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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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About 100 more people have been arrested in Washington, D.C., as part of the ongoing Democracy Spring protests against corruption and big money in politics. Wednesday marked the third consecutive day of mass arrests at the U.S. Capitol, after 85 were arrested Tuesday and more than 400 on Monday.
About 36,000 Verizon workers have gone on strike along the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia, marking one of the biggest U.S. strikes in years. Verizon has sought to cut pensions and ease the outsourcing of work. In New York City, Verizon worker Gail Rodgers spoke out.
Gail Rodgers: “We’re fighting union busting. We’re trying to keep the company from taking back things that we’ve rightfully gained through previous contracts that we fought for, that should be ours—you know, medical benefits, the right to work. … We also have issues with them trying to move our work overseas, which we can’t have that. This is America. Work needs to stay in America for Americans.”
Both Democratic presidential candidates joined Verizon workers on the picket lines in New York City. Speaking in his home borough of Brooklyn, Sanders criticized Verizon.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “It’s not a question of excited. It’s a question of workers standing up for justice, taking on a large, greedy corporation who wants to outsource good-paying jobs, who wants to take away healthcare benefits from its workers. But somehow, they do have enough money to pay their CEO $20 million a year. What this union and its workers are standing up for is justice, and I stand with them today.”
On Wednesday evening, Bernie Sanders drew one of his largest crowds to date in New York City’s Washington Square Park. His campaign put the crowd at 27,000 people. The entire front section appeared to be striking Verizon workers. Meanwhile, Verizon’s CEO hit back at Sanders in a blog post, calling the senator’s views “contemptible.” Hillary Clinton’s critics have pointed out the Clinton campaign has received tens of thousands of dollars from Verizon executives and lobbyists. Verizon paid Clinton $225,000 for a 2013 speech. On Wednesday, Sanders won the endorsement of the New York City transit workers union, while Clinton was backed by an electrical workers union.
Activists with The Occupied Wall Street Journal and Indypendent newspaper teamed up to produce a newspaper in support of Sanders headlined “The Battle of New York.” Sanders and Clinton square off in a debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard tonight, five days before the New York primary.
Inside, Trump said both the Republican and Democratic systems for choosing candidates are rigged.
Donald Trump: “Whether you like Bernie Sanders or not—I happen to think he’s terrible, but that’s OK. But whether you like him or not—no, no, whether you like him or not, you turn on television every week, 'Bernie Sanders wins, Bernie Sanders wins,' next week, 'Bernie Sanders wins.' He wins every weekend. And then you listen to the pundits: 'But he can't win.’ I say, 'Wait a minute, he's won every week for the last seven weeks, right?’ But he can’t win. And you say, ’What’s going on?’ Then I say, 'Oh, it's a rigged system.’”
Trump and his fellow Republican candidates are expected to attend a gala in Manhattan tonight with hundreds expected to protest Trump outside.
Bank regulators have warned that five of the top eight largest U.S. banks are “too big to fail,” meaning taxpayers would need to bail them out again in the event of another financial collapse. The Federal Reserve and FDIC said JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, State Street and Bank of New York all lacked “credible” plans to enter bankruptcy in the event of a financial crisis. The warnings echo calls by Bernie Sanders to break up the big banks, a plan criticized by his rival, Hillary Clinton. The biggest banks are even bigger now than before the 2008 meltdown.
The world’s largest private-sector coal company has filed for bankruptcy. Peabody Energy is at least the fifth major coal company to seek bankruptcy amid a decline in coal. The environmental group 350.org declared the move a “harbinger of the end of the fossil fuel era.”
Former Florida Senator Bob Graham says he received a call from the White House this week over the 28 secret pages of a report on the 9/11 terror attacks. Graham has campaigned for years to have the documents declassified, saying they contain key details about Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks. Graham told the Tampa Bay Times a presidential adviser informed him the declassification review of the documents would soon be completed. The call came after 60 Minutes ran an episode on the 28 pages Sunday. Graham spoke to host Steve Kroft.
Steve Kroft: “You believe that support came from Saudi Arabia?”
Bob Graham: “Substantially.”
Steve Kroft: “And when we say 'the Saudis,' you mean the government, rich people in the country, charities?”
Bob Graham: “All of the above.”
In Chicago, a task force appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has found evidence of rampant racism within the Chicago Police Department. The report finds the police department’s own data “gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” Despite equal proportions of black, white and Latino residents in Chicago, 74 percent of the more than 400 people shot by Chicago police between 2008 and 2015 were black. Black people also made up 72 percent of people stopped on the street—but not arrested—in the summer of 2014, and three out of four people on whom Chicago police tried to use Tasers between 2012 and 2015. The report comes as Mayor Emanuel faces calls to resign over a possible cover-up of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, the teen shot 16 times in 2014.
In Panama, authorities have raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal. A massive data leak revealed the firm set up a global network of shell companies for heads of state and other elites to store money offshore to avoid taxes and oversight. Authorities seized 100 computer servers during a 27-hour raid. Protesters rallied outside the firm to demand a thorough investigation.
Luis González: “We believe it’s important for the attorney general to actively investigate this act of corruption, this embarrassment, which was revealed internationally, in which Panama looks very bad at the moment.”
Newly released records reveal how FBI hackers sought to break encryption used by animal rights activists by secretly installing software on the activists’ computers. While it happened more than a decade ago, the effort has just come to light through documents provided to The New York Times by freedom of information activist Ryan Shapiro. Six activists known as the SHAC 7, including past Democracy Now! guest Andy Stepanian, were ultimately convicted of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in the case.
And journalist Matthew Keys has been sentenced to two years in prison in a hacking case that has drawn protests from civil liberties groups. Keys was convicted in October of giving the hacker group Anonymous the username and password of his former employer, the Tribune Company. A hacker then used the credentials to alter the online headline on a Los Angeles Times story from “Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package” to “Pressure Builds in House to Elect CHIPPY 37,” a reference to another hacking group. The change lasted about 40 minutes. Keys had faced up to 25 years in prison. After Keys’ sentencing Wednesday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was among those to tweet his support, writing, “Two years for a web defacement lasting 40 minutes.” Supporters say Keys’ plight shows the need to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the sweeping, decades-old law also used to charge activist Aaron Swartz. Swartz committed suicide in 2013 while facing up to 35 years in prison for downloading millions of academic articles.