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HeadlinesMay 24, 2016

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Brazil: Minister Resigns After Explosive Transcripts Unveil Plot to Oust Rousseff

May 24, 2016

In Brazil, a key figure in the interim government has resigned after explosive new transcripts revealed how he plotted to oust President Dilma Rousseff in order to end a corruption investigation that was targeting him. The transcripts, published by Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, document a conversation in March, just weeks before Brazil’s lower house voted in favor of impeaching President Rousseff. Romero Jucá, who was then a senator but became a planning minister after Rousseff’s ouster, was speaking with a former oil executive, Sérgio Machado. Both men had been targets of the so-called “Car Wash” investigation over money laundering and corruption at the state-controlled oil firm Petrobras. In the conversation, the men agree that ousting President Rousseff would be the only way to end the corruption probe. Jucá notes the impeachment would “end the pressure from the media and other sectors to continue the Car Wash investigation.” He also says he has spoken with military commanders, who are supporting the plan and who are “monitoring the Landless Workers Movement,” which supports policies of Rousseff’s party. And Jucá says he has secured involvement by justices of the Brazilian Supreme Court, saying “there are only a small number” of justices he has not had access to. Writing for The Intercept, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald said, “The transcripts provide proof for virtually every suspicion and accusation impeachment opponents have long expressed about those plotting to remove Dilma from office.” On Monday, the planning minister said his comments were taken out of context, but he would step down. Meanwhile, as Brazil’s interim foreign minister visited Argentina, protesters gathered in Buenos Aires to condemn Rousseff’s ouster as a coup.

Mateo Alves: “This is a coup which has been made legitimate by the (Brazilian) National Congress. But it is not legitimate, it is illegal. It is a coup to put those corrupt criminals in power.”


Baltimore Officer Acquitted in Freddie Gray Police Custody Death

May 24, 2016

A Baltimore police officer has been acquitted on all charges for his role in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died of spinal injuries last year after he was arrested and transported in a police van. Officer Edward Nero faced misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. A total of six officers were charged; four were directly charged in Gray’s death. Judge Barry Williams handed down the verdict in a bench trial on Monday, ruling that “the state has not met its burden” to prove Nero’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The ruling was met with little surprise from the community in a case that many said was the state’s weakest. Gray family attorney Billy Murphy reacted to the news.

Billy Murphy: “My information is that they’re reacting to this the same way they reacted to everything else. They’re reacting calmly. The judge gave detailed reasons for why he thought the evidence was insufficient and why the law did not compel a conviction in this case. You couldn’t have asked for a better judge to do it. He was a local prosecutor here for many years. He was a federal prosecutor of corrupt cops for many years. And he demonstrated convincingly that he was not and would not be swayed by any element of the community’s preconceived notions about what the result ought to be.”

Supreme Court Sides with Black Man Sentenced to Death by All-White Jury

May 24, 2016

The Supreme Court has overturned the death sentence of an African-American man sentenced to die by an all-white jury in Georgia 29 years ago. Timothy Tyrone Foster was convicted of killing a white woman in 1986. Records revealed prosecutors marked the names of African-American jury candidates with a “B” and highlighted them in green, their race was circled on questionnaires, and all were placed on a list marked “Definite NOs.” In one case, an investigator hired by the prosecution wrote, “if it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors, [this one] might be okay.” In striking down Timothy Tyrone Foster’s death sentence Monday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts concluded, “The focus on race in the prosecution’s file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury.” Foster will likely face a retrial. The Supreme Court’s decision in Foster’s favor was seven to one, with the sole dissenting voice coming from the court’s only African-American justice, Clarence Thomas.

Yemen: ISIS Bombing Kills 40 Army Recruits; Cluster Bomb Found in Village

May 24, 2016

In Yemen, ISIS has claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed at least 40 Yemeni army recruits in the southern city of Aden. The attack hit recruits as they lined up to enlist. Aden serves as the temporary capital of the Saudi-backed Yemeni administration, which is fighting Houthi rebels. Meanwhile, a British-made cluster bomb has been found in a Yemeni village, bolstering reports the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition fighting the Houthis has been dropping the banned weapons. Amnesty International found the unexploded bomb in northern Yemen. Cluster bombs contain bomblets which fan out over a wide area and often fail to explode until civilians pick them up later.


Greek Authorities Begin Clearing Thousands from Idomeni Refugee Camp

May 24, 2016

Greek authorities have begun clearing thousands of stranded refugees from a makeshift camp along the border with Macedonia. At least 8,400 people have been camped at Idomeni after Macedonia restricted and then shut down its border. Refugees have sought to remain in the area, hoping to cross with smugglers or wait for the border to reopen so they can continue their route to other parts of Europe. But earlier today, hundreds of riot police descended on the camp to evict them and transport them to processing stations further south.

Obama Praises TPP Trade Deal During Visit to Vietnam

May 24, 2016

President Obama sought to drum up support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as he continues his visit to Vietnam. The pact among 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Vietnam, appears unlikely to pass the U.S. Congress before the November election. All three presidential candidates have opposed it amid a wave of public protest by those who say it benefits corporations at the expense of health and environmental regulations. But Obama said he believed the TPP would one day pass.

President Barack Obama: “Moreover, I support TPP because of its important strategic benefits. Vietnam will be less dependent on any one trading partner and enjoy broader ties with more partners, including the United States.”

Okinawa Governor Requests Meeting with Obama After Ex-Marine’s Arrest for Murder

May 24, 2016

Later this week Obama heads to Japan. He will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb toward the end of World War II. The governor of Okinawa, which houses about two-thirds of the 50,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Japan, has requested a direct meeting with Obama. The request by Takeshi Onaga, who was elected on a platform of removing a U.S. airbase from the island, comes after last week’s arrest of a former marine for the murder of a Japanese woman. For decades, Okinawa residents have called for the expulsion of U.S. troops in large part over a history of sexual assaults. The governor spoke on Monday.

Gov. Takeshi Onaga: “Over the last several years, we have heard nearly a hundred times that there will be a full enforcement of discipline and a thorough plan to prevent this from happening again, but the reality is that nothing has changed.”

Austria: Far-Right Candidate Narrowly Defeated in Presidential Race

May 24, 2016

In Austria, a former Green Party leader has defeated his far-right opponent by a narrow margin in the presidential race. Alexander Van der Bellen won 50.3 percent of the vote, defeating far-right candidate Norbert Hofer, who won 49.7 percent. Hofer ran on an anti-migrant platform and would have become the first far-right head of state elected in Europe since 1945.

Sanders Names Cornel West, Bill McKibben to DNC Platform Committee

May 24, 2016

The Democratic National Committee has allowed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to appoint five members to the committee that authors the party’s platform. Democrats said Clinton was allowed to pick six while Sanders picked five, based on the number of popular votes they have each won to date. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will choose four members. Sanders chose the scholar and racial justice activist Cornel West; leading environmentalist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben; Native American activist Deborah Parker; Minnesota Congressmember Keith Ellison, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and Palestinian rights activist and scholar James Zogby, who founded the Arab American Institute.

Purvi Patel Appeals 20-Year Sentence for What She Says was a Miscarriage

May 24, 2016

Attorneys for an Indiana woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for what she says was a miscarriage have asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn her sentence. Last year Purvi Patel was convicted of feticide and neglect of a dependent, becoming the first person in U.S. history sentenced to prison for what the state said was an attempt to end her own pregnancy. Patel arrived at a hospital bleeding, and later acknowledged disposing of her stillborn fetus in a dumpster. Prosecutors accused her of taking abortion-inducing pills, even though there were no drugs found in her system, and used a discredited “float test” to argue the fetus was born alive. In a statement, National Advocates for Pregnant Women said: “[We support] Ms. Patel because we believe that there is no point in pregnancy when a woman should lose her civil and human rights. We know that arresting or bringing criminal charges against people for ending a pregnancy, experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth, or for being pregnant and giving birth, puts all pregnant people at risk.”

Anti-Nuclear Activist Michael Mariotte Dies at 63

May 24, 2016

And the leading anti-nuclear advocate Michael Mariotte has died at the age of 63. Mariotte served as executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service for three decades, leading successful campaigns to defeat two nuclear facilities and uphold restrictions on the transportation of radioactive waste. He also co-founded the newspaper that became the Washington City Paper. Mariotte died of pancreatic cancer at home in Kensington, Maryland, on May 16.

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