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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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In the most significant victory for abortion rights in a generation, the Supreme Court has struck down provisions of a sweeping anti-choice law in Texas. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined Stephen Breyer and all three women on the court, striking down the restrictions as an undue burden on access to abortion. The lead plaintiff in the case, Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health, celebrated the ruling outside the Supreme Court.
Amy Hagstrom Miller: “From day one, Whole Woman’s Health rejected HB 2’s insulting premise, and we fought back. We took on the bully politicians, and we’ve struggled every day since then against anti-choice, regressive politics and our opposition’s best efforts to shut us down. And we won. Today we make history, and tomorrow we get back to work, so that every woman who seeks abortion services can get the healthcare she deserves, with the dignity and respect that we all deserve.”
The Texas Legislature passed the sweeping anti-choice law in 2013 despite a people’s filibuster and an 11-hour stand by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. The Supreme Court’s ruling strikes down provisions requiring abortion clinics to meet the costly standards of hospital-style surgery centers, and mandating that doctors obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Already, about half of Texas’ more than 40 abortion clinics have closed. If the court had allowed the provisions to go into full effect, advocates warned it would have left Texas with about 10 clinics clustered in four metropolitan areas. We’ll be joined by the lead plaintiff in Monday’s historic Supreme Court case, Amy Hagstrom Miller, after headlines.
In another case Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against two men who argued they should be able to buy or own guns even though they had been convicted of domestic violence. Attorneys for the men argued they should be exempt from a federal ban because their acts of violence were committed “recklessly,” not “intentionally.” But the Supreme Court ruled six to two that even “reckless” domestic abuse counts. Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent over issues with treating reckless acts as violent offenses, but declined to join his defense of the Second Amendment in the case. The ruling comes after the massacre of 49 people in Orlando by Omar Mateen, who had a history of domestic violence. The FBI estimates at least 57 percent of mass shootings in recent years involved a shooter who killed an intimate partner or other family member. Click here to see our interview with writer Soraya Chemaly about the connection between domestic violence and mass shootings.
The Supreme Court also threw out the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, in a case that could make it harder to prosecute public officials for corruption. McDonnell and his wife were accused of accepting more than $175,000 in loans, vacations and luxury products in exchange for providing favors to Jonnie Williams, a businessman seeking to promote his diet supplement business. But in a ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court narrowed the definition of what constitutes corruption, saying it applies to formal activities, like filing a lawsuit or making an official determination, and not to acts like arranging meetings, hosting parties or calling officials to discuss Williams’ business.
In London, thousands of people rallied outside Parliament to show support for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, who faces a no-confidence vote amid a revolt within his own Labour Party after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Addressing supporters, Corbyn called for unity against racism.
Jeremy Corbyn: “One of the horrible disfigurements of our society is racism, is intolerance, and the violence that’s often associated with it. And sadly, this has increased over the last few days. Can we all agree we are going to unite together as one people, one society, one community to oppose racism?”
Britain’s vote to leave the EU continues to send shock waves throughout the global economy. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.K.’s credit rating from the perfect score of AAA down to AA.
In the United States, Massachusetts senator and progressive favorite Elizabeth Warren joined Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Monday. On stage with Clinton in Cincinnati, Ohio, Warren took aim at Clinton’s Republican rival, Donald Trump.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Donald Trump calls African Americans 'thugs,' Muslims 'terrorists,' Latinos 'rapists' and 'criminals,' and women 'bimbos.' Hillary Clinton believes that racism, hatred, injustice and bigotry have no place in our country. She fights for us. She fights for us, and we will fight for Hillary Clinton. She fights for us. Please join me in welcoming to the stage our next president, Hillary Clinton.”
A new report has found a surge in the use of dark money donations at the state and local levels. The Brennan Center finds secret spending at the local level increased in recent years, in part because of so-called gray money from organizations funneling money through other groups in order to conceal where it’s coming from. Examples of local spending on races include “Mining companies secretly targeting a legislator who opposed permits. Food companies battling a ballot measure to add labeling requirements. Payday lenders supporting an attorney general who promised to shield them from regulation.” Because of the lower cost of state and local elections, such donations can have an even bigger impact.
In Florida, a jury has found a former Chilean army officer liable for the murder of folk singer and activist Víctor Jara in 1973. Jara was tortured and shot more than 40 times in the days after dictator Augusto Pinochet seized power in a U.S.-backed coup. The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez marks what The Guardian newspaper called “one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.” Speaking on the steps of the Florida courthouse, Jara’s widow Joan Jara Turner said, “What we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Víctor, has today come true.” Barrientos could face extradition to Chile, where he could be brought up on criminal murder charges.
The U.S. military says it is investigating reports at least seven people being held in a Taliban prison in Afghanistan were killed by U.S. airstrikes over the weekend. Some reports have said as many as 16 people were killed. Afghan officials have denied the reports. The news comes after President Obama expanded the U.S. military’s power to conduct airstrikes and assist Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.
Undocumented immigrants and their supporters have staged actions across two states to call for a moratorium on deportations. The protests came after a split decision by the Supreme Court blocked President Obama’s plan to shield millions of people from deportation. In Hartford, Connecticut, protesters shut down Main Street outside a federal immigration office; nine people were arrested. In Atlanta, Georgia, four people were arrested after chaining themselves to ladders in a busy intersection.
Meanwhile, officials in Dimmit County, Texas, about an hour north of the Mexico border, have rejected a proposed 500-bed family detention center. Their vote came Monday at a packed meeting, where residents spoke against a plan to use a former “man camp” for oil workers to hold women and children who have fled violence in Central America. Dimmit County’s vote comes after a similar rejection earlier this month by officials in nearby Jim Wells County. Commissioners there voted not to join a bid with federal officials and British security firm Serco, which has faced scandals at its family detention centers in Australia and lobbied heavily to enter the lucrative U.S. market.
Volkswagen has agreed to pay up to $14.7 billion over its diesel emissions cheating scandal, marking one of the largest consumer class action settlements in U.S. history. The payouts include buybacks for impacted vehicles and cash compensation to U.S. car owners. Volkswagen has admitted to rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide. U.S. regulators say Volkswagen vehicles were emitting up to 40 times more pollution than standards allow.
A former Indiana University student charged with rape in two separate cases has taken a plea deal and will avoid any prison time. John Enochs was accused in one case of holding a woman down at his fraternity house and raping her as she repeatedly told him to stop. In a second case, he was accused of raping a woman while she was blacked out. Enochs spent a day in jail last fall before posting bail. Under the plea deal, the rape charges will be dismissed, and he will be sentenced to one year of probation for battery.
The case has drawn comparisons to Brock Allen Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer sentenced to six months in jail after witnesses caught him in the act of raping an unconscious woman. Judge Aaron Persky expressed concerns a prison term would have a “severe impact” on Turner. But Judge Persky is also presiding over a similar case in which a Latino man is due to be sentenced to a much harsher term than Brock Allen Turner for a similar crime. The Guardian reports Raul Ramirez, a Salvadoran immigrant who admitted to sexually assaulting his roommate, and later apologized, faces three years in state prison under a deal overseen by Judge Persky. Stanford professor Michele Landis Dauber, who is overseeing an attempt to recall Persky, says the case vindicates concerns over the judge’s bias.
Here in New York City, local and federal officials gathered to unveil the Stonewall Inn as the first national monument to LGBTQ rights. In 1969, the inn was the site of a police raid that triggered an uprising and helped launch the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement. Speaking Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked the Obama administration for the historic designation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Brothers and sisters, I want to report to you that this time the government got it right. Something very good is happening today here in New York City. And I want to say on behalf of eight-and-a-half million New Yorkers, thank you, President Obama. Thank you for helping this nation forward, because this monument is part of our healing. It’s part of making us really one country.”
And Pat Summitt, the trailblazing basketball coach who presided over eight national basketball championships at the University of Tennessee and won more games than any other Division I coach, man or woman, has died. Summitt stepped down in 2012 after learning she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. She died surrounded by family in Knoxville, Tennessee, this morning. She was 64 years old.