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Thousands of Afghans fleeing violence in their home country have been left stranded in northern Greece after Macedonia barred Afghans from crossing its border. Macedonian authorities say they took action after countries further along the refugees’ route decided to accept fewer Afghans, sending hundreds of them back to Macedonia. On Monday, hundreds of stranded Afghans staged a sit-in in no-man’s-land and occupied the railway line connecting Macedonia and Greece. They held signs reading “We can’t go back” and “Why racism?”
Salih: “Our plan is either to cross the border or to die over here. There is no place for us to go back to Afghanistan, all the Afghans, especially me. I am a soft target for the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
The stranding of Afghan refugees in northern Greece comes as a new study finds the rate at which civilians are being killed by U.S. drone and jet strikes in Afghanistan has reached its highest point since 2008, at the height of the Afghan War. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says on average one civilian was killed every fourth airstrike last year—up from one in 11 the previous year.
In other news on the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, thousands of people in France’s largest refugee camp are facing eviction and the bulldozing of their makeshift homes. A French court is expected to decide today if the evictions can move forward at the Calais camp, known as the “Jungle.” The refugees have been encouraged to move into shipping containers, which some have compared to prisons, but aid groups say there is not enough room in the containers to house them all. To see our report from the Calais refugee camp, go to democracynow.org.
On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has fired his top spokesperson for spreading an inaccurate video of rival candidate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The video falsely depicts Rubio dismissing the importance of the Bible. The shakeup in Cruz’s campaign came one day before today’s Republican caucuses in Nevada.
Another Republican candidate, Ohio Governor John Kasich, has raised eyebrows over his comments on how women helped him get elected to the Ohio state Senate in 1978.
Gov. John Kasich: “We just got an army of people who—and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and to put yard signs up for me, all the way back, when, you know, things were different. Now you call homes, and everybody’s out working. But at that time, early days, it was an army of the—of the women that really helped me to get elected to the state Senate.”
Kasich later apologized. His remarks Monday came a day after he signed legislation blocking funds to Planned Parenthood. We’ll have more on Kasich’s anti-choice record with former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner after headlines.
WikiLeaks has published documents showing the National Security Agency spied on a 2010 meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi during which Israel sought advice on how to strengthen its relationship with the United States. The documents released Monday also reveal new details about U.S. spying on countries taking part in the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. One document contains details of a confidential meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the lead-up to the climate summit. WikiLeaks says the release includes some of “the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization.”
A new study has found greenhouse gas emissions largely stemming from fossil fuels are causing oceans to rise faster than at any point in the past 28 centuries. If the burning of fossil fuels continues unabated over the coming decades, ocean levels could rise by as much as three or four feet by the end of the century. Flooding from sea level rise is already impacting multiple cities in the United States.
The White House is expected to submit its plan for closing Guantánamo prison to Congress today. Despite Obama’s pledge to close the prison as one of his first acts after taking office in 2009, there are still 91 prisoners there, 35 of whom have been cleared for release.
In news from Latin America, Bolivian President Evo Morales says he is still awaiting final results on a referendum allowing him a fourth term. Morales’ current term ends in 2020; the referendum would have allowed him to remain until 2025. Speaking Monday, Morales said results indicating he lost the bid are not yet final.
Bolivian President Evo Morales: “I have asked all social groups, those that took part in both the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns, to show great serenity and responsibility in waiting for the final result from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. I have heard some people who seem to think that my time has ended. But they are mistaken. Life goes on. And if 'no' wins, the fights goes on, the project continues. I have so many responsibilities, and there is no need to despair, no matter what the result is.”
In Mexico, relatives of 43 students who went missing in 2014 after an attack involving local police in the southern state of Guerrero have launched a convoy from Mexico City to the northern Mexican city of Matamoros. The relatives are calling for the continued detention of local police officers arrested in connection with the case, amid reports the officers may be released.
In other news from Mexico, a journalist has been stabbed to death in his home in the state of Tabasco. Moisés Dagdug Lützow owned a media company and presented a weekly TV program. He had received threats in the past after criticizing local politicians and reporting on vigilante killings.
In Syria, another journalist, Majid Dirani, has been killed by Syrian military tank shells outside Damascus. Dirani was attempting to document devastation in his neighborhood, Darayya. His colleague at Anadolu news agency said, “We used to call him our 'eyes in Darayya.'” The slain journalist was 21 years old.
A new report shows the United States continues to be the world’s leading supplier of weapons. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says the United States is responsible for 33 percent of total weapons exports. U.S. exports of major weapons over the past five years increased by 27 percent compared to the previous five-year period.
And the City Council in Charlotte, North Carolina, has voted seven to four in favor of new protections to bar businesses from discriminating against LGBT people. Included in the ordinance is a provision allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory has said he will support “immediate” action by the North Carolina Legislature to nullify the new protections.
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