In Zimbabwe, longtime leader Robert Mugabe remains under house arrest and is reportedly refusing to resign as president, after Zimbabwe’s military seized the Parliament, courts, government offices and the main airport in the capital, Harare. Robert Mugabe has held power since Zimbabwe declared independence from the United Kingdom 37 years ago. The 93-year-old leader was working to hand over power to his wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe. On Wednesday, African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat called for a democratic resolution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Moussa Faki Mahamat: “The military has reassured us this is not a coup d’état. As you know, the African Union is against any unconstitutional change of government. This is a very fundamental principle of the African Union, and we systematically condemn any regime change by arms, whether it be military or rebellion.”
Two more women have come forward to accuse Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct or making sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers. This brings the total number of women to nine. One woman said, “I’ve known for over 20 years that he was a predator, that he preyed upon girls in the mall. It’s common knowledge.” As Moore’s approval ratings continue to fall, Republican Party leaders met Wednesday to discuss what to do about the growing crisis.
In California, the death toll from Tuesday’s mass shooting has risen to five, after authorities found the wife of the gunman dead, hidden under the floor in her home. Authorities now believe the gunman, Kevin Neal, killed his wife before he went on a shooting rampage through the town of Rancho Tehama.
In news from the Middle East, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has reportedly accepted an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron to leave Saudi Arabia and come to France. Last week, Hariri unexpectedly resigned as Lebanese prime minister while on a trip to Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun accused Riyadh of holding Hariri “captive.”
Saudi Arabia is continuing to block food and medicine from being delivered to Yemen, which is facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis after years of war. Seven million Yemenis face famine. The U.N. says some 900,000 people have been infected with cholera. On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut took to the floor of the Senate to criticize the U.S. for its support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Sen. Chris Murphy: “It is U.S. refueling planes flying in the sky around Yemen that restock the Saudi fighter jets with fuel, allowing them to drop more ordnance. It is U.S.-made and -transferred ordnance that is carried on these planes and are dropped on civilian and infrastructure targets inside Yemen. The United States is part of this coalition. The bombing campaign that has caused the cholera outbreak could not happen without us.”
In other news from Capitol Hill, the House has passed a $700 billion military budget—by far the largest military budget in the world. According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. military expenditures are roughly the size of the world’s next seven largest military budgets combined. Meanwhile, a new study has found the amount spent by the U.S. on wars since the September 11 attacks will top more than $5.6 trillion by the end of the fiscal year. According to the Brown University-based Costs of Wars project, the average U.S. taxpayer has spent over $23,000 to pay for the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and other countries.
In news from Capitol Hill, five Democratic lawmakers have introduced new articles of impeachment against President Trump. Congressmember Steve Cohen of Tennessee is spearheading the effort.
Rep. Steven Cohen: “We believe that President Trump has violated the Constitution, and we’ve introduced five articles of impeachment. The first is ob struction of justice, which deals with Mr. Comey’s firing. The second is a violation of the Constitution’s Foreign Emolument Clause, which deals with moneys he’s taken from foreign powers without the consent of Congress. The third is a violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause, which deals with moneys he’s made from the United States at his personal businesses, beyond that of his salary, which is also forbidden by our Constitution. The fourth is undermining our federal judiciary. And the fifth is undermining freedom of the press.”
In Washington, D.C., jury selection has begun in the first trial of the nearly 200 people arrested during during President Trump’s inauguration. Some of the protesters are facing up to 75 years in prison. The first trial involves six people, including one journalist, Alexei Wood, a freelance photojournalist and videographer based in San Antonio.
In news from Capitol Hill, the Senate has confirmed a former top coal executive to head the Mine Health and Safety Administration. David Zatezalo faced criticism from Democrats because his former company, Rhino Resources, had a record of repeatedly violating mine safety laws. In 2011, the company was fined $44,000 after one of its miners was killed in West Virginia.
In media news, the billionaire right-wing Koch brothers may soon become major stakeholders in Time and People magazines. The Kochs have reportedly offered to invest $500 million in Meredith Corporation, which is trying buy the magazines. Meredith is the publisher of Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens.
In other media news, the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament has approved legislation to require foreign journalists to register as foreign agents and declare details about their funding and finances. Amnesty International described the vote as a serious blow to press freedom in Russia. The vote comes shortly after the United States forced the international Russian broadcaster RT to register as foreign agents.
The state of Ohio has postponed the execution of a severely ill 69-year-old man, after his executioners could not find a suitable vein to use for lethal injection. They tried to find one for 30 minutes. Alva Campbell relies on a walker and wears a colostomy bag. His lawyers say he requires frequent breathing treatments and may have lung cancer. The state of Ohio attempted to carry out the execution even though doctors had failed to find veins in either of Campbell’s arms suitable for inserting an IV during a recent exam.
An undocumented human rights activist has taken sanctuary inside a New Orleans church in an attempt to avoid deportation back to El Salvador. Jose Torres is the father of two U.S.-born daughters, both of whom are chronically ill. Torres came to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina and helped rebuild the city. According to the Congress of Day Laborers, Torres is the first immigrant to seek sanctuary in a church in the Deep South since the election of President Trump.
The Trump administration will allow American trophy hunters to import the bodies of elephants they kill in Zimbabwe and Zambia, reversing a ban put in place by President Obama. The Interior Department’s rule change comes even though African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The policy could affect President Trump’s two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., who are longtime trophy hunters who have repeatedly posed for photos with dead animals they killed in Africa. A 2012 picture of Donald Trump Jr. in Zimbabwe shows him standing in front of the corpse of an African elephant, holding a knife in one hand and a severed tail in the other.
And the longtime Philadelphia-based civil rights activist and professor John Raines has died at the age of 84. In 1971, he and a group of other activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole every document they found, and then leaked many to the press, including details about FBI abuses and the then-secret counterintelligence program to infiltrate, monitor and disrupt social and political movements, nicknamed COINTELPRO. The burglars’ identities remained a secret until 2014, when Raines, his wife Bonnie and others came forward to take credit for the action. He spoke to Democracy Now! in 2014.
John Raines: “The problem was, J. Edgar Hoover was untouchable. He was a national icon. I mean, he had presidents who were afraid of him. The people that we elected to oversee J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI were either enamored of him or terrified of him. Nobody was holding him accountable. And that meant that somebody had to get objective evidence of what his FBI was doing. And that led us to the idea that Bill Davidon suggested to us: Let’s break into an FBI office, get their files and get what they’re doing in their own handwriting.”
John Raines died on Sunday at the age of 84. Click here to see the full interview.