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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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In the race for the White House, Tuesday was a big night for the underdogs, as Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Ted Cruz secured decisive victories in the Wisconsin primary. Sanders beat rival Hillary Clinton by winning over 56 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz easily defeated front-runner Donald Trump by 13 percentage points. Sanders spoke during a rally Tuesday night in Wyoming, which holds its caucus on Saturday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “With our victory tonight in Wisconsin, we have now won seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries. And we have won almost all of them with overwhelming landslide numbers.”
Ted Cruz celebrated his victory during a rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Sen. Ted Cruz: “And as a result of tonight, as a result of the people of Wisconsin defying the media, defying the pundits, I am more and more convinced that our campaign is going to earn the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.”
We’ll have more on the Wisconsin results, after headlines.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has said he would force Mexico to pay for a border wall by threatening to block immigrants living and working in the United States from sending money to their families back in Mexico—that is, unless the Mexican government makes a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion for the wall. Trump says he could cut off the flow of money, known as remittances, by changing a rule under the USA PATRIOT Act. Experts disagree that Trump would have the legal authority to block remittances in this manner. Experts have also cast doubt on the overall feasibility of Trump’s border wall. In Mexico, the idea of blocking remittances was met with widespread ridicule and opposition, including from Senator Padierna Luna.
Sen. Dolores Padierna Luna: “These remittances are private. They are their migrants’ property. There is no authority to decommission them or to take them. It’s theft. He will be stealing, which is something no one can accept.”
Iceland’s prime minister has resigned, becoming the first major casualty of the Panama Papers revelations. Leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed that Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife, which he failed to declare when he entered Parliament. He is accused of concealing millions of dollars’ worth of family assets. Gunnlaugsson’s resignation followed the largest public demonstrations in Iceland’s history. We’ll go to Reykjavík for more on Iceland later in the broadcast.
Meanwhile, President Obama has spoken out about the Panama Papers while urging Congress to close tax loopholes, known as “inversions,” in which U.S. corporations agree to be bought by foreign companies simply to avoid paying U.S. taxes. The Treasury Department has unveiled new regulations to try to limit this process. On Tuesday, Obama said that many in the United States were taking advantage of legal loopholes to avoid U.S. taxes.
President Barack Obama: “We’ve had another reminder, in this big dump of data coming out of Panama, that tax avoidance is a big global problem. It’s not unique to other countries, because, frankly, there are folks here in America who are taking advantage of the same stuff. A lot of it’s legal, but that’s exactly the problem. It’s not that they’re breaking the laws, it’s that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they’ve got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by.”
Also on Tuesday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reportedly decided to abandon plans to merge with the Ireland-based drug maker Allergan, following the unveiling of the Treasury Department’s new rules. The deal would have allowed Pfizer to avoid billions in U.S. taxes and would have been one of the largest corporate inversions in U.S. history.
This comes as the Panama Papers have revealed at least 200 U.S. citizens who used the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm. The list includes Robert Miracle of Bellevue, Washington, who is serving a 13-year sentence for a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme based on investments in Indonesian oil fields, and Benjamin Wey, head of the private equity firm New York Global Group. Wey was indicted last year on securities fraud. Since the beginning of the publication of the Panama Papers on Sunday, many have questioned why more U.S. citizens and companies have not been named in the articles analyzing the more than 11.5 million secret files.
In Europe, refugees continue to stage protests to demand countries reopen their borders. On Tuesday, a group of refugees set up an encampment along the major highway E75 near the Greece-Macedonia border, blocking traffic for hours. This comes as the United Nations refugee agency is raising new questions about whether Greece is deporting refugees back to Turkey before they have had a chance to apply for asylum. Under the controversial European Union plan, Greece is supposed to process all refugees’ asylum claims and only deport people if their claims are rejected. But the U.N. says Greek police did not process the claims of at least 13 of the 202 refugees deported to Turkey on Monday—the first day the deal was put into practice.
Meanwhile, the United States has deported 85 refugees from Bangladesh, India and Nepal who were seeking asylum after fleeing repression and violence in their home countries. On Sunday, immigration advocates say they received a call from one of the men before the mass deportation, who said, “My family has already been visited by the police in India, where they abused my family and threatened that they will 'teach me a lesson' when I am returned.” After the deportation, Senator Bernie Sanders issued a statement, saying, “Deportation can be a death sentence to detained minors, parents and asylum seekers.” Some of the men deported from Corrections Corporations of America’s Florence Correctional Center in Arizona on Sunday night had participated in a series of hunger strikes last year to demand their release from for-profit detention centers.
In Bahrain, protests broke out after the funeral of a teenager reportedly killed by police, who were trying to arrest him for participating in protests. Seventeen-year-old Ali Abdulghani died Monday in the hospital, four days after officers raided his family’s house. He was later found lying in the street, bleeding from a head injury, after a police chase. Witnesses said he was hit by a police vehicle. On Tuesday, funeral-goers blocked a road as police threw tear gas at the crowd in the town of Shahrakan.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed a sweeping anti-LGBT law, which will allow organizations and businesses to deny people an array of services based on religious objections. Opponents say the new law, set to take effect in July, will legalize discrimination against LGBT people. American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi head Jennifer Riley-Collins said, “This is a sad day for the state of Mississippi and for the thousands of Mississippians who can now be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, or denied housing, essential services and needed care based on who they are.” On Tuesday, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign compared Mississippi’s law to the anti-LGBT law recently passed in North Carolina.
Chad Griffin: “Mississippi needs only to look as far as North Carolina to see how damaging discrimination can be to a state’s reputation and to a state’s economy.”
This comes as PayPal has said it is abandoning plans to expand into North Carolina, following the recent passage of HB 2, known as the “bathroom bill,” which bars North Carolina cities and towns from passing laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations. PayPal’s president, Dan Schulman, said, “Becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.”
More than 100 writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Junot Díaz and Alice Walker, have called on the PEN American Center to reject sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy for PEN’s upcoming week-long World Voices Festival in New York City. The call is part of the cultural boycott campaign against Israel, part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Alice Walker said, “As a PEN member, I want this organization that is supposed to be a champion of writers’ rights to stand up for Palestinian writers, academics, and students who are suffering under a repressive Israeli regime that denies their right to freedom of expression.”
The global messenger application WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption for its more than 1 billion users. This comes a week after the FBI abandoned a high-profile legal battle against Apple over the iPhone’s encryption, after saying the agency was able to crack the iPhone without Apple’s help.
And San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to approve six weeks of fully paid parental leave. The new law, passed unanimously on Tuesday, applies to all new parents, including same-sex couples and adoptive parents.