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In North Carolina, 11 people were arrested Monday in the latest protests over the state’s anti-transgender law. Hundreds of people descended on the state Legislature as part of the Moral Monday action, calling for North Carolina to repeal the law. Known as HB 2, or the bathroom bill, the measure nullifies ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination and forces transgender people to use the bathroom that matches what they were assigned on their birth certificate. The Justice Department has sued North Carolina over the law, which it calls discriminatory. But North Carolina has sued the government to defend the law. On Monday, the ACLU and Lambda Legal asked a judge to block enforcement of the law by issuing a preliminary injunction.
Democratic voters head to the polls in Kentucky and Oregon today. The primaries come after supporters of Bernie Sanders protested procedures they saw as favoring Hillary Clinton at the Nevada convention over the weekend. Back in February, initial results in Nevada favored Clinton, but then Sanders mobilized more support at the county conventions, making it appear he might actually end up with more delegates. At the state convention Saturday, Sanders supporters erupted in protest after they say the delegate allocation rules were abruptly changed in Clinton’s favor. They also claimed about 60 Sanders supporters were wrongly denied delegate status. Clinton emerged with 20 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 15.
On Monday, Bernie Sanders campaigned in Puerto Rico, which holds its Democratic primary on June 5. Sanders said Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt must be restructured in a way that doesn’t deepen its economic crisis.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “It is unacceptable to me that vulture funds on Wall Street are demanding that Puerto Rico fire teachers, close schools, cut pensions and abolish the minimum wage, so that they can reap huge profits off the suffering and the misery of the children and the people of Puerto Rico. We cannot allow that to happen. We will not allow that to happen.”
Republicans also vote in Oregon today, even though Donald Trump has become the presumptive presidential nominee after his last two rivals, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, dropped out of the race. On Monday, an attorney with the Trump Organization suggested Trump might sue The New York Times over an article about his treatment of women. The Times interviewed dozens of women who interacted with Trump, from a beauty pageant contestant who said Trump kissed her on the lips to a woman executive who said Trump commented on her weight, telling her, “You like your candy.” The article also referred to Trump’s ex-wife Ivana’s allegations Trump raped her in a fit of rage. In the book, “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” Trump’s lawyers insisted a statement by Ivana Trump be placed in front, which read, “I referred to this as a 'rape,' but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
The Supreme Court has declined to rule on a major case involving access to birth control under President Obama’s signature healthcare law. The Obama administration has already exempted churches and other houses of worship from a rule requiring employer health plans to provide birth control coverage to employees without a copay. Religiously affiliated nonprofits simply need to notify the health insurer or the government that they object to providing birth control coverage, at which point the government takes over and they have no further role. But a number of nonprofits argue the notification process itself violates their religious freedom. The Supreme Court has been left with just eight justices following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and Republican efforts to block Obama’s nominee. On Monday, the court handed the birth control cases back to lower courts, instructing them to find an approach that accommodates religious freedom while ensuring employees of the nonprofits have equal access to birth control.
In Afghanistan, a massive demonstration over better access to electrical power gripped the capital Kabul Monday. Security forces tried to block routes to the presidential palace with shipping containers. Thousands of members of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority took to Kabul’s streets to demand that a planned power line pass through provinces with large Hazara populations.
Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to seek to restore the death penalty. In his first comments to journalists following his victory in last week’s election, Duterte said he would also give security forces the power to shoot to kill suspects who evade arrest. During his campaign, Duterte vowed to kill tens of thousands of criminals. He addressed reporters on Monday.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte: “Heinous crimes committed with licensed firearms must be death. Rape plus death as a victim must be death penalty. Kidnapping coupled with ransom [inaudible] must be death penalty. Robbery with homicide with rape, double the hanging. After hanged first, then there will be another ceremony for the second time.”
Duterte has been called the Filippino Trump. Executions have been suspended in the Philippines since 2006 amid opposition from the Catholic Church.
The CIA’s internal watchdog has admitted it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of the Senate’s report on CIA torture. Yahoo News said the acknowledgment came as Justice Department lawyers assured a federal judge copies of the report were being preserved. The CIA reportedly does have another copy. The 6,700-page report has never been publicly released.
Another journalist has been murdered in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Manuel Torres was shot in the head Saturday as he returned home. He worked with a local city council and was editor-in-chief of the news site Noticias MT. A statement from the Veracruz attorney general did not acknowledge Torres as a journalist. At least 16 journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2010; another three have disappeared.
In upstate New York, residents opposed to the storage of natural gas in underground salt caverns at Seneca Lake have been dealt a blow by federal regulators. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has extended a permit allowing a subsidiary of the Texas-based company Crestwood Midstream another two years to expand its natural gas storage facility in the salt caverns. Opponents of the plan say Seneca Lake provides drinking water to 100,000 people in the heart of New York’s scenic wine country. More than 500 protesters have been arrested protesting the gas storage plans, which they say could lead to a disastrous leak and threaten public health. In New York City Monday, more than 100 people rallied outside the shareholders meeting of Con Edison to protest the utility’s plan to jointly own the gas storage facility. Seneca County farmer Jan Quarles invoked the recent methane leak in California, where 100,000 tons of methane leaked from an underground storage site.
Jan Quarles: “Does Con Ed shareholders and ratepayers really want this risk? The methane leak in Porter Ranch, California, was a complete disaster. It forced 5,000 people to evacuate. And SoCalGas is being sued for over $2 billion. New York cannot afford that.”
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