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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 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 in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Five U.S. servicemembers and at least one Afghan soldier have been killed in what appears to be one of the deadliest instances of friendly fire of the war in Afghanistan. The soldiers were mistakenly killed by an airstrike that was called in by U.S. troops to beat back a Taliban ambush. The incident occurred in Zabul province where soldiers were conducting security operations ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff. An earlier “friendly fire” strike killed five Afghan soldiers in March. Afghans have opposed the airstrikes for mistakenly killing civilians, with President Hamid Karzai refusing to sign a long-term security deal with the United States until the air attacks stop.
In Iraq, Islamist militants have reportedly taken effective control of the second largest city, capturing key buildings in Mosul and liberating more than 1,000 inmates from the central prison. Hundreds of fighters, believed to be part of the al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, launched the assault overnight, causing police and soldiers to flee from their posts. The militants have overrun the provincial government headquarters, local TV stations and the airport.
In the U.S., an internal audit by the Department of Veterans Affairs has found more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting at least three months for an initial appointment to see a doctor, while about 43,000 have appointments more than three months away. Across hundreds of VA medical facilities, 13 percent of schedulers reported being instructed to falsify data on wait times. The audit was ordered by former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki before he resigned last month over the scandal.
In Nigeria, suspected members of Boko Haram have kidnapped at least 20 women, loading them into vans at gunpoint. The abduction took place in a nomadic settlement near the town of Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in April.
In Pakistan, the Taliban has attacked a training facility near the Karachi airport, less than two days after their attack on the airport left at least 30 people dead. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Earlier today the Pakistani military said it conducted airstrikes in the northwest, killing at least 15 people they called militants. We’ll have more on the situation in Pakistan later in the broadcast.
President Obama has announced new steps to ease the $1.2 trillion student debt, noting Americans now owe more money on student loans than on credit cards. Obama’s executive order will cap loan payments for millions of people at 10 percent of monthly income — a so-called “Pay As You Earn” model.
President Obama: “So we’re announcing steps that will open up “Pay As You Earn” to nearly five million more Americans. That’s the first action we’re taking today. The second action is to renegotiate contracts with private companies like Sallie Mae that service our student loans. And we’re going to make it clear that these companies are in the business of helping students, not just collecting payments, and they owe young people the customer service and support and financial flexibility that they deserve.”
We’ll have more on student debt later in the broadcast.
The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to young immigrants who turn 21 while their petitions for U.S. visas are still pending. Each year, tens of thousands of young immigrants “age out” of the years-long visa process after applying with their families. On Monday, the court backed the Obama administration’s stance that most immigrants must restart their wait for a visa after they turn 21. Only those with applications filed by parents who are permanent U.S. residents can keep their place in line.
In a separate case, the Supreme Court has barred a group of North Carolina residents from suing the electronics company they say contaminated their drinking water, because a state deadline had lapsed. The deadline applies even though residents did not realize their water contained toxic chemicals until 2009, decades after the contamination by CTS Corporation. The ruling could also impact the case of thousands of marines and their families who are suing the Obama administration over exposure to contaminated groundwater at Camp Lejeune. The government is using the same state law to shield itself from that lawsuit.
A married couple who went on a shooting rampage in Las Vegas were reportedly known for their racist, anti-government views and had spent time at the ranch of Cliven Bundy during his standoff with the federal government. Clark County Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill described their actions Sunday, when they killed themselves after shooting dead three others, including two police officers.
Kevin McMahill: “Immediately upon the shooting finishing, the suspects pulled the officers out of the booth and onto the ground, where they placed a Gadsden flag, which is a ’Don’t Tread on Me’ yellow flag, on the body of Officer Beck. They also threw a swastika on top of his body. At that point, Mr. Jerad Miller then pinned a note to Officer Soldo that basically stated that this is the beginning of the revolution.”
In Virginia, a Democratic state senator has resigned in what critics call a plot by Republicans to trade jobs for political control in their bid to thwart the expansion of Medicaid. The Washington Post reports the resignation of state Senator Phillip Puckett “[paves] the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission.” His departure gives Republicans control of the Virginia Senate, potentially quashing a plan to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income state residents. UPDATE: The Washington Post reports Puckett has withdrawn his name from consideration for the tobacco commission post following an uproar.
The town of East Haven, Connecticut, has agreed to pay $450,000 and adopt new limits on the role of police in immigration enforcement, in order to settle a civil rights lawsuit by Latino residents. Under the new limits, which an attorney for the plaintiffs called some of the strongest in the country, police will limit questioning about status and decline to detain people at the behest of immigration authorities without a criminal warrant. Alleged abuses by East Haven police, including false arrests and illegal searches, led to a Justice Department consent decree and the criminal convictions of four police officers.
In Brazil, subway workers have suspended a five-day strike over wages but warned it could resume in time for Thursday’s opening match of the World Cup. On Monday, meanwhile, striking teachers protested in Rio de Janeiro.
Maria de Lurdes Fonseca: “We are showing Brazil and the world that our country needs to invest in healthcare, education, public transportation and culture — not in stadiums, not in airports. We need public goods that go to the people, not to FIFA, not to tourists. We want investment that stays here, that stays for the people.”
In the Philippines, a veteran radio journalist and anchor has been shot dead in the western province of Oriental Mindoro. Nilo Baculo Sr. reportedly sought court protection in 2008, saying local officials were plotting to kill him for exposing their role in the illegal drug trade. According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, he is the 25th journalist killed in the Philippines since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino took office.
A Wal-Mart truck driver who collided with a limo in a fatal crash on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday had not slept for more than 24 hours before the crash. The crash critically injured former Saturday Night Live comedian Tracy Morgan and two others and killed comedian James McNair. Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against the driver, while Wal-Mart said in a statement it was “profoundly sorry that one of our trucks was involved.” The crash came just days after members of the Senate moved to loosen regulations aimed at preventing truck driver fatigue. Last week, a Senate committee passed a measure to suspend the requirement that truckers take extended breaks after reaching 70 hours on the road over an eight-day period.
In Washington, D.C., students from Woodrow Wilson High School gathered for a counter-rally Monday against the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, which came to protest the school’s celebration of LGBT pride. Last week, the school’s principal, Pete Cahall, came out at a school Pride Day assembly.
Pete Cahall: “I am a proud gay man that just happens to be the principal of Wilson High School.”
Cahall spoke out while standing alongside D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. On Monday, hundreds of students and community members gathered to show their support for LGBT equality and to condemn the Westboro Baptist Church members, whom they vastly outnumbered.
Aiden Parisi: “We kind of took it together to kind of be proud of who we are and be happy that what we’re doing is making an impact that obviously this group has to come protest us. … I mean, I hope people learn a lot from this, because you can learn a lot about First Amendment. You can learn about just standing up for your rights.”
Woman: “When hateful people come to my town, I’m going to stand up and be counted.”