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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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An internal government watchdog has concluded Hillary Clinton broke government rules by using a private email server without approval for her work while she was secretary of state. That was the key finding of a long-awaited report by the State Department inspector general released on Wednesday. The report concluded that Clinton would not have been allowed to use a private server in her home had she asked, because it posed “significant security risks.” This contradicts claims by Clinton that use of a home server was allowed and that no permission was needed. Although Clinton said she would comply with all probes into the server use, Clinton and eight of her deputies, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, declined to be interviewed for the inspector general’s investigation. Clinton’s use of a private email server for State Department business is also the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation and has plagued her presidential campaign for months. We’ll have more on the report and the email server controversy after headlines.
In more news from the campaign trail, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to criticize presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Speaking at the Center for Popular Democracy’s annual gala on Tuesday, Warren called Trump an “insecure money grubber.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up more property on the cheap. What kind of a man does that? I’ll take you exactly what kind of a man does that. It is a man who cares about no one but himself, a small—a small insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes a profit off it.”
In response, Trump attempted to criticize Elizabeth Warren by using the word “Indian” and the name “Pocahontas” as racial slurs during a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Donald Trump: “Hillary Clinton has somebody—did you ever hear of Pocahontas? Huh? It’s Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren. She was going out. She is probably the senator that’s doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She’s a total failure. She said she was an Indian.”
Warren says her family is part Cherokee.
Will Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders debate each other ahead of the California June 7 primary? Donald Trump first agreed to the idea when it was proposed by Jimmy Kimmel during an interview Wednesday night. Sanders responded by tweeting “Game on.” This comes after Hillary Clinton refused to debate Sanders in California ahead of the primary. Polling figures released by the Public Policy Institute Wednesday night show Sanders and Clinton in a dead heat in California.
Meanwhile, racial justice scholar and activist Cornel West, who is one of Bernie Sanders’ five appointees to the Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee, has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “war crimes” in the continued occupation of Palestinian territories. This comes as Netanyahu moves his government even further to the right with the addition of the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party. Professor West and another Sanders appointee, James Zogby, are looking to incorporate opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories into the Democratic Party platform when the drafting committee meets at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.
President Obama is in Japan today for the G7 summit, amid increasing tensions between the two countries over a U.S. military contractor’s alleged rape and murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman on the island of Okinawa. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke out.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: “I feel strong indignation about the selfish and extremely mean crime. It has not only shaken the citizens of Okinawa, but also the whole of Japan. And I have told President Obama to understand the feelings of these people.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was speaking at a news conference alongside President Obama. At that same news conference, President Obama apologized.
President Barack Obama: “I want to emphasize that the United States is appalled by any violent crime that may have occurred or been carried out by any U.S. personnel or U.S. contractors. We consider it inexcusable, and we are committed to doing everything that we can to prevent any crimes from taking place.”
For decades, Okinawa residents have called for the expulsion of U.S. troops in large part over a history of sexual assaults. This comes as President Obama is slated to head to Hiroshima tomorrow, where he will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city where the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb toward the end of World War II.
Eleven states are suing the Obama administration over its recent directive saying students have the right under federal law to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Nine of the 11 states have Republican governors. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit Wednesday.
Ken Paxton: “Two hours ago, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice regarding their directives that open up all school bathrooms to people of both sexes. We’re taking this action to protect Harrold Independent School District, which on Monday night fulfilled a responsibility to their community by adopting a bathroom policy that puts the safety of their students first.”
The Taliban has appointed a new leader following the death of Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday. The religious scholar Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada will become the group’s new leader.
In France, workers at nuclear power plants have voted to join the growing strikes, which are threatening to immobilize the country amid protests over labor reforms. Gas stations have reported fuel shortages as protesters blockaded oil depots and shut down all eight of France’s oil refineries Tuesday. Unions are protesting reforms that would make it easier to fire workers, among other provisions. Unionist Mathieu Pinault spoke out.
Mathieu Pinault: “What we want today is for this movement to spread. All the other sectors in France seem decided to stop the factories, to paralyze the economy, so we really think that we have a wide movement which will continue with the will to impact the economy. So, in all logic, it should force the government to withdraw this bill, which isn’t at all in everyone’s interest.”
The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to lift sanctions and an arms embargo against Liberia. The restrictions were put in place in the early 1990s amid Liberia’s 14-year civil war, which killed as many as a quarter of a million people.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has signed legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks, including in cases of rape and incest. The law takes effect immediately, making South Carolina the 13th state to make abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In Oak Brook, Illinois, thousands of fast-food workers have pitched tents and set up an occupation outside McDonald’s headquarters to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights. The occupation comes as McDonald’s hosts its annual shareholder meeting today. The massive protests shut down McDonald’s headquarters Wednesday. More protests are planned for today. This comes as former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi has claimed in an interview with Fox Business that McDonald’s would replace workers with robots if the national minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour.
Ed Rensi: “I guarantee you, if the $15 minimum wage goes across the country, you’re going to see a job loss like you can’t believe. I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday, and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry, it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient, making $15 an hour bagging french fries.”
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has called the growing campaign to film the police an “epidemic.” The movement, known as Copwatch, seeks to hold police accountable by filming incidents of police brutality and police killings. Speaking after a conference of police chiefs on Wednesday, Commissioner Bratton said, “There is increasing efforts on the part of individuals, sometimes in a crowd and oftentimes mobs, to attempt to record, intimidate and create fear and physically free a prisoner. This has become very serious.” This comes as the NYPD is facing criticism after a Harlem plainclothes police officer was caught on video pointing his gun at a group of unarmed people inside an apartment building lobby and then punching one of the residents filming him.
In Peekskill, New York, two protesters were arrested Wednesday after police extracted them from a shipping container blockading the construction yard of a gas pipeline. Spectra’s AIM pipeline is slated to run only hundreds of feet from the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant. Lee Stewart and Jane Kendall had locked themselves in the fully sustainable shipping container to blockade the pipeline’s construction just after dawn on Wednesday morning. They have been charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstructing government administration.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, more than a dozen religious leaders were arrested Wednesday for blocking construction of another Spectra gas pipeline. The interfaith group held a prayer on the construction site in West Roxbury, where Spectra is trying to build a gas pipeline. Local residents and politicians have long opposed the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline; they say it’s dangerous for the pipeline to run alongside a quarry where there is frequent blasting.
And in Chicago, a migrant justice activist is suing the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to renew her DACA protection because of her activism. Twenty-nine-year-old Ireri Unzueta Carrasco was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status in 2013. But its renewal was denied due to her participation in civil disobedience actions. More than 100 civil and immigrant rights groups have signed on to a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson calling on the agency to renew her DACA status and protect the constitutional right to political expression. Ireri has organized for immigrant rights for years. In 2014, she spoke on Democracy Now! about receiving DACA protections and her decision to come out as undocumented.
Ireri Unzueta Carrasco: “Before I had the deferred action, anything could have put me in deportation proceedings, any small mistake, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, right? I really wanted to travel, and traveling isn’t something that you can just do, necessarily, right? And sometimes there are risks involved, and there are, you know, different ways to get stopped. And so, this is a risk that I was running every day. To me, when I decided to come out publicly and talk about my status, it was a decision about that. If this is something that I’m facing every day, then I need to take this head-on. I need to be able to show my side of the story publicly, and I need to be able to use that to benefit the other members of my community.”