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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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Four U.S. marines were killed and three people were injured in shootings at two separate military sites Thursday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The shooter, who died in a firefight, has been identified as 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a Kuwait-born naturalized U.S. citizen who attended high school and college in Chattanooga. President Obama spoke after the shooting.
President Obama: I’d ask all Americans to pray for the families who are grief-stricken at this point. And I want everybody to understand that we will be thorough and prompt in figuring out exactly what happened.”
In a press conference, the FBI said the agency does not have “anything that directly ties” the suspected shooter to any international terrorist organization.
In news from Colorado, James Holmes has been convicted of multiple counts of murder for the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, which left 12 dead and dozens wounded. Holmes had pleaded not guilty by reasons of insanity, but the jury rejected that argument. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
A new Government Accountability Office report shows that hundreds of packages of aid intended for Yemen have not been delivered and have been sitting in a storage facility in Virginia for years. The packages include medical supplies and batteries, as well as military equipment. The revelations come two weeks after the United Nations declared Yemen faces the highest level humanitarian crisis, on par with South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. Julien Harneis, the acting U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, spoke on the situation.
President Obama has made history by becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison as he continues a push to reform the country’s criminal justice system. On Thursday, he visited El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma.
President Obama: “Visiting with these six individuals, and I’ve said this before, when they describe their youth and their childhood, these are young people who made mistakes that aren’t that different than the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made.”
Meanwhile, at a speech to the NAACP Wednesday, former President Bill Clinton said he regrets signing the “three-strikes” law and other legislation that dramatically increased prison sentences.
More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the Justice Department to probe the mysterious death of an African-American woman who died in a Texas jail. Twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested Friday after a traffic stop for failing to use her turn signal while changing lanes. Three days later, on Monday, she was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, northwest of Houston. Jail officials said her death was a suicide, a claim disputed by her family.
Sharon Cooper, Sandra Bland’s sister: “We want to seek to understand what happened. We don’t know.”
On Thursday, video footage surfaced of her arrest, which appears to show police pushing Sandra Bland to the pavement and restraining her as she asks why she is being treated so roughly and why they slammed her head on the ground. Bland was involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and had posted a series of videos online speaking out against police brutality and racial injustice.
Sandra Bland: “I want the white folks to really understand out there, black people are truly — we’re doing as much as we can. Not all of us, but some of us are really doing as much as we can. And we can’t help but get [bleep] off when we see situations where it’s clear the black life didn’t matter. For those of you questioning why was he running away, well, [bleep], because in the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops and still be killed.”
President Obama’s former top military intelligence official has described the administration’s reliance on drones as a “failed strategy” that creates more terrorists. In an interview with Al Jazeera, retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said, “When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good.” Flynn served as head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency up until last August. Meanwhile, the U.S. reportedly carried out another drone strike in Somalia Thursday targeting militants with al-Shabab.
NASA is scheduled today to release more photos of Pluto, the last major unexplored body in the solar system. It is located three billion miles away from Earth. Initial images show Pluto has icy mountain ranges and a surprising lack of craters.
And journalist Marlene Sanders has died at the age of 84. One of the first female reporters on television, Sanders paved the way for women in media. She also produced multiple documentaries on the women’s movement. She spoke with Democracy Now! in 2006 about the death of Betty Friedan, whom Sanders profiled in her films.
Marlene Sanders: “I talked a lot about her impact and how she affected those of us in the media. You know, we organized at all the networks and at the newspapers and so forth to confront our management, since she was very important to give us moral support. This was a nerve-wracking business in the ’70s.”