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HeadlinesApril 12, 2016

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400 Arrested in “Democracy Spring” Sit-in Against Big Money in Politics

Apr 12, 2016

More than 400 people have been arrested in a massive sit-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to protest the influence of big money and corporate lobbying in politics. Monday’s protest, organized under the name Democracy Spring, brought together activists from about 140 organizations who marched from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., last week. Similar acts of civil disobedience are scheduled throughout the week in Washington. We’ll have more on the protest after headlines.

Sanders Calls for National Fracking Ban; Clinton Attacks Him on Gun Control

Apr 12, 2016

Presidential candidates continue to campaign in New York one week ahead of the primary. Speaking in Long Island, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton attacked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of gun control.

Hillary Clinton: “Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. And the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont.”

Federal data shows that of the nearly 4,600 out-of-state guns recovered in New York in 2014, just 55 came from Vermont. Speaking in Binghamton, Bernie Sanders proposed a national ban on the oil and gas drilling process known as “fracking.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “What you have done is prove to the world that when people stand up and form a grassroots movement of environmentalists, public health advocates, farmers, working families and religious leaders, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.”

Donald Trump: Delegate System is “Rigged”

Apr 12, 2016

Donald Trump campaigned in Rochester, New York, Monday after Texas Senator Ted Cruz won all of Colorado’s 34 delegates over the weekend. Trump said the system is rigged.

Donald Trump: “We’ve got a corrupt system. It’s not right. We’re supposed to be a democracy. We’re supposed to be—we’re supposed to be: You vote, and the vote means something. All right? You vote, and the vote means something. … Because what they’re doing, and whether it’s me or whether it’s Bernie Sanders, when I look at it and I see all these victories that I have, all these victories that he’s got, and then you look at the establishment, and I want to tell you, it’s a corrupt deal going on in this country, and it’s not good. It’s not good.”

U.N. Agency Condemns Use of Tear Gas on Refugees Stranded in Greece

Apr 12, 2016

The United Nations refugee agency has condemned the use of tear gas by Macedonian police against refugees stranded on the Greek side of the border. More than 10,000 people 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. On Sunday, dozens were wounded when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Among those treated for tear gas was Taha, an engineer from Syria.

Taha: “We saved our children from death. If they had died in Syria under the airstrikes, it would have been better than living in this humiliation. We ran away from humiliation. We thought Europe would open its arms for us and treat us with dignity; instead, it’s been humiliation.”

U.S. “Very, Very Concerned” About Increase in Syria Violence

Apr 12, 2016

The refugees’ plight comes as U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner says the United States is concerned with escalating violence in Syria ahead of peace talks planned for Wednesday.

Mark Toner: “We are very, very concerned about the recent increase in violence, and that includes actions we believe are in contravention to the cessation of hostilities. And Secretary Kerry, in fact, expressed this concern to Foreign Minister Lavrov and also discussed how to make certain in the next days that every extra effort is made in order to sustain and solidify the cessation of hostilities.”


Israel Acknowledges Launching Dozens of Strikes in Syria

Apr 12, 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged Israel launched dozens of strikes in Syria, targeting what he said were suspected arms transfers to the group Hezbollah. Netanyahu provided few details about the strikes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “We act when we need to act, including here across the border with dozens of strikes meant to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining game-changing weaponry.”

Brazil: Congressional Panel Recommends Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff

Apr 12, 2016

In Brazil, a congressional committee has voted to recommend the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff as part of what her supporters call an attempted coup by her right-wing opponents. Rousseff has been accused of manipulating government accounts. Her fate will ultimately be left to a full session of the lower house of Congress, with a final vote expected this Sunday. Brazil faces a dire financial crisis and corruption scandal that spans political sides.


Peru Faces Runoff Between 2 Right-Wing Presidential Candidates

Apr 12, 2016

Peru faces a presidential runoff between two right-wing candidates after a leftist candidate was apparently eliminated in the first round of voting. The June runoff pits former World Bank economist and Wall Street favorite Pedro Kuczynski against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is in prison for crimes including ordering massacres by death squads.


Anti-Drug War Caravan Arrives in Mexico from Honduras

Apr 12, 2016

Activists from across the Americas have converged on Mexico City as part of a caravan calling for an end to the U.S.-backed war on drugs. The Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice departed Honduras last month and has traveled through El Salvador, Guatemala and much of Mexico, with the goal of reaching New York City ahead of a U.N. special assembly on drugs next week. Among the activists is Erika Llanos, whose child went missing in Mexico.

Erika Llanos: “It is children and women who are the main victims of this criminal war that has seen this become an armed conflict.”

Canada: First Nations Community Declares Emergency over Suicide Attempts

Apr 12, 2016

In Canada, a small First Nations community has declared a state of emergency after 11 people attempted suicide in a single day. The Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario saw 28 suicide attempts last month within a population of 2,000 people, and 11 attempts on Saturday alone. Canadian First Nations people suffer from higher levels of poverty, addiction and incarceration. Local Parliament member Charlie Angus said indigenous communities need aid.

Charlie Angus: “If these were non-aboriginal children, all the resources would be in their schools. When they’re aboriginal children, well, hey, you can take a number and stand in line. And meanwhile, kids are dying every day.”

Goldman Sachs Agrees to $5 Billion “Non-Punishment” over Role in 2008 Crisis

Apr 12, 2016

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle state and federal probes into its sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the deal on Monday.

Eric Schneiderman: “This settlement will help thousands of families with principal forgiveness to obtain write-downs of their mortgage debts so they can avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. It will help to finance multi-family affordable housing projects. It will fund land banks and local code enforcement efforts and is really another major step in the fight for justice for the families and communities that were devastated when a combination of reckless deregulation and abusive practices by a relatively small number of financial firms brought the American economy to its knees in 2008.”

But the deal includes a generous package of tax credits and other incentives that could see Goldman pay far less than the total announced. Any money Goldman spends on consumer relief under the deal is tax-deductible, meaning U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. The advocacy group Better Markets called the settlement “more of the same non-punishment, non-accountability ritual that will do nothing to stop the Wall Street crime spree.”

Bryan Adams Cancels Concert in Mississippi over Anti-LGBT Law

Apr 12, 2016

Musician Bryan Adams has canceled a Thursday concert in Biloxi, Mississippi, to protest the state’s new law allowing some groups and businesses to deny service to LGBT people. Adams said in a statement: “I cannot in good conscience perform in a State where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation.” His move comes after Bruce Springsteen canceled a show in North Carolina to protest another new anti-LGBT law in that state.

Chicago Aldermen OK $6.5 Million Payments over 2 Deaths in Police Custody

Apr 12, 2016

In Chicago, aldermen have approved nearly $6.5 million to settle lawsuits involving Chicago police and the deaths of two African-American men. The largest settlement goes to the family of Philip Coleman, who died in 2012 after being repeatedly tased and dragged from his cell. Coleman had reportedly suffered a mental health crisis; when his parents pleaded with officers to take him to a hospital instead of jail, a sergeant allegedly told them, “We don’t do hospitals, We do jail.” The second settlement goes to the family of Justin Cook, who in 2014 was stopped for a traffic violation, suffered an asthma attack and died after Chicago police refused to give him his inhaler. Witnesses said officers taunted Cook and sprayed the inhaler into the air. During a debate Monday, Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale said officers involved in the two cases should no longer be on the force.

Alderman Anthony Beale: “They need to be fired. Here we are, paying out millions of dollars in settlements, and nobody’s being terminated.”

Chicago has spent more than a half-billion dollars settling police cases since 2004, despite punishing few officers.

South Carolina: Officer Avoids Jail Time After Killing Motorist in His Driveway

Apr 12, 2016

And in South Carolina, a white police officer has been sentenced to three years’ probation, avoiding any prison time, after killing an African-American motorist in his own driveway. North Augusta police officer Justin Craven shot Ernest Satterwhite after a 13-minute car chase in 2014. Dashboard camera video, which authorities refused to release until Monday, after Craven pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misconduct, shows Craven sticking his gun through Satterwhite’s open driver’s side window. Satterwhite’s arm appears briefly before Craven fires several shots. Craven claimed Satterwhite tried to grab his gun. Prosecutors initially sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, which carries up to 30 years in prison, but a grand jury refused to indict him.

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