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Hundreds of refugees were injured Sunday when Macedonian police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at crowds of people on the Greek side of the border. More than 10,000 migrants and refugees have been stranded at the Greek border outpost of Idomeni since February, after a series of border shutdowns across the Balkans closed off their route to Central and Western Europe. One Syrian migrant named Mahmoud, who was treated for a broken arm, described what happened.
Mahmoud: “We were surprised that even before we reached the fence and before we did anything on our part, that they fired tear gas immediately. So we were dispersed, but there was a reaction. The tear gas was used and very closely followed by firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. It was not gradual; they used it all immediately, one after the other. And this caused a negative reaction from the protesters and angered them and enraged them.”
Greece condemned the use of force by Macedonian authorities, describing it as “dangerous and deplorable.” According to Doctors Without Borders, at least three children had been treated with head injuries caused by rubber bullets. Many Syrian refugees say they are stuck in the Greek camp with nowhere to go.
Mohamed: “We feel like we are in prison. I feel like I am in prison. I am banned from moving anywhere or applying anywhere. Two months in Europe, and we experienced more injustice than five years of war under Bashar al-Assad. There is no humanity here.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming caucus on Saturday, securing nearly 56 percent of the vote. He has now won seven of the last eight caucuses and primaries. Despite his recent victory streak, Hillary Clinton remains ahead by about 220 pledged delegates. On April 19, the candidates will square off in New York, the state where Sanders was born and where Clinton served as a U.S. senator. Just before the New York vote, Sanders will head to the Vatican, where he has been invited to give a speech about the economy.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “And I must tell you that I am a very great fan of the role that Pope Francis has been playing in talking about inequality in this world. You know, it goes without saying that I have my strong disagreements with certain aspects of what the church stands for, but he has been out there talking about the need for a moral economy—a moral economy—an economy in which we have the moral responsibility to pay attention to what he calls 'the dispossessed.'”
Like Senator Sanders, Hillary Clinton spent much of the weekend campaigning in New York.
Hillary Clinton: “I not only love New York and am incredibly grateful every day that I had the honor of being your senator, but I actually think New York values are really good for America.”
In other campaign news, former President Jimmy Carter has publicly criticized Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. He told Time magazine, “When Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry’s coming into office that reinitiated all these very important and crucial issues.”
John Kerry has become the first secretary of state to visit Hiroshima, Japan, the city destroyed by a U.S. nuclear bomb on August 6, 1945. Three days later, the U.S. dropped another nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands were killed. Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum but offered no apology for the U.S. nuclear attack. He said Hiroshima was a “gut-wrenching” reminder the world should abandon nuclear weapons. Despite Kerry’s remarks, the United States has been quietly upgrading its nuclear arsenal to create smaller, more precise nuclear bombs as part of a massive effort that will cost up to $1 trillion over three decades.
President Obama appeared on Fox News Sunday. He was asked what was the worst mistake of his presidency.
President Barack Obama: “Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”
The political fallout from the release of the Panama Papers continues to grow. The papers revealed how a Panamanian firm had set up a global network of shell companies for heads of state, politicians and others to store their money offshore to avoid taxes and oversight. British Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the unusual step of publishing his tax records after he admitted he owned shares in a Bahamas-based trust up until 2010. Details about his late father’s offshore investments were leaked as part of the Panama Papers. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Cameron must do more to address the scandal.
Jeremy Corbyn: “What Panama (Papers) has shown, more than anything, is that there’s one rule for the rich and one rule for the rest. If you’ve got a lot of money, you put it in a tax haven. You get a big income as a result of it. You pay no tax on it. If you’re a care worker, a street cleaner or a nurse, you don’t have those options. You don’t have those opportunities. You pay your tax.”
In Malta, several thousand people protested Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat after the leaked Panama Papers said two of his political allies had offshore accounts. And in El Salvador, authorities have raided the local offices of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the center of the worldwide scandal.
Nightly labor protests are continuing in France against a new law that would weaken worker protections. The movement is dubbed Nuit Debout, “Rise Up at Night.”
Benoit, French school teacher: “I came here to protest against the ever-increasing downgrade of working conditions, against this liberal economy, which wants to give full powers to companies and heads of companies. And that’s the reason why I’m here.”
Since March 31, protesters have been gathering each night in Paris and other cities in a movement some have compared to Occupy Wall Street or Spain’s Indignados. Critics of the new French labor law say it will lead to worse working conditions and more layoffs.
Federal prosecutors are saying former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert molested at least five boys, as young as 14 years old, while he was a wrestling coach in Illinois decades ago. In October, Hastert pleaded guilty to violating bank reporting rules for giving $1.7 million in cash to one of his victims to buy that person’s silence. Hastert faces up to five years in prison on that charge, but he will not face any sexual abuse charges because the statute of limitations has run out. Hastert served as House speaker from 1999 to 2007, making him the longest-serving Republican speaker in history. He played a lead role in the impeachment of President Clinton. On Saturday, Hastert’s attorney said, “Mr. Hastert acknowledges that as a young man, he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry.”
In Colombia, marches were held over the weekend to mark the National Day of Memory and Solidarity with the Victims to remember victims of human rights abuses in Colombia. Yamileth Vasco helped organize a march commemorating the over 300 people that were murdered and disappeared by paramilitary forces in the town of Trujillo in the 1990s.
Yamileth Vasco: “This is a way to remind the state and Colombia about the families who were evicted from their land and who were forced to leave their farms, also those who had family members who were murdered and those who are direct victims.”
A federal judge in Oregon has rejected an attempt by the U.S. government to dismiss a landmark lawsuit over the government’s failure to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. The lawsuit was filed by Our Children’s Trust on behalf of 21 young people all under the age of 19. They argue that the federal government is violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by enabling continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels. Judge Thomas Coffin wrote, “If the allegations in the complaint are to be believed, the failure to regulate the emissions has resulted in a danger of constitutional proportions to the public health.”
In entertainment news, rock legend Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest the state’s sweeping anti-LGBT law. In a statement, he said, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry—which is happening as I write—is one of them.”
More than 3,000 people have pledged to risk arrest in Washington, D.C., as part of a massive sit-in calling for an end to the corruption of big money in politics. The action is known as Democracy Spring. Over the past week, activists have marched from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
The Boston Globe included a satirical front page in their Sunday edition to highlight how the country could change if Donald Trump is elected president. The banner headline reads: “Deportations to Begin: President Trump Calls for Tripling of ICE force; riots continue.” Another headline reads, “Markets sink as trade war looms.”
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