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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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Baltimore police investigators have given prosecutors the initial findings from their probe of the death of Freddie Gray, the man who died of spinal injuries a week after his arrest. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby will now decide whether to seek a grand jury indictment of any of the six officers involved. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said the investigation has been thorough and is not over.
Commissioner Anthony Batts: “At approximately 8:50 this morning, our task force charged with investigating the tragic death of Mr. Freddie Gray turned over the contents of that investigation to the state attorney’s office. We dedicated 30-plus detectives. Their full-time job was focused on this case and only this case, including lab personnel and academy personnel and homicide detectives in our fifth team. The family and the community and the public deserve transparency and truth. The task force heeded my call, and we have exhausted every lead at this point in time. But this does not mean that the investigation is over. Let me repeat: This does not mean that the investigation is over.”
The move forward in the case comes as new details have emerged. Police say the van transporting Gray made a previously undisclosed second stop while en route to the police station. The new stop was discovered from security camera footage, not from speaking to the officers involved. The investigation also reportedly concludes Gray’s spinal injuries had to have happened inside the van, not when he was initially detained and dragged on the ground. The medical examiner reportedly found that Gray’s spinal injury was caused by his slamming into a bolt in the back of the van. It remains unclear how.
Meanwhile, a key witness in the case has rejected police claims that blamed Gray for his own injuries. A leaked police document says Donte Allen, who was riding in the same van as Gray but divided by a partition, told police Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” But speaking to the station WBAL, Allen said he only heard a light knocking coming from Gray’s side of the van.
Donte Allen: “When I got in the van, I didn’t hear nothing. It was a smooth ride. We went straight to the police station. All I heard was like a little banging for about four seconds, you know what I mean? I just heard a little banging, you know, just little, you know what I mean? Boom boom, just little banging. Just little banging.”
Police say a 10 p.m. curfew will continue at least through the weekend in the aftermath of Monday’s unrest that damaged cars and buildings. Marches continued in Baltimore on Thursday, and major rallies are planned for this weekend. Protests also continue nationwide. In Philadelphia, 1,000 people gathered in front of City Hall to hear speeches in support of the Baltimore protesters. More on Baltimore after headlines.
Nepal’s army chief has warned the death toll from Saturday’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake could reach 15,000. The toll now stands at 5,800, with almost double that number injured. It is the worst natural disaster to hit the Himalayan country in more than 80 years. We’ll have more on Nepal after headlines.
Vietnam has marked the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese forces seized the presidential palace in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, today known as Ho Chi Minh City. A ceremony and military parade was held in the city on Thursday. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung denounced what he called the “barbarous crimes” of the U.S. invasion, which killed at least three million Vietnamese. In Vietnam, the war is known as the “War of American Aggression.”
The family of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed is appealing for global pressure to help secure his freedom. A Maldives court sentenced Nasheed to 13 years in prison last month on charges of illegally ordering the arrest of a judge while he was still president. The judge was appointed by his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years before Nasheed became its first democratically elected president in 2008. Nasheed’s attorney, Amal Clooney, and his wife, Laila Ali, spoke out in Washington.
Amal Clooney: “We are here to brief them fully on the case and to highlight the role that we believe the U.S. government can play in advancing justice. President Yameen must be told to free the former president.”
Laila Ali: “I’m very worried, really worried about his health and safety, but my husband remains strong and resolute. He is determined to fight this injustice ’til his last breath. I am in Washington today to seek the support of the United States, India, the U.K., EU and all freedom-loving countries. I want these nations to urge the government of the Maldives to release my husband from prison immediately.”
Nasheed became famous in 2009 for holding a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to the threat of climate change to his island nation. He was ousted in 2012 in what he called an armed coup.
New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association aided government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. Psychologists played a key role in the Bush administration’s torture and interrogation program, helping to develop techniques and monitor sessions. The involvement of health professionals helped provide legal cover. In a new report, a group of dissident psychologists and activists concludes the APA “secretly coordinated” with top U.S. officials to create an “ethics policy on national security interrogations” in line with the authorization for CIA’s torture methods. The report says the APA’s involvement “undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession.” The APA denies coordinating its ethics policy with the U.S. government. An independent review convened by the group last year is still underway.
A former Port Authority official and ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is set to plead guilty over his role in the scandal surrounding lane closings on the George Washington Bridge. The official, David Wildstein, helped coordinate the closures with a top Christie aide when he worked at the Port Authority. Christie has denied having any knowledge, saying he only found out when the scandal broke open. But Wildstein has said “evidence exists” Christie was aware at the time, contrary to his public statements. It’s unclear which charges Wildstein will plead guilty to. He is expected to provide testimony at a hearing today.
And independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Launching his campaign, Sanders said the nation’s “immoral” economic system favoring the wealthy cannot continue.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “All over this country, I’ve been talking to people, and they say, 'How does it happen? I'm producing more, but I’m working longer hours for low wages. My kid can’t afford to go to college. I’m having a hard time affording healthcare.’ How does that happen, while at exactly the same time 99 percent of all new income generated in this country is going to the top 1 percent? How does it happen that the top 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent? And my conclusion is that that type of economics is not only immoral, it’s not only wrong, it is unsustainable. It can’t continue.”
Sanders had floated his potential candidacy for months, repeatedly saying he would only run if he sensed there was sufficient grassroots support. He will campaign as a self-described “independent Democrat,” because running as a third-party candidate would have been too difficult. He is the first official challenger to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton so far. In a tweet on Thursday, Sanders said he looks forward to debating Clinton on “the big issues: income inequality, climate change, and getting big money out of politics.”