In these times of elections, climate chaos and COVID-19, independent news is more important than ever. You turn to Democracy Now! because you trust that when we're reporting on the pandemic or the uprisings against police brutality—or the climate crisis—our coverage is not brought to you by the fossil fuel, insurance or weapons industries or Big Pharma. We count on YOU to make our work possible. Today, a generous supporter will DOUBLE your new monthly donation to Democracy Now!, meaning your gift will go twice as far. This is a challenging time for us all, but if you're able to make a monthly donation and provide us with support we can rely on all year, please do so today. Stay safe, and thank you so much.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
Around 20 people were arrested in Costa Mesa, California, after demonstrators took to the streets to protest a Donald Trump rally Thursday night. Protesters blocked traffic, including the on-ramp to the freeway. The demonstrations involved both clashes between Trump supporters and protesters, and clashes between protesters and the police clad in riot gear. Several thousand people attended the Trump rally. The California primary is June 7.
Former House Speaker John Boehner launched a verbal attack against Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, calling him “Lucifer in the flesh” and a “miserable son of a bitch.” Boehner was speaking during a forum at Stanford University. The comments were recorded by journalists from the campus paper, The Stanford Daily. This clip begins with Stanford history professor David Kennedy.
John Boehner: “Lucifer in the flesh. In Washington, I have many Democrat friends, and I have Republican friends. I get along with almost everybody. But I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
Meanwhile, pro-choice groups are calling on Ted Cruz to fire anti-choice activist Troy Newman from his campaign. Newman is the head of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which is known for its targeted harassment of abortion clinic workers. Newman himself has implied that abortion providers should be executed, writing the U.S. is “blood-guilty” for its failure to kill “abortionists.” Newman currently serves as one of the co-chairs of Ted Cruz’s “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition.
The U.S. State Department has condemned Wednesday’s airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders-supported hospital in Syria. The organization says the airstrike killed at least 50 people, including doctors, nurses and patients. On Thursday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the airstrike was likely carried out by the Syrian regime.
John Kirby: “We obviously find this attack reprehensible in every possible way. We’re looking at dozens, if not several dozens, of casualties in this strike on what was clear that was a medical facility. The details and the circumstances of the attack are still coming in, but it sure bears all the hallmarks of the kinds of strikes that the regime has done in the past on treatment facilities and, frankly, on first responders.”
This comes as the Pentagon is slated to release a full report today on its internal investigation into the U.S. military’s bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last year. The attack killed 42 people, including patients and staff. The Pentagon says 16 people have received some form of administrative discipline, but no one has been court-martialed. In response, Amnesty International called for an independent investigation, writing, “These reports demonstrate the need for an independent investigation, outside of the chain of command, to determine what happened in Kunduz and to assess potential criminal wrongdoing.”
Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Iraq on Thursday, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other top officials. It was Biden’s first visit to Iraq since 2011. This comes as Prime Minister al-Abadi continues to face massive popular protests against his administration. Earlier this week, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Baghdad to demand the appointment of new officials to Parliament.
The Obama administration has proposed an unprecedented military funding package to Israel that could top $40 billion over 10 years. It is the largest military funding package the U.S. has ever offered to any nation. Israeli officials are reportedly demanding even more funding. The U.S. currently gives Israel $3 billion a year in military funding under a deal slated to expire in 2018. Meanwhile, Israeli police have shot and killed a Palestinian woman and her teenage brother near a checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Israeli police say the two were armed with knives. Palestinian authorities said the victims, 23-year-old Maram Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother, Ibrahim Taha, were en route to Jerusalem for a doctor’s appointment.
Amnesty International says police in Brazil have killed at least 11 people this month in Rio de Janeiro, where the Olympic Games are set to begin in less than 100 days. Amnesty says the majority of the victims are young black men from the city’s poorer neighborhoods, known as favelas. In 2015, 307 people were killed by police in Rio—which accounted for one in every five homicides.
Atlantic City is likely to default on a $1.8 million bond payment due Sunday, making it the first New Jersey city to go into default since the Great Depression. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed taking over the city’s operations, a move which would give the state power to sell off city assets and break union contracts. Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian has pushed back against the state plan, calling it a “fascist dictatorship.”
The Verizon workers’ strike has entered its second week, with tens of thousands of workers on strike up and down the East Coast. It’s one of the biggest U.S. strikes in years. Verizon has sought to cut pensions and ease the outsourcing of work. At a picket line in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Al Pemberton, chief steward of Communication Workers of America Local 1109, spoke out.
Al Pemberton: “My name is Al Pemberton, and I’m a field technician out of Verizon Wireline. We’re fighting for middle-class jobs. Most of us are going to be retiring in a few years, but we want to make sure that the communities that we serve have good middle-class jobs to pass on to the young people coming up. And we think that that should be a positive thing for the community and for the government as a whole, because you’ve got good-paying jobs, you pay taxes, and then most services can be rendered to the community through that process.”
In Washington, D.C., Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, spoke at the newly formed Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls’ first symposium about the death of her daughter, who was found hanged in a Texas jail cell in July 2015, three days after she was arrested over an alleged traffic violation. Reed-Veal maintains her daughter did not commit suicide. During her testimony at the Library of Congress Thursday, she highlighted the high number of women who die in U.S. jails.
Geneva Reed-Veal: “Show of hands: Can anybody in the room tell me the other six women who died in jail July 2015 along with Sandra Bland? That is a problem. You all are among the walking dead. And I am so glad that I have come out from among you.”
And Yale University has announced it will not rename the residential dorm Calhoun College, named after former Vice President John C. Calhoun, one of the most prominent pro-slavery figures in history. This comes despite a recent wave of student protests demanding the name be changed. Yale said it will name one of the two new residential dorms after African-American alumnus and legal scholar Anna Pauline Murray. It will be the first time a Yale dorm bears the name of either an African American or a woman.