Alabama: White Officer Charged in Murder of Unarmed Black Man
In Montgomery, Alabama, white police officer Aaron Smith has been arrested for the killing of unarmed African-American man Gregory Gunn. On February 25, Gregory Gunn, a 58-year-old grocer, was walking home when the 23-year-old white officer shot him several times, killing him. Following the shooting, Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley told local newspapers that Gregory Gunn had been holding some form of a weapon. It was later identified as a retractable painter’s stick. The shooting sparked days of protests and accusations of racial profiling. On Wednesday, officer Aaron Smith was arrested and charged with murder.
GOP Establishment Seeks to Avert Donald Trump Nomination
In the latest attempt by the Republican establishment to derail Donald Trump’s presidential run, former Massachusetts governor and one-time Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is giving a speech today at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in which he is calling Trump a "phony" and a "fraud." In Romney’s prepared remarks, he writes about Trump: "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers." Donald Trump has won 319 delegates so far—nearly 100 more delegates than any other candidate.
Ben Carson Skips Debate, Sees No "Political Path Forward"
This comes as four Republican presidential candidates will face off at a debate in Detroit, Michigan, tonight—after neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he would not participate in tonight’s debate and that he does not "see a political path forward." Carson has failed to win a single state’s primary or caucus. Speaking Tuesday in Baltimore, Dr. Carson gave his diagnosis of the political system: rotten to the core.
Dr. Ben Carson: "As I’ve had an opportunity to really study our system, it has become a little bit discouraging seeing all the relationships that exist there. It is rotten. It is rotten to the core on both sides, Democrats and Republicans. ... The political class and their minions, which includes much of the media, you know, they don’t like it when someone challenges their authority."
Clinton Staffer Receives Immunity in Email Server Investigation
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are slated to debate in Flint, Michigan, on Sunday night. This comes as the Justice Department has granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who set up Clinton’s private email server, amid an ongoing criminal investigation into Clinton’s possible mishandling of classified information.
Flint: State Loan Blocked City from Returning to Detroit Water
Meanwhile, in Flint, new details have emerged about the ongoing water contamination crisis. Newly obtained documents show that when the state of Michigan loaned Flint $7 million in April 2015 in order to ease the city’s deficit so it could exit emergency management, a condition of the loan prohibited the city from returning to the Detroit system without state approval. This condition was imposed despite the fact that Governor Rick Snyder’s office was, by this time, well aware of the problems with the quality of Flint’s drinking water, which among other things was contaminated with lead. On Wednesday, Michigan House Minority Leader Tim Greimel and the Toledo Blade newspaper both called on Snyder to resign. Many Flint activists have also called for his arrest. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus are traveling to Flint, Michigan, and will host a "speak-out" on Friday for residents affected by the ongoing crisis.
European Union Proposes $700 Million in Aid to Address Refugee Needs
The European Union has proposed a plan to distribute more than $700 million of humanitarian aid within its own borders as the continent attempts to respond to the needs of refugees fleeing wars in North Africa and the Middle East. This comes as 30,000 refugees are stranded in Greece because countries further along the Balkan route have closed their borders.
France: Refugees Launch Hunger Strike to Protest Calais Eviction
Meanwhile, in Calais, France, police have continued to dismantle parts of the country’s largest refugee camp, known as The Jungle. Refugees say the police have been destroying people’s homes and are threatening to destroy community centers, such as distribution centers and kitchens, even though a court ruling last week prohibits authorities from dismantling public spaces. At least a dozen refugees have launched a hunger strike to protest the ongoing eviction. Five of them have sewn their lips shut in protest. An Iraqi refugee named Sarwar spoke out.
Sarwar: "I’m planning to go to U.K. But how? The border is closed. I cannot live in The Jungle anymore, because CRS [French riot police] don’t leave me alone, destroyed my shelter. And I don’t know where my life is going."
NYC: Haitians Seek to Hold U.N. Responsible for Cholera Epidemic
In New York City, arguments have begun in a federal appeals case in which Haitian victims are seeking to hold the United Nations responsible for a cholera epidemic that killed more than 9,000 people. The U.N. peacekeepers are accused of negligently bringing cholera to the island during their deployment following the 2010 Haitian earthquake. But the United Nations is arguing it has immunity under a 1946 convention, and its lawyers did not attend Wednesday’s hearing.
London: Nigerians Sue Shell over Spills in Niger Delta
Meanwhile, in a London courtroom, Nigerian communities from the Niger Delta have brought a lawsuit against energy giant Royal Dutch Shell over repeated spills from Shell’s oil pipelines. The spills have devastated the local farming and fishing industries and have contaminated the drinking water. The Nigerian communities are seeking to force Shell to pay cleanup costs. It’s the second time in five years Shell has been sued in London over oil spills in the Niger Delta.
White House Considering Judge Jane Kelly as Supreme Court Pick
The White House is reportedly vetting federal appellate judge Jane Kelly as a potential nomination for the Supreme Court, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Kelly was a longtime public defender in Iowa before being appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. If confirmed, Kelly would become the first public defender on the Supreme Court. Republicans have said they will not consider any Supreme Court nominations by President Obama. But Democrats believe Kelly’s nomination could pressure Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to reconsider this position, because Kelly is a prominent Iowa jurist. Grassley is up for re-election in Iowa this year.
Oklahoma Fracking Billionaire Dies, One Day After His Indictment
In Oklahoma, the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy has died, only one day after he was indicted on charges of conspiring to fix bids for oil and gas leases. Aubrey McClendon died Wednesday morning after his car crashed into an overpass wall at top speed and burst into flames. Paco Balderrama of the Oklahoma City Police Department says McClendon "pretty much drove straight into the wall." The former CEO had made billions off the controversial gas extraction process hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. He was accused of violating antitrust laws by orchestrating a scheme between two oil and gas companies not to bid against each other for leases in Oklahoma.
India: Student Leader Imprisoned for Sedition to Be Released on Bail
And in India, celebrations broke out on university campuses in Delhi after a court granted bail to a student leader imprisoned under a colonial-era sedition law. Student union president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on February 12 after a student group held an event marking the anniversary of the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, who was convicted of a 2001 attack on the Parliament. Kumar’s arrest has sparked freedom of speech protests across India. On Wednesday, a public prosecutor announced Kumar would be released on bail.
Shailendra Babbar: "Today, the honorable court has finally announced the order, thereby saying that six months’ interim bail has been granted to the accused, and, subject to surety bonds, he will be released."