spy agencies. ‘This is clearly an effort to bring together the powers he needs in the hands of loyalists,’ said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former high-ranking CIA official who served in Republican and Democratic administrations.”

-- Ratcliffe drew immediate opposition from Senate Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans, an early indication that the junior congressman might not sail smoothly to confirmation. Shane Harris reports: “Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which would vet Ratcliffe when the chamber returns from its summer recess, called the congressman to congratulate him. When the White House submits the official nomination, ‘we will work to move it swiftly through regular order,’ Burr said in a statement. That fell short of a full-throated endorsement, congressional officials noted. … Current and former intelligence officials also said Ratcliffe is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies and questioned whether he would use the position to serve Trump’s political interests.”

-- Ratcliffe misrepresented his role in an anti-terrorism case that he has repeatedly cited among his national security credentials, according to ABC News. Ratcliffe has, on multiple occasions, said he played a role in two anti-terrorism financing trials that were part of the Holy Land Foundation investigation, but the network could not find any public records that connected Ratcliffe to either of the two trials. In response to ABC News’s investigation, Ratcliffe’s office clarified his role, saying it was related to investigating the issues that led to a mistrial in the first case.

-- A former top Trump administration appointee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “may have abused his authority” and “misused his position for private gain” in an attempt to defuse an article from The Washington Post about online posts in which he questioned whether the n-word was racist, according to an inspector general’s report. Renae Merle reports: “Before the article was published, Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the CFPB responsible for enforcing the country’s fair lending laws, asked a subordinate to write a statement in support of him that also ‘created the appearance of a violation’ of ethics rules, according to the report. The subordinate, Patrice Ficklin, told investigators she didn’t feel she had a choice and was given little time to write the statement in which she described Blankenstein as ‘collegial, thoughtful and meticulous.’

About the time the article was published, the agency’s then-acting director, Mick Mulvaney, was overhauling Ficklin’s department, including stripping it of its enforcement powers. ‘There was no question that I was going to give a statement. I didn’t feel I could say no because I needed to do that in order to preserve my program,’ Ficklin told investigators. … Blankenstein told investigators the request for the statement was a ‘favor’ and not an order.”

-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended his decision to block an election security bill by furiously attacking critics who have suggested he is aiding Russia. Paul Kane reports: “McConnell was responding primarily to an opinion column by The Post’s Dana Milbank, published Friday under the headline ‘Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.’ Milbank described how Republicans, including McConnell, had blocked bills designed to counter cyberattacks, by Russians or other foreign agents, against U.S. elections. McConnell used what is usually a speech on the Senate’s upcoming workweek to issue an angry denunciation of the column and some liberal commentators on MSNBC, accusing Senate Democrats of helping fan the liberal flames. … ‘I was called unpatriotic, ‘un-American’ and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies,’ McConnell complained Monday. ‘I was accused of ‘aiding and abetting’ the very man I’ve singled out as our adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years: Vladimir Putin.’”

-- Immigration lawyers said a ruling issued by Attorney General Bill Barr could upend the asylum claims of thousands of Central Americans and other asylum seekers who say they deserve protection because they belong to families that are victims of drug cartels or other criminal groups. Maria Sacchetti reports: Barr “issued the ruling Monday, partially reversing a 2017 Board of Immigration Appeals decision in the asylum case of a Mexican national who said a drug cartel targeted him and his family. Barr said that just because members of ordinary families fall victim to ‘private criminal activity’ does not mean they can claim asylum protections in the United States on that basis. … Barr wrote [that] ‘genetic ties’ alone are insufficient to establish that a migrant is a member of a particular social group. He wrote that to qualify for protection, families should also be ‘socially distinct’ in some way, such as the ‘large and prominent’ clans that have been persecuted in some countries. … Lawyers will probably challenge Barr’s decision in federal court.”

2020 WATCH:

-- The second Democratic debate is spread out over tonight and tomorrow, and candidates are sharpening their one-liners on the topics of race, inequality and criminal justice. Matt Viser and Sean Sullivan report: “Joe Biden, having concluded he was not aggressive enough in the first clash in June, has practiced criticizing his rivals on health care and other issues as he prepares for Round 2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is again being advised to draw a sharp contrast with Biden, even though they will not be sharing the same stage. … Biden, who was pummeled in the last debate by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and others, has shifted most dramatically since then. … Onstage Wednesday night, Biden will be standing between Harris and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who have been critical of Biden’s record and are prepared for volatile and personal exchanges. …

Biden’s campaign has been bracing for attacks from multiple candidates beyond Harris and Booker, with critiques on his record on trade and workers’ rights from New York Mayor Bill de ­Blasio, on women’s and abortion rights from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). … ‘Everyone is looking for their T-shirt moment,’ one Biden campaign official said. … For the first debate night, however, much of the pressure will be on Sanders to regain his footing after a June performance that was overshadowed by Harris and Biden. … However, one big question looming over Sanders is how much guidance he is willing to take from advisers encouraging more aggression against Biden — as the first debate indicated — and how much he will listen to others in the campaign favoring a less hostile approach. Unlike last time, when he was next to Biden, Sanders on Tuesday will be standing next to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a friend and ideological ally whom Sanders and his aides have steered clear of directly criticizing. Warren has also had positive things to say about ­Sanders.”

-- Harris gained the most time during the first debate, injecting herself into the conversation multiple times. And while talking a lot during the debate has mixed results – Gillibrand, for example, gained a lot of time from interruptions but didn’t receive the same poll bump as Harris, while Marianne Williamson became a trending topic on Twitter despite having less than five minutes of time – candidates will be ready to pounce on any opportunity to interrupt their competition or respond to attacks. (Hailey Fuchs, Brittany Renee Mayes, Ted Mellnik and Kevin Schaul)

-- There are new debate rules this time: No questions that demand one-word answers or require a show of hands. CNN is also planning on sticking with certain topics long enough that multiple candidates will have a chance to jump in on the question. They will also have a chance to introduce themselves with opening statements and wrap things up with closing arguments, unlike the first debate, which allowed them to make only closing statements. (AP)

-- For half the candidates, this may be the last chance to make an impression on the national stage. From the Times: “For candidates like [Jay] Inslee and Ms. Gillibrand, the stakes this week are enormous. Their fund-raising pace is well behind what is necessary to reach 130,000 donors by September, which candidates must amass to qualify for the next round of debates. Candidates must also receive at least 2 percent support in at least four qualifying polls to participate in the debates, scheduled for Sept. 12 and Sept. 13 in Houston. If 10 or fewer candidates qualify, the debate will take place on only one night.” So far, seven candidates have locked down their spots for the next round: Biden; Warren; Sanders; Harris; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former congressman Beto O’Rourke and Booker. Former housing secretary Julián Castro and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have enough donors to qualify but need one more qualifying poll each.

-- But remember, if history has taught us anything, it is to not put too much stock in the early polls, Peter Slevin writes in the New Yorker: “‘These numbers are fun, but I wouldn’t put money on anything,’ Lydia Saad, a senior Gallup research director, told me. ‘Historically, among Democrats, if you had to bet at this point, you’d do a better job betting against, than for, the front-runner.’ ... ‘The Democratic Party tends to try to kill off its front-runners,’ said Jeremy Rosner, a managing partner at GQR, a prominent Washington-based polling and strategy firm that works with progressive candidates. ... In Des Moines, J. Ann Selzer is trying to divine who will show up and how they will caucus, as she has for more than thirty years. Selzer directs the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, which has been remarkably on-target … But even Selzer is finding it particularly difficult to get a thorough read this year. ‘There are too many candidates,’ she said.”

-- An hour away from the debate site is Flint, Mich., where suspicions of the Democratic candidates in the once-prosperous city runs deep. Griff Witte reports: A trickle of candidate visits to Flint became a wave in the last few days, with some making the city “a central element of their pitches to improve the nation’s infrastructure, revitalize depressed urban centers or restore the faith in government that was lost — not only here but in communities nationwide — when officials repeatedly insisted there was no problem with Flint’s dangerous water. But even as the candidates champion Flint’s cause, residents of this reliably Democratic city have been reluctant to return the embrace. In more than a dozen interviews with Flint residents, few displayed enthusiasm for any of the candidates. And nearly all expressed apprehension that the city will just be a convenient campaign prop, with little action to match the lofty promises.”

-- “How Pete Buttigieg went from war protester to ‘packing my bags for Afghanistan,’” by Steve Hendrix and Josh Partlow: “Sitting down with a recruiter came after years of uncertainty about his willingness to join a war on terrorism that began one September morning in 2001 as he overslept in his freshman dorm. He was already a student of history and Arabic, and the 9/11 attacks instantly made the possibility of fighting feel more personal, Buttigieg said in an interview. … Still, he took no part in the conflict as he climbed ever-higher ivory towers in Massachusetts and England, as the war in Afghanistan widened to include another in Iraq, as he became increasingly active in Democratic politics and increasingly opposed to the national security policies of President George W. Bush. It was only after Barack Obama was elected, and just months before Buttigieg would launch his own political career, that he finally walked into the recruiting office. Only then did he decide to join a conflict that six years earlier he had denounced from the stage of an antiwar rally. … Buttigieg was dropped into a war in retreat. His unit was in the process of shutting down. The eager young lieutenant was eventually tasked with disposing of the office computers. … Buttigieg made little of the fact that he was a Midwestern mayor, not even telling the roommate who shared his trailer. His liberal politics were also a mystery to his commander, a Mormon and staunch conservative.”

-- Harris unveiled a new Medicare-for-all plan that stops short of eliminating private insurance. From CNN: The proposal “positions her to the right of progressives, such as [Sanders] … But it is to the left of moderates like [Biden], who would retain the present system but add a government-run -- and presumably less expensive -- insurance option to the Affordable Care Act exchanges. … The Harris plan makes clear she supports a role for private insurance companies within the health care system, in a stark difference from the Medicare for All Act proposed by Sanders ... Her plan also does not raise middle class taxes, another distinction with Sanders. …Harris' proposal would greatly change and likely shrink the offering of employer-sponsored health plans, which now cover more than 150 million Americans. Employers and unions would have the option to provide a private Medicare plan that would have to be certified by the Medicare program. … Harris plan got the nod of approval from former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who helped implement the Affordable Care Act under former President Barack Obama. … Another notable difference in the Harris plan to the Sanders bill -- she would not increase taxes on the middle class.”

-- Biden’s age worries many top Democrats and voters, according to the New York Times: “Several advisers emphasized that Mr. Biden is in excellent health ... But interviews recently with more than 50 Democratic voters and party officials across four states, as well as with political strategists and some of Mr. Biden’s own donors, showed significant unease about Mr. Biden’s ability to be a reliably crisp and effective messenger against Mr. Trump. … Some voters couched their misgivings in euphemisms about wanting ‘new ideas’ … Others referenced their own lives: If they have ‘slowed down’ upon reaching a certain age, the thinking goes, Mr. Biden must have as well. And a few people were blunt. ‘Seventy-plus is too old,’ said John Hampel, 68, of West Des Moines, Iowa, who said he would like to support a centrist candidate. Mr. Biden would fit that ideological bill, but Mr. Hampel, citing his own age, continued, ‘I think he should pass the torch.’”

-- Warren released a new trade plan. From Annie Linskey: “Warren seeks to focus the accords on labor, environmental and consumer interests and de-emphasize corporate priorities. … On trade, Warren said she would make deals only with countries that meet sweeping environmental, human rights and labor standards. That includes dealing only with countries that have signed the Paris climate accord, eliminated domestic fossil fuel subsidies and signed international treaties designed to reduce corruption. … She would expand existing advisory committees to include more representation from labor, environmental and consumer groups. … Warren also committed to stop using investor-state dispute settlement provisions, a process that critics say provides too much power to big companies.”


-- The assault-style rifle used in the Gilroy shooting couldn’t be sold in California, according to the state’s attorney general. From CNN: The AK-47 style rifle was legally purchased in Nevada, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. Santino William Legan, 19, killed three people and injured at least 12 others at the festival on Sunday with the rifle he bought July 9 in neighboring Nevada, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters Monday.

-- The shooting's three victims have been identified as 6-year-old Stephen Romero, who had just celebrated his birthday, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar, who was planning on getting a puppy for her sister, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby, a recent college graduate. (AP)

-- The Instagram account connected to the shooter pushed literature that is part of an ecosystem of white nationalism, extremism researchers said. From NBC News: Earlier on the day of the shooting, an Instagram page attributed to Legan posted an image “referring to a proto-fascist white supremacist manifesto by a pseudonymous 19th-century author. … According to extremism researchers, the manifesto is part of a collection of white nationalist literature that’s been pirated and distributed for free on far-right websites. The material is part of a yearslong recruiting technique by white nationalists to target those vulnerable to their message on forums frequently populated by teenagers.”

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered to buy Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) a ticket to Somalia so she will “appreciate America more,” echoing Trump’s statements that she and three other congresswomen should “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “As debate over Trump’s comments swirled, Paul defended him, saying of Omar, ‘I’m sort of dumbfounded how unappreciative she is of our country.’ Paul went further in the interview with Breitbart. ‘While I’m not saying we forcibly send her anywhere, I’m willing to contribute to buy her a ticket to go visit Somalia, and I think she could look and maybe learn a little bit about the disaster that is Somalia — that has no capitalism, has no God-given rights guaranteed in a constitution, and has about seven different tribes that have been fighting each other for the last 40 years.’”

-- Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), one of the other congresswomen targeted by Trump’s racist attack, says in a Post op-ed that while the president “spews hate,” she will continue doing her job.

-- As Trump attacked Baltimore again, House Republicans said they still plan to hold their annual retreat in the city. Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane report: “House Republicans have scheduled their yearly policy retreat for a downtown Baltimore hotel in September, according to two senior Republicans familiar with the plans. That could present an uncomfortable situation for Trump, as sitting presidents customarily speak each year at their party’s House retreat. … The website for the hotel, the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, and multiple third-party hotel booking sites show the hotel as sold out for the days of the retreat, Sept. 12 to 14, while showing availability at other nearby hotels.”

-- Trump was looking for a reason to attack Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — and he found one in a Fox News segment. From Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa: “Trump … was particularly incensed when the longtime Democratic lawmaker lambasted Trump’s acting head of Homeland Security over reports from the border of ‘a child is sitting in their own feces, can’t take a shower.’ … [The] reason came shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday morning, when Kimberly Klacik, a Baltimore area Republican who is black, appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ talking about video footage she had taken depicting Cummings’s district as overrun by trash and blight. Almost exactly an hour later, the president weighed in with tweets calling Cummings’s district ‘a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,’ saying that ‘no human being would want to live there’ and dubbing the congressman ‘a brutal bully. … Trump’s sustained attacks against Cummings reveal the extent to which the president stokes a grudge, immerses himself in Fox News and spews back its more right-wing content into the world — forcing his allies to scramble to respond.”


-- The chairwoman of the Democratic Party committee responsible for maintaining the House majority acknowledged missteps Monday night following mass upheaval in the group’s top staff ranks, including the sudden resignation of the group’s executive director. Mike DeBonis reports: “The shake-up, which included the departures of several other top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executives, came amid an uproar over the group’s commitment to diversity in its hiring and a larger sense of unease about the leadership of Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who was elected chairwoman last year following the Democrats’ sweeping midterm victories. First to depart Monday morning was Executive Director Allison Jaslow, a former top campaign aide and congressional chief of staff to Bustos who ascended to the top staff job earlier this year alongside several other Bustos loyalists. A Politico report published last week detailed complaints about the diversity of the DCCC’s top ranks and increased pressure on Bustos to act, the Democrats said.”


Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) joined those calling for an impeachment inquiry, along with Democratic colleagues Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) and Dina Titus (Nev.):

Trump signed into law a permanent extension of the 9/11 fund for victims and first responders but failed to invite the bill’s lead author, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), to the signing ceremony. Her collaborator on the measure, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), was invited, but there were no Democratic lawmakers present at the ceremony, per the Daily Beast. At the event, Trump made this false claim:

He also made this joke to the first responders in the audience:

George Conway, husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, criticized Trump's false statement, sparking a meme under the hashtag #LostTrumpHistory:

Trump's latest comments on Baltimore brought to light his family's past relationship with housing in the city: 

A Times editor shared this image from a bar in Denton, Tex., where suspected white supremacists demonstrated over the weekend:

A reporter in California shared hard news about the continuing decline of local newspapers:

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That’s my directive from the president of the United States. He’s been unambiguous: End the endless wars. Draw down. Reduce. It won’t just be us,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said of Trump's order to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan. (John Hudson)



Stephen Colbert reacted to Trump's attack on Baltimore:

Seth Meyers did too, taking a closer look at the president's criticism of Cummings:

And a group of children played with seesaws on the U.S.-Mexico border: