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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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Tens of thousands of Greeks have protested against further austerity cuts ahead of a key referendum on a new European bailout. The demonstrations come as the country confirms it will not meet the deadline for a $1.8 billion loan repayment due by 6 p.m. Eastern time tonight, deepening Greece’s fiscal crisis and threatening its exit from the eurozone. Greece will hold a vote this Sunday on whether to accept an austerity package of budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for new loans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged a “no” vote, calling the proposal a surrender. We’ll have more on the Greece fiscal crisis after headlines.
Today marks the deadline for Iran and six world powers to reach a comprehensive agreement on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has dispatched two top officials to Vienna in a last-minute push for a diplomatic breakthrough, but the talks will likely be extended.
Puerto Rico has asked Washington to allow it to declare municipal bankruptcy after announcing it won’t be able to pay back its $72 billion in public debt. On Monday, Governor Alejandro García Padilla said the struggling island needs Washington’s help.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla: “It is the moment for us to speak in one voice to demand concrete action from Washington, action from Washington now, action so that they finish approving the changes to Chapter 9 and so that Puerto Rico can count on the same protection that other jurisdictions have.”
A report Monday said Puerto Rico’s financial outlook is unsustainable, with insufficient revenues, high migration and a heavy financial burden to meet its obligations as a U.S. territory. At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest ruled out a bailout but suggested Puerto Rico could be eligible for bankruptcy protections.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest: “There’s no one in the administration or in D.C. that’s contemplating a federal bailout of Puerto Rico, but we do remain committed to working with Puerto Rico and their leaders as they address the serious challenges, serious financial challenges, that are currently plaguing the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Treasury Department and other administration officials have been engaged with Puerto Rico to try to help them get access to all available and existing federal resources. And the Treasury Department, over the last year or two, has shared its expertise with local officials in Puerto Rico.”
As part of its debt crisis, Puerto Rico will likely be forced into major cuts to government services and massive layoffs, adding to its 14 percent unemployment.
The Supreme Court has handed down its final rulings for the current term. On Monday, the Supreme Court blocked a lower court decision that threatened to leave Texas with fewer than 10 abortion clinics. The court said clinics do not have to follow requirements forcing them to meet the standards of hospital-style surgery centers that were set to take effect on Wednesday, after Texas failed to prove the measures protect women’s health. The court could take up whether the rules are unconstitutional later this year.
In another decision, the court blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s first national standards to cut emissions of mercury and toxic air pollutants from coal-fired power plants. The EPA has estimated the standards could help prevent thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of cases of disease each year, especially in poor neighborhoods, where mercury disproportionately falls. The court’s decision could make the EPA more vulnerable to challenges on future emissions caps.
The Supreme Court has also rejected a challenge to the use of a controversial sedative in executions. Three Oklahoma prisoners had sought a ban on midazolam, which has been tied to several botched or prolonged lethal injections. But a five-to-four majority rejected the inmates’ claim that the drug violates a ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In a dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested they’re prepared to deem the death penalty unconstitutional.
And finally, in a key electoral case, the court sided with an effort by Arizona voters to draw their own congressional and state legislative districts. The decision could have a major impact on limiting partisan gerrymandering.
In Egypt, the country’s public prosecutor has been killed in a bomb attack in Cairo. Hisham Barakat died in hospital Monday after a remote bomb detonated next to his car outside his home as he drove to work. Eight others were also hurt in the blast. Barakat became a target of militants after he sent thousands of Islamists to trial following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Israel has stopped the latest effort by foreign activists to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip by sea. A boat leading the Freedom Flotilla III was intercepted Monday about 100 nautical miles off the Gaza coast. Organizers say the flotilla is carrying solar panels and medical equipment for Gaza residents. The passengers have been taken to an Israeli port in what the Freedom Flotilla Coalition calls “an act of kidnapping.”
President Obama has announced plans to expand overtime pay for over five million workers. Under the change, those who learn less than $50,400 per year would be guaranteed time-and-a-half wages for working more than 40 hours a week. The current maximum for overtime eligibility is just over $23,000.
Two major networks have cut ties to Donald Trump over his recent comments denigrating Mexican immigrants. Announcing his Republican presidential bid this month, Trump branded Mexicans who move to the U.S. criminals and “rapists.” Calling Trump’s remarks “insulting,” Univision, the largest Spanish-language TV network in the U.S., says it will no longer air the Trump-owned Miss USA pageant. NBC also says it will no longer broadcast Miss USA. It will continue airing the reality show Celebrity Apprentice but without Trump’s involvement.
And the former death row prisoner Glenn Ford has died at the age of 65. After three decades on death row in Louisiana, Ford was freed in March 2014 based on new evidence clearing him of the 1983 fatal shooting of a jewelry store owner. Ford is African-American and was tried by an all-white jury. He was one of the longest-serving death row prisoners ever to be exonerated. The prosecutor who sent him to prison, Marty Stroud, came out and apologized to Ford for his ordeal.