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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! 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 in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Coastal cities including New York, London, Shanghai and Hong Kong could be flooded before the end of the century. The dramatic new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, predicts global warming could melt the West Antarctic ice sheet within decades—far faster than previously predicted. The collapse of this sheet, combined with ice melting in other regions, could cause seas to rise up to six feet by 2100. The study’s authors, Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University, also found the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet is not yet inevitable, but that the emission reduction plans outlined in the 2015 Paris climate deal are far too weak to stop the sheet from melting.
In news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has sparked widespread outrage by saying women should be “punished” for having abortions if the procedure were to become illegal. Donald Trump has advocated for banning abortions. This is Donald Trump speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during a town hall aired Wednesday night.
Chris Matthews: “Should abortion be punished?”
Donald Trump: “Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and conservative Republicans would say, yes, they should be punished.”
Chris Matthews: “How about you?”
Donald Trump: “I would say that it’s a very serious problem. And it’s a problem that we have to decide on.”
Chris Matthews: “Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?”
Donald Trump: “The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.”
Chris Matthews: “For the woman?”
Donald Trump: “Yeah, there has to be some form.”
Chris Matthews: “Ten cents? Ten years? What?”
Donald Trump: “Let me just tell you—I don’t know. That I don’t know. That I don’t know.”
Chris Matthews: “Why not?”
Donald Trump: “I don’t know.”
Chris Matthews: “You take positions on everything else.”
Donald Trump: “Because I don’t want to—I—frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It’s a very complicated position.”
The comments drew immediate backlash from other presidential hopefuls, an array of women’s groups and even some anti-choice groups. NARAL, the nation’s oldest pro-choice group, called the statement “horrifying.” The anti-choice group March for Life said Donald Trump was “completely out of touch with the pro-life movement.” All the other presidential candidates responded to Trump’s statements. Ohio Governor John Kasich told MSNBC, “Of course, women shouldn’t be punished for having an abortion.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz did not reject the proposal, but said Trump would “say anything just to get attention.” On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “What he said today is among the most dangerous and outrageous statements that I’ve heard anybody running for president say in a really long time.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said, “To punish a woman for having an abortion is beyond comprehension.” Following the backlash, Donald Trump attempted to walk back his comments by saying that if abortions are banned, then it should be doctors who perform the procedure who should be prosecuted, not the patients.
Trump’s comments come only one day after a 15-year-old girl was pepper-sprayed and sexually assaulted during protests outside a Donald Trump rally in Janesville, Wisconsin. The teenager was holding a sign reading, “Damn, Donald, back at it again with the white supremacy.” She was surrounded by Trump supporters, some chanting, “All lives matter.” She says she was groped by a man in the crowd. A video then shows her being pepper-sprayed by another person when she confronted her alleged attacker. This comes as Donald Trump faces increasing criticism that he permits violence at his rallies. Trump has said he would pay the legal fees of his supporters charged with attacking protesters.
In Minneapolis, hundreds of people took to the streets Wednesday night after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced no charges will be filed against the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death last fall of Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old African American. Clark was shot in the head after a scuffle with officers who responded to a report of an assault. In announcing the decision, the prosecutor rejected claims by multiple witnesses that Clark was shot while handcuffed. Clark’s death sparked a series of protests in Minneapolis, including a weeks-long occupation outside the 4th Police Precinct. On Wednesday, hundreds gathered to protest the lack of charges against the officers.
Protesters: “I am a revolutionary! I am a revolutionary!”
Jamar Clark’s family also spoke out against the lack of charges and rejected prosecutor Freeman’s claims that Clark placed his hand on an officer’s gun during the scuffle. This is Jamar’s cousin, Cameron, saying Freeman has blood on his hands.
Cameron Clark: “There’s blood on Mike Freeman’s hands. I can’t control what the city—we’ve been [inaudible] for four months. We’re tired of this. And y’all supposed to be protecting and serving. Y’all are not protecting. Y’all is the biggest gang. Y’all are killing us. And y’all get to get away with it.”
In a victory for public health and reproductive rights advocates, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved new labeling for the most widely used abortion drug, mifepristone. The labeling change says women can use the drug further into a pregnancy, with fewer visits to a doctor and at a lower dosage. The change replaces restrictions that the medical establishment had long considered outdated and deals a blow to states where anti-choice advocates had been trying to use the outdated FDA label to place restrictions on women’s use of the drug.
The Pentagon has drafted plans deploy U.S. troops and tanks full time along NATO’s eastern border, in what would be the first such deployment since the end of the Cold War. The proposal is part of a broader U.S. military escalation in Eastern Europe, amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Justice Department inspector general reveals the Defense Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration have spent more than $86 million on an aircraft that has never once actually flown in Afghanistan. As of March, the aircraft was still inoperable.
French President François Hollande has abandoned controversial plans to change the constitution to install a permanent state of emergency and to strip people of their French citizenship if they are convicted of terrorism. Hollande had proposed the constitutional amendments in the wake of the November Paris attacks, which killed 130 people. The proposals inspired widespread opposition across the political spectrum. French human rights activists are now organizing to oppose proposed laws to widen mass surveillance.
A German historian has revealed the Associated Press cooperated with the Nazi regime in the 1930s and at times supplied U.S. outlets Nazi propaganda billed as news stories. The revelations are based on archival materials unearthed by historian Harriet Scharnberg. The documents show the AP signed onto a law promising not to publish anything to “weaken” the regime. Under the law, the AP also hired reporters who worked for the Nazi propaganda division, including a photographer whose photos were personally selected by Hitler. The Associated Press says it “rejects the suggestion that it collaborated with the Nazi regime at any time.”
The FBI, the Department of Justice and British and Australian authorities have launched a joint investigation into the Monaco company Unaoil, which brokers contracts between governments and international oil service giants. This comes after The Huffington Post and Australia’s Fairfax Media published a multi-part exposé based on thousands of leaked documents showing how Unaoil paid million-dollar bribes to government officials in Iraq, Libya, Kazakhstan, Syria, Tunisia and other countries to broker contracts for some of the world’s largest companies, including Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR. The exposé also shows how U.S. military contractor Honeywell colluded to conceal bribes in Iraq contracts. Reporters are calling it the biggest leak of files in the history of the oil industry.
In Arizona, five people were arrested during a protest outside Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s office demanding he veto House Bill 2451—the first in a series of anti-immigrant bills to reach his desk. Four protesters locked themselves together to block the entrance to Governor Ducey’s office. This is protestor Maria Castro.
Maria Castro: “I’m willing to do whatever it takes for my community. It’s important for us to make our voice heard. The state of Arizona doesn’t care about our vote. They don’t care about democracy. This is the only way for us to be heard in the state of Arizona.”
During the protest, capitol police also arrested Carlos García, the executive director of Puente Arizona, although he was not part of the lockdown and was off to the side doing media interviews.
And the president of Harvard University, Drew Faust, has announced she will install a plaque to commemorate four enslaved people who lived and worked at Wadsworth House, the one-time home of Harvard presidents. In an article for The Harvard Crimson, Faust wrote, “Slavery is an aspect of Harvard’s past that has rarely been acknowledged or invoked. … But Harvard was directly complicit in America’s system of racial bondage from the College’s earliest days.”