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 TRIPLE your new monthly donation to Democracy Now!, meaning your gift will go three times 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.
In Brazil, former Vice President Michel Temer has taken power as interim president, after the Senate removed President Dilma Rousseff and begins impeachment proceedings over accusations she tampered with accounts in order to hide a budget shortfall. Rousseff has called the move a coup and vowed to fight it. On Thursday, she said the impeachment trial is a threat to Brazil’s sovereignty and its Constitution.
President Dilma Rousseff: “This condition, the condition of a president who was elected by 54 million people, to whom I say now, right now, at this divisive moment for Brazilian democracy and for our future as a nation: What is in play in the impeachment process isn’t just my mandate; what is in play is the respect of the polls, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the Constitution.”
The attempt to oust President Rousseff has sparked massive protests across Brazil. On Thursday, dozens of women chained themselves to the gates of Brasília’s Planalto Palace in support of Rousseff. Protester Fatima spoke out.
Fatima: “The coup leaders in Brazil are trying to get President Dilma out and are usurping our democracy. They will only get us out of here by force, because we are defending democracy and the elected mandate for more than half of Brazilians.”
We’ll go to Rio de Janeiro to speak with The Intercept reporter Andrew Fishman after headlines.
The Obama administration is sending out letters to school districts across the country saying students have the right under federal law to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. The directive is not legally enforceable, although it does suggest school districts could face lawsuits or loss of funding if they fail to protect transgender students from discrimination and unequal access to facilities. This comes only days after the Justice Department sued North Carolina over its anti-transgender law, HB 2, which 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.
Pope Francis says he’ll establish a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. Research suggests women widely served as deacons in the church’s early history. In response to the pope, the Women’s Ordination Conference said, “Opening a commission to study the diaconate for women would be a great step for the Vatican in recognizing its own history.”
In Washington, D.C., House Speaker Paul Ryan’s opposition to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears to be fading, after the two met on Capitol Hill Thursday. The two issued a joint statement saying, “While we were honest about our few differences, we recognize that there are also many important areas of common ground.” This comes as an increasing number of Republican Party leaders are choosing to back Donald Trump, despite the candidate’s controversial proposals, which include deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and building a wall across the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border, which experts have said is not feasible.
Meanwhile, the Secret Service says it will investigate Donald Trump’s former butler over a Facebook post in which he referred to President Obama as a “Kenyan fraud” and called for him to be hanged. Anthony Senecal worked for Donald Trump for nearly 30 years. Trump’s campaign has said it disavows Senecal’s statements.
In Iraq, ISIS militants have killed at least 20 Iraqi soldiers and tribal fighters in suicide attacks near Ramadi. Meanwhile, gunmen and suicide bombers killed 13 people when they stormed a coffee shop in a town north of Baghdad. No one has claimed responsibility for this attack. It comes on the heels of a wave of suicide attacks in the capital that killed at least 93 people on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Syria, fighting has broken out in a suburb north of Aleppo, where a temporary ceasefire between the Assad regime and opposition groups has expired. Before the ceasefire took effect Monday, Aleppo had been the site of intense fighting this month, including an airstrike on an MSF-supported hospital that killed at least 14 patients and three doctors, including one of the city’s last pediatricians. On Thursday, Aleppo resident and mother Mayada Nazrian spoke out about finally deciding to leave the city.
Mayada Nazrian: “I have been in Aleppo since I was a little girl. I got married and had my kids here. We’ve suffered through this war for five years. We’ve been patient for a year, two years, three years. We’ve lost a lot. We lost a martyr. We lost our work. We lost everything we own because of this war.”
We’ll have more on the ongoing conflict and how Syrians are organizing in the midst of the war with scholar Yasser Munif later in the broadcast.
In Somalia, a U.S. airstrike killed five people on Thursday. The Pentagon says the five were militants with the extremist group al-Shabab. It’s the most recent U.S. airstrike inside Somalia, including a series of April drone strikes that killed at least eight people, and another in March that killed 150 people.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has admitted at least 25 U.S. soldiers have been stationed inside Libya at two separate outposts since late 2015. It’s the latest sign of U.S. military escalations in Libya.
A former member of the 9/11 Commission is calling on the Obama administration to declassify 28 pages of the congressional report on Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack. John Lehman, the Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, says he believes there’s evidence some Saudi government officials offered support to the 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11.
A federal judge has ruled against a section of President Obama’s healthcare law, finding the administration overstepped its authority in subsidizing deductibles, co-pays and other “cost-sharing” measures. The suit was brought by House Republicans, who have unsuccessfully sought to repeal Obama’s healthcare law. The suit argues the subsidies were unconstitutional because Congress had already rejected a request for this funding in 2014. The Obama administration is expected to appeal.
In Alabama, the execution of death row prisoner Vernon Madison has been halted after his attorneys argued dementia has left Madison unable to understand his death sentence. He was convicted of killing a police officer in 1985. In a 4-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution Thursday night, only hours before Madison was scheduled to die by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to the Holman Correctional Facility to cover another issue there: a 10-day work strike by prisoners protesting severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the use of unpaid prison labor. We will go behind bars to speak with Kinetik Justice, a prisoner in solitary confinement who helped lead the strikes.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, is reportedly preparing to launch a month-long campaign of raids specifically aimed at rounding up and deporting undocumented Central American mothers and children. The effort contradicts the Obama administration’s 2014 pledge to focus deportations on “felons, not families.” On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote, “I am outraged to read reports of future ICE raids planned for May and June targeting Central American mothers and children. Many of these families have fled violence in their home countries and seek safety here, in the city of immigrants.”
Google has announced it will ban advertising by payday lenders from its site. It’s the company’s first global ban on a whole category of financial products. Advocates argue that payday lending is an exploitative industry that traps low-income people in cycles of debt.
In France, more than 50,000 people took to the streets on Thursday, blockading roads and barricading schools, as the French government narrowly survived a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly over President François Hollande’s controversial labor reforms. Opponents of the bill were about 40 votes shy of the 288 necessary to defeat the reforms. The controversial labor reforms were forced through two days ago using a little-used power. The proposals have sparked massive protests by students and unions across France. The movement has been dubbed “Nuit debout,” or “Rise up at night.” On Thursday, Philippe Martinez, general secretary of the CGT union, spoke out.
Philippe Martinez: “The most important thing is what the people are feeling. There hasn’t been any dialogue with the unions, because the bill was imposed on us, and democracy has once again been brushed aside at the National Assembly. I think that for a government that talks a lot about dialogue, about debate, well, they’re showing us what their idea of dialogue is: Let’s move by force, let’s try and scare workers and the young, the people. They should look at the polls, because over 70 percent of the people in this country are against this bill.”