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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines, or for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting? This is only possible with your support. Right now every donation to Democracy Now! will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $25 today, Democracy Now! will get $50 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in the coming year. Thanks so much. -Amy Goodman
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Top Democratic lawmakers are demanding House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes recuse himself from investigating ties between Trump and Russia, amid revelations Nunes met with a source on the grounds of the White House and viewed secret U.S. intelligence reports only one day before Nunes went to the White House supposedly to brief President Trump about the reports. Nunes claims the secret reports indicate Trump or his associates might have been “incidentally” swept up in surveillance carried out by American spy agencies as they conducted foreign surveillance. Nunes did not share the secret reports with fellow committee members and has not to this day.
Some Democrats, such as California Congressmember Jackie Speier, have called on Nunes to step down as chair. Democrats say the meeting shows Nunes, who formerly served on Trump’s transition team, is too close to Trump to be impartial in the investigation about whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in order to influence the 2016 election. Nunes is refusing to recuse himself from the investigation. The House Intelligence Committee has canceled all meetings this week amid the ongoing turmoil. This is California Democratic Congressmember Adam Schiff.
Rep. Adam Schiff: “I think it would be worthwhile for the chairman to recuse himself from any investigation involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition. … There’s nothing normal about what’s taken place over the last week. It’s certainly not normal to go and receive information as the chairman of a committee that you can’t share with your own committee members, but you go and share with the president, particularly if the investigation involves associates of the president.”
Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigations into ties between Trump and Russia during the 2016 campaign, following revelations that he twice met with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. while serving as a campaign surrogate for Donald Trump.
Details have emerged about a December meeting between President Trump’s close adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the head of a U.S.-sanctioned Russian state development bank known as VEB. President Obama imposed the sanctions in 2014 over Russia’s military actions in Ukraine. The bank disclosed the meeting on Monday and said Kushner was acting as “the head of Kushner Companies.” This information contradicts the statements of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said Monday Kushner was acting as a Trump adviser during the meeting, not as a private developer. The revelations came on the same day Kushner agreed to testify to the U.S. Senate committee investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
Mayors across the country say they’ll fight back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s threats that sanctuary cities will lose federal funding unless the cities require local police cooperate with federal immigration agents carrying out Trump’s mass deportation plans. On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all cities to comply or risk losing billions of dollars in grants to law enforcement agencies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Today, I am urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and others vowed Monday to defy the order and remain sanctuary cities.
In more immigration news, more than 600 companies have already submitted bids to build Trump’s expanded wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. All bids are due by tomorrow. During the campaign, Trump vowed Mexico would pay for the border wall, but his 2018 budget instead calls for allocating $2.6 billion for the wall’s construction.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, an agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, shot and injured 53-year-old Felix Torres, after the agents burst into the family’s house Monday morning. His daughter, Carmen Torres, says the family was sleeping when agents burst through the front door. She said, “They just came in and pointed pistols in our faces and dragged us out. We didn’t even have time to dress or grab milk for the baby.” Felix Torres was hospitalized in serious condition after the shooting. ICE says he was not the man they were seeking to arrest. We’ll have more on immigration and sanctuary cities after headlines.
President Trump is expected to sign an executive order today to dismantle a slew of climate rules put in place by President Obama. The executive order will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to review Obama’s rules limiting power plant emissions—the first step to the regulation’s eventual elimination. The order is also expected to direct the Interior Department to lift Obama’s moratorium halting new coal leases on federal land.The Bureau of Land Management will be instructed to review regulations limiting hydraulic fracturing. Obama’s regulations limiting methane emissions will be dismantled. The executive order is also expected to end President Obama’s 2013 climate action plan, which outlined the federal government’s approach to curbing climate change. Environmental groups are vowing to fight the executive order. Protests are planned for this afternoon in Washington, D.C.
The United States led a boycott of U.N. talks on outlawing nuclear weapons on Monday. Despite the boycott, more than 100 nations did take part in the widely supported talks, although none of the participating countries possess nuclear weapons. This is U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.
Nikki Haley: “You’re going to see almost 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today. And that’s 40 countries that are saying, in this day and time, we would love to have a ban on nuclear—on nuclear weapons. But in this day and time, we can’t honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them, and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety, not to have them.”
The Pentagon announced Monday it will be sending at least 240 more U.S. soldiers to northern Iraq within the next 36 hours. The troops are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Heavy fighting continues in west Mosul, despite reports over the weekend that the U.S.-backed Iraqi Army had suspended its offensive amid revelations U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have killed hundreds of people in recent weeks. One U.S.-led coalition airstrike on March 17 may have killed up to 200 civilians—marking one of the deadliest strikes since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.
On Monday, Amnesty International acused Iraqi officials of telling Mosul residents not to flee amid the airstrikes and ground offensive, instead dropping leaflets and broadcasting over the radio that civilians should stay in their houses. Amnesty said, “The fact that Iraqi authorities repeatedly advised civilians to remain at home instead of fleeing the area, indicates that coalition forces should have known that these strikes were likely to result in a significant numbers of civilian casualties. Disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks violate international humanitarian law and can constitute war crimes.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Trump administration has increased its military support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates amid the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen. Citing unnamed U.S. and Arab officials, the Journal reports the U.S. will now offer even more logistical and intelligence support for the coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are accused of being linked to Iran. The Journal also reports the Trump administration is seeking to resume sales of precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia. President Obama froze some of these weapons sales last year amid concerns about the number of civilian casualties. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign has already killed thousands of people, while the Saudi naval blockade has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
On Monday, in Yemen, at least 11 people died in a suicide bombing attack on a government compound in southern Yemen.
The Pentagon says North Korea carried out another rocket engine test on Friday. Pentagon officials says the rocket engine tests are part of North Korea’s efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile program. North Korea says the engine tests are part of the country’s space program. Friday’s test came as North Korea continues to condemn the ongoing joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea. The annual drills, which began on March 1 and will continue through April, include more than 300,000 South Korean soldiers and 17,000 U.S. troops, including members of SEAL Team 6.
In Hong Kong, police have launched a crackdown on pro-democracy activists, only one day after Beijing’s preferred candidate was chosen to be the next leader of Hong Kong. At least nine activists have been informed they are now facing charges for participation in pro-democracy street protests over two years ago. This is professor Chan Kin-man, one of the founders of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests, who is now facing charges.
Chan Kin-man: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s deliberate. I believe that they understood that it might invite backlash from the communities and affect the election campaign. And so that’s why they waited until this morning. But I think this has sent a very bad signal to the community, when Carrie Lam said that she is going to mend the cleavages in the society, to bridge the divide, and now they are charging us. And I think it will further divide the society.”
In Peru, the death toll from the country’s worst flooding in more than 30 years is rising. At least 90 people have now died. The flooding caused by torrential downpours linked to climate change has also destroyed tens of thousands of houses and displaced more than 100,000 people. The floods have also destroyed thousands of roads, bridges and highways across Peru, paralyzing commerce and making it harder to transport aid to affected regions.
In South America, French Guiana has been paralyzed by a general strike protesting unemployment, the cost of living and the lack of public services in the French territory. The general strike was the latest in a series of protests that have rocked the territory in recent weeks. On Monday, the French prime minister said he’d send a delegation to French Guiana later in the week.
The State of Michigan has reached a deal with the city of Flint, with the state agreeing to pay nearly $100 million to replace water lines to thousands of homes whose water has been poisoned by lead.
Flint’s water crisis began in 2014, after the unelected, state-appointed emergency manager for the city of Flint changed the source of the drinking water to the Flint river in order to try to save money. The river water corroded Flint’s pipes, causing toxic lead to leach into the city’s drinking water.
Officials say Flint’s water is still unsafe to drink without a filter — and many residents remain wary of drinking the water at all.
On Monday, a white Army veteran who traveled from Baltimore to New York City to kill black men was indicted by a grand jury on the charge of murder as terrorism. Police say 28-year-old James Harris Jackson confessed to repeatedly plunging a sword into 66-year-old Timothy Caughman, killing him. Police say Jackson was part of a white supremacist hate group in Baltimore. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to answer questions about the case and refused to call it a hate crime.
In Colorado, about 1,000 people congregated at a mosque in Fort Collins on Sunday to show support after the mosque was vandalized earlier that morning. Police say they’ve arrested the man suspected of throwing rocks through the mosque’s doors and then tossing a Bible inside.
And anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada has died at the age of 87. Kathrada, better known as Kathy, was a member of the African National Congress. In 1963, he was arrested with other ANC leaders and went on to spend 26 years in prison—18 of them on Robben Island. He later served as President Mandela’s parliamentary adviser. This is Ahmed Kathrada speaking in Visby, Sweden, in 2014.
Ahmed Kathrada: “Ours was historically a struggle for a nonracial, nonsexist, democratic South Africa. That is what sent many people to prison, and that is for—many, many of our colleagues lost their lives and were not alive to see the birth of democracy in our country.”
That was Ahmed Kathrada, speaking in 2014. He has died in Johannesburg at the age of 87.