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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Dozens of civilians have been killed in an airstrike on a camp for internally displaced Syrians in Idlib province, near the border with Turkey. At least 30 people were reportedly killed, some of them children, and dozens more wounded. U.N. humanitarian affairs chief Stephen O’Brien said the strike could be a war crime. It’s still unclear who carried it out, with reports it was either Syrian or Russian planes. A witness condemned the attack.
Witness: “We are displaced people, and people were set on fire. They set tents in a restricted space ablaze. He set them on fire. May God burn them as they burned these people.”
The attack followed the announcement of an expanded truce brokered by Russia and the United States, which brought a degree of calm to the embattled city of Aleppo. But in a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he still sought a total victory over rebels in Aleppo, where fighting over the past two weeks has killed about 300 people.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, says he is not ready to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Ryan made the comments in response to a question from Jake Tapper on CNN.
Jake Tapper: “You have said throughout this process that you will support the Republican presidential nominee. Now you have a presumptive nominee: Donald Trump. Will you support him?”
Speaker Paul Ryan: “Well, to be perfectly candid with you, Jake, I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now. And I hope to, though, and I want to, but I think what is required is that we unify this party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee.”
Responding to Ryan, Trump said in a statement: “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people.”
In a further sign of division, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Thursday he will skip the Republican National Convention in July. Former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush will also skip the event, as will former candidate Jeb Bush and 2008 Republican nominee Senator John McCain.
Donald Trump, who has sparked protests by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to make Mexico pay for a border wall, posted a photo of himself on social media Thursday eating a taco bowl in honor of Cinco de Mayo. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces in 1862. Trump’s caption read: “The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!” Journalist Erin Gloria Ryan tweeted: “Of course Donald Trump eats taco bowls, the only Mexican food that comes with a wall built around it.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s supporters have reportedly been targeting Bush family donors in an effort to convince them to support Clinton over Trump. Politico reports the Clinton team’s top targets include Jeb Bush’s former finance chair, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson.
Speaking Thursday in East Los Angeles, Clinton criticized Trump’s remarks on immigrants.
Hillary Clinton: “We also not only have to work for comprehensive immigration reform, we have to recognize that the kind of language coming from Donald Trump is hateful, and we need to repudiate it.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters descended on East Los Angeles College to protest Clinton’s policies, including her remarks calling some youths “superpredators” in the 1990s and her role in the 2009 Honduras coup. One protester was escorted out of Clinton’s event while chanting, “She killed Berta,” a reference to environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who was assassinated in Honduras last month.
Protester: “You killed Berta! You killed Berta! You killed Berta! She killed Berta! She killed her!”
Before her death, Berta Cáceres herself had singled out Clinton for criticism over her role in the 2009 Honduras coup.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Clinton leads in the delegate count, but her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has vowed to remain in the race until the final primaries in mid-June. Sanders campaigned in West Virginia Thursday ahead of next week’s primary there.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “We have a major crisis. We have an epidemic of opiate addiction and heroin addiction. I mean, what I heard this morning in McDowell County was that almost all of the crime down there in one way or another was related to drugs—people needing money to feed their habits going out and stealing and so forth and so on. Now, this is a crisis which we cannot turn away from. We’ve got to deal with it. But in my view, the most effective way to deal with that is to understand that addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue.”
Bernie Sanders’ remarks on the opiate epidemic come amid reports the late musical artist Prince suffered from an addiction to painkillers. New reports say his friends sought urgent help from an addiction doctor one day before Prince’s death last month. The doctor, Howard Kornfeld, dispatched his son, who was among those to discover Prince’s lifeless body in the elevator at his estate. Test results about the cause of Prince’s death are still pending.
In the Canadian province of Alberta, a massive wildfire exploded to 10 times its previous size on Thursday. The fire has forced all 88,000 residents to flee Fort McMurray, in the heart of Canada’s oil sands. About 16 percent of Canada’s crude oil production is offline as companies have cut operations. Over the course of one day, the fire spread from about 18,000 acres to more 210,000 acres—that’s an area about 10 times the size of Manhattan. Scientists have linked increased wildfires to climate change.
A Palestinian woman has been killed and a number of others wounded in Gaza amid a flare-up of violence between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces. Israeli forces launched airstrikes in southern Gaza earlier this week, saying they were responding to mortar attacks on Israeli troops. A woman in her fifties was reportedly killed by an Israeli tank shell.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the lawmaker who has led the attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff to step down. House Speaker Eduardo Cunha has led the charge against Rousseff, despite facing trial for corruption. His suspension appears unlikely to stop impeachment proceedings against Rousseff. Brazil has been engulfed in a major corruption scandal, but Rousseff herself has not been accused of any financial impropriety. This week, Vice President Michel Temer, who would take over for Rousseff, was ordered to pay a fine for violating campaign finance limits.
Turkey’s prime minister has resigned in what’s seen as the latest move by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to expand his power. The prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, had split with Erdogan over his attempts to increase presidential authority. Turkey’s main opposition leader criticized the prime minister’s resignation.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu: “I should sadly express that Mr. Davutoglu paved way for authoritarianism by surrendering to the May 4 palace coup. However, the right thing to do in favor of democracy was to defend the duty he was commissioned for by 23 million people. He should have stood by the national will and said, 'I was brought to helm by people, and only they can ask me to step down.' He should have openly resisted the May 4 palace coup.”
President Obama has commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners as part of his push to ease harsh mandatory sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Thursday’s announcement brings the total number of Obama’s commutations to more than 300, about a third of whom were serving life sentences.
In Illinois, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has recused herself from the prosecution of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for the fatal shooting of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald. McDonald was shot 16 times in October 2014, but it took more than a year for Alvarez to announce murder charges against Officer Van Dyke. Alvarez has requested a special prosecutor in the case. She lost her re-election battle in March following an activist campaign to oust her over her handling of the shooting.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley is expected to sign into law a measure banning abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school. It’s the same rule applied to sex offenders in Alabama. The law would force at least two clinics in Alabama to close. The Alabama Women’s Center in Hunstville, Alabama, is located across from a school: It was forced to move there to comply with the state’s sweeping anti-choice restrictions.
And Italy’s highest appeals court has ruled stealing small amounts of food if you’re hungry is not a crime. The case concerned a homeless man who was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail for stealing $4.50 worth of cheese and meat. The court overturned his conviction, saying he had taken the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment.”