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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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Protests erupted outside a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tuesday night, overshadowing Trump’s victory in Washington state’s Republican primary. Police said anti-Trump demonstrators threw rocks and bottles, overturned barricades, lit fires and smashed the glass door to the Albuquerque Convention Center, where Trump was speaking. Police descended on the protesters on horseback and in riot gear, using pepper spray and smoke bombs. Inside the convention center, protesters repeatedly interrupted Trump, who responded by taunting them.
Donald Trump: “You know, they’re Bernie Sanders supporters, but I’m hearing that we’re going to get about 40 percent of Bernie Sanders’, because he’s not going to win. The system is rigged against Bernie Sanders, so he can’t win, but I’m hearing we’re going to get close to 40 percent of his supporters. Maybe not these people, though. All right, get ’em out of here. Get ’em out. Get ’em out of here.”
Donald Trump won the Republican primary in Washington state with over 77 percent of the vote Tuesday, bringing him closer to clinching the Republican presidential nomination. His rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, have dropped out of the race. Meanwhile, Republican Party leaders are reportedly considering changes to the presidential nominating process following Trump’s success, including closing Republican contests to independents.
More than 600 U.S. writers have signed an “open letter to the American people” opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy. Signed by authors including Stephen King, Junot Díaz, Amy Tan and Dave Eggers, the letter reads in part: “The rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response.”
In Brazil, interim President Michel Temer has unveiled a raft of economic austerity measures and introduced a far-reaching constitutional amendment limiting the growth of public spending. The moves came a day after the interim government’s planning minister resigned, after explosive transcripts showed him plotting to oust President Dilma Rousseff in order to scuttle a corruption investigation targeting him. Speaking Tuesday, Temer sought to defend his government’s integrity.
Interim President Michel Temer: “We are not going to impede investigations with regards to public morality and administrative morality. On the contrary, we will always incentivize it. I have said this with great frequency. But however many times I say it, there are always news reports saying there is a scheme to do this or that. We do not want that. Nobody wants that. I think that those people whose names come up now and again do not want that, either. What they do want is a democratic state, to have the right to defend themselves, but nothing that the government can interfere in.”
We’ll have more on Brazil after headlines.
In France, gas stations have reported fuel shortages as protesters blockade oil depots amid sweeping protests against labor reform. All eight of the country’s oil refineries were reportedly out of commission Tuesday as workers went on strike. France has been forced to dip into its strategic oil reserves for the first time since 2010. Unions are protesting reforms that would make it easier to fire workers, among other provisions. Union official Franck Bobard spoke on Monday.
Franck Bobard: “We’re going to cause a fuel shortage. You know, in the media we hear that there won’t be a shortage before three weeks time. It’s been less than a week that we’ve mobilized all around France; there are already shortages everywhere. Let them try to find some lies that are a little more credible.”
In Argentina, teachers and other public workers launched a 24-hour national strike Tuesday. They are demanding higher salaries and opposing right-wing President Mauricio Macri’s veto of a bill intended to prevent layoffs. Since taking office in December, Macri has slashed 10,000 public sector jobs.
The Justice Department has said it will seek the death penalty for Dylann Storm Roof, the man accused of massacring nine African-American worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina, last year. Roof is accused of opening fire during Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in an attack motivated by racism. In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision.” State prosecutors have already said they will seek the death penalty, and Roof has been indicted on federal hate crimes charges.
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal sexual assault trial against comedian Bill Cosby. About 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades. But in many cases the statute of limitations has lapsed. In this case, Andrea Constand accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004. The former district attorney in Montgomery County chose not to bring charges in the case back in 2005, but prosecutors reopened the case last year amid a tidal wave of other accusations against Cosby. The current DA, Kevin Steele, vowed to move forward.
Kevin Steele: “There’s the point of this, is that it was intoxicating to her and that she was unable to consent. You know, that’s the crime. That’s the charges that were bound over. And we look forward to handling this in court.”
The brother of a Guantánamo prisoner who wrote a best-selling memoir on his experiences at the prison has been barred from entering the United States. Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been imprisoned at Guantánamo for nearly 14 years without being charged with a crime. He wrote the book “Guantánamo Diary.” On June 2, he is set to go before the Periodic Review Board, which could recommend his release. His brother, Yahdih Ould Slahi, who lives in Germany, planned to come to the United States for a series of public events ahead of the hearing. But when he arrived at JFK Airport in New York Saturday, he was detained by Customs and Border Patrol, held overnight, interrogated and sent back to Germany. Slahi spoke about his brother’s case in a video recording after arriving home.
Yahdih Ould Slahi: “On June 2nd, he is going to have another hearing. We hope he will be released. We have created a petition. I would like to ask you to sign it, and then ask your friends and family. We really need your help. Only with your help can we make Mohamedou a free man. Of course, his mother is no longer living. She died in 2013. But he has the rest of his family waiting for him.”
Agribusiness giant Monsanto has rejected a $62 billion takeover bid from the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer, but said it remains open to future negotiations. A merger between the firms would create the largest supplier of seeds and agricultural chemicals in the world. The news comes after protesters took to the streets in more than 400 cities on six continents Saturday to protest Monsanto.
In Texas, Kevin Ellis has won a Republican primary runoff for a seat on the State Board of Education. The race was closely watched across the country because Ellis’ opponent, Mary Lou Bruner, has touted a rash of right-wing conspiracy theories, including that President Obama was a drug-addicted prostitute, that climate change is a hoax invented by Karl Marx, and that federal pre-kindergarten programs are a ploy to confuse children about their sexuality. Bruner was expected to win, but Ellis defeated her.
In Peekskill, New York, residents have launched a permanent blockade in a bid to stop construction of a pipeline that would carry high-pressure methane gas from Massachusetts through Rhode Island, Connecticut and down to the communities along the Hudson River. Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market Project—known as the AIM pipeline—would run only hundreds of feet from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant, sparking concerns that a pipeline break could cause a catastrophic nuclear disaster that would threaten New York City. Democracy Now! was there as the blockade was launched just hours ago. We’ll bring you a report later in the broadcast.
And here in New York City, Babeland has become the first unionized sex toy store in the country. Babeland workers voted last week to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, saying it will help them address concerns related to training and wages and the rights of several transgender employees.