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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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The Justice Department has sued North Carolina over its anti-transgender law. The law, known as HB 2 or the “bathroom bill,” bars transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. It also invalidates local ordinances aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the lawsuit Monday, saying the government stands with transgender people.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “This law provides no benefit to society, and all it does is harm innocent Americans. And instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends and our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past. And let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good and never works in hindsight.”
North Carolina officials, meanwhile, have sued the federal government in order to defend the anti-transgender law. Governor Pat McCrory criticized the Obama administration’s involvement.
Gov. Pat McCrory: “Our state Legislature believe this was an unnecessary government overreach into the private sector, imposing regulations and impacting one’s personal privacy. The state Legislature and this governor also believe that guidelines then need to be put in place, because of this new public topic, for government buildings, our schools and our rest stops to ensure privacy and expectation privacy for everyone.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has also filed suit over the North Carolina law. Staff attorney Chase Strangio said the law will ultimately be defeated.
Chase Strangio: “This law will be either struck down in court or repealed by the Legislature once they realize that doubling down in this way is not politically wise or financially viable for their state. It’s just a matter of how long that will take and how much taxpayer dollars the North Carolina government is willing to spend in the meantime defending their discrimination.”
Donald Trump has moved to take over the financial apparatus of the Republican National Committee, despite tensions within the party over his role as the presumptive presidential nominee. Trump has said he needs up to $1.5 billion for the general election after pouring $40 million of his own money into the primaries. But Trump lacks his own fundraising infrastructure, and Republican megadonors like the Koch brothers have so far hedged at backing him. On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would step down as chairman of the Republican National Convention if Trump asked him to. While Trump has all but sealed the nomination, voters still head to the polls today for Republican primaries in West Virginia and Nebraska.
West Virginia is also holding its Democratic primary with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vying for the 29 delegates up for grabs. Eight years ago, Clinton won West Virginia in a landslide, beating Barack Obama—but many polls project Sanders will win today. We’ll have more on West Virginia with former presidential candidate Ralph Nader after headlines.
Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States and Russia have agreed to press for the reinstatement of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. Kerry addressed reporters.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “Now, as I said before when we were in Vienna, these are words on a piece of paper, they are not actions. But they are a commitment by Russia to, in fact, limit the Syrian regime from its ability to fly in civilian-occupated areas, as well as to work with the commanders on the ground, in order to try to deliver stability and a reaffirmation of the cessation of hostilities.”
The Syrian military meanwhile said it would extend for two days a ceasefire confined to the embattled city of Aleppo and its surrounding areas. Violence has continued in the area despite the truce.
The Pentagon says an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition has killed a senior ISIS official in Iraq. Officials said the strike on Friday killed Abu Wahib, identified as the chief military official of ISIS in Anbar province. It hit a vehicle carrying Wahib and three other people described by the U.S. as ISIS members. Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said, “It is dangerous to be an ISIL leader in Iraq and Syria these days, and for good reason.”
Brazil’s Senate has forged ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, despite an earlier move by the interim house speaker to derail the process. The previous house speaker, Eduardo Cunha, had led the bid to oust Rousseff, before he himself was suspended over corruption. On Monday, his replacement, Waldir Maranhão, sought to annul the lower house’s vote in favor of impeachment charges, citing procedural flaws.
Waldir Maranhão: “I am aware that this is a delicate moment. We have the duty to save democracy through debate. We are not and will not be playing with democracy.”
But the speaker apparently reversed course in the middle of the night, releasing a statement revoking his decision, without explanation. The Senate appears poised to vote Wednesday on whether to put Rousseff on trial; if a majority side against her, she would be suspended. Rousseff has been accused of tampering with government accounts to conceal budget shortfalls. She has accused her right-wing opponents of mounting a coup.
In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has declared victory in the presidential election and vowed to rewrite the constitution. Duterte won the election despite periodically admitting to his role in death squads, joking about the gang rape of an Australian missionary, and pledging to kill tens of thousands of people. He’s been dubbed the Filipino “Trump.” Meanwhile, the Philippines has also elected its first openly transgender politician. Geraldine Roman will serve in the House of Representatives.
Canada has announced it will back a United Nations declaration to protect the rights of the world’s more than 370 million indigenous peoples. Four countries opposed the declaration when it was first adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007: Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Canada is the last of the four to finally embrace the statement; the United States signed on in 2010.
Ferguson, Missouri, has sworn in its first permanent African-American police chief. Delrish Moss takes over for Tom Jackson, who resigned after a scathing Justice Department report found police and courts in Ferguson routinely engaged in discrimination against African Americans. The bias came to light after the fatal police shooting of unarmed African American Michael Brown in 2014.
The so-called Panama Papers scandal has widened as an international team of journalists published a searchable database of documents online. A massive data leak revealed how the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law 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. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists says the new database “strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.”
A Mexican judge has ruled drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán can be extradited to the United States to face trial. Guzmán has been moved to a prison on the U.S.-Mexico border. He previously escaped from jail in Mexico twice. His attorneys had fought his extradition in part by citing discrimination against Mexicans, including the words of now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
One in five species of plants worldwide are at risk of extinction amid threats from farming, logging, urbanization and human-made climate change. The global study led by the Royal Botanic Gardens in London is the first of its kind. Researcher Steve Bachman described its findings.
Steve Bachman: “If we completely clear the land and have a kind of monoculture, what happens when a new plant disease emerges and wipes out the crop entirely? So having a more diverse and flexible approach to producing our crops means we’re more likely to be robust for the challenges in the future, especially as the climate changes, more diseases, more insects start to infest the crops. All of that stuff is likely to happen.”
In another sign of the impact of climate change, at least five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to erosion and rising sea levels. They are part of the Solomon Islands, one of the most densely populated Pacific Island nations.
And the social media site Facebook has been accused of suppressing news stories on political grounds. Former Facebook workers told the website Gizmodo they routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers by keeping them out of the “trending” stories section on the sidebar. Among the topics they purportedly suppressed were those about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul. They were also told to exclude news about Facebook itself, they said. Gizmodo technology editor Michael Nuñez wrote: “In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation.” Facebook has denied the allegations it filtered out conservative stories.