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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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In Iraq, hundreds of protesters have left Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone after taking over the Parliament building Saturday and staging an overnight occupation of Celebration Square. It was the latest in a growing number of protests demanding an end to corruption and the appointment of new officials to Parliament. Before the protesters withdrew, a spokeswoman threatened future demonstrations if the changes don’t occur.
Spokeswoman: “If this demand is not met, the people would then use all legitimate means, that begin with storming the headquarters of the three executive branches or civil disobedience and going on strike.”
Meanwhile, 32 people died in the Iraqi city of Samawah on Sunday after ISIL militants carried out two suicide bomb attacks.
The Pentagon has released its report on the U.S. military’s bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last year. The attack killed 42 people, including patients and staff. The report claims the bombing was a mistake caused by human errors and equipment failures. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said the Pentagon does not consider it a war crime.
Gen. Joseph Votel: “The fact that this was unintentional, an unintentional action, takes it out of the realm of actually being a deliberate war crime against persons or protected locations. So, that is the principal reason why we do not consider this to be a war crime.”
A number of people disputed General Votel’s argument, including Patricia Grossman of Human Rights Watch, who tweeted: “It is established principle of customary international law that war crimes can be committed through recklessness.” Sixteen U.S. officers have received administrative discipline, but none face criminal charges. Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and others have called for an independent investigation.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva today to try to re-establish the partial ceasefire in Syria. At least 250 people have died in Aleppo during more than a week of bombing by the Syrian regime, including the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders-supported hospital that killed as many as 50 people, including doctors and patients.
Puerto Rico is slated to miss its biggest debt repayment thus far, after Governor Alejandro García Padilla declared a moratorium on a more than $400 million payment due today. Padilla spoke out.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla: “We have asked Congress over and over again to approve the measures so that we can restructure our debts. We don’t want a bailout, and we have not been offered a bailout. What we want is a restructuring process that will not cost the United States anything. We simply need the legal tools that will allow us to confront this crisis and assure that Puerto Rico will have a viable future.”
The CIA has sparked widespread criticism by marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden by live-tweeting the operation as if in real time. For six hours Sunday, the CIA tweeted play-by-play details of the raid on bin Laden’s hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. The reaction on Twitter was overwhelmingly negative, with people calling the move “grotesque” and “embarrassing.” The Obama administration has been accused of giving a false account of the hunting and killing of Osama bin Laden.
Greenpeace has leaked 248 pages of the latest negotiating text of a trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Greenpeace says the documents show the U.S. is pressuring European countries to loosen environmental and consumer protection, and include provisions to give corporations, such as Nestlé and Coca-Cola, more power during trade talks.
In Los Angeles, a top Sheriff’s Department official has resigned after the Los Angeles Times published a series of racist and sexist emails he’d sent. Tom Angel was the chief of staff to Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. His published emails showed he had made frequent derogatory jokes about Muslims, Catholics, Latinos, African Americans and women during his previous job working for the Burbank Police Department.
In Louisiana, Gary Tyler has walked free from the Angola prison after serving 41 years for a murder many believe he did not commit. Tyler, an African American, has been jailed since he was 16 years old after an all-white jury convicted him based entirely on the statements of four witnesses who later recanted their testimony. His case has been called one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the modern history of the United States.
Sunday was May Day, and workers took to the streets in dozens of cities across the world, including in Havana, Paris, Santiago, Istanbul, Seoul and across the United States. In Los Angeles, organizers marked the 10th anniversary of the historic 2006 May Day, when 1.5 million people marched for immigrant rights, by demonstrating against Donald Trump. This is organizer Juan José Gutiérrez.
Juan José Gutiérrez: “He has threatened that should he become president of the United States, in his first 18 months in office, he fully intends to deport all 11 million-plus undocumented persons in the United States. We don’t take that lightly. We don’t think that he’s the clown that everybody said he was. This is a very dangerous individual, and we must stop him.”
Legendary antiwar priest Father Daniel Berrigan has died just short of his 95th birthday. Berrigan was a poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he called “American military imperialism.” We spend the hour remembering his life and legacy.
And Democracy Now! co-host Juan González has penned his final column for the New York Daily News, where he’s worked for 29 years. Over the years, Juan has used his column to break major corruption scandals and cover-ups, including the attempt to conceal the health impacts of the toxic dust released on 9/11. In his sign-off, Juan wrote: “I opted to become a voice from another part of urban America. Not writing about outcast neighborhoods, but from them. Not simply to entertain, but to change. Not after the fact, but before it, when coverage could still make a difference.”