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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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Attorneys for death row prisoner Richard Glossip have made a last-minute bid to save his life, saying the state of Oklahoma may be about to execute an innocent man. Glossip is scheduled to die at 3 p.m. Central time today. On Tuesday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin denied him a stay of execution despite mounting calls from supporters to spare his life. In 1997, Glossip was working as a manager at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City when his boss, Barry Van Treese, was murdered. A maintenance worker, Justin Sneed, admitted he beat Van Treese to death with a baseball bat, but claimed Glossip offered him money and job opportunities for the killing. The case rested almost solely on Sneed’s claims. No physical evidence ever tied Glossip to the crime. Glossip’s attorneys say Sneed implicated their client in exchange for a deal to save himself from the death penalty. On Tuesday, Glossip’s attorneys asked the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to halt Glossip’s execution, saying new evidence further supports his innocence. We’ll have more on the case with leading anti-death-penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean after headlines.
The Obama administration has directed an additional $250 million toward fighting drought-fueled wildfires in the Pacific Northwest as California officials say the raging Valley Fire is one of the most destructive in state history. The Valley Fire is one of three uncontrollable blazes currently threatening more than 15,000 homes in Northern California. The cost of fighting the blazes reached a record high this summer when the Forest Service spent $243 million in a single week. At least one person has died in the fires. Earlier this week, California Governor Jerry Brown connected the fires to climate change and the state’s historic drought, saying, “This is the future.”
In other extreme weather news, at least 16 people have died after flash flooding tore through communities along the Utah-Arizona border. Twelve people were killed after the powerful floodwaters poured down a mountain and swept away two vehicles in Hildale, Utah. Another four people were found dead in Zion National Park.
The deadly extreme weather comes as a coalition of more than 400 organizations have called on the White House to stop issuing new fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans. Among the call’s signatories are climate activist Tim DeChristopher, renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben, indigenous activist Winona LaDuke and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. A number of labor, faith and environmental groups also joined the call, including the United Auto Workers Union, Unitarian Universalist Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Indigenous Environmental Network and 350.org. More than 67 million acres of public land and ocean are already leased to the fossil fuel industry. The coalition says that declaring unleased oil, gas and coal on public lands as “unburnable” would accomplish more in the global fight against climate change than any other single action taken by the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, in Canada, a group of more than 100 leading activists, writers and musicians have released a wide-ranging call for economic and environmental change to address “the deepest crisis in recent memory” – climate change. The Leap Manifesto calls for respecting the rights of indigenous communities, implementing a universal program to build energy-efficient homes, ending fossil fuel subsidies and cutting military spending. Signatories include musicians Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Tegan and Sara, and Alanis Morissette; actors Ellen Page, Rachel McAdams and Donald Sutherland, and many more. Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” unveiled the manifesto on Tuesday.
Naomi Klein: “All share the belief that it is possible for Canada to fight against climate change in a way that changes our country for the better, by delivering meaningful justice to First Nations, creating more and better jobs for the people who need them most, restoring and expanding our social safety net, and welcoming far more migrants and refugees. In short, we can and must care for one another and for the climate.”
In news from Europe, about 150 refugees have crossed into Croatia after they were blocked at the Hungarian-Serbian border. Hungary has sealed its border with Serbia and enacted new laws that criminalize border crossings with up to three years’ imprisonment. Meanwhile, President Obama discussed the growing global refugee crisis during a meeting with Spain’s King Felipe VI, saying the U.S. needs to take in Syrian refugees.
President Obama: “We agreed that this is going to require cooperation with all the European countries and the United States and the international community in order to ensure that people are safe, that they are treated with shared humanity, and that we ultimately have to deal with the source of the problem, which is the ongoing crisis in Syria. And we discussed how we can continue to strengthen that cooperation, and I discussed the fact that the United States feels it is important for us to also take our share of Syrian refugees as part of this overall humanitarian effort.”
President Obama’s remarks come as he is reputedly weighing a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the ongoing crisis in Syria. The United States says Russia has sent tanks and artillery to Syria this week in what U.S. officials say amounts to an attempt to set up a Russian military base in western Syria. The two countries have long been at odds in their response to the Syrian conflict, with Russia backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. calling on him to step down. Meanwhile, Australia has launched its first airstrikes inside Syria Monday targeting ISIL. France says it will also begin airstrikes inside Syria against ISIL in the coming weeks.
Pentagon officials say that senior military officers may have manipulated the conclusions of reports on the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in order to present a more positive picture to the White House. The investigation focuses on allegations that high-level officials within the United States Central Command may have revised reports on the preparedness of the Iraqi security forces and the success of the bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon’s inspector general is examining the claims.
In news from the campaign trail, a new poll shows nearly 40 percent of Republican primary voters view candidate Donald Trump as the party’s best shot at winning the presidency as the candidates head into the second major debate tonight. The Times/CBS News poll also shows surging support for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and declining support for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The top 11 Republican candidates will take the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library at 8 p.m. tonight for a debate hosted by CNN.
In St. Louis, Missouri, residents celebrated Mexican Independence Day Tuesday by beating an eight-foot piñata of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dubbed “El Trumpo,” the candy-filled piñata was constructed over the course of two weeks by Francis “Rich” Rodriguez, the owner of a local pizza shop.
In Japan, thousands marched outside the Japanese Parliament for a second consecutive day to protest the plan to rewrite Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pushed the new legislation. One of the protesters spoke out.
Bohyun Lee: “I came because all I care about is peace between Asian nations, and I think the security bills doesn’t produce that.”
In Seattle, Washington, public school teachers are returning to work today after reaching a tentative deal with management to end Seattle’s first teachers’ strike in 30 years. The teachers’ union voted Tuesday evening to suspend the strike, which began last Wednesday over demands for fewer standardized tests for students, more time to prepare for classes, and better pay. The deal reportedly includes a 9.5 percent pay raise over three years, mandatory 30-minute recesses for elementary school students and a greater say for teachers in standardized testing.
In Connecticut, new surveillance video released from inside two juvenile detention facilities appears to show a number of incidents of staff members using excessive force against the youth. The videos, published Tuesday by the Office of the Child Advocate, show staff members at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School for boys and the nearby Pueblo facility for girls tackling children, as well as shackling and isolating children in seclusion units. In one video, a girl named Jennie is tackled by four staff members after she refused to get off the telephone. She was later isolated in a padded cell, where she had a panic attack, and was eventually shackled and taken to the ER. The videos were obtained as part of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Child Advocate into conditions inside the two facilities.
In Seattle, Washington, police have fired an officer who arrested a 69-year-old man last year for carrying a golf club in the residential neighborhood of Capitol Hill. White police officer Cynthia Whitlatch arrested African American William Wingate on July 9, 2014, after the officer accused Wingate of swinging his golf club at her car. Dash cam footage shows Wingate did not swing the golf club at the car. Wingate told the officer he used the club as a cane. In her disciplinary report, the Seattle Police Department accused Officer Whitlatch of biased policing.
And Juan Felipe Herrera has begun his term as the new U.S. poet laureate. The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera is the first-ever Latino to hold the position. He writes in both English and Spanish. At his inaugural reading at the Library of Congress Tuesday, Herrera spoke about the plight of migrants and refugees.
Juan Felipe Herrera: “It’s very tragic. It’s very tragic. And as human beings, we must think about that, and we must respond to that, in whatever way, you know? In whatever way. Maybe it’s a very personal way. Maybe there’s a letter written. Maybe there’s an organization, a community organization or committee. Or maybe, as poets, we can write something.”
During the reading, Juan Felipe Herrera and musician Juan Díes also performed a Mexican-style ballad, known as a “corrido,” about the death of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African-American woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell in July. Protesters have raised questions about her death.