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A federal judge has struck down part of a controversial law that allows the government to indefinitely detain anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial, including U.S. citizens. The ruling came in a lawsuit challenging the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, filed by a group of journalists, scholars and political activists. Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York struck down the indefinite detention provision, saying it likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments. Judge Forrest rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the NDAA merely reaffirmed an existing law recognizing the military’s right to perform certain routine duties.
The financial giant JPMorgan Chase continues to suffer losses on the risky derivatives trade that initially cost the company at least $2 billion. JPMorgan has now lost an additional $1 billion since the loss was disclosed a week ago. Meanwhile, a group of shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit accusing bank executives of misleading investors about the loss. The suit accuses JPMorgan of failing to properly disclose the risks involved in the firm’s trades. The Justice Department is now probing JPMorgan amid new calls for tougher regulation of Wall Street.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has confirmed its agents were on board a U.S.-owned helicopter with Honduran police officers when four people on a boat were shot and killed. Two of the victims were said to be pregnant women. Officials from both countries say Honduran officers carried out the shooting after the helicopter was shot at first. The victims were reportedly suspected of carrying drugs, but local officials say they were innocent fisherpeople. On Wednesday, Honduran protesters in the Indian Mosquito Coast region reacted to killings by burning government offices and demanding the exit of U.S. agents.
The U.S. military has announced plans to deploy a combat brigade to Africa beginning next year. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said small teams of soldiers operating out of the U.S. Africa Command will be sent around the continent to conduct training and take part in military exercises. U.S. special forces and military advisers are currently in Uganda carrying out operations and training African Union troops.
In Chile, a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 marched through the streets of Santiago on Wednesday to support the demands of the nation’s students. It was the second major student protest of the year after months of demonstrations in 2011 opposing student debt and the privatization of education. The head of the Federation of Chilean Students, Gabriel Boric, said Chile’s student movement is resilient in its struggle.
Gabriel Boric: “We are more than 100,000 people. We are giving again a clear sign to the government that the student movement, after a year, stands up on its feet and will not rest. We are still in the fight.”
Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has announced his retirement from Congress rather than seeking a new term through a vacant seat in Washington State. Kucinich will lose his longtime Ohio seat under Republican-mandated redistricting at the end of the year. He recently lost a primary to another Ohio Democrat, Marcy Kaptur, in a redrawn district. Kucinich had been considering running for one of Washington State’s vacant seats, but on Wednesday announced he will step down instead. Kucinich said: “I have decided that, at this time, I can best serve from outside the Congress. My commitments to peace, to workers’ rights and to social and economic justice are constant and are not dependent upon holding an office.” On Wednesday, Kucinich spoke out against war funding on the House floor.
Dennis Kucinich: “We spend trillions of dollars for war, to wage violence thousands of miles away, and we’ve become anesthetized to the violence of war against millions of innocent women, children and men abroad. It’s no wonder that we’re grappling with how best to deal with domestic violence. Imagine if we took a fraction of the trillions of dollars we spent for war and used it to deal with directly the root causes — ask for another 15 seconds — and ask for money to deal with the root causes, the root causes of domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the school, gang violence, gun violence, racial violence, violence against immigrants, violence against gays. I mean, if we did that and looked at the root causes, we wouldn’t even be arguing about spending money for war. We need to look at the issue of violence in America, and do it in a consistent, comprehensive way. I yield back.”
In Arizona, fire crews are battling a series of wildfires that have swept across more than 30 square miles, fueled by high winds. Parts of the Tonto and Prescott National Forests have been burned, while hundreds of residents have been evacuated from the town of Crown King in central Arizona. The blazes are the first in Arizona this year since last year’s record season that saw more than 1,500 square miles consumed by fire. Joe Reinarz of the U.S. Forest Service said some areas remain too dangerous for crews to enter.
Joe Reinarz: “This basin that we were worried about last night that’s coming out, we said one to four days. It didn’t go today, so we passed the one day mark. And what we’re doing right now — they just ordered six air tankers to be putting some retardant along here to keep that checked up as long as we can. And one of the reasons we’re doing that is we don’t want it in there, for one. We’re not sure that that’s going to stop it, until we get boots on the ground, but we can’t go in there when there’s a high probability it’s going to take off.”
Vermont has become the first U.S. state to ban the natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the measure into law at a ceremony attended by environmentalists and a group of high school students who pushed for the ban.
Gov. Peter Shumlin: “This bill will ensure that we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy. It’s a big moment. I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers and its quality of life.”
New U.S. Census data shows for the first time in U.S. history white births are no longer the majority. Non-Latino whites made up 49.6 percent of births during the 12-month period ending last July, while people of color — including Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and those of mixed race — made up 50.4 percent of births.
A federal judge has granted class action status to a lawsuit opposing the New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program, opening the door to legal recourse for hundreds of thousands of people targeted by police. The judge’s ruling cited the city’s “deeply troubling apathy” toward the constitutional rights of New Yorkers. A recent study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found the NYPD program is racially skewed and largely ineffective, with blacks and Latinos making up 87 percent of people stopped last year.