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This weekend’s deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio have reignited criticism of President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric about immigrants and minorities.
Several Democratic presidential hopefuls called for reinstating the ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004, while many accused Trump of stoking racial animus — he’s described Mexican and Central American immigrants as criminals, gang members and rapists — that encouraged the attacks.
Authorities are investigating a possible link between the suspected gunman who opened fire at a Walmart store a few miles from the Mexican border, killing 20 people, and an online manifesto that complained of a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.
Democrats are demanding the Republican-controlled Senate interrupt its August recess to pass background check legislation similar to a measure defeated in 2013 after a shooter killed 20 first graders and six staff members at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. But there’s little indication that will happen.
While Trump told reporters “hate has no place in our country and we’re going to take care of it,” Democratic front-runner Joe Biden laid the blame firmly at the president’s door, accusing him of giving “a safe harbor to hate from the Oval Office.”
The double shooting is unlikely to prompt Trump voters to abandon him. The more significant question is whether Democrats choose to make their criticisms this weekend a central 2020 campaign theme, or let it fade into the background.
Strike! | Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam warned of a “very dangerous situation” as a general strike unfurled across the Asian financial hub following consecutive days of protest over China’s growing influence. Demonstrators also snarled the city’s busy morning rush hour with actions that left traffic-clogged, subway lines disrupted and dozens of flights canceled — and commuters struggling to get to work.
Trade escalation | China responded to Trump’s surprise tariff threat by letting its currency fall to its weakest level in more than a decade and asking state-owned firms to suspend imports of American agricultural products, an escalation of the trade war that stands to antagonize the U.S. leader. Beijing’s moves come a week after the latest high-level talks concluded in Shanghai.
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Kashmir crisis | It took Prime Minister Narendra Modi a matter of hours to erase seven decades of autonomous state government in Kashmir, a move that’s drawn protests in India’s parliament and which risks worsening the deteriorating security relationship with rival Pakistan. In the lead up to the decision, political leaders were placed under house arrest and Indian paramilitary forces deployed thousands of extra troops across the valley.
Election alert | Is Boris Johnson preparing for a snap general election at the same time as pushing for Brexit by Oct. 31? The new U.K. prime minister’s rapid rollout of spending promises on policing, infrastructure and health care smacks of trying to woo the electorate. Yesterday, Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly wouldn’t rule it out, saying only his party wouldn’t initiate an election: a nod to the fact that the most likely route to a poll is a no-confidence vote sparked by the main opposition Labour Party.
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Peace at hand | Sudan’s ruling military council signed a deal with its political opposition yesterday to share power in a three-year transitional government, the latest step toward democracy after the April overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir. The accord followed months of street protests that led to a June crackdown on a Khartoum sit-in killing more than 100 people.
What to Watch This Week
Look for the Trump administration to potentially publish the final list of Chinese goods that would be subject to a new tariff. Two key votes in Italy’s Parliament this week will test the solidity of the fractious government coalition as the prospect of early elections remains on the horizon. The seizure of a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf last week is compounding concerns about the safety of shipping in a region crucial to oil exports. It’s the countdown to an Aug. 11 primary for Argentina’s presidential election, which is being closely watched by investors.
And finally…Saudi Arabia will allow women to travel abroad without permission from a male relative, a major step toward ending a controversial “guardianship” system that renders women legal dependents of men throughout their lives. Yet even as many Saudi women celebrated the decision, some of the female activists who spent years fighting for the change are banned from travel or in jail, accused of undermining the state.
–With assistance from Karen Leigh, Alex Morales, Ruth Pollard and Vivian Nereim.
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