This year Democracy Now! is celebrating our 25th anniversary—that’s 25 years of bringing you fearless, independent journalism. Since our first broadcast in 1996, Democracy Now! has refused to take corporate or government funding, because nothing is more important to us than our editorial independence. But that means we rely on you, our audience, for support. If everyone who tunes in to Democracy Now! gave just $4, we could cover our operating expenses for the entire year. Really, that’s all it would take. Right now a generous donor will DOUBLE your donation, making it twice as valuable to Democracy Now! Please do your part today, and thank you so much.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton moved closer to securing their respective party’s nomination with a series of victories Tuesday night. In the Republican race, Trump won Illinois, North Carolina and Florida—where his commanding victory pushed Florida Senator Marco Rubio out of the race. Trump also has a narrow lead over Senator Ted Cruz in Missouri. Trump’s one loss was in the key winner-take-all state of Ohio, where Ohio Governor John Kasich earned his first victory of the race. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, and leads Sanders by only about 1,500 votes in Missouri. Clinton spoke Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Hillary Clinton: “You know, to be great, we can’t be small. We can’t lose what made America great in the first place. And this isn’t just about Donald Trump. All of us have to do our part. We can’t just talk about economic inequality; we have to take on all forms of inequality and discrimination.”
In Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has conceded the Democratic nomination to challenger Kim Foxx following an activist campaign to oust her over her handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting. McDonald was shot 16 times in October 2014, but video of the shooting wasn’t released until more than a year later after a judge’s order. The same day, Alvarez announced murder charges against the officer, Jason Van Dyke.
President Obama says he will announce his nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court today. Among the three male contenders is Sri Srinivasan, who was confirmed to his current appeals court post by a unanimous Senate vote. He would be the first Asian American and first Hindu on the high court. The announcement is due at 11 a.m. Eastern, just after our show. Republicans have vowed to block any Obama nominee.
In Yemen, at least 41 civilians have been killed and 75 wounded after U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes hit a crowded market in the northwest. More than 6,000 people, about half of them civilians, have been killed in the Yemen conflict since the Saudis began targeting Houthi rebels. The vast majority of civilian deaths have been caused by the U.S.-backed strikes.
An alleged ISIL commander has died of his injuries following a U.S. airstrike in Syria. Omar al-Shishani reportedly died Monday evening. Meanwhile, Russian warplanes continue to depart Syria after Russia announced it would remove the bulk of its forces there in a surprise move. Peace talks aimed at ending the now-five-year-old conflict in Syria have entered a third day in Geneva.
The Obama administration has loosened restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba just days before Obama is set to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country in 88 years. The new measures allow Americans to travel to Cuba if they plan educational activities, including interacting with Cuban people or visiting museums. They also allow Cubans to have U.S. bank accounts and earn salaries from U.S. companies, and permit the use of U.S. dollars in transactions with Cuba. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the shift could advance economic reforms in Cuba.
Josh Earnest: “It also could apply more pressure to the Cuban government to implement additional reforms to the Cuban economy. All of that would be a good thing, and all of that would be in service of the basic policy goals that we’ve laid out from the beginning. I would just observe that those were also the policy goals under—that were prioritized by the U.S. government for 50 years under a Cuba embargo and attempts to isolate the Cuban nation.”
In Burma, the Parliament has elected a civilian president after more than 50 years of military rule. The new leader, Htin Kyaw, is a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader who is barred from becoming president herself because of a provision in the military-drafted constitution.
A U.S. congressional panel grilled a former Environmental Protection Agency official Tuesday over her handling of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In April 2014, an unelected emergency manager appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder switched Flint’s water source to the corrosive Flint River. The river water ate away at the lead pipes, poisoning the drinking water. In June 2015, an internal report by an EPA scientist raised the alarm about high lead levels and about Flint’s lack of corrosion control. At Tuesday’s hearing, California Democratic Congressmember Ted Lieu asked former EPA official Susan Hedman why it took so long for the agency to warn residents.
Rep. Ted Lieu: “You knew, EPA knew in April, corrosive agents not done. In June, you were notified of that. And then you were given a report that said 'lots of lead in this drinking water.' And then nothing is done 'til December. There is no excuse for that. Someone needed to have yelled and screamed and said, ’Stop this! People are being poisoned.' Should have been done in at least July or August, maybe September, at least by October. That was so wrong. This was a crime of epic proportions that could have been prevented. I yield back.”
Susan Hedman resigned in January as head of the EPA regional office in charge of Michigan. Utah Republican Congressmember Jason Chaffetz asked her whether anyone at the agency had done anything wrong.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “Did anybody at the EPA do anything wrong?”
Susan Hedman: “Are you asking me the question if in—if I could do this all over again, is there something I would do”—
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “No, I’m asking you—you were in charge. Did anybody at the EPA do anything wrong?”
Susan Hedman: “I don’t think anyone at EPA did anything wrong, but I do believe we could have done more.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “Wow.”
Georgia Republican Congressmember Earl Carter joined the criticism of Susan Hedman, saying, “There’s a special place in hell for actions like this.” Also testifying at Tuesday’s hearing were Flint’s former emergency manager Darnell Earley and former Mayor Dayne Walling. On Thursday, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are set to appear before the same committee. Click here to see our special report on Flint.
In other news from Michigan, police in Detroit fired tear gas on students at Detroit’s Central Collegiate Academy on Tuesday, sickening a number of people and arresting more than a dozen students. Police responded after they say fights broke out during a false fire alarm at the school. There were reports of asthma attacks, and reporters said they saw some students bent over, coughing uncontrollably.
In Puerto Rico, thousands of college students from the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras have approved a three-day, full-campus shutdown to protest recent austerity measures they say endanger the higher education system. After the meeting, students marched through the university and closed all entrances to the campus. The students also called for the resignation of top university officials and left open the possibility of an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.
In Alabama, inmates at Holman prison have released a set of demands after reportedly staging two uprisings in recent days. On Friday, prisoners set fires, and a guard and warden were stabbed and injured. On Monday, dozens of prisoners reportedly barricaded themselves in a dormitory. The prisoners’ demands include releasing prisoners who have served excessive time, classes to help prisoners reintegrate back into society, and financial compensation for “mental pain and physical abuse.” Alabama’s prisons hold nearly twice as many people as they are designed to contain.
Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence is facing calls to veto a sweeping anti-choice bill that would make Indiana the second state to ban abortions sought because of fetal disabilities. The measure also requires abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges, requires women to have an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat 18 hours before an abortion, and mandates that fetal tissue be buried or cremated after an abortion or miscarriage, potentially imposing additional costs on women. A number of anti-choice, Republican women in the Indiana Legislature have denounced the measure as punitive and overreaching. Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers have passed a sweeping anti-choice bill that, among other provisions, redefines the trimesters of pregnancy and threatens to shut down clinics. In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley has indicated she plans to sign yet another anti-choice measure banning abortion at 20 weeks. But in a victory for reproductive rights, a federal judge has blocked Arkansas from enforcing its restrictions on medication abortions.
And Tennessee state lawmakers have advanced a bill that would ban transgender students at public grade schools and universities from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Last month, South Dakota passed a similar measure, but Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed it amid nationwide protest.