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A federal court has released a heavily redacted memo that outlines the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens overseas. During a three-month span in 2011, U.S. drone strikes killed four American citizens, including Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and, weeks later, his Denver-born 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen. The legal memo, kept secret by the administration until now, concludes the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force gave the U.S. government the authority to target al-Awlaki, who the administration claims had joined al-Qaeda. The memo was authored by former Obama Justice Department official David Barron, who was confirmed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals last month. We’ll discuss the memo’s release in detail later in the broadcast.
In Iraq, Sunni militants have solidified their control over the western border, including crossing points with Syria and Jordan. The expansion came as Secretary of State John Kerry paid a surprise visit to Baghdad on Monday. Speaking in Washington, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf laid out the details of what the administration called its “intense and sustained support for Iraq.”
Marie Harf: “First, there are going to be advisers working with the Iraqis to help shore up their ability to fight ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). We’re also going to be enhancing our intelligence sharing, including through joint operation centers to fuse information. We’re going to continue to supply a steady stream of sophisticated munitions. And the advisers really be working with some of Iraq’s best units to help them fight ISIL.”
The United Nations reports at least 1,075 people have been killed in Iraq this month, most of them civilians. We’ll have more on the crisis after headlines.
In news from Nigeria, the Associated Press reports Islamic militants have kidnapped 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from northeastern villages. Witnesses confirmed the abductions while security forces have denied them. The militant group Boko Haram has carried out near-constant attacks in the region including the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in April.
“Israel”http://www.democracynow.org/topics/israel has bombed a number of targets in Syria in retaliation for a cross-border attack that killed a teenager in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syria says the Israeli strikes have killed four people in what it called a “flagrant violation” of Syrian sovereignty.
The strikes in Syria come as Israel faces international scrutiny for its raids on the occupied West Bank in response to the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers. Israel has accused Hamas of kidnapping the teens and has detained 361 Palestinians and killed five in an ongoing crackdown. Speaking on Monday, U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman called for restraint.
Jeffrey Feltman: The rising death toll as a result of Israeli security operations in the West Bank is alarming. We condemn all killing of civilians and call for an investigation into any such deaths. Reportedly, the Israeli Cabinet also voted to impose harsher conditions on detainees affiliated with Hamas who are in Israeli custody. As the search for the missing youth continues, we call for restraint in carrying out the security operations in strict compliance with international law and avoiding punishing individuals for offenses they have not personally committed.”
Syria has completed the handover of its chemical weapons stockpiles to Western powers under a deal reached last year to avert possible U.S. airstrikes. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says all 1,300 tons of Syria’s declared supply has been carried out of the country by ship and will be destroyed.
Afghanistan is facing an election crisis amid allegations of fraud in the presidential runoff. A top election official resigned Monday after presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah released audio recordings which he claimed showed the official orchestrating the stuffing of ballot boxes. The official, Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, denied the tapes are real but said he would resign for the sake of “national unity.” June has been the deadliest month this year for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with nine killed, including three marines struck by a roadside bomb on Friday and five killed by friendly fire earlier in the month.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says he will not intervene in the sentencing of three Al Jazeera journalists to between seven and 10 years in prison, even as international outcry spreads. Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted on Monday of terrorism charges including “spreading false news” in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed by the government a “terrorist group.” Peter Greste’s father, Juris Greste, reacted to the sentencing.
Juris Greste: “This is a very dark time, not only for our family, but for journalism generally. We are devastated, shocked and dismayed at this finding. We are not usually a family of superlatives, but I have to say this morning my vocabulary fails to convey just how shattered we are.”
The sentencing came one day after Secretary of State John Kerry met with el-Sisi and outlined plans for a full resumption of military ties in the coming months. On Monday, Kerry released a statement calling the verdict “draconian” and urging Egypt to “consider all available remedies, including pardons.” But the statement did not mention U.S. military aid, including $575 million released in recent days and plans to send a long-delayed shipment of Apache helicopters. Australia has protested the sentencing of Peter Greste —- an Australian citizen –— by summoning a top Egyptian diplomat.
President Obama has called for paid family leave and greater flexibility to improve conditions for working parents. Obama repeated the call at a White House summit on Monday after initial remarks in his weekly address on Saturday.
President Obama: “Many jobs don’t offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can’t afford to be there when their family needs them the most. That’s wrong, and it puts us way behind the times. Only three countries in the world report that they don’t offer paid maternity leave. Three. And the United States is one of them. It’s time to change that.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has largely upheld the Obama administration’s limits on greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. In a 7-to-2 decision, the court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate power plants and other stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions as long as they already require permits for other types of pollution. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the ruling allows the EPA to regulate 83 percent of such emissions, compared to the 86 percent the agency sought to regulate.
In South Africa, platinum miners have agreed to end a historic five-month-long strike in return for increased wages. The miners’ union said it accepted a plan to raise wages by about $94 per month, a roughly 20 percent rise, ending what has reportedly been the longest strike in South African history. During a previous strike in 2012, police opened fire on workers at the Marikana platinum mine, killing 34 people.
In Brazil, anti-World Cup protests are continuing across the country even amidst celebrations over Brazil’s latest triumph on the field. On Monday, demonstrators marched in Porto Alegre, São Paulo and the capital Brasília to protest mass expenditures and displacement caused by the event. In Fortaleza, construction workers demanded higher pay as Brazil spends an estimated $11.5 billion on the most expensive World Cup on record. In Rio de Janeiro, hundreds of people marched past reveling fans to denounce police violence against residents of the favela neighborhoods.
Fransérgio Goulart: “This is a protest against the Cup and state violence and the UPP (Pacifying Police Unit). I live in Manguinhos, and since the UPP have been there, five people have been murdered by state hands. This idea that the UPP are pacifiers is a farce. I live in Manguinhos, and those who live in Manguinhos and who live in the favelas know. It is a continual policy about controlling the people. In less than two years in Manguinhos, more than five young people have been killed.”
In London, critics of austerity are vowing to stage more protests after an estimated 50,000 people marched this past weekend. The People’s Assembly has called for people in Britain to rise up and defend education, health and welfare in the face of austerity measures introduced by the government. Among the protesters was comedian Russell Brand.
Russell Brand: “A revolution is required. It’s not a revolution of radical ideas, but simply the implementation of the ideas that they say we already have. Democracy would be nice, actually, where people were represented, where people’s feelings were represented. I don’t believe that the people of this country want to focus their hatred and anger on other people that don’t have wealth or power. It is quite clear that the people that have wealth and power are the people that need to change.”
Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper unit in Britain, has been acquitted of phone hacking and bribery in a trial that rocked Murdoch’s media empire. Her former deputy, Andy Coulson, who served as editor of the News of the World tabloid before becoming communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron, has been found guilty of one count of phone hacking. The scandal led Murdoch to shut down the tabloid in 2011.
In California, a state auditor’s report has found dozens of prisoners were illegally sterilized. Out of 144 surgical sterilizations performed in recent years, 39 — or more than a quarter of them — were performed without the legal requirements for consent. In some cases, doctors failed to sign paperwork certifying the prisoner understood the impact of the procedure; in others, they falsified paperwork to make it appear as if a state-mandated waiting period had passed. It is the latest chapter in an unfolding scandal in California after former prisoners reported being coerced into sterilization.
A Planned Parenthood petition over the alleged censoring of a movie ad by NBC has received about 11,000 signatures. Planned Parenthood launched the petition following reports NBC refused to run a trailer for the romantic comedy “Obvious Child” because it mentions the word abortion. The petition reads in part: “It’s been more than 40 years since abortion was legalized — it’s about time television caught up. … For far too long, the refusal to talk honestly about abortion has led to increasing stigma around the issue, and it’s got to stop.” Click here to watch our interview with Gillian Robespierre, the director of “Obvious Child.”