You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. You know that you can count on Democracy Now! to cover the movements changing America and the world. But did you know 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
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
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has attacked the news media for pushing him to explain what he did with millions of dollars he claimed to have raised for veterans. At a fundraiser in January, Trump said he raised over $6 million for veterans’ groups. Last week, after The Washington Post said they could trace only about half of that, $3.1 million, going to vet groups, Trump donated $1 million of his own funds and started cutting more checks. On Tuesday, Trump outlined $5.6 million in donations to veterans’ organizations. The Associated Press reports the biggest batch of checks appears to have gone out last week, amid the media scrutiny over the funds. At a news conference Tuesday, Trump lambasted the media, calling CNN’s Jim Acosta “a real beauty” and ABC News reporter Tom Llamas a “sleaze.”
Donald Trump: “I’m not looking for credit, but what I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say, like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC—he’s a sleaze, in my book—you’re a sleaze, because you know the facts, and you know the facts well.”
When a reporter asked if this is how Trump would conduct a White House news conference if elected president, Trump said, “Yes, it is.”
In New York City, veterans rallied outside Trump Tower to denounce Trump for using them as campaign props. Perry O’Brien, who served as a medic in Afghanistan, criticized Trump’s rhetoric.
Perry O’Brien: “I’m here because when I served in Afghanistan, I served with women, I served with Muslims, and I served with Latinos—all groups that Donald Trump has maligned and even threatened. All of those folks actually donned the uniform, they actually served their country. As far as we can see, as veterans and in the military community, Donald Trump only seems interested in serving himself.”
Meanwhile, the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee is seeking to slash housing benefits for members of the military. The plan, tucked into the annual military spending bill, could cost individual servicemembers hundreds of dollars a month.
The news over Donald Trump’s veterans’ donations has overshadowed the release of hundreds of pages of documents from Trump University as part of an ongoing lawsuit arguing the defunct for-profit school defrauded students. Judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered the release of the documents, which include “playbooks” outlining how Trump University staffers should play on people’s emotions and weaknesses and urge them to amass credit card debt or rely on retirement funds to pay for classes. Trump has attacked Judge Curiel, saying he “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.” Curiel is a U.S. citizen, born in Indiana.
Up to 1,000 refugees are feared to have drowned in recent days while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The United Nations says this marks one of the highest weekly death tolls since the migrant crisis began in 2014. UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler outlined the numbers.
William Spindler: “Thus far, 2016 is proving to be particularly deadly. Some 2,510 lives have been lost so far, compared to 1,855 in the same period in 2015 and 57 in the first five months of 2014. On a Mediterranean-wide basis, the odds of being among the dead are currently one in 81. This highlights the importance of rescue operations as part of the response to the movement of refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean, and the need for real, safer alternatives for people needing international protection.”
This comes as Amnesty International warns the number of Afghans internally displaced by the 15-year conflict has more than doubled since the beginning of 2013. An average of 1,000 people a day have been forced from their homes in Afghanistan this year alone.
In Iraq, concerns are mounting over the fate of 50,000 civilians trapped in the city of Fallujah, as Iraqi forces fight to reclaim the city from ISIS militants. The Norwegian Refugee Council has warned a “human catastrophe is unfolding,” with civilians caught in the crossfire amid fierce fighting. ISIS seized Fallujah in 2014. A decade earlier, Fallujah was the site of one of the bloodiest chapters for U.S. troops in the Iraq War. The U.S. push to recapture Fallujah involved the extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus, leaving a legacy of birth defects that continues today.
The Organization of American States has announced it will hold an emergency meeting to discuss whether to suspend Venezuela for violating the OAS Charter. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said Tuesday that Venezuela had suffered “grave alterations of democratic order.” But supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro have criticized the OAS for targeting Venezuela, not Brazil, where democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff was recently removed from power in what many have described as a coup. Maduro has criticized OAS for intervening in Venezuelan politics. He also criticized the U.S. political system and voiced support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro: “If the U.S. elections were free, they wouldn’t depend on an archaic system that’s 200 years old, and Bernie Sanders would be president of the United States.”
We’ll speak with the Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS later in the broadcast.
California Governor Jerry Brown has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, calling her “the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.” Brown has previously criticized Clinton and ran for the Democratic nomination himself in 1992 against Bill Clinton. He never endorsed Clinton, who beat him in the primary. His endorsement gives Clinton a key boost ahead of the June 7 California primary.
The Guardian reports the judge overseeing the military tribunal at Guantánamo “effectively conspired” with prosecutors to destroy evidence related to the defense of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused architect of the 9/11 attacks. A court document alleges the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, worked secretly in concert with prosecutors to approve the destruction of evidence and prevent Mohammed’s defense team from learning about the move. Legal scholar Karen Greenberg told The Guardian, “This may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in underscoring the unviability of the military commissions.”
In Oklahoma, a former volunteer sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an unarmed African-American man while the man was restrained has been sentenced to four years in prison. Robert Bates claimed he mistook his gun for a Taser when he fatally shot Eric Harris last April. An internal report from 2009 revealed how Bates, a wealthy donor to the sheriff’s office, had been allowed to flout policies, patrolling in his own vehicle and conducting traffic stops on his own without adequate training.
A leader of the independence movement in Western Sahara has died. Mohamed Abdelaziz was the leader and co-founder of the Polisario Front movement, which has demanded independence ever since Morocco took over most of Western Sahara in 1975. In March, Morocco expelled United Nations staffers from Western Sahara after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the region and used the term “occupation” to describe Morocco’s relationship to Western Sahara.
In Vermont, a transgender man has died of his injuries after being beaten at a homeless encampment in Burlington. Police say they are investigating the death of Amos Beede and whether it was connected to his transgender identity. At least 11 other transgender or gender nonconforming people have been murdered this year, following a record of more than 20 killings in 2015.
And the death rate in the United States rose last year for the first time in a decade. Researchers attributed the rare increase in part to a rise in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease, suicide and drug overdoses.