In Kansas, a man killed three people at a manufacturing plant Thursday in a shooting spree that also left 14 people wounded. Authorities say suspected shooter Cedric Ford drove around firing on people on his way to his worksite, Excel Industries. The shooter was killed by police. Excel Industries employee Dylan spoke out.
Dylan: "We heard a pop-pop, and we thought it was just metal falling on the ground. And then the doors opened, people started screaming, coming out, saying, 'Go to the front! Go to the front!' And then everybody turned around, you know, said, 'No, he's out front.’ So everybody started going to the back right over here. And then, but yeah, me and my boss and the other employee that we work with, we was just standing back there, you know? We really didn’t know what was going on."
This comes less than a week after six people were killed and two injured in Michigan when an Uber driver went on a four-hour-long shooting rampage, opening fire on people seemingly at random.
The five remaining Republican presidential candidates debated in Houston, Texas, Thursday night in their final showdown before Super Tuesday. Candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kaisch and Ben Carson all attacked front-runner Donald Trump, who has won three out of the four primaries and caucuses to date. This comes as former Mexican President Vicente Fox spoke out in an interview with Univision and Fusion host Jorge Ramos about Trump’s repeated calls to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Trump says he would make Mexico pay for.
Vicente Fox: "I declare, I’m not going to pay for that [blee] wall. He should pay for it. He’s got the money."
Jorge Ramos: "Are you afraid that he’s going to be the next president of the United States? What would that mean?"
Vicente Fox: "Not at all. Not at all."
Jorge Ramos: "What would that mean for Mexicans?"
Vicente Fox: "Not at all. Democracy cannot take us to crazy people that doesn’t know what’s going on in the world today."
Meanwhile, white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke is using his radio program to urge listeners to support Trump, saying Wednesday, "voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage." Duke went on to encourage listeners to go to Trump’s headquarters to volunteer, saying, "Go in there. You’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have."
Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has said he would pardon David Daleiden, an anti-choice activist who was indicted by a Texas grand jury last month on charges stemming from the highly edited videos he shot undercover at Planned Parenthood. Cruz made the remarks in response to an audience member’s question during a special edition of Fox News’ "The Kelly File" Wednesday night.
Lauren: "If David Daleiden’s case became a federal one, would you pardon him?"
Sen. Ted Cruz: "Lauren, thank you for asking that question. The answer is yes. ... And I’ll tell you this. I pledge that if I’m elected president, on very first day in office I intend to instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and to prosecute any and all criminal conduct by that organization."
Meanwhile, in Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed an anti-choice law to take effect, which could shutter nearly all abortion clinics in the state. Louisiana is one of multiple states that have passed laws requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Such privileges are often impossible for abortion providers to obtain, due to anti-choice sentiment or because they don’t admit enough patients to meet hospital minimums. Speaking on a conference call with reporters Thursday, attorney David Brown of the Center for Reproductive Rights said the ruling will likely shut down all but one clinic.
David Brown: "When the law was passed, there were five abortion clinics throughout the state offering services to women. Three of those clinics have now closed because they cannot meet the admitting privileges requirement that the Fifth Circuit allowed to take effect last night. The fourth clinic is hanging on by a thread with one physician, who will have to cease providing services unless we can get immediate relief from the Supreme Court. So, the Fifth Circuit has—the decision yesterday has poised us to go from five clinics down to one."
The Center for Reproductive Rights said it would seek emergency relief from the Supreme Court. The decision came a week before the Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday concerning another ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld anti-choice restrictions in Texas, including a similar admitting privileges rule that has shuttered about half of Texas’ roughly 40 clinics.
The Pentagon says it’s planning to send dozens of U.S. special operations troops to the front lines of Nigeria’s fight against the extremist group Boko Haram. The Pentagon says the U.S. soldiers would serve only in noncombat advisory roles helping the Nigerian military. Human Rights Watch and other groups have accused the Nigerian military of burning hundreds of homes and committing other abuses in the fight against Boko Haram.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 10 rounds of airstrikes hit the rebel-held town of Douma to the east of Damascus Friday morning, only hours before a U.S.- and Russian-brokered plan to stop the fighting is slated to take effect. The two-week "cessation of hostilities" is set to begin at midnight. The Assad regime, a coalition of opposition groups and the U.S. and Russia have all agreed to the two-week halt to the fighting. Groups like ISIL and al-Nusra are not included in the brokered agreement, and strikes against these groups are expected to continue. On Thursday, President Obama said the U.S. is committed to the plan to ease fighting, but that there are "plenty of reasons for skepticism."
In Calais, France, in the largest refugee camp in the country, refugees say officials began telling people to move out this morning, after a judge ruled Thursday that French authorities can move forward in evicting as many as 3,000 refugees. French authorities want the refugees to move into shipping containers or to be dispersed to refugee centers across France. To see our coverage of the refugee camp when Democracy Now! visited there, go to democracynow.org.
Meanwhile, in the United States, a new report by the ACLU and other groups says violations of medical care standards played a role in at least eight deaths inside U.S. immigrant detention facilities between 2010 and 2012. The report includes cases in which one man died of a heart attack after officials waited more than an hour to call 911, while another died of a preventable heart disease after his pleas for medical care were ignored for four months. In another case, a woman died after authorities gave her the incorrect dose of her medicine, even though she submitted multiple health services requests before her death, including one in which she wrote, "I am not being given the full dosage of my medications."
The animal theme park SeaWorld has acknowledged that it sent an employee to pose as an animal rights activist—nearly six months after the group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accused the SeaWorld employee of spying. Writing in a blog post on Thursday, SeaWorld’s chief executive Joel Manby said that the board has "directed that the company’s management team end a practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists." SeaWorld also acknowledged that the employee, Paul McComb, has returned to work. According to PETA, McComb took part in numerous PETA protests against SeaWorld while undercover and repeatedly used social media in an effort to incite other activists, stating that it’s time to "grab pitchforks and torches" and time to "burn SeaWorld to the ground."
In Washington, D.C., cancer patients Zahara Heckscher and Hannah Lyon were arraigned Thursday on charges stemming from their February protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP, and its so-called death sentence clause, which would extend drug company monopolies on medicines. Zahara Heckscher spoke after their arraignment.
Zahara Heckscher: "We’re going to keep fighting against the TPP, keep fighting to get the word out about the danger of the TPP for people with cancer and people who need access to medicines in the U.S. and around the world. So we’re going to keep fighting, even though we have to deal with the criminal justice system. That’s OK. We’re going to keep the struggle going."
And the nonprofit news organization InsideClimate News and independent journalists Jamie Kalven and Brandon Smith have won this year’s Izzy Award, presented by the Park Center for Independent Media and named for legendary dissident journalist I.F. Stone. InsideClimate News won for its investigative series, "Exxon: The Road Not Taken," which chronicles how Exxon knew about climate change as early as the 1970s. Jamie Kalven of the Chicago-based news outlet the Invisible Institute and freelance journalist Brandon Smith won for their reporting on the Chicago Police Department’s killing of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald.
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman will be inducted into the I.F. Stone Hall of Fame. Amy Goodman joins prior I.F. Stone Hall of Fame inductees Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill.