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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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At least eight Afghan soldiers have died in a so-called friendly fire incident after two U.S. helicopters attacked a checkpoint in broad daylight earlier today. General Abdul Raziq, a senior Afghan National Army commander, said, “It seems the attack was carried out mistakenly on army forces, and an investigation is ongoing to find its reason.” While the United States has claimed to have ended its combat mission in Afghanistan, the military carried out 106 airstrikes last month, more than double the number carried out in May.
Greek banks have reopened for the first time in three weeks, just days after the Greek Parliament approved harsh austerity measures in exchange for a new bailout. The Greek stock market remains closed. Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has replaced nearly a dozen cabinet members and Syriza party officials who voted against last week’s bailout deal. On Friday, Tsipras ousted the energy minister, labor minister and former government spokesperson, as well as at least eight additional ministers or deputy ministers.
U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations have officially been restored after five decades. In a historic gesture, the Cuban flag was raised at the State Department earlier today. Events are being held this morning to mark the opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Havana. We will have more on this story after headlines.
The death toll from last week’s mass shooting at military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has risen to five. The victims include four marines and one sailor. On Friday night, more than 1,000 people attended a memorial service. The FBI is continuing to investigate the possible motive of the suspected gunman, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, who died in a firefight following the mass shooting. ABC News is reporting that FBI interviews with his parents and a diary belonging to Abdulazeez paint a picture of a disturbed, suicidal young man who used drugs and was preparing for bankruptcy.
In Yemen, dozens of people have been killed in the ongoing battle over control of the southern city of Aden. On Sunday, Houthi fighters fired rockets into one of the city’s residential neighborhoods, killing at least 43 people. Sunday’s assault came two days after the Saudi-backed forces loyal to the exiled government declared they had taken control of Aden. Meanwhile, another 24 people were killed in Saudi-led airstrikes in the Ibb district of Yemen over the weekend. Twelve of the bombings’ victims were members of the same family.
In eastern Iraq, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a marketplace bombing that killed 100 people, with dozens more missing or wounded. The attack was carried out on Friday in the Shiite town of Khan Bani Saad. It struck as the market was filled with people shopping for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a major Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
In Turkey, 27 people have been killed and more than 100 more wounded in a bombing earlier today in the Turkish border town of Suruc in what appears to be a targeted attack against youth activists. The bombing was carried out in the garden of a cultural center where hundreds of activists from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations were staying. The youth activists were living in Suruc to help the rebuilding of the nearby Syrian town of Kobani, which has been the site of intense fighting between the self-proclaimed Islamic State and Kurdish forces.
In campaign news, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has come under intense criticism from within his own party after he spoke disparagingly about the war record of Republican Senator John McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for over five years. During an event in Iowa on Saturday, Trump said he did not view McCain as a war hero.
Donald Trump: “He is not a war hero. He is a war hero — he’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. To you, he’s a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured.”
Trump has refused to apologize for his comment. Unlike McCain, Trump did not serve in Vietnam. He received four student deferments between 1964 and 1968.
In more campaign news, members of the Black Lives Matter movement staged a protest inside the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix by repeatedly interrupting Democratic presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Members of the Black Lives Matter movement interrupted O’Malley’s portion of the event and took to the stage.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter: “Let me be clear: Every single day folks are dying, not being able to take another breath. We are in a state of emergency. We are in a state of emergency! And if you don’t feel that emergency, you are not human.”
After the interruption, O’Malley responded by saying, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” He later apologized for the comment. Sanders threatened to leave the stage after protesters repeatedly interrupted his remarks. Meanwhile, Sanders continues to draw record crowds on the campaign trail. On Saturday night, more than 11,000 people attended his speech in Phoenix.
The family of Sandra Bland, who died in police custody in Texas last week, has ordered an independent autopsy to be conducted. Bland died in a Texas jail cell three days after being pulled over for a traffic violation as she drove to a job interview at her alma mater, the historically black college Prairie View A&M University. Police say Bland committed suicide, but family members and friends have questioned the cause of her death. Video from the traffic stop shows a police officer slammed her head into the ground.
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered outside Brooklyn’s federal courthouse to mark the first anniversary of Eric Garner’s death and to call for the arrest and prosecution of police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold one year ago.
Rev. Al Sharpton: “We stand together today by the hundreds, saying we don’t care how long it takes, we want justice for Eric Garner. We can’t breathe, and we need to breathe.”
Saturday’s rally came after an hours-long march through Manhattan on Friday evening. Meanwhile, New York City announced earlier last week it had settled with the Garner family for $5.9 million. Following the announcement, Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said, “Don’t congratulate us. This is not a victory. The victory will come when we get justice.”
In news from South Carolina, thousands of people flooded the state House in Columbia as the New Black Panther Party and the Ku Klux Klan held two separate protests on Saturday. At least five people were arrested as heavily armed police officers surrounded the area and stood guard on nearby rooftops. Members of the Ku Klux Klan and the Loyal White Knights performed Nazi salutes and advocated for white power in what was reported to be the first KKK rally outside the South Carolina state House in over 25 years. Saturday’s opposing protests came eight days after the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of the South Carolina state House.
In news from Africa, the trial of the former dictator of Chad has begun in Senegal. Hissène Habré is a former U.S. ally who has been described as “Africa’s Pinochet.” He is accused of killing as many as 40,000 people during his eight years in power in the 1980s. Habré is being tried in a special court established after a two-decade-long campaign led by his victims. Attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, who has worked with victims of Habré’s regime since 1999, praised the start of the trial.
Reed Brody: “This is a chance to show that an African court can deliver justice for African victims for crimes committed in Africa. I mean, it’s one thing to complain about having abusive African presidents and leaders sent to The Hague; it’s another thing to show that they can be prosecuted and get a fair trial here in Africa.”
Newly unsealed legal testimony shows comedian Bill Cosby admitted in a lengthy 2005 deposition that he used his fame and money to lure young women to have sex with him. He also admitted giving young women sedatives. When asked about nonverbal consent, Cosby said, “I think I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things, whatever you want to call them.” More than 40 women have alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted them in incidents dating back decades. Many say they were drugged by Cosby and then raped.