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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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President Obama is slated to visit Orlando, Florida, today, following Sunday’s attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando which killed 49 people and was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The massacre has reignited calls for gun control by Senate Democrats, who mounted a nearly 15-hour filibuster. It ended early this morning after Republicans reportedly agreed to hold a vote on gun control measures, including prohibiting people on the government’s terrorist watchlist from obtaining gun licenses, and expanding background checks to include gun shows and internet sales. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy launched the filibuster a little after 11 in the morning on Wednesday.
Sen. Chris Murphy: “I’m at my wits’ end. I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I’ve had enough of inaction in this body. … And so I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign, that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way.”
It was the ninth-longest filibuster in U.S. history. About 90 percent of Americans support stricter gun control measures, while a new CBS News poll finds 57 percent of Americans support a full nationwide ban on assault weapons—up from 44 percent last December—although this was not one of the issues Republicans have agreed to vote on. We’ll have more on the filibuster after headlines. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he’ll meet with the National Rifle Association today to discuss gun control measures to prohibit people on terrorism watchlists from purchasing firearms. The NRA has endorsed Trump.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump reiterated his call for bans on Muslim immigration and called for increased surveillance of Muslim communities, including at mosques. He spoke at a news conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Wednesday.
Donald Trump: “We have to stop, on a temporary basis at least, but we have to stop people from pouring into our country. We have to stop it, until we find out what the hell is going on. … And we have to go, and we have to maybe check, respectfully, the mosques, and we have to check other places.”
A new CBS News poll finds the majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the mass shooting in Orlando. During Trump’s speech in Atlanta, members of the press corps symbolically saved seats for the Washington Post reporters who had been banned by Trump from covering his events. Trump has also banned BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Des Moines Register, the Union Leader, Univision and Fusion.
Meanwhile, government agencies are refusing to release public records about Sunday’s massacre in Orlando, Florida. Multiple media sources have reported shooter Omar Mateen called 911 during the time of the assault and declared his allegiance to ISIS, but the city of Orlando is refusing to release any 911 calls. Other agencies are refusing to release documents about Mateen’s security guard license and records from Mateen’s stint as a corrections officer. Barbara Petersen of the First Amendment Foundation said, “They are trying to control the stream of information. They are trying to control what people know.”
This comes as a federal grand jury is reportedly considering whether to indict Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, on criminal charges related to the attack. Multiple news outlets, citing unnamed sources, have reported Salman knew about the planned attack ahead of time and even drove Mateen to the Pulse club one night. But other reporters have cast doubt on these claims. Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy reports one of Noor Salman’s close friends says Salman is saying that she knew nothing of her husband’s plans and never drove her husband to the club. Husseini writes, “She is apparently telling people around her that virtually everything you’re hearing about her is a lie.”
A video of Utah Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox has gone viral, after he apologized to the LGBT community for his own homophobia during a vigil in Salt Lake City on Monday.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox: “I went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class that were different than me, and sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect, the love that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize. … And I’m speaking out to the straight community: How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here’s the hard one. Did that feeling change when you found out that the shooting was in a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we’re doing something wrong.”
In news from the campaign trail, a single hacker, using the name Guccifer 2.0, has claimed responsibility for hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network and obtaining a trove of donor information and a 200-page anti-Trump playbook. The DNC had previously blamed the attack on the Russian government. On Wednesday, the hacker leaked the “Donald Trump Report,” which was created in December 2015 by Democratic strategist Warren Flood. The playbook highlights the DNC’s strategies to take down Trump, which include focusing on how Trump is a “misogynist in chief” and a “bad businessman.” For more on Donald Trump’s business practices, we’ll be joined later in the broadcast by a roundtable of award-winning reporters from The New York Times, USA Today and The Daily Beast.
In more news from the 2016 election, the ACLU has sued the city of Cleveland over restrictions on free speech Cleveland officials are planning to impose during the Republican National Convention in July. The city has demarcated a 3.3-square-mile “Event Area” in downtown Cleveland that will be subject to broad restrictions during the convention, including banning everyday items such as umbrellas with metal tips, glass bottles, canned goods, large backpacks and sleeping bags. The lawsuit argues the bans of such items are arbitrary and will criminalize the homeless community. The city has also delayed issuing permits for marches and parades for months, making it difficult to organize protests.
In news from the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has reportedly told NATO the U.S. is again reconsidering the proposed withdrawal of U.S. forces. The U.S. currently has 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The current plan is to reduce this number to 5,500 by the end of this year. Carter’s comments Wednesday come as NATO countries agreed to extend the mission in Afghanistan through 2017 and to keep the network of bases across the country in place.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are without access to safe drinking water during the holy month of Ramadan, after Israel’s national water company began siphoning off water supplies to multiple West Bank cities and villages. Meanwhile, European Union officials are warning 95 percent of the water in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip is currently not fit for human use.
This comes as U.S. officials announce breakthroughs in talks over increased U.S. military funding to Israel. While visiting Israel for the talks, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke out.
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “Under this administration, the United States has invested nearly $24 billion in foreign military financing for Israel since 2009, far more than for any other country, more than at any other previous time in the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship. We’re also prepared to sign a new 10-year memorandum of understanding that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance from the United States to any country in our history.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said U.S. military funding to Israel currently amounts to $8.5 million every single day.
A new report by the Netherlands-based peace organization PAX accuses 150 financial institutions—including U.S. banking giants JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America—of investing billions of dollars in companies manufacturing internationally banned cluster bombs. The weapons contain bomblets which fan out over a wide area and often fail to explode until civilians pick them up later.
In Florida, divers have found the body of a 2-year-old boy following an alligator attack at Disney’s theme park just outside Orlando, Florida. Toddler Lane Graves of Nebraska was attacked and dragged away from his family on the shores of a man-made lake on Tuesday night. Disney has closed the beaches at its Florida resorts in the wake of the attack.
In Oakland, California, a second police chief has been ousted in less than a week amid a massive scandal in which multiple Oakland police officers are facing allegations of statutory rape and human trafficking after allegedly having sex with an underage girl who was working as a sex worker. On Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf removed Ben Fairow as interim police chief. He had been appointed only six days earlier, after former Police Chief Sean Whent resigned amid the scandal.
And today marks the 50th anniversary of Stokely Carmichael’s historic “Black Power” speech in Greenwood, Mississippi, on June 16, 1966. Carmichael was speaking after James Meredith, the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi, had been shot and wounded by a white man during the “Walk Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. Following the shooting, Carmichael declared to a crowd of 3,000 people, “We been saying 'freedom' for six years. What we are going to start saying now is 'Black Power.'” Speaking years later, Carmichael explained the decision to adopt “Black Power” as the movement’s slogan.
Stokely Carmichael: “Luckily for us, the night in Greenwood, King had to go to do a taped television thing, I think for 'Meet the Press,' so he had to go to Memphis. So he was not there the night in Greenwood. Ricks had everybody primed. He said, 'Just get to your speech. We're going against Freedom Now; we’re going for Black Power. Don’t hit too much on Freedom Now, but hit the need for power.’ So we built up on the need for power. And just when I got there—before I got there, Ricks was there saying, 'Hit them now. Hit them now.' I kept saying, 'Give me time. Give me time.' When we finally got in, we dropped it: 'Black Power.' Well, of course, they had been primed, and they responded immediately. But I, myself, to be honest, I didn’t expect that enthusiastic response.”
Stokely Carmichael later adopted the name Kwame Ture. He died in 1998.