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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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European creditors have given Greece five days to reach a deal to bail out its floundering economy. On Sunday, Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected further budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for the bailout. As Greek banks remain closed, European leaders have given Greece until the end of Thursday to present a detailed reform plan ahead of a summit in Brussels this coming Sunday. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said this week’s deadline is final.
Donald Tusk: “The stark reality is that we have only five days left to find the ultimate agreement. Until now, I have avoided talking about deadlines, but tonight I have to say it loud and clear, that the final deadline ends this week. All of us are responsible for the crisis, and all of us have a responsibility to resolve it.”
Iran and world powers have extended talks on a nuclear deal for another few days after missing a self-imposed deadline Tuesday. U.S. officials are still hoping to secure a deal by Thursday, the last day before a mandatory congressional review period jumps from 30 days to 60 days. The talks have already been extended past a previous deadline of June 30. The White House says a deal is close but differences remain.
U.S. drone strikes have killed up to 49 people in Afghanistan. The strikes reportedly took place in an area along the Pakistani border where the Taliban and militants with the self-described Islamic State have been clashing. Local sources put the death toll as high as 49 and said the victims were militants. A spokesperson for the Afghan spy agency claimed the second-highest figure loyal to ISIL in Afghanistan, Gul Zaman, was killed in an airstrike in the area. Meanwhile, Afghan government officials and Taliban representatives met in Pakistan Tuesday, marking the first known talks between the two sides.
In Kenya, at least 14 people were killed when the militant group al-Shabab attacked a residential compound with guns and grenades. The victims were mostly quarry workers who lived in the compound near the Somali border. Al-Shabab has staged a series of attacks in Kenya following Kenya’s 2011 invasion of Somalia. The massacre comes just weeks before President Obama is due to visit Kenya.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has acknowledged the Obama administration’s program to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels currently has just 60 vetted candidates. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said the trainees have been subjected to intense screening.
Ash Carter: “We’re also in the early stages of our train-and-equip mission in Syria. Three months into our program, training is underway, and we are working to screen and vet almost 7,000 volunteers to ensure that they are committed to fighting ISIL, pass a counterintelligence screening and meet standards prescribed by U.S. law regarding the law of armed conflict and necessitated by operations. As of July 3rd, we are currently training about 60 fighters. This number is much smaller than we had hoped for at this point, partly because of the vetting standards I just described.”
The Syrian rebel training program cost $500 million for this year.
The South Carolina Senate has given final approval to a measure to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds. The final tally was 36 to 3. The vote came 20 days after the massacre of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston by a white suspect who embraced the Confederate flag. The wife of one of the massacre victims, South Carolina state Senator Reverend Clementa Pinckney, visited the Senate chambers after the measure passed. State Senator Gerald Malloy addressed the family.
Sen. Gerald Malloy: “As you know, Ms. Pinckney, this state loved Senator Pinckney. And this state loves you and your girls, and they love the entire Pinckney family. And we will keep our arms wrapped around you and this family forever. It’s the least that we can do for our brother, Clementa. And we hope to have you back here soon when we hang his portrait and so that he’ll be sharing this spot with us forever.”
The Confederate flag’s fate now rests with the South Carolina House. Meanwhile, activists from Charleston and a nephew of massacre victim Myra Thompson are heading to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., today to press lawmakers to approve legislation on gun control.
In the Spanish capital Madrid, the new leftist city council has announced plans to remove all names relating to former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco from city squares and streets. Despite a 2007 law aimed at replacing symbols of Franco’s decades-long rule, about 170 Madrid streets still bear the names of regime figures. Madrid’s new mayor, Manuela Carmena, is a retired judge who worked as a labor lawyer defending worker-rights activists detained under Franco’s Fascist dictatorship.
In Guatemala, government-backed experts have declared former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt mentally incompetent to stand trial for genocide. The National Institute of Forensic Sciences says Ríos Montt, who is 89, cannot understand the charges against him. The declaration could potentially derail attempts to retry Ríos Montt for overseeing the killings of nearly 2,000 Ixil Mayans under his rule in the 1980s. Ríos Montt was found guilty in 2013, but a court annulled his 80-year sentence less than two weeks later.
FBI Director James Comey is set to testify against encryption before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Encryption refers to the scrambling of communications so they can’t be intercepted and read without a key or password. The FBI and British intelligence have been pushing for expanded access to encrypted data. Fourteen of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers, computer scientists and security specialists have issued a paper opposing the push; we’ll speak with one of them, Bruce Schneier, later in the broadcast.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and progressive allies have reportedly stalled President Obama’s plans to nominate a financial regulator with ties to Wall Street. Politico reports Obama was planning to tap corporate attorney Keir Gumbs to fill a Democratic seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission. But activists protested Gumbs’ record, including his work representing the American Petroleum Institute before the SEC. Gumbs is a partner at the corporate law firm Covington & Burling — the same firm to which former Attorney General Eric Holder has just returned after leaving the Justice Department. Earlier this year, Gumbs and colleagues at the firm wrote a guide advising corporations on how to avoid disclosing their political spending to shareholders. Senator Warren wants the SEC to require companies to disclose such spending. Protests by her and others have now reportedly delayed Gumbs’ nomination, at least until August. We’ll talk more about Holder, Gumbs and their law firm with Matt Taibbi later in the broadcast.
At least nine people were arrested Tuesday as hundreds took part in direct actions against oil and gas extraction in Vermont and upstate New York. Protesters blockaded trucks carrying fracked gas in Addison County, Vermont; blocked construction on a fracked gas pipeline in Williston; and staged a lake flotilla in Ticonderoga, New York. Using the slogan, “Not by truck, not by rail, not by pipeline,” organizers denounced attempts to make the Champlain Valley into an oil and gas corridor. The events are part of a week of action marking the second anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic oil train derailment, which killed 47 people in Quebec.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate police killings of unarmed civilians. Cuomo said Tuesday he will appoint New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman under a one-year executive order. The move will make New York the first state to institute an independent prosecutor for police killings, a step recommended by President Obama’s task force on policing. Cuomo’s move came the same day mothers of New Yorkers killed by police rallied outside his New York City office to accuse him of backtracking on a promise to appoint the special prosecutor if state lawmakers did not take action. Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who died after a police chokehold in Staten Island, said all cases should be investigated, not just those where police acknowledge the victim was unarmed. She also urged Governor Cuomo to appoint the special prosecutor for more than a year.
Gwen Carr: “We want justice for all, not for just some and just with the one year. One year is not enough. But he promised us that he would broaden the scope. It wouldn’t only be for one year; he would renew it after one year. And it wouldn’t be just for unarmed killings, because we know how things go. It’s not only — sometimes they’ll say the person was armed, and the person was not armed. We’ve seen South Carolina. We’ve seen different cases. But thank God for the videotape.”
That’s Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who died almost exactly one year ago, on July 17, after police pulled him to the ground in a chokehold and piled on top of him while he said, “I can’t breathe,” 11 times. A grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in the chokehold. The prosecutor in the case, Daniel Donovan, was recently elected to Congress. Garner’s death was caught on video by Ramsey Orta, who has been arrested repeatedly since Garner’s death. He alleges police harassment.
New York City is announcing a plan today to end cash bail payments for thousands of people accused of low-level or nonviolent crimes. The city has faced calls for reform after a mentally ill homeless man died in a sweltering cell at Rikers Island jail because he couldn’t make a $2,500 bail payment. Protests increased after the recent suicide of 22-year-old Kalief Browder, who spent three years at Rikers as a teenager, after he was accused of stealing a backpack and couldn’t pay $3,000 bail. He maintained he was innocent, and the charges were ultimately dropped. The plan, described by the Associated Press ahead of today’s announcement, will replace bail for low-level suspects with daily check-ins and other measures.
And New York City has announced it will hold a ticker-tape parade for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team over their World Cup victory, a rare honor for a team not based in New York. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer had urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to hold the parade, writing, “New York City has a strong history of honoring sports achievements … but has never held a parade to honor a women’s team. Our newest soccer champions represent an opportunity for New York to recognize that heroes and role models come in all genders.” The last time New York City honored a group of national athletes was in 1984.