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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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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has arrived in Brussels for an emergency eurozone summit two days after Greek voters overwhelmingly turned down the terms of an international bailout in a historic rejection of austerity. On Sunday, Greeks, by a 61-to-39-percent margin, voted against further budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for a rescue package from European creditors. Tsipras is scrambling to present a new bailout proposal as Greek banks remain shut down. If Greek banks run out of money and the country has to print its own currency, it could mean a state leaving the euro for the first time since it was launched in 1999. Speaking ahead of today’s summit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the ball is in Greece’s court.
Jean-Claude Juncker: “The ball lies in the court of the Greek government, and the Greek government must explain in Brussels today how it sees us extricating ourselves from this situation. The president of the European Commission and the European Commission are ready to do whatever necessary within a reasonable time frame to reach an agreement.”
We’ll spend the rest of the hour on the crisis in Greece, after headlines.
In Yemen, clashes and airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have killed nearly 200 people, including many civilians, in what appears to be the deadliest day since the U.S.-backed offensive began. In total, nearly 3,000 people have been killed since late March, when the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels. Among those reported killed on Monday were 30 people at a market in the northern province of Amran and 60 people at a livestock market in the southern town of al-Foyoush. Last week the United Nations declared its highest-level humanitarian emergency in Yemen, where it says more than 80 percent of the population needs aid.
In Syria, Kurdish fighters have reportedly retaken more than 10 villages seized by the self-proclaimed Islamic State around the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the victory came amidst intensified U.S.-led airstrikes. Speaking on Monday, President Obama vowed to increase U.S. support for opposition fighters in Syria and ramp up what he called a “long-term campaign” against ISIL.
President Obama: “In short, ISIL’s recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated. Indeed, we’re intensifying our efforts against ISIL’s base in Syria. Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations. We’re going after the ISIL leadership and infrastructure in Syria, the heart of ISIL that pumps funds and propaganda to people around the world.”
Iraqi forces meanwhile are said to be preparing for a counteroffensive to retake the key city of Ramadi from ISIL in the coming weeks.
There’s no sign of an agreement yet between Iran and world powers who are trying to reach a nuclear deal ahead of today’s self-imposed deadline. It appears likely the talks will be extended with key issues in dispute, including U.N. sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and a wider arms embargo. The real deadline could be Thursday, the last day for President Obama to present a deal to Congress before a mandatory review period of 30 days jumps to 60 days.
The South Carolina Senate has voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the state Capitol. The vote was 37 to 3, far more than the two-thirds majority needed to advance the bill. The vote came 19 days after nine African-American worshipers, including South Carolina state Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, were gunned down in a Charleston church by a racist suspect who embraced the Confederate flag. Republican state Senator Larry Martin, who for decades opposed attempts to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds, said he changed his mind following the massacre.
Sen. Larry Martin: “See that thing fluttering out there in a way that sort of gives some official status to it on behalf of the people of South Carolina. That doesn’t represent all the people of South Carolina. And we need to remember that. And in that regard, it is part of our history. It needs to be respected in whatever way or honored in whatever way folks choose to do. But as far as this state, on this state House grounds, it isn’t part of our future. It’s part of our past.”
The bill to remove the flag still needs to pass a second vote in the state Senate today before advancing to the House. Among the three senators who voted against removing the flag was state Senator Lee Bright, who sought an amendment to put the flag’s fate to a popular vote. Senator Bright used the debate as an opportunity to condemn recent court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage.
Sen. Lee Bright: “Our governor called us in to deal with the flag that sits out front. Let’s deal with the national sin that we face today! We talk about abortion, but this gay marriage thing, I believe we will be one nation gone under, like President Reagan said. If we’re not one nation under God, we’ll be one nation gone under. And to sanctify deviant behavior from five judges, it’s time for us to make our stand, church! It’s time to make our stand, and we’re not doing it. We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want, but the devil is taking control of this land, and we’re not stopping him.”
New York City has agreed to pay more than $300,000 to six Occupy Wall Street protesters who were doused with pepper spray by police in an encounter which helped ignite the movement. Video of the incident shows New York City Police Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna pepper-spraying a group of peaceful protesters, most of them women, while they are trapped in an orange police net. The protesters received settlements of up to $60,000 each, the highest payouts to date for individual Occupy Wall Street protesters. The police inspector lost 10 vacation days for violating police guidelines.
Leaked documents appear to show an Italy-based private spyware company known as the Hacking Team was selling its products to U.S. law enforcement agencies and repressive governments around the world. The Hacking Team sells software which lets users seize remote control of another person’s computer. Its customers include the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Army, as well as foreign governments including Ethiopia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The documents were published to the company’s own Twitter feed following an apparent breach.
WikiLeaks and The Intercept have revealed the National Security Agency’s targeting of Brazilian officials was far wider than initially known. While previous reports revealed the NSA targeted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s personal cellphone, newly revealed documents show the agency targeted the cellphones and other devices of more than a dozen top Brazilian political and financial officials, including the phone on Rousseff’s presidential plane. The revelations come amid reports the United States also spied on the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Meanwhile, former Attorney General Eric Holder, who waged an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers during his tenure, has said the “possibility exists” for the Justice Department to cut a deal with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, allowing him to return to the United States from Russia.
In the latest sign of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, Eric Holder is returning to the corporate law firm where he worked before becoming head of the Justice Department. Holder was a partner at the firm Covington & Burling for eight years before becoming attorney general, representing clients including UBS and the fruit giant Chiquita. The law firm’s client list has included many of the big banks Holder failed to criminally prosecute as attorney general for their role in the financial crisis, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. The law firm had reportedly kept a corner office vacant for Holder.
A new study has revealed the vast majority of elected prosecutors across the United States are white. The study by the Women Donors Network found 66 percent of states that elect prosecutors have no African Americans in those positions. Of the more than 2,400 elected state and local prosecutors in office last year, 95 percent were white and 79 percent were white men.
Court documents obtained by the Associated Press show Bill Cosby admitted obtaining quaaludes to give to young women he wanted to have sex with, and acknowledged giving the drugs to at least one woman. Cosby made the admission in 2005 in a deposition as part of a sexual abuse case brought against him by a former Temple University employee. About 40 women have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them in incidents dating back four decades.
The U.S. women’s soccer team is being honored at a rally in Los Angeles, California, today after they beat Japan to win the World Cup on Sunday. Their victory shattered TV rating records, becoming the most viewed soccer game ever in the United States — men’s or women’s. Yet the international soccer organizing body FIFA, which is under fire for rampant corruption, forced the women to play on artificial turf and awarded the team just $2 million for their victory — a fourth of what the U.S. men’s team received after they lost in the first round of the men’s World Cup last year.
And protests and commemorations were held across the United States and Canada Monday to mark two years since the deadly oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The train was carrying volatile crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale when it exploded on July 6, 2013, killing 47 people and destroying dozens of buildings. In Portland, Oregon, Monday, 60 people held a memorial blockade, blocking the tracks into an oil transfer and storage facility and holding signs with the names and ages of the victims. The action is one of dozens planned in the coming days as part of the Stop Oil Trains week of action.