An estimated 20,000 people gathered on the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, Sunday evening in a show of unity to commemorate the nine African-American people shot and killed at the Emanuel AME Church last week. The march came after the church held its first services since Wednesday night’s massacre. Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff delivered the sermon.
Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff: “The blood of the 'Mother Emanuel Nine' requires us to work until not only justice in this case, but for those who are still living in the margin of life, those who are less fortunate than ourselves, that we stay on the battlefield until there is no more fight to be fought.”
A website surfaced Saturday showing photographs of the white shooter, Dylann Roof, posing with the Confederate flag. The website features a manifesto detailing his racist motivations. Roof wrote in part: “I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Republican South Carolina State Representative Doug Brannon has announced plans to sponsor legislation to take down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State Capitol grounds. Thousands of people marched in the capital Columbia Saturday calling for the flag to be removed. We’ll have more on the flag and the shooter’s white supremacist ties after headlines.
FBI Director James Comey has refused to consider the rampage in Charleston an act of terrorism. Speaking at a news conference in Baltimore Friday, Comey said the massacre would be investigated as a hate crime, but ruled out the term terrorism.
James Comey: “I wouldn’t, because of the way we define terrorism under the law. Terrorism is an act of violence done or threatened to — in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry, so it’s more of a political act. And again, based on what I know so far, I don’t see it as a political act.”
The United Nations has found “serious violations of international humanitarian law” which “may amount to war crimes” by both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza. The long-awaited report released earlier today said of Israel’s actions in Gaza, “impunity prevails across the board.” The report also criticized the “inherently indiscriminate nature” of Palestinian rocket attacks. The assault killed over 2,200 Palestinians, the majority civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, all but six of them soldiers. The report is expected to guide an ongoing inquiry into possible war crimes by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
In Pakistan, a heat wave has killed at least 140 people in Karachi and the surrounding province of Sindh. Temperatures have soared as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
A top Al Jazeera journalist has been detained in Germany on an Egyptian arrest warrant in what Al Jazeera has decried as an ongoing crackdown by Egypt on its reporters. Ahmed Mansour was arrested at the Berlin airport Saturday as he tried to board a flight to Doha. He is awaiting a German court ruling on whether to extradite him. Last year, an Egyptian court sentenced Mansour to 15 years in prison in absentia for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square during Egypt’s 2011 revolution, but Al Jazeera rejects the charge as false. Reporters Without Borders condemned Mansour’s arrest as part of “Egypt’s terrible revenge against journalists that cross the regime.”
On Friday, WikiLeaks published more than 60,000 cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry which reveal how the oil-rich U.S. ally pays for influence around the world. One document appears to show Gulf states were prepared to pay $10 billion to secure the release of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Another expresses Saudi concerns over “flirting American messages” to Iran over its nuclear program. Another document found by the Associated Press shows a Saudi princess racked up a multimillion-dollar limousine bill in Geneva, then left town without paying it. WikiLeaks says this is only the first batch of over half a million Saudi records.
The revelations came as supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gathered outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to mark three years since Assange sought refuge there. Assange has been unable to set foot outside the embassy, where he has asylum, over fears he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden on sex crimes allegations, and, he fears, to the United States, over WikiLeaks’ disclosures.
Meanwhile, newly unsealed documents published in full by The Intercept show the Obama administration won a secret order forcing Google to hand over the email records of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum as part of a criminal probe over WikiLeaks’ publication of U.S. diplomatic cables.
Hundreds thousands of people gathered in London Saturday to protest austerity policies backed by the Conservative government. Singer Charlotte Church and comedian Russell Brand were among an estimated 250,000 people who took part.
Charlotte Church: “Basically just the sense of injustice and unfairness at what the Tory government are trying to do with putting in these austerity measures, which they’re trying to make people believe is the only way that, you know, our economy can be run, that we’re in so much debt, and, in my mind, that’s just a lie.”
Russell Brand: “I think, like most of you here, I felt crushing disappointment on the morning after the election. Unlike many of you, I felt personally to blame for it. I thought I’d broken a country.”
That last voice was Russell Brand. To see our interview with him, you can go to democracynow.org.
European leaders are holding emergency talks in Brussels today on Greece’s financial future. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has presented a new proposal for reforms which the European Commission called a “good basis for progress.” The offer is seen as Greece’s last chance to avoid defaulting on a payment to the International Monetary Fund at the end of the month. Thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens Sunday urging their leaders to stand firm against austerity.
In Louisville, Kentucky, the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police has issued an open letter lashing out at Black Lives Matter activists in the wake of a fatal police shooting. Fraternal Order of Police President Dave Mutchler wrote, “To the sensationalists, liars and race-baiters, we are done with you. At first it was good enough to sit back and watch your ridiculous spectacle. No more.” Mutchler continued: “Your idiocy and lies are what caused the destruction in Ferguson and other cities around our country and we won’t be tolerating that here.” Mutchler defended his letter at a news conference Friday.
Dave Mutchler: “Because this letter was honest, and it was blunt. It’s pretty obvious that was the case. But while it’s important for me to come out here and let everyone know this is how my members feel, this is what we think is going on, only then can we move forward and actually have an honest dialogue and get over the window dressing that oftentimes happens between the police and, you know, sections of the community that think that there can be improvement or otherwise with the police department.”
Louisville’s mayor and police chief have criticized Mutchler’s “threatening tone.” His remarks follow protests over a white Louisville police officer’s fatal shooting of a Sudanese immigrant. Surveillance video appears to show Deng Manyoun wielding a flagpole, but protesters have questioned whether it was necessary for Officer Nathan Blanford to kill him.
The Iowa Supreme Court has struck down a rule banning the use of telemedicine for pill-induced abortions. In order to make abortion accessible to women in rural areas, abortion clinics in Iowa have been using video conferences where doctors consult with patients, then dispense abortion pills by remotely operating a drawer in the exam room. The patient is examined by other medical staff first. In a unanimous ruling Friday, the court struck down a bid by the Iowa Board of Medicine to ban abortions by telemedicine, allowing the practice to continue.
And pro-choice activists have announced plans to fly the first-ever abortion drone carrying packages of abortion-inducing pills from Germany to Poland, where abortion is illegal. The flight is a collaboration between Polish and German groups and Women on Waves, which has set sail around the world using a Dutch ship to provide abortions in international waters off the coast of countries where it is banned. The drone is set to depart next Saturday, June 27. You can see our interview with Women on Waves founder Rebecca Gomperts at democracynow.org.