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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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Zimbabwe’s military says it has deposed President Robert Mugabe and first lady Grace Mugabe and has appointed recently ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as interim president. This comes just one week after President Mugabe ousted the vice president—who’s a close ally of Zimbabwe’s army chief. Witnesses reported seeing armored personnel carriers in the streets, with heavy gun and artillery fire in parts of the capital Harare. Zimbabwe’s military denied it had carried out a coup. A military spokesperson said on state television the action was taken to “target criminals” surrounding the 93-year-old, seven-term leader.
In the United States, Senate Republicans have added a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate to their plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code. The plan would end a requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty—a linchpin in keeping President Obama’s signature healthcare law from collapsing. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday that the House Republicans’ tax bill would trigger $25 billion in cuts to Medicare next year. Both the House and Senate plans would shower billions of dollars in tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified Tuesday that he only recently recalled speaking with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who has admitted having had contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign. Sessions is accused of committing perjury for previously telling Congress that he was not aware of any Trump campaign official talking to the Russians, when in fact he led a meeting in March 2016 during which Papadopoulos talked about his ties to Russia and suggested setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Tuesday, Sessions testified that he now remembers rejecting Papadopoulos’s idea at that meeting and telling Papadopoulos he did not have the authority to represent the Trump campaign in such discussions. This is Sessions, speaking to the House Judiciary Committee.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Frankly, I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports. I do now recall that—the March 2016 meeting at the Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting.”
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Pentagon leaders told a Senate panel Tuesday they would ignore any unlawful order by the president to launch a nuclear strike. The testimony came as part of the first congressional hearings in more than 40 years on the president’s authority to start a nuclear war. This is Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy.
Sen. Chris Murphy: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.”
An eighth woman has come forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping her. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, a former flight attendant told us that in the early 1990s, soon after Bush’s presidential term ended, she was working in first class when the former president “grabbed my arm, complimenting me on my tan and how pretty I looked … and would not let go of my arm, and pulled me close to his seat and put his arm around below my waist, the butt area. He was sitting. I was standing, trying to work. … I couldn’t get away. … The captain was not happy! [The president] didn’t let go until the captain announced we missed our takeoff spot. [The captain] was looking at me with the door open. That is how he knew I wasn’t seated for takeoff, because [the president] wouldn’t let go of my arm, and they can’t take off until we are all seated.” Those the words of a former flight attendant—now another woman coming forward to accuse former president George H.W. Bush of groping her. She says Bush was sitting next to his wife, Barbara. This comes after Broadway actress Megan Elizabeth Lewis said Tuesday that George H.W. Bush grabbed her buttocks after he asked her to take a photo with him in 2009 at one of her performances in Houston.
In California, a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns went on a deadly rampage in the rural town of Rancho Tehama on Tuesday, killing four people and injuring at least 10 others before he was shot and killed by police. The shooter was identified as a 43-year-old white man named Kevin Janson Neal. He was being prosecuted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing two of his neighbors—a man and a woman—both of whom were killed at the start of Tuesday’s rampage. Among the wounded were two children, including a student hit when the shooter fired on an elementary school.
The mass shooting came on the same day that the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments in a case brought by families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Their lawsuit targets the Remington Outdoor Company—which produced the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle used to slaughter 20 young children and six adults. Lawyer Joshua Koskoff told the court that Remington’s marketing campaign was designed to appeal to young men like the killer, Adam Lanza.
Joshua Koskoff: “They had a plan, a clear plan—we know this from the public, what’s publicly available—to expand and control the civilian market for assault rifles. And their approach—and we allege this in our complaint—is to attract buyers by extolling the militaristic and assaultive qualities of their AR-15s. … We have evidence that Adam Lanza heard the message and was driven specifically to the Bushmaster for his lone-gunman combat mission.”
The state of Ohio is set to put a severely ill prisoner to death this morning, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt his planned execution. Officials at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville say they’ll provide a wedge-shaped pillow to 69-year-old Alva Campbell to help him breathe while they strap him to a gurney and inject him with a lethal three-drug cocktail. Campbell relies on a walker and wears a colostomy bag. His lawyers say he requires frequent breathing treatments and may have lung cancer. During a recent exam, a doctor failed to find veins in either of Campbell’s arms suitable for inserting an IV.
In Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed the main airport in the capital Sana’a Tuesday, damaging the runway and destroying navigation equipment. The attack came after Saudi Arabia shut air, land and sea routes into Yemen, drawing warnings from the United Nations that the clampdown could worsen Yemen’s massive cholera epidemic and set off the largest famine the world has seen in decades, with millions of victims. Tuesday’s attack drew condemnation from Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who tweeted, “The US/Saudi coalition took out the Sanaa airport last night. Now no humanitarian relief by air. This is barbaric.”
In Libya, human rights monitors who toured the country’s migrant detention camps say nearly 20,000 people are enduring “horrific conditions.” This is United Nations spokesperson Jeremy Laurence.
Jeremy Laurence: “Monitors were shocked by what they witnessed: thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of one another, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities and stripped of their human dignity.”
Human rights advocates want the European Union to withdraw its support for Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the allied militias who run migrant detention centers. As part of a clampdown on sea crossings, the EU currently supplies funds, equipment and training for Libya’s border and coast guard.
And Australians have decisively voted in favor of marriage equality, prompting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call on Parliament to pass a bill legalizing all marriages countrywide by the end of the year. Nearly 80 percent of Australians voted in the nonbinding national postal survey, with nearly two-thirds approving of marriage equality. The outcome sparked celebrations in cities across Australia. This is Sydney City Councillor Christine Forster.
Councillor Christine Forster: “Yeah, it’s been a really special moment, and it’s a seminal moment, I think, for Australia. It’s the point in our history where we have said, 'We vote resoundingly for a better, fairer, more equal country.' And that is so special. You can’t put a price on that.”