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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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The top U.S. general says the United States may build more military bases in Iraq as part of its escalating campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The remarks by Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey came a day after the White House confirmed plans to deploy up to 450 new U.S. troops to train and back Iraqi forces at a training hub in Anbar province. Dempsey said the Pentagon could establish more sites and deploy even more troops.
Saudi-led airstrikes have destroyed houses, damaged buildings and killed at least six people in the old quarter of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meanwhile, officials say another Saudi-led strike this week hit a public bus on a highway in southern Yemen, killing at least 20 passengers. U.N.-backed talks on Yemen’s crisis are scheduled for Sunday in Geneva.
In Ohio, a judge has found probable cause to charge a police officer with murder for the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November. Rice was playing with a toy gun when police fatally shot him within two seconds of their arrival. The ruling came after community leaders in Cleveland took the unusual step of appealing directly to the judge, saying they were tired of waiting more than six months with no progress. We’ll have more on the case after headlines.
The police chief in Salinas, California, has asked the district attorney to investigate after a bystander’s video showed officers beating a man with their batons as he lies on the ground. Jose Velasco’s mother says her son is mentally ill and was having an episode when she called 911. Police say Velasco was high on methamphetamine and assaulted his mother.
In Iowa, a Des Moines police officer has shot and killed an unarmed man who police say was “walking with a purpose” toward her cruiser. On Tuesday night, police say 28-year-old Ryan Keith Bolinger led officers on a slow-speed chase and then walked toward Officer Vanessa Miller’s cruiser. Miller fatally shot him through her driver’s side window.
In Louisiana, a decision to release the longest-serving U.S. prisoner in solitary confinement could come as early as this afternoon. Albert Woodfox’s immediate release was ordered Monday by a federal judge, but delayed when the state appealed to the Fifth Circuit. Woodfox was first placed in solitary in 1972 after he was charged with murdering a prison guard, Brent Miller. Woodfox is a former Black Panther and member of the “Angola Three,” who insist they were falsely accused because of their political organizing. The guard’s widow, “Teenie” Rogers, issued a statement Thursday calling for Woodfox’s release because she believes he is innocent. She wrote, “I hope the Appeals Court cares about the evidence and cares about justice. The judge has already said this is over. Let it be over. For all of us.”
The International Monetary Fund has recalled its negotiators from Greek bailout talks, accusing Greece of failing to yield on demands for pension cuts. The move puts Greece at risk of defaulting on its debts when its current bailout expires at the end of the month. Meanwhile, thousands of Greeks rallied against further austerity measures in Athens.
Costas Maglaras, Greek pensioner: “They cut our salaries and pensions in half. With a small pension, we are supporting our unemployed children, we are supporting their families. What else must happen so that we take to the streets?”
The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been acquitted of aggravated pimping by a French court. Strauss-Kahn acknowledged participating in sex parties, saying he needed “recreational sessions” while he was “saving the world.” He claimed he didn’t know the women were prostitutes. Some of the women described his behavior as “brutal.” Strauss-Kahn was previously accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid in a case he settled out of court.
A draft United Nations report has found U.N. peacekeepers routinely trade goods for sex with women in countries like Haiti and Liberia who are desperate for food and medication. The report details nearly 500 claims of sexual exploitation and abuse over several years, a third of them involving children.
A federal employees’ union says hackers obtained personnel files including Social Security numbers for every current and former federal employee. The Obama administration has acknowledged records of four million people were stolen, but the American Federation of Government Employees said the breach was larger than officials have publicly admitted. Officials say the hack originated in China.
Landmark rules to uphold a free and open Internet go into effect today. The rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission prevent corporate Internet service providers from blocking websites or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. The companies had asked a court to block the rules while they appeal, but the court denied the request.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has signed into law a landmark measure expanding access to birth control. The law makes Oregon the first state in the country to require insurance companies to cover a year’s worth of birth control at once, rather than forcing women to renew their supply every 30 to 90 days. Supporters say it could decrease unintended pregnancy by 30 percent.
Rupert Murdoch is poised to hand the reins of his media empire to his son. Murdoch, who is 84, will reportedly name his son James the new chief executive of 21st Century Fox, a multibillion-dollar company which includes Fox News. Murdoch will remain executive chairman.
Puerto Rican leaders are protesting the Obama administration’s unveiling of deep cuts to Puerto Rico’s Medicare program. Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports in the New York Daily News the cuts will mean a loss of $300 million annually to Puerto Rico’s government and healthcare system, which are both on the brink of collapse. Puerto Rican leaders plan to protest the cuts at this Sunday’s Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City.
Here in New York, the culture jamming activist group The Yes Men protested Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic by handing out ancient shaved ice from the “remnants of the last icebergs of the North Pole.” Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum described the action.
Mike Bonanno: “This action is against drilling in the Arctic. Shell is just getting ready now to launch their drilling rigs from Seattle up into the Arctic to exploit it for the first time.”
Andy Bichlbaum: “We’re just trying to make it more visible, and this is a funny way to make it visible, but, you know, people like humor, and they like snow cones. So those two things combined seemed to provide a sure recipe for letting people know about the Arctic drilling.”
The new film “The Yes Men Are Revolting” opens today in select theaters.
The legendary jazz musician and composer Ornette Coleman has died at the age of 85. Coleman changed the language of jazz music, pioneering a new sound known as “free jazz.” In 2006, I interviewed one of his closest musical associates, the late jazz bassist Charlie Haden, who described how he first heard Ornette Coleman play at a Hollywood club called the Hague.
Charlie Haden: “They tell him to come up, and he got his alto. It was a plastic—white plastic alto saxophone. And he starts to play, and the whole room lit up for me. It was so brilliant. And as soon as he started to play, they asked him to stop. So he put the horn back in the case and started out the back door.”
Amy Goodman: “Why did they ask him to stop?”
Charlie Haden: “Well, you know, Ornette’s music was completely different than traditional jazz. It was free improvisation. It was his way of improvising. It was improvising and creating a new chord structure to the song that you were playing. That’s the way he played.”
That’s Charlie Haden, who died last year. Ornette Coleman died Thursday of cardiac arrest in New York City. He was 85 years old.
The documentary filmmaker, publisher, journalist and activist Ellen Ray has died at the age of 75. Ray was a co-publisher of the magazine Covert Action Information Bulletin, which exposed CIA covert actions around the world, publishing the names of hundreds of CIA agents. As a result, the law changed, making it illegal. As head of Sheridan Square Press, she published the memoir of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, which became the basis of Oliver Stone’s Academy Award-winning movie, ”JFK.” Ray is survived by her husband, attorney Bill Schaap.