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This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.
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It’s being called the biggest leak in journalism history. On Sunday, journalists revealed 11.5 million secret files from the database of the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm, the Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca. The files show how the law firm set up a global network of shell companies for heads of state, politicians, CEOs and celebrities to store their money offshore to avoid taxes and oversight. More than 100 journalists from 80 countries worked on the investigation—which contains far more files than the Edward Snowden NSA leaks and the 2011 WikiLeaks cables leaks combined. At least 12 national leaders are among the more than 150 politicians implicated by the leak, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Iceland and the former vice president of Iraq. We’ll have more on the leaks later in the week.
In a surprising reversal in Nevada, Sanders could actually end up winning the majority of Nevada delegates, even though Hillary Clinton won the first round of the Nevada caucus in February. On Saturday, Sanders won the support of 55 percent of the delegates at county-level voting. These delegates will now head to the state convention on May 14, which will determine Nevada’s final delegate count. Saturday’s county-level caucuses in Nevada were marked by turmoil, especially at the largest convention in Clark County, where Hillary Clinton’s campaign tried at the last minute to oust a top official who supports Sanders. The credentials chair staged a sit-in in the middle of the convention after the Clinton campaign accused her of sharing sensitive information with the Sanders campaign and demanded she be removed. In response, the credentials chair said the Clinton campaign was trying to change the caucus rules at the last minute and that she had only included the Sanders staffers on an email so that both campaigns would have the same information.
Meanwhile, tensions between Bernie Sanders and his rival Hillary Clinton are rising over the issue of fossil fuel money being used to finance presidential campaigns. During an event at State University of New York at Purchase last week, Hillary Clinton accused the Sanders campaign of lying about her when she was confronted by a Greenpeace activist, who asked whether Clinton would continue to accept money from fossil fuel companies. In response, Sanders called on the Clinton campaign to apologize during a rally in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “The truth is that Secretary Clinton has relied heavily on funds from lobbyists working for the oil, gas and coal industry. According to an analysis done by Greenpeace, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her super PAC have received more than $4.5 million from the fossil fuel industry. In fact, 57 oil, gas and coal industry lobbyists have directly contributed to her campaign, with 43 of them contributing the maximum allowed for the primary. And these are not just workers in the fossil fuel industry, these are paid registered lobbyists. Secretary Clinton, you owe our campaign an apology. We were telling the truth.”
We’ll have more on this story with the activist who confronted Clinton, and a researcher from Greenpeace, after headlines.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, new polls show Donald Trump is now one of the most unpopular political figures in at least three decades. A recent Bloomberg poll shows 68 percent of Americans do not approve of Donald Trump. The only political figures to show similar levels of unpopularity in recent history were former President George W. Bush in the final year of his presidency and former President Richard Nixon following his resignation over the Watergate scandal.
In Greece, border agents have begun forcibly deporting refugees on Greek islands back to Turkey, amid outcry from human rights groups and protests by refugees. On Monday, authorities deported 202 refugees in the first wave of a controversial new plan reached last month to deport all newly arriving refugees back to Turkey. In exchange, the European Union said it would formally resettle one refugee from a Turkish camp for every refugee deported. At least 4,000 refugees have been detained on Greek islands since the accord took effect three weeks ago. Former U.N. high commissioner for refugees spokesperson Metin Çorabatir criticized the plan.
Metin Çorabatir: “This deal, in its current shape, if it is implemented like this, it will harm the people, these poor people. It will be a second trauma. They are already experiencing second, third, fifth traumas. And this will be the next trauma.”
This comes as Syrian refugees blockaded a highway in northern Greece over the weekend, protesting the border crackdowns across Europe which have left refugees stranded in Greece. Syrian protester Fatme spoke out.
Fatme: “We have reached this point, and we are asking, 'What is going to happen to us?' I’m asking all the countries, 'What is our fate?' No one understands what we are going through except us, we who ran away from our country, not because we were hungry. We didn’t leave because we were hungry; we left because there is a war. Is it our fate to die here also? No one is paying attention to us. Absolutely no one.”
Environmental activist Gustavo Castro Soto has been freed by Honduran authorities and has returned to Mexico—a month after he survived an assassination attempt that left fellow Honduran activist Berta Cáceres dead. Early in the morning of March 3, armed gunmen entered Cáceres’ home, killing her and shooting Castro Soto twice. He was then detained by Honduran authorities for nearly a month without cause. Many feared his life was in danger. On Friday, he was allowed to return to Mexico. This is Castro Soto speaking with Radio Progreso about the indigenous land struggles in Honduras, after he returned home to San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Gustavo Castro Soto: “What we are confronting are forces very powerful, obscure forces, filled with ambition, and these forces are what the movements are fighting. And I think for this, as well, COPINH has been an example of the power of this struggle and the unbreakable spirit of the comrades of the indigenous communities, who have marched, who have walked, until exhaustion, all to demand respect to their territories and to demand their land be free of these mega projects that are being imposed and that are evicting people from their lands.”
In the Philippines, farmers in the south are demanding justice after police opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing at least three farmers and leaving dozens more wounded. At least 6,000 farmers were blocking a highway in the southern city of Kidapawan to demand the government provide rice, because extreme El Niño conditions had destroyed the harvest. On Friday, the police tried to break up the blockade by firing on farmers who had linked arms to form a human barricade. Farmer Noralyn Laus spoke out after the shooting.
Noralyn Laus: “Why we came down here is not to make trouble. We just want to demand for rice, because of the situation of El Niño is leaving our tribes hungry. What happened yesterday, we didn’t start it. They started it by beating us. We wouldn’t be angry if we weren’t beaten up or attacked. We’re having a crisis. We don’t have anything to eat or harvest. Our plants wilted. Even our water has dried up.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 20 people have died in airstrikes in the northwest province of Idlib, including the spokesperson for the militant group al-Nusra. It is not clear who launched the airstrikes—the Syrian Observatory said the strikes were launched by Assad’s regime or the Russian military, while other groups said it was a U.S. drone strike. This comes as the partial ceasefire in Syria appears to be under threat amid heavy fighting in the north and accusations from France that Assad’s regime has violated the ceasefire by continuing to launch airstrikes against civilians on the outskirts of Damascus.
In Azerbaijan, dozens of people have been killed after fighting broke out in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Saturday. Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians. It was the site of a bloody conflict in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The fighting, which reportedly included civilian casualties on both sides, threatens the region’s ceasefire, which has been in place since 1994.
The Washington Post reports the Pentagon is drafting up a list of targets for potential airstrikes inside Libya against ISIL militants. This comes after a new U.N.-backed unity government was installed in Tripoli last week. Libya already has two other rival governments, who do not accept the new U.N.-backed administration. The U.S. and European allies have said that installing a Western-backed unity government is a precondition for launching an increased military campaign inside Libya targeting ISIL.
In Poland, thousands of people protested to defend women’s reproductive rights after the conservative ruling party backed calls by the Catholic Church to ban abortions entirely. Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of Warsaw waving signs and coat hangers.
In Nevada, more than a dozen activists were arrested during a series of protests blockading access to the Creech Air Force Base on Friday to demand the base be closed down. Creech Air Force Base is one of several homes for the U.S. military’s lethal drone program in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and other countries. During one of the protests on Friday, a group of children and adults dressed as angels and performed a mock drone attack on a funeral to protest U.S. drone strikes on funeral processions. A total of 25 activists have been arrested in a series of protests against the base over the last week.
Crow Nation war chief, activist and historian Joseph Medicine Crow has died at the age of 102. He was the last surviving war chief for the Crow Nation—a distinction he earned after completing the requirements to become war chief during his U.S. military service in World War II. Medicine Crow was also an acclaimed historian, best known for his work on the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, in which a combination of Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho nations defeated the U.S. Army and killed Army officer George Armstrong Custer.
And former death row prisoner Moreese Bickham has died at the age of 98. In 1958, Bickham, an African American, was sentenced to death for shooting and killing two police officers in Mandeville, Louisiana, even though Bickham said the officers were Klansmen who had come to kill him and shot him on the front porch of his own home. Multiple other people in the community also said the officers worked with the Ku Klux Klan, which was a common practice in small Southern towns. Bickman served 37 years at Angola State Penitentiary, in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. He won seven stays of execution, but Louisiana’s governors repeatedly denied him clemency until, under enormous pressure, he was finally released in 1996. This is Moreese Bickham speaking on WBAI’s “Wake-Up Call,” when co-host Bernard White and I interviewed him in 1996.
Moreese Bickham: “I know how it feels now to be free. When I was flying over the West Coast going to Oakland, I looked down, and I seen all them little lights, looked like stars up in heaven. I said I’ve always been looking up and see the stars. I know heaven is up that way. But, Lord, these look like stars down there. Is that heaven down there? Some say it can be.”
That was Moreese Bickham speaking only days after he was freed. It was Martin Luther King Day when we spoke to him on WBAI. He died Sunday night in California.