The U.S. Senate has passed the so-called PROMESA bill, which will establish a federally appointed control board with sweeping powers to run Puerto Rico’s economy. While the bill’s supporters say the bill will help the island cope with its crippling debt crisis, it has also been widely criticized as a means of removing democratic control from the citizens of Puerto Rico. The Senate’s 68-30 vote comes two days before Puerto Rico is expected to default on a more than $2 billion debt payment. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez led the opposition to the bill.
Sen. Bob Menendez: “It is a vote to authorize an unelected, unchecked and all-powerful control board to determine Puerto Rico’s destiny for a generation or more. It is a bill to force Puerto Rico, without their say, to go $370 million further in debt to pay for this omnipotent control board, which they don’t even want. It is a vote to cut the minimum wage down to $4.25 per hour for young workers in Puerto Rico. It’s a vote to make Puerto Ricans work long overtime hours without fair compensation. It’s a vote to jeopardize collective bargaining agreements. It’s a vote to cut worker benefits and privatize inherently government functions. It’s a vote to close schools and shutter hospitals and cut senior citizens’ pensions to the bone. It’s a vote to put hedge funds ahead of the people. And it’s a vote to sell off and commercialize natural treasures that belong to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also spoke out against the legislation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “This is a terrible piece of legislation, setting horrific precedent, and must not be passed. Mr. President, the United States of America should not treat Puerto Rico as a colony. We cannot and must not take away the democratic rights of the 3.5 million Americans of Puerto Rico and give virtually all power on that island to a seven-member board, which will be dominated, as it happens, by four Republicans.”
Demonstrators have established an ongoing protest camp outside the U.S. Federal Court in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, in opposition to the bill, which now heads to President Obama’s desk.
Turkey observed a day of mourning as funerals began for some of the 42 people who were killed in the triple suicide bombing and gun attack on Turkey’s main airport in Istanbul Tuesday. Turkish police say they have conducted more than a dozen raids across Istanbul, detaining 13 people in connection with the attack. Initial reports say the nationalities of the Istanbul airport attackers may have been Chechen, Uzbek and Kyrgyz, and that they may have spoken Russian. The attack also wounded more than 200 people, some of whom remain in critical condition. The sister of one of the wounded victims spoke out.
Emine Kulakaç: “While my brother was running to help, the first bomb exploded. My other brother told him to come back. He couldn’t come back. A bomb exploded. A boy was injured. Because the boy was in a pool of blood, my brother ran to help, and he was also injured. He is in critical condition. They can’t intervene, because he has shrapnel all over his body.”
We’ll go to Istanbul after headlines.
In news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally in Maine, where he continued to criticize free trade deals. He appeared on stage alongside Maine Governor Paul LePage, who has faced intense criticism over his past racist comments, including claiming that African-American men come to his state as drug dealers and “impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.” Another speaker at the rally was Howie Carr, a conservative Boston talk show host, who referred to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren by imitating Native American war whoops.
Howie Carr: “You know Elizabeth Warren, right? Whoop, whoop, whoop.”
Imitating Native American war whoops is widely considered to be an offensive and ignorant gesture. This comes after Donald Trump has spent months calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” and “The Indian.” Warren says her family is part Cherokee.
Cleveland and a federal judge have agreed on a new plan for protests during the Republican National Convention in July. The new guidelines will permit more time for demonstrations and a march route closer to downtown Cleveland. This comes after the ACLU sued Cleveland over its planned restrictions on free speech during the convention. Thousands of protesters are expected to travel to Cleveland—including the white nationalist group the Traditionalist Worker Party, which has confirmed it will be heading to the RNC to “make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.” The group held a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento, California, where five people were stabbed on Sunday.
In Afghanistan, as many as 30 Afghan police officers have been killed after Taliban suicide bombers attacked a military convoy outside Kabul. This comes about two weeks after President Obama approved giving the U.S. military greater ability to conduct airstrikes and assist Afghan forces fighting the Taliban.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, unnamed U.S. officials have told Reuters that U.S.-led airstrikes have killed at least 250 people around the city of Fallujah. The officials said the victims are members of ISIS. This comes three days after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Iraq’s military—backed by U.S. airstrikes—retook control of the city of Fallujah, after it was captured by ISIS in 2014.
In news on Honduras, six National Police officers have been indicted in U.S. federal court on charges of conspiring to traffic cocaine into the U.S. The conspiracy allegedly involved the son of ex-Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who took power after the U.S.-backed coup in 2009. The indictments come amid mounting scrutiny of the Honduran security forces, following allegations by a former Honduran soldier that murdered environmentalist Berta Cáceres appeared on a hit list distributed to U.S.-trained special forces before her assassination. Georgia Representative Hank Johnson has introduced a new bill to stop all U.S. military funding to Honduras.
In Denver, a woman has been fatally shot inside The Alliance Center by her estranged husband. Fifty-three-year-old Cara Russell was the executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling and the former mayor of Buena Vista, Colorado. She had a restraining order and had recently filed for divorce. Her ex-husband walked into The Alliance Center with a handgun on Tuesday and shot her, before killing himself. She died later in the hospital. Her murder comes after the massacre of 49 people in Orlando by Omar Mateen, who also had a history of domestic violence.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the FBI has asked law enforcement agencies to withhold public records in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre. In a June 20 letter, the FBI asks other law enforcement agencies to “immediately notify the FBI of any requests your agency received [so] the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary.” More than two dozen media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, have requested public documents, and a federal lawsuit has been launched to demand their release.
Two transgender women have been nominated by Democratic primary voters in Utah and Colorado to challenge Republican incumbents for their congressional seats in November. Thirty-year-old Misty Snow of Utah and 33-year-old Misty Plowright of Colorado are the nation’s first openly transgender candidates to win a major-party congressional primary in U.S. history.
In West Roxbury, Massachusetts, 23 activists were arrested protesting the construction of a Spectra Energy gas pipeline. Among those arrested were Karenna Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, and Tim DeChristopher, who spent close to two years in prison when he posed as a bidder at an oil and gas auction in Utah. The protesters lay down in the trenches of the Spectra pipeline—drawing a comparison to the mass graves dug in Pakistan in anticipation of a climate-fueled heat wave in May. Tim DeChristopher spoke out.
Tim DeChristopher: “This is not just a pipeline trench. What they are digging is a mass grave, because in this age of anticipatory mass graves, we know that every new fossil fuel development that commits us to burning fossil fuels for decades, when we put in this infrastructure, we know that every new fossil fuel infrastructure will lead to another mass grave somewhere in the world.”
Tim DeChristopher and Karenna Gore will join us from Boston, before their arraignment, later in the broadcast.
And protests continue in the wake of the divided Supreme Court ruling that blocked the Obama administration’s DAPA program, which would have shielded up to 5 million people from deportation. In Philadelphia, five people were arrested Tuesday for blocking the off-ramp to Interstate 676 by locking themselves together using PVC pipes. Among those arrested was 13-year-old Erick Perez-Hernandez, a U.S. citizen whose parents would have been eligible for DAPA. Ahead of the action, he said of the ruling, “It is unfair, wrong, and now I have to wonder if my sister and I have to worry about being ripped away from our parents.”