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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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Hillary Clinton has claimed the Democratic presidential nomination. With Clinton’s wins in California, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota, she is set to become the first woman ever nominated by a major party to run for the White House. With only one primary to go in the District of Columbia, Clinton has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates over her challenger, Bernie Sanders. But Clinton’s pledged delegate count falls short of the 2,383 needed, meaning she will need to rely on the support of unelected superdelegates to officially secure the nomination at next month’s convention in Philadelphia. On Tuesday night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Clinton declared victory, celebrating what she called a “milestone” for women.
Hillary Clinton: “On the the very day my mother was born in Chicago, Congress was passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment finally gave women the right to vote. And I really—I really wish my mother could be here tonight.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won in Montana and North Dakota. While laying off much of his staff, he has vowed to remain in the race to challenge Clinton at the convention in July.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “I am pretty good in arithmetic, and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight, but we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get. Tonight, I had a very kind call from President Obama, and I look forward to working with him to make sure that we move this country forward.”
Sanders is expected to meet with President Obama at the White House Thursday. We’ll have more on the Democratic race after headlines.
Racist—that’s the word Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has called Donald Trump’s attacks on a Latino federal judge. Trump said Judge Gonzalo Curiel should recuse himself from litigation over the defunct for-profit Trump University because his Mexican heritage was a conflict of interest, since Trump has called for building a wall on the Mexican border. On Tuesday, Speaker Ryan, the highest-ranking Republican in the United States, condemned Trump’s remarks, but reiterated his support for Trump’s presidential candidacy.
House Speaker Paul Ryan: “I disavow these comments. I regret those comments that he made. I don’t think—claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment. I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable. But do I believe that Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not.”
After days of doubling down on attacks against the judge, and even suggesting Muslim judges, too, might be biased against him, Trump released a statement late Tuesday afternoon saying his remarks had been “misconstrued.” “It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent,” Trump’s statement read. Trump also said he did not “intend to comment on this matter any further.” Trump, the only remaining candidate in the Republican race, swept all five Republican contests Tuesday, winning California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. He spoke at his golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
Donald Trump: “Now, I know some people say I’m too much of a fighter. My preference is always peace, however. And I’ve shown that. I’ve shown that for a long time. I’ve built an extraordinary business on relationships and deals that benefit all parties involved, always. My goal is always again to bring people together. But if I’m forced to fight for something I really care about, I will never, ever back down, and our country will never, ever back down.”
Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk has reversed his endorsement of Donald Trump, becoming the first person to unendorse the candidate. Kirk faces a tough re-election battle against Democratic Congressmember Tammy Duckworth. After Democrats criticized him for failing to condemn Trump’s attacks on the Mexican-American judge, Kirk released a statement saying, “While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.”
The number of people who have died crossing the Mediterranean in an attempt to reach Europe has topped 10,000 since 2014. The United Nations said this year has seen a sharp uptick in deaths, with more than 2,800 people drowning since January alone.
In Papua New Guinea, police have reportedly opened fire on student protesters in the capital, Port Moresby. Opposition lawmakers say four people were killed, but the government has denied the toll. More than 20 people have been wounded. The students were marching to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who faces a corruption scandal.
In Syria, at least 15 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a series of airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the city of Aleppo. There are reports one of the strikes hit a makeshift hospital in the eastern district of Shaar. On Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech vowing to retake “every inch” of Syria.
In Guatemala, eight former military members have been detained and are facing trial on charges of forced disappearances and crimes against humanity during the decades-long, U.S.-backed dirty war against Guatemala’s indigenous communities. The eight are accused of overseeing the killings of people found in mass graves.
In Afghanistan, hundreds of people gathered outside Kabul for the funeral of Afghan journalist Zabihullah Tamanna. Tamanna was working as a translator for NPR when he was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade attack Sunday alongside NPR photojournalist David Gilkey. Journalist and media advocate Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar was among those to attend Tamanna’s funeral on Tuesday.
Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar: “We have lost 10 journalists so far this year, and it means that this is a bloody year for journalists in Afghanistan. I believe that freedom of speech is not a priority for the Afghan government and international community anymore, because we have already noticed an increase in violence against journalists in the country. It can affect democracy and freedom of speech in Afghanistan.”
In California, Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after she was convicted of an offense known up until recently as “felony lynching.” Police accused her of trying to de-arrest someone during a peace march in Pasadena last August. The arrest and jailing of a young black woman activist on charges of felony lynching sparked a firestorm of protest. Richards faced up to four years in prison. She was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days, with 18 days served, plus three years’ probation.
In Washington, D.C., the City Council has voted unanimously to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. D.C. joins the cities of Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as the states of California and New York, who have all passed measures to heed the growing call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has vowed to sign the measure, noting that even with $15 an hour, it’s hard to afford to live in the District of Columbia.
And Helen Chavez, an activist who played a crucial role in launching the United Farm Workers of America, has died at the age of 88. She was the widow of Cesar Chavez, who led the United Farm Workers of America for more than three decades. In a statement honoring Helen Chavez, President Obama said: “She managed her union’s finances, prepared meals, marched in picket lines, and was even arrested for her actions, all because she believed in the dignity of America’s farmworkers—men and women she toiled with in the fields, even as she raised eight children and helped lead a movement.” Helen Chavez died Monday in Bakersfield, California.