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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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Imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been spared the punishment of indefinite solitary confinement after more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling on military prison authorities to drop the charges of possession of unauthorized reading material and other minor infractions. Manning had been called before the disciplinary panel at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, the U.S. Senate report on torture and other “prohibited property.” On Tuesday, a panel a ruled that Manning did have unapproved reading material. Her punishment is 21 days of restricted recreational activities, including no access to a gym, a library or the outdoors. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. government cables to WikiLeaks. To see our interview with one of her lawyers, Chase Strangio, go to democracynow.org.
The world’s leading Islamic scholars have released a sweeping declaration on climate change. It calls on world leaders meeting in Paris later this year to commit to a 100 percent zero-emissions strategy and to invest in decentralized renewable energy in order to reduce poverty and the catastrophic impacts of climate change. This declaration comes on the heels of the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment earlier this year, which also calls for sweeping action on climate change. Like the encyclical, this declaration, endorsed by more than 60 leading Islamic scholars, links climate change to the economic system, stating: “We recognize the corruption that humans have caused on the Earth due to our relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has criticized President Obama’s move to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Earlier this week, the administration granted Royal Dutch Shell final approval to resume drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean for the first time since 2012, despite widespread protests from environmental groups. Taking to Twitter, Clinton wrote, “The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know now, it’s not worth the risk of drilling.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to be dogged by the issue of the private email server she used while she was secretary of state. At a campaign event in Las Vegas Tuesday, reporters repeatedly pressed Clinton about the issue, causing her to end abruptly the news conference. The Justice Department is currently investigating whether any classified email was handled improperly.
In Syria, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has executed an antiquities expert in the ancient city of Palmyra. ISIL captured Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in May. On Tuesday, militants reportedly beheaded Khaled Assad, who spent more than 50 years working to preserve Palmyra, and hung his body on a column in the ancient city.
Amnesty International has accused both Houthi rebels in Yemen and the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels of “ruthless and wanton disregard for the safety of civilians.” The report calls for the United Nations to establish a panel to probe possible war crimes in Yemen. Meanwhile, another report by UNICEF says eight children are killed or maimed in Yemen every day. The reports came as Saudi-led warplanes blasted the Houthi-controlled port of Hudaydah, the main entry point for aid supplies to northern Yemen.
The White House has hired a transgender woman of color to serve as an outreach and recruitment director, marking what officials are calling the first time the White House has hired an openly transgender staffer. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is a former policy adviser on racial and economic justice for the National Center for Transgender Equality. She has advocated for transgender migrants to be released from immigrant detention centers and for the federal government to do more to protect transgender women from violence. At least 17 transgender women have been murdered so far this year.
In news from Texas, a Guatemalan LGBT activist who has been taking sanctuary in a church in Austin since June has been granted a stay of deportation by authorities. Sulma Franco has sought asylum in the United States because LGBT activists face high levels of violence in Guatemala. But activists say her application was denied based on a “clerical error.” On Tuesday, authorities stayed her deportation for one year.
Meanwhile, in Guatemala, leading presidential candidate Manuel Baldizón has criticized Donald Trump for his comments calling Mexican immigrants rapists, and called on the Latino community to reject “humiliation.”
Manuel Baldizón: “(This rhetoric) is a political strategy Mr. Trump is using. However, in my view, I’m completely against these kinds of actions that hurt Hispanics. It’s important that we Hispanics are clear that we can’t be accepting of such humiliation or negative blows against our culture and dignity.”
We’ll have more on Trump’s comments later in the broadcast.
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez says he will oppose the Iran nuclear deal. His announcement comes two weeks after New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said he will also oppose the deal. Menendez is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Tuesday he would not put his name on the deal because it does not require Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear infrastructure.
Sen. Robert Menendez: “I have looked into my own soul, and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course. But if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it. It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.”
More than 1,000 black activists, artists, scholars and students have signed on to a statement supporting “the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.” Signatories include scholars Angela Davis and Cornel West, jailed journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. The statement endorses the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement against Israel. It specifically highlights private prison giant G4S as a target for the movement, because the company detains for profit Palestinians in Israel as well as people of color in the United States.
Newly released documents have confirmed undercover police in New York City attended numerous Black Lives Matter protests and that police tracked the movements of individual activists. Records obtained by The Intercept show authorities circulated photographs and notes about the activities of anti-police brutality protesters, including Jose LaSalle, founder of the police watchdog Copwatch Patrol Unit, and Ray Lewis, a former Philadelphia police officer turned activist. The records appear to provide the first documented evidence of the presence of undercover police at Black Lives Matter rallies in New York City.
In New Mexico, a judge has ruled two Albuquerque police officers must stand trial on murder charges for the fatal shooting of a homeless man last year. James Boyd had been confronted by police for sleeping in an unauthorized campsite. Police say he was armed with knives, but video from a police helmet camera shows Boyd apparently agreeing to surrender and turning away to pick up his belongings before officers fire a flashbang grenade, release a dog on him and open fire. The incident sparked protests citing the involvement of Albuquerque police in more than 40 shootings since 2010. Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy are the first Albuquerque police officers to face trial for murder charges, despite a Justice Department probe which found most fatal shootings by Albuquerque police were unconstitutional.