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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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After a massive public uprising, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has resigned. His resignation came just hours after a judge approved the attorney general’s arrest warrant for him. This follows Congress’s surprising unanimous decision to strip him of immunity from prosecution, bowing to popular pressure. Prosecutors said Pérez Molina will be charged with illicit association, taking bribes and customs fraud. He is also being investigated for money laundering. We’ll have more on Guatemala after headlines.
The Obama administration has secured enough votes to ensure the future of the nuclear deal with Iran. On Wednesday, Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski became the 34th senator to support the agreement. That means even if opponents in Congress pass a resolution to undermine the nuclear deal, Obama has enough votes to sustain his veto and uphold the Iran agreement. The victory comes nearly two months after Iran, the United States and five other world powers reached the historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear activities.
In Maryland, a judge has ruled six Baltimore police officers will face separate trials for the arrest and death of African-American resident Freddie Gray. At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Barry Williams refused defense attempts to dismiss the charges and remove prosecutor Marilyn Mosby from the case. Freddie Gray died in April after being arrested and transported without a seat belt in a police van. His family said his spine was 80 percent severed at the neck. Police said they arrested him for making eye contact with them, then running away. Another hearing in the case is set for next week on a motion to move the officers’ trials out of Baltimore. Attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, who observed the proceedings, said the case should be heard in Baltimore.
J. Wyndal Gordon: “I think that the ladies and gentlemen of Baltimore city, the citizens of Baltimore city, are intelligent enough — not even intelligent enough, are intelligent. They are thoughtful. They are very attentive when it comes to cases such as this, and they can handle this case, provide each and every defendant a fair trial, provide the State’s Attorney’s Office with a fair trial.”
Peaceful protests against Freddie Gray’s death erupted in Baltimore Wednesday as the hearing was underway. Community activist and hip-hop artist Kwame Rose was arrested. Video footage shows him on the ground, screaming that he has been been hit by a car and is hurt, as police pull his arms back and arrest him.
Kwame Rose: “I’m not resisting! I’m hurt! I’m hurt! I’m hurt! I’m hurt! I got hit by a car!”
In Somalia, the militant group al-Shabab says it has killed up to 70 African Union soldiers after it attacked a base in southern Somalia on Tuesday. Uganda confirms 12 of its soldiers died in the attack.
In Yemen, at least 28 people have died after two suicide bombs exploded at a mosque in the capital Sana’a on Wednesday. The first bombing struck inside the mosque during prayers. The second blast came from a suicide car bomb that detonated about 20 minutes later as people were helping victims of the first attack. Members of the self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on social media.
In the latest from the global migration crisis, the photos of the lifeless body of a Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach after his boat sank in the Mediterranean have gone viral. Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, his five-year-old brother Galip and their mother, Rehan, drowned Tuesday as the family attempted to reach Greece in an eventual bid to join relatives in Canada where their asylum application had been denied. The boy’s aunt, Teema Kurdim, who is a hairdresser in Vancouver, told the National Post, “I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbors who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat.” Canada has come under intense criticism for not accepting more Syrians fleeing the Syrian civil war. In January, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander pledged Canada would resettle 10,000 Syrians over three years. But new government figures show that, as of late July, Canada had welcomed only 1,002 Syrians.
In more news on migration, Malaysian officials say at least 13 people have drowned after a boat departing from Indonesia capsized in the strait between the two countries.
In news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has criticized rival Jeb Bush, saying Bush should “set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” Trump’s attack comes after Bush held a press conference in Miami on Tuesday in which he spoke in both English and Spanish and criticized Trump, saying he is “not a conservative.”
Canada has charged Syrian Colonel George Salloum with allegedly torturing Canadian engineer Maher Arar. In 2002, Arar was rendered by the United States to an overseas detention center in his native Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year. This is the first-ever criminal charge of torture brought by Canada against a foreign government official for acts committed abroad. We’ll have more on the case later in the broadcast.
In Kentucky, the county clerk who has defied the Supreme Court and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is set to appear before a federal judge today to make her case for why she shouldn’t be held in contempt of court. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. In a filing Wednesday, attorneys for Davis argued a court order requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples “irreparably and irreversibly violates her conscience.” We’ll have more on the case later in the broadcast.
And a federal judge in Texas has issued an unusual order to withdraw the execution date for a man set to die by lethal injection later this month. District Judge David Mendoza ruled Tuesday that Perry Williams should not be put to death on September 29 without a lawyer to handle his appeals. Williams has been without a lawyer since early February. Democracy Now! correspondent Renée Feltz spoke to Williams Wednesday during an interview on death row.
Perry Williams: “I feel like I should have legal representation, no matter what. But that’s not how it is. So, basically, we’ve been writing letters, asking people to get on my case. It’s kind of hard, being that it’s this late in the stage. And it’s just I feel like it’s an injustice not to have an attorney when my life is on the line.”
Williams was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder and robbery of a medical student in Houston. Williams says his gun went off by accident and that his court-appointed lawyer failed to raise evidence that might have spared him a death sentence. Advocates say several more men on death row in Texas are also facing execution without lawyers.