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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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Pope Francis arrives in Washington, D.C., today for the start of his historic U.S. tour. President Obama and Michelle Obama will greet him at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The pope will hold a formal meeting with President Obama on Wednesday and address a joint session of Congress on Thursday. On Friday, Pope Francis will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York City before departing for Philadelphia on Saturday.
As Pope Francis arrives in Washington, D.C., a group of 100 women, many of them undocumented, are also set to arrive in D.C. after marching 100 miles from a detention center in York, Pennsylvania, in order to greet the pope. Domestic worker Silvia Gonzalez, who is walking with the group, said the march is intended to send a message that families belong together and should not be separated by U.S. immigration policies.
Silvia Gonzalez: “My message for him, it’s for peace, for dignity, for love, for all the families together. My mom lives in Mexico. I’ve been here for 15 years in U.S.A., and I don’t see my mom for these 15, long, long 15 years. I live here, and my daughter and my granddaughter live here also. And I know I can go, I can go see my mom, but I can’t come back.”
The pope had reportedly wanted to begin his U.S. trip by crossing the Mexican border, but the plan had to be scrapped for logistical reasons. In January, Pope Francis said, “To enter the United States from the border with Mexico would be a beautiful gesture of brotherhood and support for immigrants.”
In news from the campaign trail, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has dropped out of the 2016 presidential campaign amid dwindling financial backing and plummeting support in the polls. In his announcement, he called on other Republican candidates to help “clear the field” and oust current front-runner, Donald Trump.
Gov. Scott Walker: “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”
Walker’s withdrawal comes as a new CNN poll shows former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina rising to second place. Trump remains the front-runner with 24 percent support.
In other campaign news, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said he supports the passage of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, after DREAM activists disrupted his speech to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Houston Monday.
Protesters: “No hope without our vote! No hope without our vote! No hope without our vote!”
Jeb Bush “As I’ve been consistently for the DREAM Act kids to get a path to citizenship — I’ve been consistently for it, and I’ll continue to be consistently for it irrespective of what the political ramifications of that are.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is kicking off his first state visit to the United States today in Seattle, Washington. President Xi is expected to meet with technology executives and tour Boeing’s factory in Everett, Washington. On Thursday, Xi leaves for Washington, D.C., where he will meet with President Obama.
U.S. officials say Russia has begun flying surveillance drones over Syria, following reports Russia is slated to deploy 2,000 troops to its new air base near the port city of Latakia. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel and Russia will coordinate military operations in Syria. This comes as the United States has also opened military talks with Russia over Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In Guatemala, an indigenous leader who had fought against a palm oil factory that has been polluting a river with pesticides has been killed. Rigoberto Lima Choc, age 28, was fatally shot outside a local courthouse, one day after the court ordered the six-month closure of the factory. The United Nations has described the factory’s pollution as causing an “ecological disaster.”
At least 100 people have been killed in northern Nigeria in four seemingly coordinated bombings on Sunday evening. Authorities have accused the militant group Boko Haram. This comes as UNICEF says the number of children forced to flee from Boko Haram’s violence in Nigeria and neighboring countries has topped 1.4 million.
In Burkina Faso, the leader of an apparent military coup has released the detained president after a weekend of tense negotiations led by the president of Senegal. Last week, the presidential guard, which is loyal to Burkina Faso’s former longtime president, Blaise Compaoré, detained interim President Michel Kafando and dissolved the transitional government. At least a dozen people have been killed in the violence. A new compromise plan calls for President Kafando to be returned to office, the leaders of the coup to receive immunity, and new elections to be held on November 22.
In Yemen, thousands of supporters of the Houthi rebels celebrated the first anniversary of the group’s takeover of the capital Sana’a. The ongoing conflict between Houthi rebels and U.S.-backed, Saudi-led forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted president has killed at least 4,000 people and sparked a humanitarian crisis.
In news from Europe, Hungary has passed legislation allowing the army to be deployed to the border as thousands of refugees fleeing violence in their home countries continue to attempt to cross the continent in efforts to reach northern Europe. The new law allows Hungarian troops to use rubber bullets, tear gas, smoke and flash grenades, and net guns against refugees.
Volkswagen says 11 million diesel cars worldwide have been equipped with the same software that was used to cheat on emissions tests in the United States. The news comes as the Justice Department is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation into reports Volkswagen illegally installed devices in certain diesel cars in a deliberate bid to avoid EPA emissions rules. Congress says it will also conduct hearings into the matter.
A federal judge in Georgia has sentenced the former executive of a peanut company to 28 years in prison for crimes related to a salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds more. Stewart Parnell, the former head of Peanut Corporation of America, was convicted of 71 criminal counts for knowingly shipping salmonella-tainted peanut butter from the Georgia facility to companies like Kellogg’s.
U.S. servicemembers have come forward to describe how they were ordered to ignore child sexual abuse by allies in Afghanistan, even when the abuse occurred on U.S. bases. The New York Times reports superiors told servicemembers to look the other way when Afghan colleagues abused boys because “it’s their culture.” In one case, Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain, was relieved of his command for beating up an Afghan militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.
A former hedge fund manager is facing widespread outrage after his startup company Turing Pharmaceuticals hiked the price of a life-saving drug by more than 5,000 percent. The drug Daraprim is used to treat a disease caused by a common parasite, which can afflict patients with HIV. Turing founder Martin Shkreli attempted to justify the price hike in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Martin Shkreli: “So, you know, at the end of the day, the price per course of treatment to save your life was only $1,000, and we know these days in modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more, whereas these drugs can cost half a million dollars. Daraprim is still underpriced relative to its peers.”
Betty Liu: “But my understanding was that to actually produce this pill, what, cost only a dollar?”
Martin Shkreli: “It costs very little to make Daraprim.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a tweet, “Price-gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous.”
And Monday marked the fourth anniversary of Troy Davis’ execution. Troy Anthony Davis was put to death by the state of Georgia on September 21, 2011, despite major doubts about evidence used to convict him of killing police officer Mark MacPhail. His death helped fuel the national movement to abolish the death penalty. To see all of our coverage from the night of his execution, you can go to democracynow.org.