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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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The Justice Department announced it has succeeded in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects and dropped its attempts to force Apple to break into the phone. The announcement ends a high-stakes legal battle but leaves a broader debate over encryption unresolved. The FBI wanted Apple to build a backdoor into the phone, but Apple said such a move would put the security of other iPhones at risk, as well. We’ll have more on the story with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald later in the broadcast.
In North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging a sweeping new law banning local governments from passing laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations. The law, House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” is widely considered to be the most wide-ranging anti-transgender law to take effect this year. It was introduced after the city of Charlotte passed its own ordinance seeking to protect the right of transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro announced the lawsuit.
Chris Sgro: “This morning, we’re here to announce that Equality North Carolina, ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal have filed suit against the state of North Carolina in federal court in the state’s Middle District. Along with those organizations, other plaintiffs join us in this suit, Carcaño v. McCrory. HB 2 is the most sweeping anti-LGBT bill in the nation, and it will not stand the test of time or the test of federal court.”
Meanwhile, Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal announced he would veto a so-called religious liberty bill critics say would allow discrimination against LGBT people. The measure would have let faith-based organizations in Georgia deny services and jobs to LGBT people. Deal had faced pressure to veto the bill from about 500 businesses and the National Football League, which implied Georgia might lose its bid to host the Super Bowl if the measure was enacted. We’ll have more on the anti-LGBT measures in North Carolina and Georgia later in the show.
A Mexican transgender woman and activist who has been living in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than a decade has been detained by U.S. immigration authorities and placed in a men’s detention center, despite identifying as a woman. Local activists said Nayeli Charolet was given three choices: live at a men’s detention center or in solitary confinement or in a segregated unit for transgender women. Activists say the segregated unit in Santa Ana, California, is known for its abuse of transgender women, with complaints of degrading strip searches by male guards and the denial of hormone therapy and other medical care. Charolet is currently being held in all-male facilities at the for-profit Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.
A man claiming to be wearing an explosive belt hijacked an EgyptAir flight and forced it to land in Cyprus today over what authorities said appeared to be a “personal” matter, not a terrorist attack. The flight was en route to Cairo from the Egyptian city of Alexandria when it was diverted to the Cypriot port city of Larnaca. After negotiations, the alleged hijacker, Seif Eldin Mustafa, allowed most of the more than 50 passengers on board to walk free. He has now reportedly been arrested. Authorities say he wanted to talk to his estranged wife in Cyprus.
In Belgium, a man charged with terrorism and identified by Belgian media as the “third bomber” in the deadly Brussels Airport bombings last week has been released. Faysal Cheffou, described as a citizen journalist, was picked out of a photographic lineup by a cab driver who said he drove the three bombers to the airport; two of them blew themselves up, the third escaped. Authorities released Cheffou Monday, saying they lacked evidence against him. They have now released surveillance video of the third bombing suspect at the airport, seeking help identifying him.
In Washington, D.C., police shot a man they say pointed a gun at them in a screening area of the visitor center at the U.S. Capitol. The man, identified as Larry Dawson of Tennessee, was taken to the hospital, as was a female bystander who suffered injuries. Dawson faces charges including assault with a deadly weapon. He is said to be in stable but critical condition. Police say he acted alone, and they have ruled out terrorism, saying, “There is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a criminal act.”
Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro has published a letter criticizing President Obama after Obama wrapped up a historic visit to Cuba last week. Castro invoked the multiple U.S. attempts to overthrow and subvert the Cuban government, from the Bay of Pigs invasion to the economic embargo. “We don’t need the empire to give us anything,” Castro wrote. Responding to Castro, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said his words show Obama’s visit made an impact.
Josh Earnest: “The fact that the former president felt compelled to respond so forcefully to the president’s visit, I think, is an indication of the significant impact of President Obama’s visit to Cuba. We obviously were quite pleased with the reception that President Obama received from the Cuban people.”
The Guardian newspaper has revealed the CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to foreign countries for torture. The photographs, described by one U.S. official as “very gruesome,” were reportedly taken to protect the CIA from ramifications if the prisoners were tortured after being transferred to foreign custody. Human rights groups said taking naked photographs of prisoners constitutes sexual humiliation and could even be a war crime.
California Governor Jerry Brown has formally announced a deal with lawmakers and union leaders to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. The move avoids a November ballot measure that would have raised the minimum wage faster. On Monday, Governor Brown said California is the first state to take such a step.
Gov. Jerry Brown: “An agreement has been reached among key labor leaders, legislative leaders and my administration to raise the minimum wage, over time, to $15 an hour, making California the first state to do that. It’s a matter of economic justice. It makes sense. And it will help our entire state do much better for its citizens.”
Wal-Mart has won a legal victory against Puerto Rico after a U.S. judge struck down a tax Puerto Rico tried to impose on the retailer. This comes as Puerto Rico faces a massive $70 billion debt. After Monday’s ruling, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla vowed to appeal, saying, “The judge just took away $100 million from the people of Puerto Rico and gave it to Wal-Mart.”
Argentina’s new right-wing, pro-corporate government is cutting funding for the regional, Spanish-language television network TeleSUR. TeleSUR was launched in 2005 by a coalition of leftist governments, media outlets and movements, led by Venezuela under President Hugo Chávez. Now, the administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri will dump its nearly 20 percent stake, citing a lack of influence over financial and editorial decisions.
In other media news, the Al Jazeera Media Network has fired about 500 employees, most of them at its headquarters in Qatar. This comes after Al Jazeera announced in January it was shutting down its U.S. offshoot, Al Jazeera America.
In Wisconsin, six people were arrested while protesting Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Dozens of people occupied the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Janesville, and six of them locked themselves together with PVC pipe. The protesters demanded Holiday Inn not “be a host for hate.” The hotel’s convention center is set to host a Donald Trump event today.
In Arizona, protests erupted inside the Legislature during a hearing over last week’s primary voting day, when tens of thousands of people were unable to vote and many waited hours in line. One person was hauled away in handcuffs. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell addressed Arizona state lawmakers after the number of polling places in the county was slashed by 70 percent from 2012, from 200 to 60. Purcell apologized for the mayhem that resulted.
Helen Purcell: “As I said, we made some horrendous mistakes, and I apologize for that. I can’t go back and undo it. I wish that I could, but I cannot. I can only say that we felt that we were using the best information that we had available to us and in past history.”
In news from the financial world, a former top official at the massive private equity firm Blackstone Group has been arrested on criminal fraud charges for what U.S. prosecutors called a “brazen” scheme to defraud investors of up to $95 million. Andrew Caspersen was a partner at the Park Hill Group, which until recently was part of the Blackstone Group. His father, Finn M.W. Caspersen, committed suicide in 2009 while under federal investigation for allegedly concealing millions of dollars in a tax shelter.
About 7 million people in the United States live in areas at risk of an earthquake induced by human activity. That’s according to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey, which said states including Oklahoma and Kansas are now at as high of a risk as earthquake-prone California of a devastating earthquake. The Central United States has seen a spike in seismic activity due to the injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling deep underground.
A record swath of Arctic sea ice failed to freeze over the winter amid record-shattering heat. The National Snow and Ice Data Center said the sea ice’s maximum expanse this winter was the lowest since record keeping began nearly 40 years ago. This comes after NASA announced two new missions to explore the disappearing sea ice in the Arctic. NASA scientist Walt Meier described the problem.
Walt Meier: “You’ve probably heard that it’s been a record-breaking winter in the globe, but it’s been kind of turbo-charged in the Arctic—record warmth. We’ve seen temperatures 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. And then we’ve seen the Arctic sea ice, that grows in the cold winter, dark winter period in the Arctic, it’s been growing more slowly, because it’s so much warmer than normal there, and it’s covering less of an area than it normally does, and it’s one of the lowest that we’ve seen in our satellite record, going back almost 40 years now.”
And Utah has become the first state to require women having an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy to receive general anesthesia. The measure signed by Republican Governor Gary Herbert is based on the debunked claim a fetus can feel pain at that stage. Doctors warn the law could force them to anesthetize women who have to have their labor induced because of problems with their pregnancy.