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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This month, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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The Supreme Court has issued a ruling imposing new limits on employment-discrimination complaints brought mostly by women and people of color. In a five-to-four opinion, justices ruled discrimination complaints cannot be filed after more than six months. In a rare move, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench and urged Congress to overturn the decision. Business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are welcoming the judgment while women’s advocates are voicing criticism. Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center said: “[This] essentially says tough luck to employees who don’t immediately challenge their employer’s discriminatory acts, even if the discrimination continues to the present time.”
The Bush administration has announced plans to name former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to replace Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank. Zoellick spent four years as the U.S. trade representative until 2005. He went on to the State Department before leaving to join the financial firm Goldman Sachs last year. Zoellick previously served as a paid adviser to the energy company Enron before its collapse. He was an early backer of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a co-signatory of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century letter calling for Iraq regime change. Public health advocates are criticizing the appointment. Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance called Zoellick “a terrible choice,” saying: “He has been a close friend to the brand-name pharmaceutical industry, and the trade agreements he has championed block patients access to generic medication. … As a market fundamentalist he is also much less likely to stand up for a strong and effective public sector.”
In Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces are carrying out a series of raids around Baghdad in an effort to find five British citizens abducted from a government building. Forty heavily armed men in police uniforms seized the five Tuesday in broad daylight from an office in the Finance Ministry. The kidnap victims were initially reported to be German citizens. But Britain now says the four are British security contractors, while the fifth is a British employee of the U.S. consulting firm BearingPoint.
In other Iraq news, the Pentagon has announced 10 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq Monday. Their deaths make this month the third-deadliest for the U.S. military of the Iraq War. April and May now also mark the deadliest two-month period since the invasion, with at least 209 servicemembers killed.
Meanwhile, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is coming under criticism for significantly undercounting the number of U.S. war dead. General Peter Pace was interviewed by CBS News on Memorial Day.
Gen. Peter Pace: “When you take a look at the life of a nation and all that’s required to keep us free, we had more than 3,000 Americans murdered on 11 September, 2001. The number who have died, sacrificed themselves since that time is approaching that number. And we should pay great respect and thanks to them for allowing us to live free.”
As General Pace spoke, the U.S. toll had reached at least 3,455. Just under 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks.
In other Iraq news, a new court-martial begins today in the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha in November of 2005. Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani is the highest-ranking of the seven marines charged in the massacre.
An American member of al-Qaeda has warned the U.S. will face an attack worse than 9/11 unless it ends all involvement in Muslims lands. In a video released Tuesday, California native Adam Yahiye Gadahn, known as Azzam al-Amriki, calls on President Bush to withdraw all U.S. military and spies from Islamic countries, free all Muslims from U.S. jails and end support for Israel. Gadahn is wanted in the U.S. on charges of treason.
A bipartisan congressional delegation is in Lebanon to back the Lebanese government in its fight against an Islamic militia. The U.S. has expedited military aid to Lebanon since the clashes broke out last week.
Rep. Nick Rahall: “As we speak, we are delivering more military assistance to the Lebanese army quicker than what would normally be delivered because of the circumstances that exist in the north. Our country is supportive of whatever actions the Lebanese army — not militia, army — may take to impose order and justice upon terrorists that exist within the Lebanese borders.”
Tension is increasing with Russia over U.S. plans for a new missile shield in Eastern Europe. On Tuesday, Russia says it had successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile designed to overcome missile defense systems. The test came as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned a U.S. missile deployment would have consequences.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Our point is clear: We consider it harmful and dangerous to turn Europe into a powder keg and to stuff it with new weapons.”
President Bush has imposed new sanctions on the Sudanese government over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The U.S. will bar at least 30 Sudanese companies from the U.S. and impose sanctions on two government officials and a rebel leader.
President Bush: “I call on President Bashir to stop his obstruction and to allow the peacekeepers in and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women and children. And I promise this to the people of Darfur: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.”
The administration also says it will seek tougher actions at the U.N. Security Council, including an arms embargo on the Sudanese government. Some 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in what the Bush administration calls a genocide. The Chinese government is leading calls against sanctions on its major oil partner.
China Darfur envoy Liu Guijin: “The essence of the Darfur issue is not the so-called genocide. It came from the conflicts among different parties for water and land which originated from poverty and a less developed status. It’s because of the shortage of resources. So it is a problem of development. If the international community sincerely hopes to help resolve the Darfur issue the same as other issues in Africa, it should provide more development assistance alongside with humanitarian aid.”
An Al Jazeera cameraman jailed at Guantanamo without charge is calling for the release of the kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston abducted in Gaza two months ago. Sami al-Hajj has been jailed for more than five years. In a letter released by his lawyer, Hajj says: “While the United States has kidnapped me and held me for years on end, this is not a lesson that Muslims should copy.”
In Nigeria, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is facing criminal charges for its alleged role in the deaths of children given an unapproved drug in a clinical trial. State authorities have charged the company on eight counts and are seeking more than $2 billion in damages. The lawsuit alleges Pfizer gave around 100 children an untested drug called Tovan known to have life-threatening side effects and without the consent of their families. Nigeria says the testing led to an unspecified number of deaths and left others deaf, paralyzed, blind or brain-damaged.
In Iran, three American citizens have been charged with espionage and endangering national security. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, has been jailed since earlier this month. Also charged are urban planning consultant Kian Tajbakhsh and journalist Parnaz Azima. All three face the death penalty if convicted. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the charges “a perversion of the rule of law.”
In health news, the U.S. government has isolated a man who may have exposed passengers to a deadly strain of tuberculosis on two recent trans-Atlantic flights. Officials are trying to notify passengers who traveled on Air France from Atlanta to Paris or to the U.S. on Czech Air earlier this month.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “We are well aware of the fact that taking a measure such as issuing an order of isolation is unusual. In fact, people at CDC don’t recall us doing this since 1963. So, we always want to balance personal liberties with the requirement to protect people’s health.”
The decision marks at least the second confinement of a TB carrier. Twenty-seven-year-old Robert Daniels is being held against his will in a Phoenix hospital ward reserved for sick prisoners.
And an American citizen has returned to the U.S. after an ordeal that saw him imprisoned in three East African countries. Twenty-four-year-old Amir Mohamed Meshal was detained in Kenya, transferred to Somalia and then sent to Ethiopia, where he was jailed for three months without charge. Questions have been raised over whether Meshal was held as part of the secret CIA program to jail detainees in foreign prisons. The FBI had accused him of fighting for a radical Islamic movement but is now declining to press charges.